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I'm an American living in Beijing. I had a Galaxy Note 1 for a bit, and loved it. I recently bought an unlocked Galaxy Note 3 N9006, which is a Chinese variant of the Note 3. Unfortunately, because of China's ongoing feud with Google, it doesn't have a Play Store, Gmail, or any of the other Google apps that made me love Android in the first place. The system is ostensibly in English, but there are lots of China-specific things about it: every app on the Samsung store is in Chinese, warnings and so forth also tend to be, and my only two options for searching are Baidu and Bing (both of which I hate).

What I want is for the phone to run like one that I would buy in America. I'm open to rooting it, or installing a different type of firmware, but I'm unfamiliar with what that stuff really means, or how to do it.

Is this possible? Or will I be stuck with a Chinese phone forever?

  • You can root your phone, install a custom ROM and gApps (i.e. play store, hangouts, etc). That shouldn't be a problem. Pop over to XDA for your device (and remember it has to be the EXACT model i.e. N9006) forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2495375 – RossC Jan 24 '14 at 12:46
  • Hello! I rooted the phone and it seems to have worked fine, but I don't know what to do next. Where do I find the right custom ROM? Ideally what I would like is just normal, out-of-the-box android like the type I would find on an American phone. Is there somewhere I could download this? – ckolon Jan 27 '14 at 22:54
  • Great I'm glad it worked. You just need the correct Gapps package, and you flash it through your new custom recovery... If you installed one. Check out XDA, and just do a search for 'gapps' for whatever version of android you are on. Alternatively XDA will have ROMS (if any) for the device! Sorry I can't provide more, having internet issues in the office. – RossC Jan 28 '14 at 9:58
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Problem solved! I flashed CWM to the phone using Heimdall for Mac, then loaded a gapps file from a zip I had copied to the phone. Works like a charm. Thank you RossC for all your help.

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