How to fix a Samsung Galaxy S3 on O2 with the 4.1.2 freeze problem

I don’t normally write tech-type blog posts but having recently endured this utter pain in the arse of a problem, I thought I’d try to help others by posting my solution. I’ll attempt to be succinct.

2015 update: I’ve turned comments off for this blog post due to a weird and continuing influx of spam.

2014 update: You may want to consider skipping the faff below and simply install Cyanogenmod on your device. It’s easy and will upgrade your phone to Android KitKat 4.4. Find out more here.

First up: this is my particular experience. THIS ADVICE MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU. I DON’T GUARANTEE THIS POST’S ACCURACY. FIDDLING WITH YOUR PHONE IS DANGEROUS AND HAS RISKS. READ THIS WHOLE POST FIRST AND IF YOU’RE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH IT, DON’T DO ANYTHING. In other words, don’t blame me if you brick your phone. 🙂

The problem

My Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone started freezing intermittently about a month back. It didn’t seem to be caused by any specific action. Sometimes it would freeze while I was using it, the screen getting stuck on. Sometimes it would freeze when I wasn’t using it, and I’d only realise when the screen wouldn’t come on at all.

After a freeze there were 3 crappy options:

  1. Hold down the power button until the phone forced a restart.
  2. Take out the battery and put it back in.
  3. Wait for approximately 20 minutes for the phone to unfreeze by itself.

Sometimes the freezes would occur only ever hour-or-so. Sometimes they’d happen every few minutes. The result was an unusable phone.

This appeared to happen shortly after my phone received the Android 4.1.2 update over the air. A quick Googling seemed to confirm that others were having a similar problem.

Trying to use official channels

I’m on O2 in the UK. Thus my first port of call was O2’s repair team. I took the phone into the shop and they sent it away to be investigated. They gave me a super-basic Nokia as a loan phone, which I had to pay a £25 deposit on. Clearly they don’t trust their customers much, even when they’re paying £30 a month and have been with them for 7 years.

It came back a week later. 20 minutes after leaving the shop it froze. Exactly the same problem.

No details were provided as to what O2’s repair people had done. As far I could tell, they’d simply done a factory reset. Which I’d already tried.

I took it back and they sent it off again.

I received a phone call a few days later from the elite O2 repair squad saying that they couldn’t find any fault. Of course, given the nature of the freezes, it might only happen every hour-or-so. With a factory reset the problem would sometimes lessen, though it would still happen.

The phone came back. They usefully claimed that they’d upgraded the firmware to the latest version. I checked and it was on exactly the same firmware as when it had left.

At this point I considered going direct to Samsung. However, I elected instead to try to fix it myself as I had rather lost faith in supposed support teams by this point.

Diagnosis

First up, identifying the problem. This is a weird problem in that it only affects a few S3 users. Enough to show up a lot on Google, but not a lot for the mainstream press or carriers to be aware of it.

Also, note that your phone freezing could be caused by all sorts of reasons. It doesn’t mean you have this specific problem.

After a lot of tedious research, I figured out what was going on. Let’s cut to the chase:

  • Computers like smartphones have firmware. This is what drives the phone. When a new version of Android or iOS is released, you’re upgrading the phone’s firmware. The latest major version of Android is called Jellybean.
  • Firmware has a version number (eg 4.1.2) and a PDA build code. A version number could have several different builds.
  • At some point in late 2012, Samsung acknowledged a problem with the S3’s Jellybean firmware (possibly 4.1.1 and prior, I’m not sure) which could completely kill the phone stone dead.
  • Samsung released a fix for this right at the end of 2012. This update was available over the air. It was the 4.1.2 XELLA update.
  • Many phone carriers, including O2, periodically take an official Samsung firmware release, re-brand it slightly, and then it gets released as that carrier’s official release. This is why you might not get an Android update until weeks or months after the manufacturer (in this case, Samsung) originally released it. If you’re on O2, you only get the updates that O2 approve.
  • In this case, O2 spotted that the 4.1.2 XELLA update was important and set about releasing an O2-branded version.
  • Meanwhile, shortly after releasing the XELLA update Samsung realised it had a bug: it could cause the phone to freeze intermittently.
  • Samsung quickly released a new build which didn’t have the freezing problem. In fact, there’s been 3 builds since then.
  • At the time of writing (April 8th 2013) O2 haven’t released any further builds since the XELLA update.

