Samsung Incompetence Destroys Developer Edition Galaxy S4 Phone

Samsung Incompetence Destroys Developer Edition Galaxy S4 Phone


I get a software development version of the phone...

In August 2013 I purchased a Samsung Galaxy S4 Verizon - Developer's Edition. This phone is $650 direct from Samsung, not Verizon, and comes with an unlocked bootloader. It's supposed to be used to do software development unhindered by the hardware locks.

I decide to put on the wrong screen protector...

In early January I applied a "Skinomi" wet-applied screen protector and too much "wet" destroyed the digitizer and screen.

I let Samsung fix the broken hardware...

As it was out of the 90-day warranty Samsung provides developer-edition devices, this was returned for a repair. At the time it had loaded on it no Samsung software. Instead it had a CyanogenMod KitKat Android Open Source Project (AOSP) ROM and was, as is the default on this ROM, fully rooted.

Samsung repaired the screen and digitizer and charged me under $71 for the repair. Considering third parties offer to repair this for between $120 and $160 this seemed a great deal.

The phone comes back locked :( Samsung broke it.

When I got my phone back I was dismayed to find that they had flashed it... not just with any Samsung ROM, but with a LOCKED bootloader. While I was able to root it just fine, no matter how I tried the partitions I needed to change (recovery, boot) would not flash because of that lock.

Samsung offers to fix THEIR mistake...

I contacted Samsung and they said "Oops, our bad. Send us the phone 1-day at our expense, we'll priority-fix it and 1-day it back." I sent it on Monday the 27th, they received it Tuesday the 28th, and on Friday the 31st said they got it. That's right, it took them three days to acknowledge the phone. I said "What about the priority repair?" "We have no record of that in our system. We'll repair it and send it out today."

Samsung fails to deliver on the simple things...

The UPS call-tag showed a 1/31 shipping but didn't update through the weekend. Finally on 2/3 it updated showing a ship date of ... 2/3. It arrived this morning 2/4 and... it's STILL LOCKED. The Samsung technician had marked it "BER" which is their slang for "Beyond Economic Repair." How could REFLASHING IT TO UNLOCKED BE BEYOND ECONOMIC REPAIR?

Note: at this point they have had it twice.  The first time they broke it by
locking it.  The second time they did NOTHING to it and did not fix their breakage.

I get an 'explanation' ... of sorts...

They 'explained' that their process requires the phone to be unrooted. I 'explained' that makes no sense and has no effect on bootloader locks and they could have flashed it to stock (again) if they liked to eliminate root. The rep was undeterred.

I make them 'an offer'...

I volunteered that they could make this right or I would ensure it would be made right in court. I have in mind a small-claims court case worth the time and trouble they've put me through.

Incompetent Samsung makes me a counter-offer...

Their counter offer: They will AGAIN 1-day ship the phone back to Samsung... it will take 1-3 business days to reflash and unlock... and then 1-day ship back. That and they'll credit the $70 repair for the screen and digitizer.

The Present

So here we are on the evening of Tuesday February 4th, 2014. Samsung can't send me the call-tag to return the phone because first they have to clear out the "BER" status. That requires supervisor-level humans tomorrow. Then they can enter in the new -- third -- ticket on this and get the phone back in.

I expressed reservations that they wouldn't just BER it again. They assure me that "this time" (how is "this time" different than the last two?) they will do it right.

The Dilemma

I now have in front of me two options:

Answer: On advice of friends I gave Samsung a third shot. I sent them the phone for repair. When I got it back (a week later) it was still locked. At this point I filed a suit in small claims court seeking my $650 plus court costs. Samsung responded and made me an offer... I could send the phone to their lawyer, and he'd ensure it was taken care of. I did this. He was unable to get the phone unlocked!!! Yes, I do know how absurd this is. He then offered me $650, my phone back, and another locked Galaxy S4. I took the offer, seeing as how it not only made me whole (got my money back) but while I personally could not use the locked Galaxy S4s, I could use them for DJI UAV flying. There's a moral here somewhere... but my takeaway is that Samsung is too fixated on their "Touchwiz" version of Android to ever truly offer a developer phone. Back then there were few options. Today the Google Nexus, the OnePlus 1,3,5, the Moto G4/G5 all come with an unlocked bootloader and they're not $700. I enjoyed my MotoX DEV ($700 each for VZW and TMO) and now I enjoy my OnePlus 1 and my Moto G4 Plus. Both run stock LineageOS Android. None have issues. Life is good. 20170810.