Jul 30 2014

Howto: Fix Samsung Xcover 2 Issues (Old Android, Low Memory, Slow UI)

Samsung Xcover 2 Supercharged

*** UPDATE September 14, 2014: I did not get my Samsung Xcover 2 to recognize the SIM card with any of the CyanogenMod versions 10.1, 10.2 or 11. I also tried the OmniROM but it did not recognize the SIM card either. Some people have reported that their Xcover 2 works fine with the CyanogenMod. The only way I could get it to recognize the SIM card was to use a pre-rooted Samsung ROM that enabled me to change the default installation location to the SD card. Read about the method below. ***

*** UPDATE August 1, 2014: Some people have reported that the Samsung Xcover 2 does not recognize the SIM card after installing CyanogenMod. I will investigate this and provide a solution if/when I will find one. ***

My colleague gave me his old Samsung Xcover 2 to be updated to CyanogenMod as it constantly ran out of memory with the heavy Samsung TouchWiz. I searched the Internet for a while but I could not find any comprehensive step-by-step howto guide in English so I decided to write one myself.

In order to improve usability, I wanted to:

  1. Upgrade Android version from the old 4.1.2 to something newer
  2. Get rid of the Samsung’s heavy TouchWiz UI layer
  3. Be able to install apps to the SD card by default

Since Samsung has not provided any newer Android version for the Xcover 2 and in order to remove the TouchWiz, I decided to install CyanogenMod Android version to it.

Pre-Requisites

For the procedures described in this tutorial, you need:

  • A Windows PC
  • A memory card with the capacity of at least 256 MB
  • A micro-USB data cable
  • The courage to do some exciting stuff to your phone

CyanogenMod

There is no official CyanogenMod port for Samsung Xcover 2 but it is covered in the unofficial ports list. There are three unofficial CyanogenMod versions available for it: 10.1, 10.2 and 11. CyanogenMod version 10.1 is based on Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), 10.2 is based on 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and 11 is based on 4.4 (KitKat). At first I tried CyanogenMod 11 but it had problems with the three physical buttons below the screen: context, home and back. At first they all worked fine but then suddenly they stopped working. I don’t know what happened but I then decided to go with CyanogenMod 10.1 which would be lighter for the underpowered Xcover 2. CyanogenMod 10.1 indeed proved to be a good choice as it runs very smoothly. You could also try CyanogenMod 10.2 although I did not. There is a pretty good overview of CyanogenMod 10.1 available if you are interested in what it will bring to the table.

To install CyanogenMod you need ClockWorkMod Recovery (CWM) installed. CWM replaces the stock Samsung recovery (maintenance) mode and it e.g. enables the installation of custom ROMs.

1. Install ClockWorkMod

ClockworkMod

ClockworkMod is a special boot mode that can be used to backup/restore Android systems or to flash software upgrades. ClockworkMod is required to get the Xcover 2 into a special boot mode where the CyanogenMod can be written to the flash memory.

ODIN3 is a piece of software made by Samsung that allows you to update and install custom ROMs and perform other complex operations on smartphones (even non-Samsung models). Please read the tutorial to learn its details and how to use it.

Confirm to enter Download Mode

Confirm Download Mode

Device Connected

Device Connected

Downloading

Downloading

Download Complete

Download Complete

Before doing anything, fire up ODIN3 and leave it open. Then enable USB Debugging mode in the Xcover 2 selecting Settings → System → Developmer Options → USB Debugging. I used this CWM file. After that you need to put the phone in “download mode”. It can be done by powering it off and then on again while holding down three buttons simultaneously: volume down + home + power. It will ask if you really want to enable download mode so just press volume up to continue. Once in download mode, connect it to the computer. If the device is not recognized, please install Samsung Kies or Moborobo to get the drivers. In ODIN3 select PDA and in the file dialog select the CWM file and then Start. ODIN3 will upload the file to the device and the phone will reboot. After reboot you may unplug it from computer and shut it down. You may also close ODIN3 now. To confirm that the CWM was installed properly, try booting the phone up while pressing volume up + home + power. If everything went well, you should get the CWM screen.

