Root Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon using Extreme Syndicate Method (SM-N950U/U1)

How to Root Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8 using Extreme Syndicate

You can now root Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon variant on all US carriers in the US, using the new Extreme Syndicate root method. The instructions in this guide are compatible with any Snapdragon Note 8 with SM-N950U/SM-N950U1 model number and V8 bootloader revision.

Samsung has been readily processing its flagship devices in two different variants – Exynos and Snapdragon. It has been the same since the company launched the S7 and for the Galaxy Note 8 as well in this case. There are several situations where Exynos under-powers the Snapdragon variant in the case of Samsung. But the one we will be talking about today is – rooting the Snapdragon variant of the Galaxy Note 8.

If your phone is on BL V1, V2, or V3, then you can visit an old archived copy of this page for the required files and instructions.

Table of Contents

Rooting the Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon Variant

Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8 running pre-rooted Nougat ROM

We already have a tutorial published on our blog to root Exynos Note 8, and it is much similar to our day-to-day rooting method that involves installing TWRP recovery first and then flashing the Magisk zip via it.

But things are actually very different, and difficult at the same time when it comes to the Snapdragon variant of the phone. That’s because, unlike the Exynos variants, the bootloader on the Snapdragon variants is not unlock-able. And hence, the generic method of flashing TWRP via ODIN and then rooting through Magisk is bound to fail.

In the past, Recognized Contributor jrkruse brought us a rooting method for the Snapdragon Galaxy S8, S8+, and Note 8. However, the old method used EDL (Emergency Download) mode and was only limited to devices with V5 and V6 bootloaders. With the latest bootloader revisions, that is V7 and V8, the old method didn’t work.

But thanks to some talented minds out there, it is now possible to root the Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8 on the latest V8 bootloader. XDA Recognized Developer elliwigy is the one who found the original exploit and further contributions were made by other members of the team. This is the same group that developed the rooting solution for the Snapdragon Galaxy S9, S9+, and Note 9. Developer jrkruse further adopted the Extreme Syndicate root method to work on the Snapdragon Note 8.

A Few Important Things

Before you go ahead and follow the instructions, take a look at some important information below to debrief yourself with the method that will follow.

  • This root method, the corresponding files, and instructions are only applicable to the Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon variant with SM-N950U and N950U1 model numbers (sold in the United States).
  • This method will only work if your phone is using version V8 bootloader.
    • To find out your phone’s bootloader version, go to Settings → About phone → Software information and check the information under the ‘Baseband version‘ section. For example, if it says “N950USQS8DTJ1“, then “S8” denotes the bootloader version, which is V8.
  • This will not unlock your phone’s bootloader. It will still be locked.
  • The KNOX counter will not be tripped at all.
  • Root on Android Pie/Oree is not possible. In simpler words, you will not have root permissions on Android Pie or Oreo. So, you have the following two choices:
    • Either stick with the pre-rooted Android Nougat OS, if you really want root access.
    • Or, install the Android Pie ROM with Safestrap recovery. Once that is installed, you can use Safestrap to apply modifications to your phone by flashing zips or making modifications to the system partition.
      This has some additional benefits as well like the ROM is debloated of any useless apps, has features like a native hotspot and multi-user support enabled, and also has Samsung Pay, Secure Folder, Samsung Pass working.

With that information at hand, let us now show you how to root the Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8 with a V8 bootloader, using the new Extreme Syndicate method.

Notes:

  • Make sure that you go through the instructions beforehand and understand what they exactly tell you to do. Do not deviate from them at any point or disconnect/power off your phone during the process until you’re asked to do so.
  • I presume you would have some basic knowledge of the terms associated with software modding.
  • If you do face any problems, you can always download the latest stock firmware using Frija or Samloader, and install the firmware on your Note 8 using Odin. This will allow you to restore your Note 8 back to the official firmware.

Before You Begin

Take a look at some of the things you should do before attempting the instructions.

Take a backup first: All the data stored on your phone, including that on the internal storage, will be erased during the rooting process. So, make sure that you back up all your data beforehand so that you can restore it afterward. If need help, here’s a tutorial on backing up Android devices.

Install the drivers (if required): In most cases, Windows can automatically install the required USB drivers for your phone. But in case your computer fails to identify your phone in Download Mode, you might have to install the latest Samsung mobile USB drivers.

