How to Root Snapdragon Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, and Galaxy Note 9 (Extreme Syndicate Root Method)

How to Root Snapdragon Samsung Galaxy S9. S9+, and Note 9

Finally, root for Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 phones equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoC is now available via the “Extreme Syndicate” root method. In this guide, I will show you how to root Snapdragon Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, and Galaxy Note 9 easily.

Since the release of the Galaxy S7 in 2016, Samsung’s flagship devices sold in the US and mainland China are equipped with a Snapdragon processor, instead of the OEM’s own Exynos chipset (Why? Read this). And this practice is carried over to every new generation Galaxy devices as well, like the S9, S9+ and Note 9 in today’s case.

When it comes to rooting or install custom binaries, an unlocked bootloader is essential. And that’s why users of the Exynos and Snapdragon (sold in China/Hong Kong) variants can easily install a custom recovery and root their phones. But things are very difficult for the Snapdragon variants of Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 sold in the US. That’s because these devices come with non-unlockable bootloaders.

In the past, we have seen successful rooting procedures for Galaxy S8/S8+ and Galaxy Note 8 Snapdragon variants using the EDL method. And now, in a similar way, you can root Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9. This has been made possible by a group of developers over at XDA.

Table of Contents

Rooting Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 Snapdragon Variants using Extreme Syndicate

The root method is known as “Extreme Syndicate”. XDA Recognized Developer elliwigy is the one who actually found the exploit and root method. Further, major contributions were made by XDA Recognized Contributor jrkruse (who released S8 and Note 8 Snapdragon root) and senior members GSM CHEN, klabit87, and me2151.

Now, before you head over to the instructions, there are some important bits and pieces of this root method that you should be acquainted with. These are as follows:

  • First of all, you can use this method on any Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9 and Note 9 running Android Oreo, Android 9 Pie, and even Android 10 (One UI 2.0). But to gain root, you will need to flash the combination firmware which is based on Android 8.1 Oreo. So, your phone will ultimately end up with the Android 8.1 Oreo OS with Samsung Experience. This means, no more One UI features or latest security patches.
  • Secondly, rooting is only possible with Chainfire’s SuperSU system-root, instead of Magisk. So you will not be able to pass Google’s SafetyNet tests and will not be able to use apps like Pokemon Go, Google Pay, etc.
  • Also, this root method involves flashing the combination firmware on your Galaxy device. This will curb your phone’s battery charge to 80%. Although there’s a possible fix (Check this XDA thread), it hasn’t been tested yet for the S9/Note 9.
  • Lastly, the developers have mentioned that the MTP connection, biometric security like Fingerprint and Face Unlock and front (selfie) camera will not work. These issues are currently being worked on and might be fixed in a future release.

The benefit of using this method for rooting is that the KNOX counter will not be tripped. This means that you will not lose the warranty (If it’s still any left) and apps like Secure Folder and Samsung Pay may still work.

Now, let us get to the actual procedure and show you how to root Snapdragon Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, and Galaxy Note 9.

How to Root Snapdragon Samsung Galaxy S9. S9+, and Note 9

Supported Devices

Now, the following is the list of devices that are supported by this root method, along with their corresponding model numbers. To check for the model number, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘About phone’ on your Galaxy smartphone. Make sure that your phone’s model number is enlisted before you proceed.

  • Samsung Galaxy S9: Model numbers SM-G960U, SM-G960U1, and SM-G960W are supported
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+: Model numbers SM-G965U, SM-G965U1, and SM-G965W are supported
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Model numbers SM-N960U, SM-N960U1, and SM-N960W are supported

Prerequisites

Ensure that you fulfill all the requirements listed below before you go any further.

  • The rooting instructions will erase all the data stored on your Galaxy smartphone. This includes apps and their data, contacts, emails, call logs and even the complete internal storage. So, make sure that you take a full backup of all your important data first hand. Should you need, we also have a guide to backup.
  • Charge your phone to a sufficient battery level so that it doesn’t shut down abruptly during the rooting process.
  • Make sure that you have the latest version of the Samsung USB drivers installed on your PC.
  • Download Modded Odin 3.13.1 by Raymonf from here and extract the downloaded zip file to a suitable location on the PC.

