Thursday, April 4, 2013

Verizon Samsung Note II - a true global phone

It does both CDMA and GSM out of box. Like all Verizon LTE phones, it is SIM unlocked, i.e., you can insert any SIM card - AT&T, T-Mobile, China Unicom..., this Note 2 will take them all without complaint.

This phone supports all 4 HSPA bands: 850, 900, 1900 and 2100, which means it can use virtually any 3G network on this planet. Verizon locked one thing though: you have to add manually the APN (see below).

The followings are the tweaks for this great phone - the most powerful phone human has made so far.

Enable CDMA Voice

It is a LTE phone, so you cannot use it on, say, PagePlusCellular, without some manual configurations. The followings apply to all LTE phones.
  • First you need to use CDMA Workshop to change "R-UIM only" to "R-UIM if avail" or "NV Only". Otherwise the LTE phone works with a UIM card only. PPC etc. still do not use UIM, so you have to do this.
  • You can activate the phone on PPC etc. with its MEID or the first 14 digits of IMEI.
  • You need to write a Verizon or PPC PRL onto the phone and MDN and MIN with CDMA Workshop or QPST.
Then you can make voice calls over PPC etc.

Phone Utils

In order to do above configurations, first you need two utils.
  • HiddenMenu_No_Root.apk. Use it to enable hidden menu, change USBSetting to DM + MODEM + ADB. Then you can use CDMA Workshop and other CDMA tools. You also need to use it to turn eHRPD off, or it won't (or take a very long time) to connect to EVDO.
  • Phone Info. Use it to switch between CDMA atuo (PRL) and GSM auto (PRL). CDMA mode allows you to use the phone on PPC etc. and GSM mode allows you to use a SIM card.

Root the Phone

You should root the phone and delete /system/app/SamsungSetupWizard.apk, otherwise the phone always complain about non-Verizon SIM even though it uses the SIM fine. You should always insert a SIM card, even any inactive one, otherwise the phone won't show the 3G/4G sign even if it is actually connected to EVDO.

Rooting is very easy, just use the ExynosAbuse-v1.40.apk. If that does not work or you want TWRP recovery, then you need CASUAL-BackAtchaVerizon-Revision311b.jar. Warning: don't use ROM Manager to install CWM recovery, or you'll have to use Odin to flash a stock ROM to get your phone back to life!

TWRP recovery is very good to have. With it you can make full backups. If a bad app messes up your phone, you can use restore back to the backup in few minutes. It is beyond of my understanding why phones do not come with such full backup feature out of box.

Use SIM Cards

When you insert a SIM card into this phone, you should be able to make phone calls immediately. To use data, however, you have to edit the /system/etc/apns-conf.xml file to add the APN. For example, this is what I added for AT&T and T-Mobile data:

<apn carrier="ATT Data"

<apn carrier="T-Mobile Data"

Save the Battery

This phone comes with a whopping 3100mAh battery, but there are still some tweaks to make the huge battery last even longer:
  • Replace the stock GMail (4.1.2) with 4.0.5. 4.1.2 uses CPU constantly. It is quite erratic to do the replacement, I don't remember how exactly I did it. After I replaced it, the phone always got the 4.1.2 back after a reboot. Finally I got 4.0.5 to stick; I think I copied the 4.0.5 directly into /system/app and made it read only.
  • If you use WeChat (WeiXin), use V3.6. The latest version uses CPU constantly like GMail 4.1.2. After you use WeChat, you'd better press back button couple times to make it disappear, or it'll still use CPU sometimes. Don't worry, it'll still run in the background and get your new messages in time.
  • If you use Talkatone and Acrobits, do the same, i.e., press the back button until they disappear, or they use CPU constantly. Acrobits 2.0 and later versions prevent phone from sleep, should not be used.
  • Basically, you press and hold down the home button and select Task Manager to see which apps are using CPU. For those that use CPU, you should exit them after use. You may do the same for GMail 4.1.2, but it is too hassle to do it each and every time a new email arrives, so it's better to replace it with 4.0.5.


iGO works fine on this phone. In case it takes a very long time to get a fix to satellites, use the GPS Test app by Chartcross Limited, it finds the satellites very quickly even if the phone does not have a data connection.

Chinese Input

The phone comes with Chinese as one of the several available languages. So no need to do anything to add that. For typing Chinese, and English too, nothing comes close to Baidu and TouchPal. For Baidu, you need to download v3.5_1000e (v2 does not work on Note 2) and you may use my modified skin for the most perfect soft keyboard.


This is by far the phone that does VO3G perfectly with both Talkatone, Acrobits 1.94 and Nimbuzz. CSipSimple, which I never like, doesn't work. I think the quad-core CPU has plenty of power to do heavily compressed codec like G729 and iLibc, the RF reception is exceptional to keep a steady 3G speed and the MIC processing does a fantastic job to get rid of echo and background noise, resulting into a clean and smooth conversation. I no longer use PPC etc. and I've ported the # to GoogleVoice. I now use VO3G entirely.

I still prefer Acrobits to Talkatone, because it allows me to send and receive direct SIP calls without going through Google Voice and Talkatone's transcoding. If you don't use SipSorcery and you use Google Voice only, then Talkatone is simple and easy, and call quality is good enough most of the time. In my case, Talkatone is not so dependable: sometimes it'll pick up an incoming call but either quit immediately or no audio.