What this means is that if you have an unlocked, unbranded S3 you’ll be totally fine, as you’ll have the  very latest firmware. Even if you did have the faulty XELLA update, it will only have been briefly.

If you’re on O2 AND are being affected by the freezing, however, you’re currently a bit screwed. You can check which firmware build you have by going to Settings -> About device. The build code is right at the bottom.

Even if you send the phone off to O2 to be repaired, all they can do is put the latest firmware on it – 4.1.2 XELLA. Which is the CAUSE of the problem.

O2 staff in shops and at the repair centre seem entirely unaware of the freezing problem, despite it being reported in many places including their own forums and support systems. As mentioned above, it doesn’t affect all users, but it is widespread enough for it to be easily found in a Google search.

Send the phone off to Samsung and you could also have a problem, as they may well be restricted to only working with the O2-branded and approved firmware.

Which is why, currently, I needed to fix it myself.

The fix

Still there? Yeah, I know. It’s a lot of reading. I had to cobble all this together from about 15 different sites, and that was after filtering out all the irrelevant and incorrect stuff. Not fun.

Once I’d diagnosed what was actually going on, the solution seemed theoretically simple: I needed to get to a newer version of the 4.1.2 firmware, beyond the problematic XELLA build.

So how to do this?

Turns out, there’s something called ODIN. It’s an all-powerful god of a program, appropriately enough. It’s able to change the firmware on your phone very easily, with a few crucial benefits:

  • It doesn’t void your warranty.
  • It doesn’t require the phone to be ‘rooted’. Rooting can be cool, but only if you know what you’re doing. Although I’d rooted my previous phone, the HTC Desire, I didn’t want to root my S3.
  • It’s very easy to use: BUT YOU DO HAVE TO BE CAREFUL.

Two things are needed.

  1. The ODIN software. You can get it from here. The version at the time of writing is 3.07.
  2. A stable firmware build. Conveniently, all phone builds are stored at http://www.sammobile.com

To find the firmware, go to sammobile.com and click the Firmware link at the top. Then click the Firmwares link just below that pops up.

In the menu system, pick from left to right: Smartphone -> Android -> GT-I9300 – Galaxy S III -> United Kingdom – BTU

This will display the available firmwares for the phone.

NOTE: THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE FOR A UK PHONE RUNNING ON THE UK NETWORK O2. IT MIGHT BE DIFFERENT IF YOU’RE IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY. I DON’T KNOW, I HAVEN’T TRIED IT.

The best bet is probably to grab the latest one. At the time of writing, and when I fixed my phone, this was the 2013 March 4.1.2 I9300XXEMC2 build. Basically, try to go for the latest, stable, official build.

Note that this means you’re downloading the latest official SAMSUNG build. This is NOT the O2 build. In fact, it has nothing to do with O2.

It’s still an official, 100% legit build. There is nothing dodgy about this process.

You’ll probably need to register at the website to download. Simply click the name of the firmware to download it.

A note about locked sims

The sim card is the thing that tells your phone how to connect to your network carrier.

Some phones are locked to only allowing a particular type of sim. So, for example, you might only be allowed to use O2 sims in your S3 phone. Normally this is only a problem if you want to sell the phone or change networks.

In my reading it seemed that having a locked phone could cause problems with changing the firmware, with the phone then complaining and not recognising the sim and asking for an unlock code.

I didn’t have to contend with this as it turned out my S3 was not sim-locked.

The best way to check this is to put a sim card from somebody else’s phone into your S3. Make sure it’s on a different network carrier. You’ll soon see if it asks for a code. If it doesn’t, you’re good to go.

If it does, you may need to get an unlock code from O2. You can do this here. Alternatively you can try the methods described here, but these may only work if you’re on a 4.1.1 firmware build.

Game time

OK, here’s the actual process for doing the fix. THIS IS WHERE THINGS CAN GO WRONG, SO ONLY DO IT IF YOU’RE COMFORTABLE AND HAVE BACKED EVERYTHING UP.

I REPEAT: THIS WILL PROBABLY CAUSE DATA TO DISAPPEAR, SO DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING PRECIOUS ON YOUR PHONE. BACK IT UP.

You can find more info about ODIN by clicking here.

