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Let's say I buy an "un-rooted" Samsung Galaxy S2 via eBay that's still under warranty:

  • Is there a way I can tell whether it has been rooted before (with or without rooting it myself)?
  • Is there a way Samsung can tell me whether it has been rooted before?
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4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Most Samsung Android phones and tablets can be restored back to "stock" firmware via Odin or Heimdal tools. This wipes all traces of rooting or any other kind of system alterations, and in most cases is sufficient for sending the device in for in-warranty servicing to the carrier of manufacturer. However, with the Galaxy S2 series of devices Samsung introduced a hidden "flash counter" which keeps track of how many times such a tool has been used.

A community developer actually found where this information is stored and created an app that allows you to reset the counter. Unfortunately the app only works on ICS (Android 4.x) right now. See this thread on XDA-Developers forum for more details.

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You can reset flash counter using USB JIG. See my answer below. –  Giorgi Feb 29 '12 at 17:25
    
TriangleAway requires root... So after I root I can use TriangleAway to reset the counter to 0. Now I "unroot" the phone by restoring the stock firmware. Now isn't the counter at 1, with no way to reset it to 0 since the phone is unrooted? –  Raman Aug 24 '12 at 14:36
    
Ah, to answer my own question... restoring a stock firmware doesn't trip the counter. Reference: forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1820684 –  Raman Aug 24 '12 at 14:38
    
@Raman, After running Triangle Away, if you rooted with SuperSU (by chainsfire) you can go in to the settings of SuperSU and "unroot". SuperSU can remove itself and the su binaries that it uses. –  Ryan Conrad Jan 7 '13 at 15:36

There will be an su binary on the device usually in either /system/xbin or maybe in /system/bin. That is the minimum binary needed for root. There may also be an application called SuperUser. This allows applications to request Root Access and gives you the ability to grant or deny the request.

Samsung can check if the device is rooted (not remotely), like if you send it in for warranty repair, but if it has been rooted, it will void your warranty.

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1  
Most Samsung Android phones and tablets can be restored back to "stock" firmware via Odin or Heimdal tools. This wipes all traces of rooting or any other kind of system alterations, and in most cases is sufficient for sending the device in for in-warranty servicing. However, SGS2 has a flash counter which keeps track of how many times such a tool has been used. See forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1494114 for more details. –  Chahk Feb 23 '12 at 13:54
1  
also if you only "root", you can easily unroot the device usually as well. removing any trace of the root from the device. –  Ryan Conrad Feb 23 '12 at 16:07

As Chahk Galaxy S2 has a flash counter which counts how many times custom ROM has been flashed. You can reset it with USB JIG which works on every version of Android.

USB jig is a usb device which allows you to

  • Get into download mode
  • Remove the yellow triangle
  • Reset Odin counter/Reset custom binary counter

More detailed information can be found at USB Jig FAQ

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Can you give us any more details? That's just a link to an ebay for the jig, how do you use the jig, is it different from the "Galaxy S Download Mode" jig? –  GAThrawn Mar 3 '12 at 23:03

Id like to add to Chanks answer that it is possible that even if you reset the counter (or it has been reset) using the app, there might be another counter which counts how many times the first one has been reset. It is not clear if this second counter does exist or not. If it does exist, as far as I know, there is no way to reset it.

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Do you have a source backing up that claim? –  htorque Feb 29 '12 at 13:23
    
1 2 3 Last one is probably the most important, because it is by a famous dev. –  varesa Mar 3 '12 at 13:05
    
All I can read there is, that such a counter might exist. –  htorque Mar 3 '12 at 14:12
    
I thought it had been proved, but when I looked for, couldn't find any hard sources. So there might not be one. There are still stories about Samsung not taking first-counter-reset devices for repairs. But those are only stories. I do not own SGS2 myself, nor have I sent it to Samsung for repairs... –  varesa Mar 3 '12 at 19:38
    
Don't get me wrong, I think this is interesting and relevant information, but it shouldn't be presented as if that counter has been confirmed to exist. :) –  htorque Mar 3 '12 at 19:55

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