Instructions to Root Snapdragon Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9

So, how do you root Snapdragon variants of Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, and Note9? Well, the process isn’t the easiest one out there. But we have tried to simplify it as much as possible in the instructions below.

In brief: The first step is to flash the corresponding combination firmware (used by Samsung in their factory for testing) on your Galaxy smartphone. Then once the phone boots up into the combination OS, the second step is to run the provided Root Installer batch file on the PC. Next, you have to flash the ‘bootswap.tar.m5’ file using the Odin Tool to swap the boot and recovery partitions of the phone. The third step is to install the required firmware files using the FlashFire app. Finally, you have to use a specific buttons combination to boot your Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 into rooted Android 8.1 Oreo OS.

For your convenience and better understanding, we have split the instructions into three (3) major steps. We strongly suggest that you go through the instructions to understand the whole rooting procedure before you actually perform it.

Step 1: Flash Combination Firmware on Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9

  1. Download Extreme Syndicate root package:
    1. For Galaxy S9 (SM-G96OU/U1/W): Extreme.Syndicate.Root.S9.rar
    2. For Galaxy S9+ (SM-G965U/U1/W): Extreme.Syndicate.S9p.zip
    3. For Galaxy Note 9 (SM-N96OU/U1/W):Extreme.Syndicate.Root.N9.zip
  2. Once the package has been downloaded, extract it on the PC using an archive tool like WinRAR or 7Zip.
  3. You should now have a folder (e.g. Extreme.Syndicate.Root.S9) containing all the files needed for the rooting procedure.
    Extract Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 Root Package on the PC
    Extract Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 Root Package on the PC
  4. Launch the Odin Flash Tool by double-clicking on the “Modded Odin v3.13.1 Raymonf.exe” file.
  5. Now power off your Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 completely.
  6. While holding the Volume Down and Bixby buttons together, connect the phone to the PC using the USB cable. Keep holding the buttons until you see a warning message on the screen.
  7. Press the Volume Up button of your phone to enter Download Mode.
    Enter Download Mode on Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9
  8. In the Odin tool window, click on the ‘AP’ button and select the combination firmware file (e.g. COMBINATION_FAC_FA80_G960USQU7ASK1.tar.md5) from the folder you extracted earlier.
    Flash Combination Firmware on Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 using Odin Tool
  9. Now click on the ‘Start’ button in Odin to flash the combination firmware on your Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9.

The flashing process could take a few minutes to finish. Once it does, your phone will reboot into the Combination OS. You can now close the Odin window (for now).

Combination Firmware on Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9

Step 2: Run ‘Root_Installer.bat’ and Flash ‘BootSwap.tar.md5’ file using Odin Tool

  1. After your Galaxy phone boots into the combination OS,
  2. Now, connect the phone to the PC using the USB cable.
  3. Open the extract root package folder (e.g. Extreme.Syndicate.Root.S9) and double-click on the ‘Root_Installer.bat’ file to run it.
    Run 'Root_Installer.bat' File on your Windows PC
  4. The installer will perform the necessary procedure automatically. When it’s finished, your Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 will automatically boot into Download Mode.
  5. Now, you have to flash the Boot Swap tar.md5 file using Odin. This file will swap the /boot and /recovery partitions (The sole reason why root is possible) of the phone so that the /system partition can be mounted as rewritable.
  6. Again, launch the Modded Odin Tool on your PC.
  7. Make sure that ‘Auto Reboot’ in Odin’s Options menu is unchecked/turned off.
    Flash BootSwap.tar.md5 File on Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 using Odin Tool
  8. Click on the ‘AP’ button in Odin and select the Boot Swap file (e.g. BOOT_IMAGE_SWAP_G960USQU7ASK1.tar.md5 for the S9).
  9. Click on ‘Start’ to flash the files and swap the boot and recovery partitions of your Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9.
    Flash BootSwap Tar on Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 using Odin Tool
  10. Important: Now it is important that as soon as the flashing process finishes, you boot the phone by using the key combination used to get into recovery mode. That’s because the boot and recovery partitions have been swapped. So, after the flashing completes, hold the Volume Down and Power buttons. As soon as the screen turns off, quickly hold the Volume Up, Bixby, and Power buttons together.