  1. Make sure you’ve got the GT-I9300 drivers already installed on your system. The easiest way to do this is to make sure you’ve installed the official Kies software from Samsung and connected your phone in the past. Windows will get all your drivers installed.
  2. MAKE SURE KIES ISN’T RUNNING. Hit ctrl+shift+escape if you’re not sure and check in the list for anything Kies-related. Kill it if it’s there. Having Kies running while ODIN does it’s thing would be bad.
  3. Extract the zip archive that you downloaded with firmware. This should result in a .tar or .tar.md5 file.
  4. Put your phone into download mode:
    1. Turn the phone off.
    2. Take out your sim card and SD, just to make sure they don’t interfere at all.
    3. Hold down the volume down and home buttons while holding the power button. This will start the phone up in a special mode.
    4. Press the volume up button to confirm. The phone will enter download mode.
  5. Extract the ODIN zip.
  6. Run ODIN – it’ll ask for admin permissions, so grant them.
    1. A window pops up with lots of buttons. Don’t change anything or fiddle around unless you know EXACTLY what you’re doing.
    2. By default you should have Auto Reboot and F. Reset Time already ticked. This is fine: leave them ticked.
    3. Make sure NOTHING ELSE IS TICKED. Having anything else ticked could destroy the universe.
    4. Click the PDA button and select the firmware file you extracted.
    5. ODIN will run a bunch of checks on the firmware file. This could take a little while. Afterwards, the PDA section will be ticked.
  7. Let’s do this thing.
    1. Connect your phone to the computer with a USB cable.
    2. Wait for the drivers to install.
    3. Once it’s ready, ODIN will change status to show something in the ID:COM box. It should turn blue, which means it’s ready to go. It might take a few seconds, so be patient.
    4. Double-check you don’t have anything else accidentally ticked.
    5. Click START.
    6. ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY DO NOT UNPLUG THE PHONE DURING THE PROCESS.

A progress bar will appear on the phone and in ODIN. Once it’s done the phone will reboot at least once. DO NOT UNPLUG THE PHONE.

Eventually a PASS! message will appear in ODIN and it’ll go green. This is good news.

Your phone will eventually reboot and you’ll end up on the start screen. At this point you can safely unplug the phone.

You can check the firmware in Settings->About device.  The build number should reflect the one you downloaded.

At this point I went to Settings -> Back up and reset and did a factory reset, to ensure I was starting nice and clean.

You can then log into your Google and Samsung accounts and reinstall everything and, if you’re like me, you won’t be suffering from freezes anymore.

I hope this helps somebody – it was a right faff trying to figure this out, so hopefully this’ll let some people cut straight to it.

The cool thing? You’ll now get the latest updates direct from Samsung, without having to wait for O2.

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77 thoughts on “How to fix a Samsung Galaxy S3 on O2 with the 4.1.2 freeze problem

  1. Sounds promising. Is everything still working ok on the phone since flashing the new ROM? Strangely, the problem has only started happening on my S3 within the last two days so will definitely give this a go once I’ve unlocked the sim.

    Is there a risk of the phone freezing whilst installing the new ROM? I imagine that would cause all sorts of problems.

    D

  2. Everything is still functioning fine, so that’s been 4 days so far. Given the frequency of the problem before, it appears to be resolved. Though I’ve probably jinxed it now.

    The freezing didn’t start on mine immediately upon getting the 4.1.2 XELLA update, it was a while later. Looking at the various posts around the net it would seem that the problem has hit people at different times. I still have no actual idea of WHAT is going wrong, or why, only that it appears to be specific to that firmware build.

    I’m not sure about the freezing during flashing. My (only slightly informed) guess is that it probably wouldn’t happen, because you’re putting your phone into download mode before using ODIN. This means it never actually boots into full-on Android, which is possibly where the actual problem is. Kinda like the bios on a computer prior to Windows loading. However, if it DID freeze in the middle of the process I imagine it could be rather bad…

    Anyway, good luck…hopefully the info is of use!

  3. Nice guide, will try it tomorrow and let you know if it works! I’ll try just about anything to stop my beloved S3 from freezing anymore.

  4. You Sir, are a God amongst men.

    More people need to know about this given how long it took me to find your post.

    Menu response was a little juddery at first, but I bit the bullet and did a factory reset and everything is now as it should be…dare I say a little faster too!

    Thank you again. Now where shall I post that beer to?

