Unlocking Sprint’s Samsung Transform (SPH-M920) Android Phone

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It has been a while that I have not upgraded any of the gadgets that I use. It seems like any new gadget become obsolete in just several months nowadays.

When I saw a used Android phone on CL for $40, I thought I would buy it. My thought was to use it as an MP3 player, camera, GPS, web browser with WiFi, gaming device, and an Android test platform to test Android Apps. Oh, if it worked as a regular phone also, that would be a plus. :)

Samsung TransformSamsung Transform

Samsung TransformBack cover off

Our cell phone carrier is T Mobile. It turns out that T Mobile phones are GSM phones with sim cards. Sprint and Verizon use CDMA, which is not compatible with T Mobile. Bummer… By the way, I prefer GSM because it works better in the rest of the world, whereas CDMA is mostly for the USA market. (AFAIK).

When I brought the phone home and plugged it in, I noticed that the phone was locked into Sprint service. When it was turned on, it would boot into a Sprint application which tried and tried to activate the phone. It was possible to call the Sprint Operator to activate the service, but I did not want a second cell phone. I wanted to use all the other features of the phone.

CDMA phones are locked into their carriers. When the new phone is activated, the old cell phone becomes totally useless, just like this Sprint phone.

Samsung TransformSprint App Running 1

Samsung TransformSprint App Running 2

Samsung TransformSprint App Running 3

I spent several days understanding the features of the phone. It all was very confusing to me, not only there are huge number of cell phones out there, but also different versions of ROMs, Baseband versions, Android versions, and recovery versions. My concern was that I would put an incompatible version of something on it and brick the phone.

There are several easy steps to unlock this phone. The first is to make sure that the phone has a micro SD card in it. You can open the back of the phone and check if there already is an SD card in the phone. If not, you will need to buy a micro SD card and install it in the phone.

The next step is the ability to put the phone into a ‘Recovery Mode’. Press and hold the Power button until a dialog pops up on the screen. Select the last option ‘Power Off’. After the phone powers off, press VOL-DOWN, VOICE, and POWER buttons down in that sequence and hold the POWER button down until the phone turns on. The phone should now boot into a Recovery Mode.

Note: You can put the phone into a ‘Download Mode’ by following the exact same steps as described above, except replace the VOICE button by the CAMERA button. If it does not work, then take the battery out, put it back in, and then try it again.

Samsung TransformRecovery Mode 1

Samsung TransformRecovery Mode 2

If you have ADT (Android Development Tools) set up, you can push the file into the phone with ./adb push update.zip /mnt/sdcard. You don’t have to take the SD card out of the phone in this case. Otherwise, follow the steps below.

Turn the phone off. Take the micro SD card out of the phone and connect it into a PC. DOWNLOAD this file to your computer and copy it to the micro SD card. File name must be update.zip and it must be at the root of the SD card.

Put the SD card back into the phone, go into Recovery Mode as explained above, and select option 2. It should flash the update.zip file into your phone. The phone will automatically reboot. This will get your phone into stock Froyo 2.2 EB28 release with stock recovery package.

If you want to update your phone to Froyo 2.2 EF09 version, DOWNLOAD this file and follow the same procedures documented above.

Check out the following links for more information: 

http://www.sdx-developers.com

http://forum.sdx-developers.com/index.php?topic=16141.msg210871#msg210871

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6 Responses to Unlocking Sprint’s Samsung Transform (SPH-M920) Android Phone

  1. Jackie Simon says:

    I was recently screwed by the local boost store on Lincoln Ave. in Goshen IN. I had little to no service the entire first month. The first 2 weeks I was in the store 4-5 times. Spoke with the store manager with zero results and him telling me he has nothing to do with the service. I emailed the company and they told me they have nothing to do with these stores. Worse phone service I have ever had. So far not one thing you listed above has worked. Why do I need to put it in recovery mode and do I need service to do this? I do not know where the voice button is. An explanation of why you are doing each step would be very helpful. Thank you Jackie

  2. nev says:

    I am totally confused by your comment. Boost Mobile is a different phone company, maybe that is why they could not help you. I am not sure if Boost Mobile uses a SIM card. This post is about Sprint’s Samsung Transform cell phone. You did not mention what kind of phone you have.
    But thank you for your comment.

  3. James says:

    Is this guide for making the phone work on other CDMA networks? If so, do I just bring it in to the carrier of choice which uses CDMA to use it on their service?

  4. nev says:

    No, the purpose of this guide is to allow the phone to be used as camera, mp3 player, etc. To use it with another carrier, you may need to root the phone. Will the carrier of your choice be able to set the phone up for their service? I really don’t have the answer to that question. :)

  5. Ted says:

    You mentioned there was a sprint phone did not have a removable sim card. Can we access it the same way as a removable? Second question: I called to activate this phone and sprint says a data plan is required an additional $80 added to my plan. Is there any way around this, as I only want to use it as a phone and text? thanks

  6. Hi Nev :D Thank you for this guide. I have reached the breaking point w/ my Samsung so am finally ready to take some unsteady steps into the “Root World”

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