How to restore or unbrick the Galaxy S3 I535 after being soft-bricked

October 24, 2012
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Sometimes when you flash a ROM on your Verizon Samsung Galaxy S3 SCH-I535, the /system and /data partitions are not wiped properly, causing those partitions to be formatted with read-only (R/O) permissions rather than read-write (R/W).

Such a scenario makes the phone unable to boot because no data can be written to those partitions.  Flashing another ROM or a stock ROM through Odin will also yield the same result. It can get really frustrating.

You probably landed upon this page to find a way to save your phone. You have just come to the right page, for we can help you unbrick your soft-bricked Verizon Samsung Galaxy S3 SCH-I535. As long as your phone still boots to Download Mode and Recovery Mode, there is still hope.

Kudos to XDA Developers member PureMotive for having created a guide that will help you restore your phone. The steps involve flashing some files via Odin.

This guide shows you how to restore or unbrick the Galaxy S3 I535 after being soft-bricked.

Warning

  • The instructions in this guide are intended for use with the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S3, model number SCH-I535. Applying these instructions on another device or model may produce undesired outcomes.
  • The information in this guide is provided for instructional and educational purposes only. There is no guarantee that these instructions will work under your specific and unique circumstances.
  • Use these instructions at your own risk. We shall not hold any responsibility or liability for whatever happens to you or your device arising from your use of the info in this guide.
  • Read and understand the whole guide first before actually performing the instructions.

Requirements

  • Verizon Samsung Galaxy S3 SCH-I535
  • A Windows PC with WinRAR or 7-Zip installed
  • Handset USB drivers installed on the PC. You may install the drivers by installing Samsung Kies or using the installer from Samsung support page.
  • Enable USB debugging on your handset.
  • Disable antivirus, firewall, and other security software. Also disable Samsung Kies and other software that accesses your phone. Such software can interfere with the procedure in this guide.
  • Download the following files:
  • Backup all personal data on your phone to make sure you have a copy of your personal data (e.g., contacts, SMS, MMS, Internet settings, Wi-Fi passwords, and the like) in case the procedure in this guide erases such data.

Instructions

  1. Extract Odin307.zip to your computer.
  2. Go to the Odin folder and double-click Odin3 v3.07.exe to launch Odin on your computer.
  3. In Odin, make sure that only “F. Reset time” is selected under Options.
  4. Click the PDA tab and locate the VRALEC bootchain file (VRALEC.bootchain.tar.md5).
  5. Turn your phone off.
  6. Boot your phone into Download Mode. Press and hold the Volume Down, Home, and Power button until you see a “Warning!!” message on the screen. Press the Volume Up to continue to Download Mode.
  7. Connect your phone to the computer via USB cable. An “Added!” message will appear in Odin. If this doesn’t appear, make sure you have properly installed the USB drivers for your phone.
  8. Click the Start button in Odinto flash the VRALEC bootchain. Wait until you get the “PASS” message on Odin.
  9. Close and restart Odin.
  10. Click on the PDA button again in Odin. This time, select the VRALF2 bootchain file (BOOTLOADER_I535VRALF2_618049_REV09_user_low_ship.tar.md5). Also make sure that only “F. Reset time” is selected.
  11. Click the Start button in Odin to flash the VRALF2 bootchain to your phone. Wait until you get a “PASS” message on Odin.
  12. Close and restart Odin.
  13. Extract stock.vzw_root66.tar from the stock.vzw_root66.7z file into a folder on your PC.
  14. In Odin, click the PDA button and load the stock.vzw_root66.tar file.
  15. Select the following options under Options:
    • Auto Reboot
    • F. Reset Time
    • Nand Erase All
  16. Click the Start button in Odin to begin the process.
  17. Once you see the “PASS” message, take out the battery from your phone and re-insert the battery.
  18. Reboot into stock recovery. Press and hold the Volume Up, Home, and Power buttons until recovery boots.
  19. You will see the following error messages. These are expected:
    • E:failed to mount /data (Invalid argument)
    • E:Can’t mount /data/fota/ipth-muc.prop
    • E:failed to mount /data (Invalid argument)
    • E:Can’t mount /data/fota/ipth-muc.prop
    • E:failed to mount /data (Invalid argument)
    • E:Can’t mount /data/fota/ipth-muc.prop
  20. Select Wipe data/factory reset and confirm the action on the next screen
  21. Select Wipe cache partition and confirm the action on the next screen.
  22. Select Reboot system now to reboot your phone.

Terrific! You have successfully saved your soft-bricked Verizon Samsung Galaxy S3 SCH-I535.

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