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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 not so kind to Android tinkerers

A quirk in Samsung's latest phablet could potentially make it harder for users who choose to install their own operating system to have their warranties honored.

Samsung goes on the offensive to deter modding Galaxy Note 3.
CBS Interactive

The modding community may want to stay away from the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

A new discovery suggests that the handset maker has taken steps to deter users from rooting the Galaxy Note 3 and installing their own operating system by increasing the risk that they void their warranties.

In most Samsung smartphones, a process known as flashing ROMs, or installing a custom OS, has never been a problem. Doing so, however, triggers a flash counter that keeps a log of how many times a ROM was installed. Since Samsung doesn't honor warranties on phones that have been been flashed, a record on the flash counter would void any claims if someone had to send their phone back to the company for repairs.

Until recently, an app known as TriangleAway was able to reset the flash counter and keep Samsung in the dark. Done right, nobody would know that you took things into your own hands. Unfortunately, the app's developer, Chainfire, has found that the Galaxy Note 3 does not allow for a flash count reset.

This is not to suggest that it's any more difficult to flash ROMs on the Galaxy Note 3; it's just harder to file a warranty claim should you go down that road.

As part of its Knox security software, the Galaxy Note 3 employs eFuse, a technology that can rewrite the memory so it leaves seemingly permanent evidence of flashing.

Samsung service center reps are instructed not to honor devices that have been tampered with in this manner.

Chainfire suggests there is a "possible" hack to circumvent the write protection but that it could prove difficult to code. In the meanwhile, modders may want to consider a different device for flashing ROMs and custom Android builds.

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