  5. Absolutely brilliant piece of work!
    I’m with Vodafone who attempted to ‘repair a mechanical’ component of my S3 when this problem arose. I insisted on a replacement when the problem happened 45 seconds after it came back from repair. I’ve passed your link to Vodafone Ireland in the hope they may also release the XEMC2 firmware officially. I have a friend with this very issue on hers now, hers too has been repaired and problem is back. She’s currently fighting to have it replaced.

  6. Thanks! Interesting to hear that the problem appears to be affecting customers on other networks as well.

    Google really need to rethink the Android distribution structure. Having new versions go through Google->manufacturer (Samsung in this case)->network carrier really doesn’t work. It’s the one thing I do like about Apple’s setup: you rarely end up stuck on an old OS simply because some unrelated service company hasn’t kept up its end of the bargain.

  7. Your fix sounds very promising.i have had the s3 with O2 for about 6 months,firmware fully updated and not rooted.problems started with the odd freeze ,wasn’t anything specific,or a certain app,could even be in browser,but had to reboot it every time.then it progressed to switching itself off,so I didn’t even know weather the phone was on or off until I picked it up and checked,I couldn’t rely on the alarm for waking me up in the morning.the past week it has been really aggressive and without exaggeration,must have had to turn it off to restart at least 50 times a day.i took this back into O2 yesterday and they sent it off to their repair centre.today I got a text to say that there is a fault with the USB charging unit,it’s damaged ,so warranty is void.after reading lots of posts about this problem I’m smelling a rat,they want £138 to complete the repairs.this is an extremely well looked after phone,and I think it’s pretty basic how to connect the supplied charging cable!.ive asked for further details by the engineer who inspected it,but had very little else to offer on his notes, I will ask the phone to be sent back to O2 and ask for a second opinion.if I get no joy from O2,I will try your fix and see out the remainder of my contract and go for a different phone.

  8. That’s pretty outrageous. At least they didn’t try and charge me. Even if the charging unit was damaged (and presumably it isn’t, if you could still charge the phone?), I’m not sure it’s something that could affect general OS stability.

    I wrote to O2 to complain about my situation. Originally the O2 staff in-store had promised to reduce that month’s tariff due to all the hassle, but they then didn’t. The reply I got back from O2’s complaints department gave me £10 off my next bill…that’s it. After 3 weeks of faffing, days of researching and fixing in my own time…

    I have a depressing number of months left on my contract, but I really can’t wait to switch to another carrier or a service like GiffGaff.

  9. This article needs to be the 1st link on Google for Galaxy S3 freezing! I may be being a presumptious but it does seem to have fixed my problem. Only 3 hours in though with the new firmware, where as before it was freezing every 20 mins or so.

    To clarify I am not on O2 but on the 3 UK network and have been experiencing this for about a week now, freezing randomly suddenly with no apparent reason, so I completely wiped the phone etc back to factory settings, no extra apps but still happening. I checked for software update OTA but the message was coming back as up to date, so I reluctantly booked it in to be sent off to 3 for repair. Then connected to Samsung Kies which told me there WAS an update available, tried to update via Kies with no joy, then checked for a software update again OTA which miraculously showed there was one available,(less than 2 hours after me first checking!).

    So, I’ve downloaded the update OTA and am now on firmware JZO54K.19300XXEMD2, I guess the MD2 is the most important part of that in terms of any google searches finding this and not the LLA part of the previous firmware.

    Anyways, I seem to now be working fine. I think the XELLA or LLA firmware for carrier modded S3’s and them not releasing an update is the problem here. Why 3’s technical support or any other network don’t realise this is surprising. I’m due to send mine off for repair tomorrow but don’t think (hopefully) I will be now thanks to this article.

    Thanks for making me investigate further Simon, the OTA upgrade first had me thinking I was on the latest, I didn’t use the ODIN programme you mentioned but used the god-awful Kies to see there was one.

    Cheers!

  10. Just to clarify too, I had the 4.1.2 update for a good while with the XXELLA firmware before my freezing started to happen, maybe 2 or 3 months so if you have a Galaxy S3 with intermittent freezing then read this article! (Subtle hint to Google and all the network operators technical staff out there! lol)

  11. I think i love you man. I did as you say and phone works now all day without any freez. Hope it will work so on. Nic job, thank you very much. Oh i’m from slovenia and just look for last firmwire from link you posted and do the rest as you described. Thanks again, you save a lot of my nerves

  12. mine still freezes 😥 i did all the things u said sir but after a minute when my phone rebooted it froze again. what must be possibly wrong with s3? it’s really driving me nuts

  13. My S3 is running the XXEMC2 build and freezes a few times a day, but i’m going to try the more recent update and will report back!