ClockworkMod Main Screen

ClockworkMod Main Screen

2. Install CyanogenMod

Installing CyanogenMod

Download the ROM file (10.1, 10.2 or 11.0) from here. Now with your computer, copy the CyanogenMod file and the Google Apps file onto a memory card (root). While the phone turned off, insert the memory card to the phone and turn it on while holding down volume up + home + power. To navigate in CWM, use the volume up/down and to select, use the power button. Navigate down to “wipe cache partition” and select it with the power button. It will ask for confirmation. Then navigate to “install zip” → “choose zip from /storage/sdcard1” → select the CyanogenMod file. It will run for about 30 seconds and then say “Install from sdcard complete”. Now don’t just yet reboot but install Google Apps while we are at it (the next step below).

3. Install Google Apps (Gapps)

Installing Gapps

Edit: I forgot to provide links for Gapps. You can find Gapps for different CyanogenMod version here: Team Android Google Gapps.

Now navigate to “choose zip from /storage/sdcard1” → select the Gapps file. It will run again for another 30 seconds and then says “Install from sdcard complete”. Now navigate to “+++++Go Back+++++” → “reboot system now”. The first boot took about couple of minutes.

Apps Install on SD Card by Default

Now this turned out to be trickier than I previously thought. First I tried the Android SDK method by issuing the command adb shell pm set-install-location 2 to force all new app installations to go to the SD card automatically. Although it changed the install location to “2” it did not work as I had hoped for. It gives an error “insufficient storage available”.

The next method I tried was to use an app to swap internal and external memories to trick the phone to think that the external SD card is in fact its flash memory. Root External 2 Internal SD is one of such apps to do it and there are many tutorials on Youtube. This method won’t work because Samsung has changed the way the internal flash memory is partitioned and mounted. Earlier models had the flash memory divided into two parts: the first part was called the internal memory and the other part was called “sdcard”, even when it had nothing to do with an actual physical SD card. Now the actual SD card would be called “extSdCard”. The swap apps, such as the Root External 2 Internal SD, rely on this configuration and thus will all fail.

I tried several other methods, including S2E (simple2ext), Apps2SD, Link2SD but they all failed because they could not see the SD card at all.

The AParted & Mounts2SD Method

The only (partially) successful method I discovered was using AParted to partition the SD card and having Mounts2SD to move the data to the SD card upon booting. However this approach presents two problems:

  1. It is only possible to install apps that are no bigger than 1.13 GB.
  2. The data will be moved to the SD only upon next boot.

A better solution would be that the apps and data directories would be mounted on the SD card but despite numerous efforts I could not do it.

AParted

AParted

Before operating on the memory card go to Settings → Storage → Unmount SD card. Install AParted from Google Play and create two partitions on the SD card: a primary with FAT32 file system and a secondary with EXT3 file system. The primary partition will be shown as the external card and it can store for example photos and videos. The secondary partition will be invisible to Android but it will be visible to the Mounts2SD app that can mount it to /sd-ext. I divided the 32 GB SD card into two partitions of approximately same size.

Mounts2SD

Mounts2SD

Mounts2SD

Mounts2SD

Install Mounts2SD from Play Store. After you have granted Root access rights to it, it will complain about missing startup scripts. Press the context menu button (the three physical buttons below the screen from left to right are context menu, home and back) and select Application Settings. There is a grey button “Install Startup Script” which does what it says it will. Now go back and select the Configuration tab. Change the file system type to Ext3 but do not change any other settings yet but reboot.

After reboot go to Mounts2SD again. Now you will see that the startup scripts have mounted the SD card’s secondary partition (Ext3) to /sd-ext. Now this huge space can be used for storing applications. Go to settings tab again and now select which types of data you want to be moved to the SD card. I select “Applications”, “Libraries”, “Data” and “Media”. “Dalvik Cache” has binary optimized application cache. If you seem to run out of space, you may want to move that as well to the SD card but please keep in mind that it can slow apps down. The startup scripts will move your newly installed apps to /sd-ext when you reboot your phone so you can enjoy free space every time you boot your phone.