Now, your Galaxy phone should enter the OS with the FlashFire app installed. Note that the first boot after this step can take some time, maybe even a few minutes.

Step 3: Install ‘ODM_Root.zip’, ‘System.img’, and ‘Vendor.img’ using FlashFire

At this point, you have to use FlashFire to install the Android 8.1 Oreo ROM (System.img and Vendor.img) and ‘ODM_Root.zip’ file to finally root Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9.

Note: While using FlashFire (now, and also in the future), make sure to turn on Airplane Mode on your phone. This is important!

  1. Connect your phone to the PC using a USB cable and transfer the ‘system.img’, ‘vendor.img’, and ‘ODM_Root.zip’ files to the phone’s internal storage. Once transferred, disconnect the phone from the PC.
  2. Make sure that Airplane Mode is turned on. Then, go to the app drawer and launch the FlashFire app.
    Turn on Airplane Mode and Launch the FlashFire App
  3. In the ‘Actions‘ menu, press the ‘+‘ icon to expand the list of available actions.
  4. Now, we have to add the Android 8.1 Oreo system image and vendor image files to the flashing queue. To do this, press ‘Flash firmware package‘ and select the ‘system.img.ext4‘ file you transferred earlier. Then select ‘Flash firmware package‘ again, and select the ‘vendor.img.ext4‘ file this time.
    Press 'Flash Firmware Package' and Select the 'System.img.ext4' and 'vendor.img.ext4' Files
  5. Press the ‘+‘ icon and select ‘Flash ZIP or OTA‘. Navigate to the phone’s storage and select the ‘ODM_Root.zip‘ file. When prompted by the ‘Options‘ menu, make sure that the ‘Mount /system read/write‘ is checked.
    Select 'ODM_Root.zip' in FlashFire and check 'Write /system read/write'
  6. Now, select ‘Wipe’ from FlashFire’s action screen and make sure the ‘System data‘, ‘3rd party apps‘, and ‘Dalvik cache‘ options are checked.
    Make sure 'Inject SuperSU' is unchecked/disabled in FlashFire
  7. Tap on ‘EverRoot’ and ensure that the ‘Inject SuperSU‘ option is unchecked.
  8. Finally, press the ‘Flash’ button to flash all the required files and root your Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9.
    Press the 'Flash' button in FlashFire to begin installation

Your phone will automatically reboot and actions that you have set in the FlashFire app will be applied. This could take a couple of minutes to finish. Once it does, the phone will reboot.

FlashFire Flashing Files on Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9

Important Note: Since the boot and recovery partitions have been swapped, you will need to press the Volume Up, Bixby, and Power buttons together to boot the phone into the OS. This has to be done every time you boot your phone.

Your Phone is now Rooted!

That’s it! With your Snapdragon Galaxy S9/S9+/Note 9 rooted, you can do a lot of stuff with the software. First and most obvious, you can download and use apps that require root permissions. For customizing the phone’s software or for adding more features to it, you can install Xposed Framework.

You can easily get rid of the bloatware (pre-installed system apps) using apps like Titanium Backup, SD Maid, etc. You can also install audio mods like ViPER4Android on it for a more fine-tuned audio experience.

Now, do note that the Extreme Syndicate root method has just been released. And as we pointed before, there are several issues that still need fixing. If you are using your phone as a primary, take note of these things beforehand. Or, if you’re not comfortable using it, then you can easily restore your phone back to the stock firmware using the instructions in this guide.

So, this was our guide on how to root Snapdragon Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, and Galaxy Note 9 using the Extreme Syndicate root method. If you face any issues during the instructions, you can check the original XDA thread for your S9 here, S9+ here, and Note 9 here. Or, you can just leave a comment below and we will try our best to quickly answer your queries.

This method was first brought to light by the XDA-Developers portal. Kudos to them!