  14. RM – hm, sorry to hear that. The instructions have worked perfectly for me and some other people, but there’s no guarantee it’ll work for everybody. Are you 100% sure you followed all the steps?

  15. i reported a few weeks ago about my phone having the freeze problem,and shutdown problem.it became unusable. well,after my first fob off from the repair centre saying the usb charging point was damaged,i asked for evidence,a few days later i got a call from o2 to say that the phone was water damaged,i said that again,it was impossible other than its been used in house and in my vehicle for work,again asking for evidence.none was provided and my phone was on the doorstep 3 days ago with a polite letter saying it has not been possible to repair your phone. I got about doing exactly what you said in your tutorial,and im so thankful to say that it is now working as it was when i first got the phone. its not froze once,or shutdown in 3 days, ive not had to reboot it once. During my phonecalls with o2,i stated that these problems only started after the last software update,why has such a simple fix not been more recognised?. My last conversation with o2 was them telling me to take it up with samsung, for someone who has been a long term customer with 0 history of problems, i feel let down by their repair service.glad i stumbled across your tutorial,and hope that it helps fix anyone else having these problems.many thanks!!

  16. Glad to hear that the fix seems to have worked, Darren! The worrying thing about this is O2’s disinterest in ensuring that their customers have a working device. They have a one-person problem with a customer having a broken device, and will happily keep charging at the usual rate without providing assistance or an adequate replacement.

    This fix seems to work for most of us but it’s only after I trawled the Internet for 3 days piecing the info together. Even then, a slightly less techie user would not be able to follow the procedure.

    More to the point, though, is that none of us should have had to fix this ourselves.

    I’m intending to write to OFCOM and Which magazine next. Having extra evidence from the comments here is very useful – shows I wasn’t just a one – off.

  17. yes,its the way the whole thing has been dealt with.firstly not accepting its anything other than hardware damage on my part thats caused the problem,and secondly for referring me to samsung without having provided me with any evidence of the damage they said that was causing it to freeze.my contract is only 6 months into a new contract,and ive been with o2 for a long time now.”do you have insurance”,was another fob off during my phone being away.i did see this before i sent it off for repair,but it was my wife who said you shouldnt have to do this yourself.Im good with stuff like this,but my wife or daughter wouldnt have a clue.the letter basically says we couldnt repair your phone…but wait, all is not lost,you could be elligable for an early upgrade. or call this number to have your phone properly recycled. thanks very much for your useless help o2..guess who i wont be with on the next contract renewal.

  18. Hello! I am writing from Saudi Arabia. I have the exact problem as you have described. My phone is also on 4.1.2 and started noticing the screen freeze problem for the past 1 month or so. Initially it was once a day, but lately it has become around 5 -10 times a day. The moment I connect to the net via wifi, the screen freezes without fail.

    I have taken the phone to the service center, but they have given the phone back to me saying that there is nothing wrong with the phone. I took it again with the screen actually frozen, and they had no answer. Now they say that the mother board needs changing. I have taken absolute care of the phone…

    Your article has shed great light on resolving this issue. I will try it and post the results once I finish the process you have mentioned.

    Regards,
    Anand.

  19. Hullo Mr Jones sir!

    Quick question: you say the firmware is not tied to O2 (despite being in the O2 list on sammobile and not the others).

    I’m with T-Mobile – do you know if it would be safe to apply this firmware to a T-Mobile phone, or utterly foolhardy?

    Cheers

    Nic Ford

  20. Simon, you are a genius. My phone was freezing so often it was effectively useless. I went to sammobile, but couldn’t identify the right firmware for my grey import to Australia. I downloaded the leaked version of 4.2.2, and followed your instructions. Over the next week or so, the freezes became increasingly rare, and I’ve now not had one for a week. All fixed! You are a gentleman and a scholar (a scholar for successful research and a gentleman for sharing with the rest of us)

  21. Just wanted to say, this has 100% worked for me on a UK T-Mobile S3 repeatedly hanging on 4.1.2, Wonderful stuff: I shall point other people with this problem here.