Mounts2SD

Alternative Solution: Pre-Rooted Samsung ROM

If you are only interested in getting apps to be installed onto the SD card or your Xcover 2 does not recognize the SIM card with CyanogenMod (like mine), you may try a pre-rooted Samsung ROM.

There is a great guide on xda-developers.com how to install the pre-rooted Samsung ROM. I downloaded the “deodexed” version S7710XXAMB6_S7710OXEAMB3-20130713.7z. If you have previously tried the CyanogenMod method and installed the ClockWorkMod then the “volume up + home + power” does not put your Xcover 2 into the Download Mode for Odin3 but rather boots the phone into CWM. Just boot up your phone using “volume down + home + power” to get the Download Mode. Then follow the instructions in the guide.

After installation, plug in your phone to PC (USB debugging enabled) and use Android SDK’s adb shell to open up the phone shell. Start command prompt as admin and then cd to SDK → platform-tools → adb.exe. Once you start the adb shell, your phone will ask if you would like to give it root access. Just select “allow”. Then issue command su and then pm set-install-location 0. If you have previously repartitioned your SD card to have two partitions like I instructed earlier in the CyanogenMod method, please delete the partitions and create one partition and format it using FAT32 file system. You may do the partitioning and formatting with e.g. MiniTool Partition Wizard. Just reboot you phone and it will install apps directly to the SD card.

Installing a large app

Storage shows over space
Earlier it was impossibe to install apps larger than 1.06 GB and as you can see in the screenshot it installs 1.45 GB game without problems. One thing that is worth mentioning is that the storage view in settings shows that the apps occupy more space than there is available. Just ignore it.

That is it, enjoy. If you have the Samsung Xcover 2 and you have found a different way to increase internal memory, please let me know in the comments below!

57 Responses to “Howto: Fix Samsung Xcover 2 Issues (Old Android, Low Memory, Slow UI)”

  • Alf Says:

    Hello sir, IThan you for very brief information for fixin memory problem with thisphone. I am vondering if you have any comments if there are any affects on navigation ang gps functioning on xcover after reinstalling with cyanogenmod? Thank you.

    • arinium Says:

      The GPS and navigation seems to work fine after installing CyanogenMod. However, the phone does not recognize any SIM card so it has rendered the phone pretty much useless. I am working on another solution.

      • Ville Says:

        I just installed CyanogenMod 10.1 + GApps on my XCover 2 and Sonera SIM gets recognized fine, also made a successful test voice call.

        Thanks for the test and nice instructions, appeciate it!

        • Kimmo Says:

          What Cyanogenmod 10.1 rev. you used exactly? Tried 11.0 and couple 10.1 along with 10.2 and doesnt still recognize my sim.

          Old convo I know, lol, but had to try.. Need smartphone for workphone, and my rundown Xcover2 starts to be otherwise useless with OEM stuff.

  • janka Says:

    Hi! Were i could get cwm file? I would like to use same vewrsion which you did

  • Simon Says:

    Hi! I was wondering: my phone doesn’t show any reaction when I try to debug, any thoughts on that?

  • Antonio Says:

    Thanks a lot!
    I bought this phone for my wife and she and me too were fustrated with it.
    I tried last summer to fix it without success, and now I can!
    Only one question: I have got it with the alternative solution (pre rooted Samsung ROM), but it didn’t work with only one partition. I had to partition again the SD card, one FAT32, one ext3. Now, all app are installed in the SD.
    Thanks a lot!

  • John Smith Says:

    fixes network not found issue(http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2689519&page=30):
    worked for me

    adb shell
    su
    find /efs/|while read s; do chown radio:system $s; done;
    find /modemfs/|while read s; do chown radio:system $s; done;
    chmod -R 777 /efs/
    chmod -R 777 /modemfs/
    reboot

  • Thomas Says:

    Thanks a lot for the nice description! I am nearly there but since I am not an expert on these things, I have some more questions. Perhaps you can help me.
    I have done the following:
    1. Rooted the phone using Odin and the file from your link.
    2. connected to ADB and set-install-location 0
    3. rebooted (since I did not partition the SD before, I did not touch this)
    Now, as you mention, the apps should be installed on the extSD, although the storage view gives me wrong information about the available memory. However, as the memory information for extSD did not change either upon installation of new apps, I searched for the files using root explorer. I found files from the app in both root/data/data and storage/extSD and the file on extSD was 0kB. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong?
    Also, is there a way to move previously installed apps to the extSD after applying your fix?
    Thanks a lot for your help!

