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Background

I deal with a lot of Galaxy S5s and spend a considerable amount of time duplicating the settings and installing the same applications on each.

Because of the repetitive nature, I'm sure there is a way of imaging a phone that I have set up then then flashing that image on others. This will save me a lot of time in the future.

Question

I have a number of questions regarding this, hopefully some one could push me in the right direction.

1. What is the best way of imaging the device?

2. What is the best way of flashing the image on a device?

3. Are there any implications on using a copied image on multiple phones?

Basically is there a standard way of doing what I require?

NB.1 When I say 'best' I mean, least complicated, fiddly and quickest.

NB.2 I'm not that bothered about changing bootloader and rooting, what ever is quicker and easiest is good for me.

NB.3 I would like to keep the firmware/ROM that originally came on the phone and not use a custom ROM.

Specifics of Phones

Phone : International Galaxy S5

Model Number: SM-G900F

Carrier: Vodaphone

Android version: 4.4.2

Build Number: KOT49H.G900FXXU1AN13

  • To clarify, my understanding is that you have a S5 fully set up with applications and UI. You want to next copy the same set up on to other S5 devices, which are already rooted and bootloader unlocked. Is my understanding correct, in order to suggest a solution – beeshyams Nov 5 '15 at 1:24
  • Please also explain how you do it and if you are familiar with Odin – beeshyams Nov 5 '15 at 3:45
  • @beeshyams Yes I know Odin and have used it a couple times. On you other note. Yes that is exactly what I wish to do. However I have not unlocked the boot loader or rooted as yet. I am open to suggestions as I know there are are so many ways to do both. – Dan Cundy Nov 5 '15 at 9:42
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    Thanks for clarity. Will politely decline from answering since it will be far too voluminous. However, I would suggest Odin for rooting and flashing TWRP(official site lists fir recovery on all devices – beeshyams Nov 5 '15 at 9:53
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    @beeshyams me too, to be honest. – SarpSTA Nov 24 '15 at 12:49
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This solution answers the question from a process perspective and details as relevant to your device have been linked (please do double check the version before downloading from links). Clarifications provided by you in our chat have been factored in. In short, it is as specific I can get to be without having the device and running through all the steps. Had two Samsung devices earlier and am quite familiar with most steps mentioned here (only CF auto root is new to me)

  1. 50 phones is a tidy number and it may be possible that these have different version updates and maybe different modem versions. Select the latest one, make sure you are it works per your needs and let's call it "mother mobile".

  2. From Sammobile site, download the stock ROM (which is on the mother mobile) . This will be your master copy to revert to stock if required. Store on laptop. Will come in handy when things go wrong and need to revert to stock.

  3. There would be bloatware you would want to remove. Instead of uninstall, first freeze them using Titanium Pro and load your apps. If RAM and performance meet your needs, it is better to leave those apps frozen - never know if you would need them in future. If you decide to uninstall Titanium would do.

  4. For unlocking bootloader if required (googling led me to understand that not required to unlock) please check with your carrier. They are carrier specific restrictions at times.

  5. Download latest version of Odin, along with drivers corresponding to your Windows version and install on your laptop to connect to mobile. How to use is made clear on the website.

  6. Rooting. Odin is undoubtedly best option for Samsung devices. Period. Odin with CF autoroot works with your device. This step by step tutorial explains how-to. I strongly suggest NOT even consider trying numerous one click apps available on play store, unless you are willing to experiment (Kingroot,Framaroot are among popular methods which may or may not work with your device). I recall reading that the stagefright vulnerability fix does not permit these exploits to be used (don't recall where I read that)

(Rooting and flashing TWRP) OR (flashing TWRP/custom recovery) triggers Knox rendering warranty void. That is how Samsung works (Does rooting (but no custom roms) trigger knox's void warranty). Flashing a custom ROM would also trigger Knox. There are workarounds mostly involving apps(of the one click variety), that use exploits and may or not work and hence not recommending them. If warranty not being void is important to you, please experiment and decide. Odin method is safe but trips Knox once you flash custom recovery

  1. Custom Recovery. IMO, TWRP is the best in terms of it being easiest to use and also reliability. Download TWRP from the official website. One of many tutorials on net show how to root and flash TWRP

  2. Download SuperSU latest version from official website

  3. Now, you are all set for unlocking bootloader, rooting and flashing TWRP on your mother mobile. Once you are done, double check if rooted fully using apps like Root Checker. Configure mother mobile in terms of freezing unwanted apps, installing apps you need, setting up the user interface the way you want, launchers etc. Take two backups. First backup would be a complete back up or image This is ONLY to backup your mother mobile. Second back up or image would be WITHOUT EFS, and would be used for flashing on rest of devices. As already pointed out in another answer, EFS is device specific and flashing complete backup like the first back up discussed, on to any other device would almost certainly result in losing IMEI and emphatically not recommended (Tip: while backing up do not enable MD5 check option, it vastly increases imaging time without adding much value)

  4. Now for rooting and flashing TWRP on other devices. Follow the same method as for mother mobile. Flashing TWRP through Odin is safest bet.

  5. Now, coming to imaging on other devices. Copy the second image file (without EFS) on an ext SD or internal storage as you prefer and install image using TWRP. You could even take help from one or two of the bright, dependable end users and get done quickly. Typically a 3 gig image can be flashed in about 6 minutes, so two of you can get the job of populating images done in about 3 hours

Now, you know your end users better, but you are running the risk of end users if knowledgeable or plain curious to exploit root capabilities. But transferring the image from mother mobile in totality, including settings, app configurations, permissions etc. Quick complete imaging Vs warranty is the decision node.

Other alternative is to only root and set up each device individually and keep warranty intact, but of course end users are root empowered and if they mess around and trigger Knox, you can decide next steps.Educating them would help in keeping warranty intact and makes your job easier if they default. Guess this option is not what you are looking for

All the best.....

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+25

Short answer. TWRP. Long answer. Team Win Recovery Project, the custom recovery.

Now bad jokes aside, I really wanted to stress how this is the thing you'd like. Using TWRP you can create an image of the entire phone and using it you can restore it to another (or the same) phone. It is very easy to use. You can install it using fastboot/ODIN. It works on non-rooted devices too.

If you don't want to use fastboot/ODIN then you'll need to root the phone and use an app like Flashify to install TWRP, which you can then use to restore the images.

Another option is Titanium Backup. It is effective but I have never used it for the entire phone back up therefore I can't give personal recommendation but I haven't met anyone who talks negative about it yet. It is a well-praised application. Here are the instructions for backing up with Titanium Backup. Please note that Titanium Backup will also require root.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Far as I know there is something that must be taken care of cautiously about Samsungs when flashing/restoring/backing up ROMs that are EFS files. EFS files are the files that include your IMEI number and they are strictly device-specific. Therefore I can't tell for sure but predict that flashing a back-up with EFS files of another phone can be problematic. I would suggest asking about it on Stack Overflow since they'll know better about it.

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I think you should check Titanium Back Up. For me it's "must have" app when you are ROMs-Maniac and it makes life easier.

  • Do include details: What exactly does Titanium Backup do? How can someone use it to transfer all data to another phone? – Huey Nov 15 '15 at 8:30

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