    Cheers

    Nic

  22. You’re an absolute hero for posting this. Has worked for me on Orange UK have not had any freezes for 2 weeks now completely solved the problem. And even better to be getting updates direct rather than through the carrier!
    Thanks a bunch
    Matt

  23. This worked a treat for my phone on Orange after 3 weeks at their repair centre did nothing,a tried routing, custom mods, nothing worked until this. I returned my phone to unrooted std Orange and then followed your instructions.
    Thanks a lot!

  24. Simon Jones – you’re the man!!!

    I’ve had a custom ROM LiquidSmooth v2.7 on my Galaxy S3 for a couple of weeks now. I moved from v2.1 to v2.7 in the last few months. This was working well until last week when the “screen freezing for 20 minutes” problem started occurring. I tried a number of things including formatting my internal SD card and flashing an the updated leaked 4.2.2 stock Jelly Bean on my S3. Today I tried out the steps you mentioned and in the last 4 hours I’ve had no issues whatsoever. Thank you for your excellent post. Looks like this has solved the freezing issue.

  25. Worked like a charm ! Updated it to XXEMC2 1 week ago , no freezes till the date ! ! ! ! 😀 Thanks man . .

  26. You sir, are the savious of the mankind. I was about to smash my phone but my luck I found this article and now my phone works perfectly. Thank you.

    LONG LIVE SIMON 🙂

  27. S3 (TMobile branded, unrooted) in The Netherlands here.

    During the last week, I’ve had several mornings waking up to a frozen phone (black screen, power button doesn’t work, had to disconnect the battery).

    It’s not quite that severe yet that I’m going to follow this article (and I’ll try the obligatory factory reset first, anyway), but I have a question in advance:

    On sammobile.com, the latest firmware for me (The Netherlands, S3, T-Mobile, 4.1.2., I9300XXEMA2) is already what’s on my phone. Does it have any use whatsoever to follow this article’s procedure then? I’m a bit confused by the part where you say that the firmwares from sammobile.com are not linked to a carrier – why do they list the carrier there, then?

    Thanks!

  28. Mr. Simon, in my case i have an s3 international version and live in vzla. I searched through sammobile and found that the 2 updates i have done through ota or kies are the only 2 listed in the page. I have the freezing problem and will get the phone to samsung to see if they can fix it. In my case, would i be able to install another (more advanced) version of the os, or am i restricted for my country

  29. Hi Simon,
    Thanks so much for all your effort putting this guide together. My phone had got to the point (yesterday) where it was freezing and/or shutting itself down every 20-30 mins.

    I went home yesterday and followed your instructions. On first go my laptop crashed. Uh oh. But I tried again and it worked. So far so good anyway. No freezing or crashing in the last 12 hours or so.

    To answer some other posters, I downloaded I9300TDUEMB1 firmware, which is from Thailand. I thought it was best not to download firmware marked as being from another carrier (I’m with Telstra in Australia). I didn’t download the latest version (I9300TDUEMC1) as it wasn’t marked as compatible with Kies, and for some reason I thought it would have to be for me to load it onto my phone.

    If you just search on Sammobile for firmware linked to your country and carrier, then I think it only shows what your carrier has already put out. Do a search for ‘Top 10 latest’ and you’ll get up-to-date firmware:

    http://www.sammobile.com/firmwares/1/?model=GT-I9300T&pcode=0#firmware

    One more thing, I didn’t do a factory reset at the end. I did one a few days ago trying to fix the freezing and I couldn’t face doing it again and losing all my apps and widgets and homescreen setup. My thinking is that you wouldn’t normally have to do this when installling new firmware, so it shouldn’t be necessary in this case either. YMMV.

    I was about ready to dump my phone and break contract to get a new phone, which would have cost me about $300, so once again, thank you Simon, and fingers crossed that my phone stays working okay. I’ll report back if not!

  30. Me again. Just one more comment. When I went to download the firmware, the Sammobile site said it would take something like 8 hours unless I paid money to get premium fast download. I didn’t pay any money and it only took about 45 mins to download the 800 MB file (I did it from the office, not using mobile data).

    So it’s worth seeing how fast the non-premium download is before stumping up cash money.

  31. Thank you so much! My phone was driving me mad.

    A note to people from other countries. I am from Denmark. When I looked at the liste of firmware from Denmark there were only fubar versions like the one I already had. I thought I was doomed.

    But then I read Gale’s post. I chose ‘TOP TEN LATEST’ from the list instead of ‘Denmark’. I then randomly picked a firmware link on that list (from Taiwan, no carrier-name to be safe) and downloaded. Then followed the steps in this guide.