  • Per Says:

    Cant find download link for Gapps on this site, only CyanogenMod 10.1 for my Samsung Xcover2

  • Per Says:

    Found Gapps elsewhere and installed both successfully and rebooted for first boot with new CyanogenMod.
    Still after 40 min with moving circular moving Logo of CyanogenMod, nothing else happens.
    It keeps circling, battery slightly warmer but nothing else.
    Will perhaps try second alternative with pre-rooted Samsung ROM tomorrow if CyanoMod hasnt finished booting during the entire night.

    All good and nice work of developer, but I just cant get it to boot properly/at all with first alternative…

    Hoping for fast help…

    Per.

  • Tuomas Says:

    Hello sir!

    Same problem than Per has 🙁 Did I take wrong Cyanogen or Gapps files? Could you provide a download links to the ones you used?

    BR,
    Tuomas

  • Domimik Says:

    Very good tutorial, I’m doing the pre-rooted just now, but sorry to say this, but you took a wrong application. Asphalt is game which has small apk file (the one that installs in internal storage), and big obb file which is downloaded straight to SD card. I never checked the exact size of apk for asphalt 8, but i think it is not more than 200 mb.
    For really big games i have humble bundle and I’ll try installing some big games, I’ll let you know if I succeeded.
    For now i was using the Link2SD app, which is very good, but you need to have 2 partitions. Only bad thing is, that the game is first installed in internal, and later it is moved to the hidden partition on SD card. So you can’t install bigger applications then your internal storage.

  • arinium Says:

    Hi and thanks for the comments. I did forget to provide download links for Gapps and it’s been a while since I wrote this tutorial (I did it to my friend’s Xcover 2 which I don’t have anymore).

    You can find Gapps for different CyanogenMods here: Team Android Google Gapps.

    As far as I can remember, the Gapps are provided (pre-installed) in the “deodexed” modified Samsung ROM.

  • Leon Says:

    installed cyanogen 10.1 and cannot make any calls or even recive it ( im from slovenia)

  • Anders Says:

    I rooted my xcover 2 by the help of this guide http://theunlockr.com/2014/02/27/root-samsung-galaxy-xcover-2-gt-s7710/ and I was then able to move the apps by using the app link2SD and this guide for preparing the SD card http://www.noypigeeks.com/android/tutorial-a-guide-to-link2sd/

  • Mircea Says:

    The ‘Alternative Solution: Pre-Rooted Samsung ROM’ worked for me only if i formatted 2 partitions on the sdcard: FAT32 and ext3.
    Thank you for the great tutorial!

  • Masoom Says:

    My outgoing calls are not working plz tell me a solution for it..

  • Chris Says:

    Hi,

    just completed the install, currently on first boot. Got to say, nicely written tutorial, cool way to buy my old XCover2 a few more months (years?) – Actually, I grown to like that thing, but the “old” Samsung thing made me sick.

  • Tomas Lundell Says:

    What cyanogenmod rom file did you use?
    I’m looking everywhere and can’t find it and I can’t see any link for that in the above article.