Charge your phone: Make sure that your Note 8 has a sufficient battery charge to prevent it from shutting down in the middle of the rooting process. 40-50% is a good starting point in my opinion.

Upgrade to V8 Bootloader: The developer specifically advises the users to upgrade their phone to V8 bootloader by flashing the firmware through Odin. He suspects that the OTA update from V7 to V8 firmware corrupted a bootloader file, which led to a bricked device when updating through his method.

You can download the latest firmware using Frija and install it on your phone using the instructions here.

How to Root Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon

For your convenience and better understanding, we have split the complete instructions into 5 different steps. Make sure that you follow them in the mentioned order and do not skip any of the steps.

Step 1: Perform Factory Reset and Enter Download Mode on Galaxy Note 8

The first step of the rooting process is to boot your Note 8 into the stock recovery mode and perform a factory reset through it.

To do this, power off your phone first. Then hold the Volume Up, Bixby, and Power keys simultaneously to boot your phone into the stock recovery mode.
Perform Factory Reset on Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8

Once in recovery mode, use the Volume buttons to select the ‘Wipe data/factory reset’ and press the power button to confirm the selection. When prompted, select ‘Factory data reset’ to confirm.

After that, select the ‘Reboot to Bootloader’ option in the stock recovery to boot your Galaxy Note 8 into Download Mode. Connect the phone to the computer while it’s in Download Mode.
Enter Download Mode on Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8

Step 2: Flash Combination Firmware using Odin

Now, you have to flash the combination firmware on your Galaxy Note 8 using the Odin tool. To do this, download the combination firmware package (COMBINATION_FA71_N950USQU8ATF1_CL13942288_QB32228349_REV00_user_mid_noship_MULTI_CERT.tar.md5.zip) to your computer.

Extract the contents of the ZIP file on your computer to get the combination firmware file (COMBINATION_FA71_N950USQU8ATF1_CL13942288_QB32228349_REV00_user_mid_noship_MULTI_CERT.tar.md5).

To flash the combination firmware, you will need the modded Odin v3.13.1 tool by ‘Raymonf’. You can download it from the Odin download repository that I maintain. After downloading, extract the ZIP file and then double-click the ‘Modded Odin v3.13.1 Raymonf.exe‘ executable to launch Odin on your computer.

The Odin tool GUI should now be shown on your PC’s screen and it should display the COM port to which your Note 8 is connected. Click the ‘AP‘ button and select the combination firmware file to load it in the slot for flashing.

Flash combination firmware on Galaxy Note 8 using Odin

Finally, hit the ‘Start‘ button in Odin to flash the combination firmware on your Snapdragon Note 8. Once the flashing process finishes, you should see a ‘PASS!‘ message in the Odin tool and your phone will automatically reboot into the combination OS. Keep your phone connected to the computer as you’ll need it further.

Since this is a low-level testing firmware used by Samsung internally, the UI will differ from the regular software. It should look similar to the one shown in the image below.

Combination OS on Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8

Step 3: Run APPS_INSTALLER.bat and reboot the phone

Now, you have to run a batch file on your computer that will sideload some required apps on your Note 8 to carry on with the rooting procedure.

With your Galaxy Note 8 now in the combination OS, connect it to the PC via the USB cable (if not already). Then download the ‘N8_ROOT.7z‘ file and extract the file on your computer using 7-zip or a similar archive utility. The extracted “N8_ROOT” folder should contain the ADB binaries, a bunch of APK files, and two Windows batch script files namely ‘APPS_INSTALLER.bat’ and ‘ROOT_INSTALLER.bat’.

Run the APP_INSTALLER.bat script on computer

Simply double-click the ‘APPS_INSTALLER.bat’ file to sideload/install the required APK files on your Note 8. Once it finishes, reboot your phone.

Step 4: Grant Read, Write, and Execute permissions to Persist partition

When your phone boots, it should prompt you to select the default launcher application. Choose the ‘Pixel Launcher’ as it would make it easier for you to find the installed apps.

Then launch the ‘Factory IME‘ application from the app drawer and input *#9900# in the dialer. This should open the ‘SysDump‘ screen that will show a lot of different debugging tests. Scroll down, select ‘AUDIOCORE DEBUG‘, then ‘TEST HELPER‘, and finally ‘Utils‘.