    And it works!

    Thus I can confirm that if your own contry doesn’t have better versions of the firmware, just get one from an other list. It will work.

    Thank you again (and also to Gale). You really made my day.

  32. I never normally post on these types of things but this fix seems to have worked for me. I am in Ireland on Three network. I used the UK firmware you used and its working fine. I did need to root and sim unlock prior to updating. 24 hours later with intensive use and no freeze. Tried multiple other fixes prior to this and they were all pants… this seems to be the real deal.. thanks a lot. Top man 🙂

  33. My phone asked for an update from JellyBean 4.1.2 last night and after the update, my phone would just keep restarting itself till the Samsung logo and restarting again continuously! I have never backed up anything in my phone to my computer before and I was so hopeless, until I found this page.
    I reside in the Borneo island and I followed every step, downloaded the Thailand firmware (like what Gale did) and my phone is working fine again.
    Can’t thank you any more Simon. Thank you!

  34. Something to be aware of guys:
    After flashing my phone with another firmware, my IMEI seems to have changed. By checking Settings > About device > Status > IMEI, the code does not match the IMEI on the sticker on the back of my phone.

    As a result, I can’t receive any service from my service provider so my SIM card is of no use.
    I have found a video on how to change the IMEI back (which is said to work if the IMEI is changed after flashing), but I have yet to try.

    This is the link to the video:

    Just in case if anyone’s in my situation, feel free to try this out. I hope this helps.

  35. Hi, I’m italian and following this guide I solved my problem. Even if you have a not-UK SGS3 you can download your country version from sammobile to solve the freeze problem. I guess to have solved my problem even if I’m using my S3 just for about two hours after the installation of the new ROM with Odin because now, for the first time after installed a 4.1.2 based android os, my S3 is reactive, fluid and most of all it doesn’t freeze. I really hope that it still go on in this way.
    Thank you very much for posting this useful guide! I really don’t understand for which reason XXELLA build is so messed up, for everyone is reading, my advice is to never install this messy build if you want to make your S3 survive!

  36. I’m from Denmark and my problem is now solved, after following your instructions. I downloades the firmware from Thailand and now everything works perfect. Thanks 🙂

  37. Thanks for this. I am with EE in the UK. My phone had been fine but I recently started getting lock ups, random restarts and I was getting very frustrated with it as this was not occurring after an upgrade. Anyway, I followed instructions (including a reset of the phone) and my phone now seems to work well again. No lock-ups and (touch-wood) no crashes. There is something strange though, when I look ‘About device’ in the settings menu I have a baseband version, I9300XXELLA and then a Build number ending I9300XXEMF1 (the same as the file i downloaded). I don’t know if this is right as I was expecting to get rid of the XXELLA element completely. But the phone is working well, so I guess I should just leave it. Anyone else have this?

    Thanks alot.
    Rosscouk

  38. Hi Simon,

    i just followed your steps now lets see this will work for me.

    just for an update i used the same firmware version you had used and i live in Tanzania ( somewhere in Africa), no where near UK! so if this works you will have your answer if this version works for other countries 🙂

    will give you updates soon how this works out for me!

    Thanks

  39. Omg this guy is amazing. After so many weeks of freezing and getting so angry this finally worked!!! Your amazing mate love you!

  40. Simon, you’ve literally saved the day.

    Without this blog post I would have been completely stuffed. Thank you so much for taking the time to type all this up.

  41. Hi Simon,

    I have the same problem as you described 😥 it is very annoying. My cellphone just updated a month ago and after restarting puff freezing like never before 😦 but suddenly it stops like 2 days after updating (really weird).

    So then investigating found your post and I wanted to follow the steps but the firmware seems to be the latest version available for my country (Mexico). What else I can do? Any thought about it?

    Any advice is welcome 🙂

  42. I’ve tried tons of things to fix this for my wife’s phone, including flashing custom ROMs and then re-flashing the original stock ROM for our carrier (Three, Ireland), but that ROM is also on Android 4.1.2 with the XELLA build. I’ve also run Dummy File Generator umpteen times, which appeared to help temporarily.

    Now I have not only a permanent fix, but Android 4.3 on her device, sweet! Thanks so much.

