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This is specifically the Galaxy s3. Out of curiosity what are these partitions exactly. Are they part of the android OS or something lower level than that? If I were to delete everything in these partitions will I brick the phone even after a complete factory restore from "Download mode"? If these are not in fact android partitions why do some ROMs flash them? What is the difference between /firmware and /efs and are these flashed with most ROMS?

I've been googling the partition structure of my device and these things are not clear. Please help me clear them up :)

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According to this linky here this is what it has to say

What is EFS? It is a place that stores your Android smartphone important data like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth MAC address and IMEI (nv_data.bin).

After reading the above linky, it would be prudent to make a backup of that partition otherwise well and truly hosed! :)

As for /firmware I am guessing that is where the original stock firmware goes into when updating via the official route a lá Kies.

If anyone has a better insight feel free to comment, and I will gladly amend this accordingly :)

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I read that link before posting here. I do not have an IMEI as I use a CDMA phone. There are a lot of "nv items" I can edit through a tool called QXDM however I'm not sure if they are reading from the same EFS partition. Is this partition completely separate of the Android OS and actually a separate NVRAM chip that holds radio information? –  user974896 Aug 10 '12 at 0:54
    
There's some partitions that are "best left alone" even though I can understand your curiousity! :) That partition - actually do this - enter this from adb shell, enter mount, does it show up in the list, if not, they are "hidden" from Android OS itself. :) TIL - CDMA does not have an IMEI... never knew that! Hah! Learnt something there! :) –  t0mm13b Aug 10 '12 at 0:57
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CDMA phones use ESNs instead. The concept is pretty much equivalent, though, so I wouldn't be surprised if the /efs partition will have your ESN on a CDMA device. –  eldarerathis Aug 10 '12 at 2:15
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