  • Maarten Lips Says:

    Hello,

    So I’ve recently tried parts of your tutorial (I’m just interested in the app2sd part) and it worked fine! Although I recently upgraded from a 8GB sdcard to a 32GB one and for some reason clockworkmod can’t mount the 32GB card. I already partitioned it using minitool and given it 20GB FAT32 and the rest ext3. When I boot my phone NO data from my sdcard can be read (only by es file explorer). All my songs are gone and I don’t know what to do. I made a backup of everything before I started and I just want to restore all data from sd-ext to my new sdcard but cwm won’t mount my sdcard! Should I try and reformat the sdcard to a different format or is there something else I did wrong?
    To be clear, I copied all my files from my original sdcard and then copied them to my new sdcard after I partitioned it, so all my existing files are still on there except for the sd-ext part.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Maarten Lips Says:

      So I’ve kind of fixed the issue now, after some work I partitioned the sd card with AParted. I can now link all of my apps but my original apps that were linked are now gone. Well, kind of gone, the phone still thinks they are there if I go to “apps” fuction under “Storage”. To reinstall the apps I first have to deinstall the “gone” apps and then reinstall them via Google play store. Although there is a problem, one of the apps that was on the sdcard was google chrome, and sadly I can’t delete the “gone” version of chrome on the “apps” screen because it is a system app. I’ve tried ALOT of system remover apps but none can see the “gone”chrome app. If I try to install chrome it would just say “Not enough memory” or something. But this happened with all apps where I haven’t deinstalled the “gone” version.
      I’m sorry if this makes no sense to some of you but this is the only way I can describe it, hopefully someone will have a solution to this problem. Right now I don’t have a “good” browser app..

      • arinium Says:

        Hi Maarten,

        I am sorry but I don’t have the phone any more, I did this to my colleague’s phone so I am afraid I cannot help.

        • Maarten Lips Says:

          No problem Arinium, I’ve currently posted a thread on xda-developers. Hope I get an answer there, I can also just factory reset my phone if needed.
          But still thank you for this awesome post! It helped me alot.

  • Will Says:

    Hi have you ever brick the samsung Xcover 2 my is totally dead it wont start up or go into download mod please help.

  • Martin Says:

    Hi, i have a little question, with this tutorial i can upgrade my android 4.1.2 to 4.4 kit kat on my xcover 2? thx 🙂

  • Thomas Says:

    Will be glad if the solution to the sim problem is found. Love cyanogen mod and this phone could be used alot more if this problem is solved! 🙂

  • Simon Says:

    Hi there,

    this a fine tutorial. My first try didn’t worked. I think I used the wrong version of the gapps. First I was facing the sim card problems already discussed. But after installing gapps everything works fine. The second important thing is that the partion on the SD card for the mount2sd tool is the second one. If it is the first one it wont’t.
    I used the CWM recovery linked in the original post and installed the cyanogen mod 10.2. Other version I didn’t try.

    Thanks a lot for this great post!

    More fun with the xcover2!!!

    Cheers

  • Wilson Says:

    Tried cyanogen mod 10.2. and cyanogen mod 10.1., doesn’t work, problem-
    -circular moving Logo of CyanogenMod, nothing else happens.
    Well, sad.

  • Wilson Says:

    But phone was already rooted, don’t know if it have an influence for dis.

    • Wilson, lost Says:

      Got this thing running, bcz did full wipe,
      format /boot
      format /system
      wipe data/factory reset format/
      cache .e.g. staff,after that worked..

      But, google play crashes, camera have no settings .e.g.

  • Wilson Says:

    Installed vanir_skomer_4.4.4.112414,
    pa_gapps_modular_mini_4.4.4.-20150308

    Aand it works.
    GPS, SMS, SIM, calls, googe play,maps, internet works!
    Still odd camera..

  • Romain Says:

    I had performance and stability issues with CM 10.2 and CM 11. The system was unusable. I followed this recipe :

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=59212253&postcount=591

    My Xcover 2 is stable and fully functioning.

  • Deev Says:

    I installed Vanir instead of CM and had the EXACT same problem with SIM not recognised and physical front buttons not working. After a lot of investigation I discovered that this seems to be caused by an issue with the builds that require a SPECIFIC baseband ROM being installed first:

    I used Odin to flash a pre-rooted version of S7710XXAMB6 (MUST be AMB6) onto the phone. After I did that and rebooted it got stuck in a boot loop with the animated Samsung logo for some reason, but no matter – I re-flashed CWM and then used that to install Vanir 4.4.4 and the gapps. Then when you boot into the phone, use the terminal emulator included in the ROM (no need to faff about with adb) to enter:

    su
    find /efs/|while read s; do chown radio:system $s; done;
    find /modemfs/|while read s; do chown radio:system $s; done;
    chmod -R 777 /efs/
    chmod -R 777 /modemfs/

    Then reboot the phone again and away you go!!