  43. Hi, Simon! Man, thanks for all the insight you’ve provided in saving my Galaxy S3. Although I’m from Brazil and my phone carrier is different and all, your walk-through pretty much helps any person with a freeze problem. Now, I wanted just to add a comment, as I read at least one post saying that the problem persisted: My phone definitely had some firmware problem that caused it to hang and freeze, and it was becoming more frequent. I bought my smart-phone in a retail store and it came unblocked, to be used with any chips from any carrier, so I already had the Samsung official firmware (which started freezing my phone ever since the last update in October, here in Brazil, as the phone said that update had been successful, but, after rebooting, started displaying a message saying that it was not possible to go on with download at the moment and I should try again later on. However, the update center informed I already had the latest firmware, but the phone would display the no download now message every time it was rebooted – which happened a lot, as it would freeze every hour). Anyway, after wiping my phone with a hard reset, I flashed the latest firmware. The phone rebooted and everything appeared to be fine till it froze, five minutes after the reboot. I got mad and took the battery out this time instead of pressing on/off plus Home buttons. While I was doing that, I let my phone case fall and ended up running over it with my chair. It broke, as it was plastic. I put the battery back on and, since then, no more freezes (it’s been three days now). I put a silicon case on my phone to protect it and started to wonder: I used the silicon case before October, when I bought the plastic one (which was so cool and had this Instagram Camera print on it)… I never noticed my phone feel hot before. But I often felt it was warmer than usual while I had the plastic case. Is it possible that, for some reason, it caused the device to overheat, contributing to malfunctioning and freezes? Just a thought…

  44. Doesn’t seem to have worked for me 😦 Now my phone just hangs on the boot screen displaying ‘SAMSUNG’. Not sure what firmware was on before and was running a custom ROM (SlimBean 10.3).

  45. *(SlimBean 4.3.1)
    Since my post, I have re-rooted to get CWM back, I have then reinstalled SlimBean ROM then GApps (being a muppet I have been doing these the other way round!). The initial setup went smoothly and my apps are now re-installing. I also noticed that my kernal has now changed to the recommended above.

  46. You are the best my friend. I had a problem same as you. I did the steps as you advised here. My S3 is now working same as before freezing. Thank you for information you provided.

  47. SIMON! Thank you so much!

    I read like 20 forums and tried everything I can to fix my S3 that stucks at the samsung logo, but to no avail. Till I found your post!

    Truly appreciate it!

  48. So tire to look to fix your Android phone people. Losing time because you all made a bad choice. What about looking at a drastic but easy wonderful fix: buy an Iphone and let it open for months without rebooting. Sometimes moving forward means accepting a mistake and moving drastically toward a new solution.

  49. A fair point, but I moved away from iPhone for specific reasons, chiefly being that while the hardware is lovely and the OS slick, it’s too restrictive for my liking. Switching to iPhone would definitely feel like a step backwards in terms of functionality.

    My actual solution has been to put Cyanogenmod on the phone, which has made it fast, modern and very stable, by essentially removing all of Samsung’s rubbish.

    Android is stable, fast and functional – it’s the manufacturers which mess it up.

  50. I think your logic is winning so far Simon, installing Cyanogenmod is a good patch so far after 1 day. Still someone need to fix something… Maybe Samsung. But, it does feel better to know their may be a solution after a year of use…

  51. I have a SGS3 (Carrier: Digitel Venezuela) and I experienced many issues including the annoying freezing. This freezing could last up to 15 min when the phone started become responsive to tapping. I read a lot about this issue in many forums including yours. I had Android ver. 4.1.2. (stock rom). What I did to lower the freezing problem was to use Kit Kat launcher (I dunno if it works with other launcher) and force stop Touchwiz. By doing that the freezing issues were less frequent, but I got a freeze maybe in a period of 2 or 3 days if I didn’t use other applications. I could chat using Whatsapp, or BBM, but I got a hard freezing when I use Twitter. Anyway, I got weary of this problems since a phone must not function like that. I followed your advise and I searched for ROM compatible (available at sammobile and gave it a shot. I downloaded an official stock ROM (ver. 4.3 just rolled out by Samsung) from Ireland. And since I installed it (more than a week ago) I have not yet experienced any freezings, in fact I am using my phone as normal and nothing wrong with it. 8 days in a row, I haven’t rebooted my phone even once. Conclusion, definitely, Samsung ver. 4.1.2 was buggy ! Thanks for your suggestions and folks get rid of ver. 4.1.2 and your nightmare will be over.

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