Acrobits actually provides a proxy service:
tls (sip)

When you use this proxy and TLS protocol, you can register to any SIP providers, such as CallCentric, that do not support TCP. Then you no longer need to use etc. for that purpose as described in this article.


Just use FoxFi, as always.

Other Aspects

With a large screen and quad-core CPU, this phone can really do anything that other phones cannot do. For example, editing this blog in Chrome is possible on other phones but a PITA, now a joy on this Note II. Remote Desktop is another job this phone handles extremely well. Typing on the soft keyboard almost never give errors, thanking to the large keys. For the first time on the phone, I feel like to do more typing without reaching for my laptop or tablet. The only other mobile device that offers the same good typing experience is my 7" Samsung Tab for Sprint.

For precise work, the pen comes handy. It is by far the only digital pen, for phones, tablets and computers, that actually works and works well. With its sharp, pressure-sensitive tip, it can do beautiful calligraphy like a Chinese brush. Writing Chinese on this phone with this pen is finally a practical and pleasant input method for those who don't know how to use other IME such as Pinyin.

Websites render extremely fast in Opera Mobile, thanking to the quad-core CPU. 2GB RAM allow far more tabs and apps to open without killing the other. On my other phones, Android always kill Opera whenever I open another app such as a music player.

Wrap up

That's what I can think of at the moment, feel free to ask if any question, as always. HTC DNA is another such global phone with smaller screen and battery. If you don't need CDMA, then the T-Mobile version of Note II is even better, because it can also get TMO 3/4G network and up to 42M speed.

This seems to be my last phone/tablet for years to come, because I have not found a single network it cannot connect to nor a single thing it cannot do well except running Windows applications. Hopefully Intel and Microsoft will come up with a device like this that uses the Clovertrail platform and runs Windows Pro, then it will be my very last phone/tablet/computer.

Intel: no Android on Clovertrail, Okay? MS: no more Windows Phone and RT craps, please! Dear Mr. Ballmer: the stupid RT does not run Windows apps and it does not even have a familiar Windows UI; what made you think people would pay more to buy it instead of the adorable iPad Mini that already runs tons of great apps? You two already have a golden bowl in your hands, why still beg Apple for its market share on phone and tablet while you already have a device does them all plus all Win32 applications? For now this Note II and the X220 serves me well, I cannot see any point of a Clovertrail/Android, WP and RT, but I see huge potential on Clovertrail/WinPro!

Abstract in Chinese

Verizon版的三星Note II是迄今为止最强悍的手机,而且是没上锁的CDMA/EVDO和GSM/HSPA通吃的真正的全球通。在美国可以使用PagePlusCellular等CDMA服务商,也可以使用AT&T(3G)和T-Mobile(2G),在中国可以使用中联通(3G),中移动(2G)和电信(3G)。当然在欧洲等其它国家和地区也都没问题。HTC DNA也是这样的全球通,屏幕和电池都小些。如果不需要CDMA的话,T-Mobile版的Note II更好,因为还可以上T-Mobile的3/4G,而且速度快至42兆。


  1. I didn't realize your understanding of tweak was synonimous with piracy, too.

    How many individuals do you summerize have licensed multi-hundred dollar CDMA workshop?

    One can add verizon MNVO to the handset's NAM2 (despite what balderdash VZ might claim)

    > just use the ExynosAbuse-v1.40.apk

    "just" provide md5 hashes -- otherwise irresponsible [malware risk et al]

    make the battery last even longer: REMOVE ALL Gapps!!

    for online contacts/calendar one need merely an ActiveSync account like hotmail/outlook and NOT exclusively googlemail/gmail!!!!!

    in default props DISABLE google location services. Network, and GPS [w/aGPS] will do yah perfectly fine

    A FAR superior map/nav app is Waze : (download w/o google's malware marget)

    alternative market of pure f/OSS: F-droid

    for texting replace costly/slow legacy sms with XMPP . Excellent clients include

    + Xabber
    + GibberBot

    Both feature XMPP OTR (painless convo encryption for maximum privacy)

    Combine with VSP DID sms:,,

    paying the mobile carrier for texting by sms is nine kinds of retardation or financial folly!

  2. If you like to tweak you would be REMISS not to REQUIRE everyone patch their framework with:


    take back control of data permissions -- or spoof them, too

  3. Do share your strategy for FORCING vz to honor your unlimited data CONTRACT to apply your "new every two" credit to replacing a current 3g phone with this vz note ii

  4. now root is not required to get data. 4.1.2 enables "add new apn" setting.

    1. It's still better to root; so you can remove garbages such as the SamsungSetupWizard that complains non-Verizon SIM.

      I'm still on 4.1.1, because it's been perfectly running so far. Generally, I never update anything (PC, tablet, phone) unless there is something I cannot live with and the update fixes it.

      Other than editing the APN file directly, one may use APNManagerPro, but first use TitaniumBackupPro to make it a system app.

    2. yes root makes many things possible. but to the specific "non-verizon SIM", there is also work around. Stop the "setup wizard" in the application manager, clean the data and that will disappear.

    3. Is it a permanent fix or you have to do that after every reboot?