    Hope this helps someone. I spent hours figuring this out but now my XCover 2 is a snappy, usable phone – not the laggy horror story that TouchWiz gave me!!

    • arinium Says:

      Hi Deev,

      Thanks a lot for the comments, it sure seems to be a struggle to get all things working but you have found the way. I already gave the phone away some time ago so I cannot repeat the steps but thank you for sharing!

      • Deev Says:

        I hope it helps someone! It’s entirely possible that this solution would work with Cyanogen as well, although I’m wary of re-flashing now that I’ve got Vanir working – and it seems really stable and responsive so I don’t see the value in messing with what isn’t broken in the first place! But thank YOU for your blog! It started me going in the right direction when I didn’t want to give up on this phone 🙂

        Incidentally this solution still only gives you around 150Mb of free space on the phone, but if anyone wants to know, I’ve managed to get Link2SD working so I can install my apps to an external SD card. Again it’s not straightforward on this phone but if there’s interest I’ll add a guide!

  • Jan Says:

    Can someone tell me, if the alternative solution installs the cyanogenmod like the first solution with odin etc. or does only root the phone? I am new to this sort of stuff and I don’t understand the alternative solution 😀 thank you!

  • Rick van der Zwet Says:

    I have changed the mountpoint of /data to an ext4 partition of the external SDcard, by modifying the fstab.samsungskomer file. This gives me a a very big SDcard partition. No need for tricks and quirks anymore.

    Some high-level how-to is found here: https://rickvanderzwet.nl/trac/personal/wiki/SamsungGalaxyXcover2

  • user Says:

    Hi,

    do you know if new versions of CM work with the XCover?
    After the latest security problems with Android and my custom rom I want the patched CM.
    Thanks.

  • Kostis Says:

    Hello arinium.

    I am an old owner of a Xcover2, that was rooted by this guide and my life was much easier.
    Now I have bought the Xcover 3.
    Do you know how I could root it??

    Thanks in advance…

    Kostis

  • Epic Says:

    For those looking to resolve xCover2 space issues

    1. Install CWM recovery on the phone
    http://theunlockr.com/2014/02/27/install-clockworkmod-recovery-samsung-galaxy-xcover-2-gt-s7710/

    2. Root
    http://theunlockr.com/2014/02/27/install-clockworkmod-recovery-samsung-galaxy-xcover-2-gt-s7710/

    3. Swap InternalSD with ExternalSD
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=43294839&postcount=1

    It does not say but to find your device access code use a terminal emulator and run @mount without parameter.

    THis is not permanent but it works till the External2Internal is installed.

  • Epic Says:

    and btw, do not start again External2Internal as will have to repeat the settings in the app.

  • Lukas.trop Says:

    has anyone tried Rick van der Zwet’s method? i wish i had the tools and knownledge to do it myslef. Can anyone help me with this?

  • Rimas Says:

    Great tutorial, thank you 🙂
    Perfect works.

  • Postoffice Says:

    Hi!

    I got Link2SD working with EaseUS Partition master(Minitool said ok, but link2sd didn’t work), I made two partitions to the ext. sd-card first about 25GB FAT32 and second about 2GB EXT3. Notice that both partitions _MUST_ be primary partitions. If you also make the second partition FAT32 you won’t be able to link datafiles to sdcard (Whatsapp’s pictures etc.).

    PS. The EXT3 partition is what you use with Link2SD. FAT32 Partition is for “normal” usage

  • Postoffice Says:

    Oh, and I have Xcover 2 with Cyanogenmod 10.2 and working mobile networking.

    PS. Thanks for the great how-to

  • Marc Says:

    I use some years the vanir without problems, now I installed the 10.2, but the camera dont works, has somebody a solution? Thanks.

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