XDA vs. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3

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Android modders who frequent the XDA Developer Forums seem to fall into three main categories when it comes to devices. There are those who simply want to extend the life of the device they already have. Others, like me, remain faithful to the Nexus line of phones and tablets, enjoying as a result the widest selection of compatible custom firmware. And then there are those who won’t settle for anything but the best. They will choose a device on its own merit, and overcome any and all manufacturer restrictions to make it their own.

The Galaxy Note 3 is one such device.

Some very clever minds have been hard at work on Samsung’s flagship phablet, improving and/or fixing it depending on your point of view. Obtaining root was just the beginning; the video below, from XDA’s official YouTube channel, highlights three additional mods:

RegionLock Away

I wrote about the Note 3’s bizarre region-locking a few weeks ago. It’s a fatal flaw for this device —were I to buy a Note 3 in Hong Kong I could only use it there despite it being unlocked. Thankfully there’s a fix for this from the well-known developer Chainfire. In his own words:

The region lock is implemented in the form of a network blacklist. Beware that this is not exactly the same thing as a SIM lock, even though they are somewhat related. This blacklist blocks a number of whole countries and carriers, while a SIM lock whitelists one specific carrier. This app clears the network blacklist (region lock), but it may or may not remove the SIM lock, if present.

You can download RegionLock Away for your Note 3 via the announcement thread at XDA.

Pen Window Manager

One of the neat things you can do with the Note 3’s S Pen is load certain apps in a floating window, simply by drawing a rectangle on your screen. But why limit yourself to only a few apps? Someone on XDA found a way to enable floating window support for all of them, simply by modifying an XML file. To make things even easier this hack is now a downloadable app.

So now you can put your floating window manager in a floating window. I think my brain just broke.

TB Restore Fixer

As if the other obstacles presented by Samsung weren’t enough, they’ve somehow managed to break TitaniumBackup — a must-have app for Android modders. While Note 3 users can back up apps as per usual, the restore process no longer works.

I’ve no doubt that the Ti Backup team are working hard on a fix for this; in the meantime, another XDA dev has a temporary fix in the form of an app. It’s more of a kludge, really — you need to launch TitaniumBackup first and then invoke the app to fix its restore functionality. And you need to do this every single time you want to restore from TitaniumBackup…

For me the amazing thing in all of this is that every effort by Samsung to lock down the Note 3 has been summarily thwarted by the hive mind at XDA. It’s a testament to their collective brain power and will; once they set their eyes on something it seems they are quite unstoppable.