Launch Factory IME App on your Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8

You should now see the ‘AUDIOCOREDEBUG‘ screen with a couple of options. Tap on the box that says ‘ADB Commands‘ and type in: chmod -R 0777 /persist. Hit enter on the keyboard and press the ‘SEND‘ button. The command will basically grant read/write/execute permissions to the /persist partition of your Note 8.

Enter ADB Command in AUDIOCOREDEBUG

The command will not return output or show a notification to confirm. You just have to make sure that you input the right command and send it over to your device.

Step 5: Run ROOT_INSTALLER.bat to root Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon

You now have to run the other script on your computer to root your Galaxy Note 8 on the combination firmware. To do this, make sure that your phone is connected to the computer and is recognized by it. Then double-click the ROOT_INSTALLER.bat file.

The script will copy all the required root binaries and reboot your phone automatically. When your Note 8 boots, it should be rooted via SuperSU. Rebooting again will take your phone into SafeStrap Recovery mode. The recovery is based on TWRP and follows the same UI.

Step 6: Install the Pre-Rooted Nougat ROM

The process isn’t over yet. As you may notice, the phone is still running the combination OS. You can now use SafetStrap to flash the pre-rooted Nougat ROM. This ROM comes with both SafetStrap and FlashFire pre-installed. The developer has also removed a bit of bloatware, as well as the KNOX system services.

To install the pre-rooted Nougat ROM on your Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon, download the following files on your computer first:

Extract the “system_n8_brb4.7z” package to get the Nougat system image. Copy the extracted “system_n8_brb4.img” along with “SuperSU_System.zip” and “Safestrap-4.10-B03-GREATQLTE-NOUGAT.zip” files to the phone’s internal storage.

After this, reboot your Note 8 and select ‘Recovery’ from the SafeStrap splash screen. In Safestrap, tap on the “Install” button and then on “Install Image”.

Install Pre-Rooted Nougat System Image on Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8
Screenshot courtesy of Perry Freeman

Navigate to your phone’s internal storage and select the “system_n8_brb4.img” file. When prompted to select the target partition, choose “System Image”. Swipe the button on the bottom to flash the pre-rooted Nougat System Image on your Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon.

Now go back to the recovery’s main menu and press the “Install” button again. Select the “SuperSU_System.zip” file and flash it.

Once done, go to the “Reboot” menu and tap on “DOWNLOAD”. Your phone should now reboot and enter the Download Mode. Connect your phone to the PC while it is in Download Mode. 

Reboot Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon into Download Mode using Safestrap Recovery
Screenshots courtesy of Perry Freeman

Then launch the modded version of Odin on your computer and load the “BL_N950U_NOUGAT_V8.tar.md5” file in the “BL” slot. Finally, click on the “Start” button to flash the file.

Flash fingerprint/face unlock fix in BL slot using Odin

Once the flashing process finishes, your Note 8 will automatically reboot into the pre-rooted Android Nougat OS. You can now start using your favorite root applications or use SafetStrap to flash mods like ViPER4Android, etc.

Additional Notes & Troubleshooting:

  • If the phone keeps looping into SafetStrap mode, then flash the “Safestrap-4.10-B03-GREATQLTE-NOUGAT.zip” via the recovery to fix it.
  • If you face errors while flashing the combination firmware through Odin, make sure that you’re using Raymonf’s modded Odin tool and use USB 2.0 ports (or a hub) to plug in your phone. New-gen USB 3.0/3.1 ports are often the cause of such errors.
  • The step wherein you grant the permissions to the /persist partition is often where things are dodgy. If the ROOT_INSTALLER script fails, you might want to go back and repeat step #4 a couple of times.

So by now, you have learned how to root Snapdragon Galaxy Note 8 on V8 bootloader, using the new Extreme Syndicate method. If you want, you can further install the Android Pie SafeStrap ROM provided by jrkruse over at this XDA thread. But note that you will not have root access. You will only have access to SafeStrap for flashing mods or making other modifications.

If you have any questions or face any problems while performing the instructions, you can comment below. Make sure that you provide as many details as possible about the device.

We couldn’t end this post without thanks XDA RC jrkruse and all other developers who are associated with the project. Also, a huge thanks to one of our readers, Perry Freeman for sharing the Safestrap screenshots.

Source: XDA-Developers Forum