This isn’t easy. But I will help you.
If you’ve bought a Note 9 from another region, you might find that some things (like Samsung Pay, or VoLTE, or Wifi Calling), don’t even appear as options. You might also find that you get updates very slowly. This is the case for my XME-region Note 9 – which is a Malaysian model that seems to get updates after every other region.
But you can change it. I’ll tell you how.
Credit: This XDA Devs post. (Opens in new tab). I wrote this guide because the previous ones I’d found online were clearly written by people who didn’t speak English as a first language, or referred to files without links, or assumed you knew how to do things like flash new firmware. I’m writing this from scratch.
WARNINGS BEFORE WE BEGIN:
- You will lose all data on your phone. Backup all your personal information. I can’t stress this enough – THE DEVICE WILL BE WIPED. DO NOT PROCEED UNTIL YOU HAVE DONE A BACKUP. IF YOU DON’T, YOU’LL LOSE EVERYTHING. Are we clear on that one?
- This is a technical process and you could potentially brick your phone if something goes wrong. We are doing something totally unsupported.
- This is for the SM-N960F – I had a dual sim variant and it worked fine. If you don’t have this particular model, this may not work (or may even brick the phone).
- If you don’t understand what’s going on, don’t proceed.
- I can’t help you if something goes wrong.
- This is unlikely to trip Knox.
What you will need:
- A Windows PC (I don’t know of any tools for macOS or Linux)
- Odin – Download here. Odin is used to flash new ROMs to the device.
- SamFirm – Download here. SamFirm is used to download the official firmware for whatever region you want to use.
- RealTerm. Download here. RealTerm is basically a terminal app that we can use to apply the CSC code changes.
- The original Samsung USB-C cable (for safety – others might work)
- Samsung USB drivers installed (can be found with the SmartSwitch app – again, for safety)
- The CSC you want to change to
What CSC do I want to use? This is up to you – there are massive lists of Samsung CSCs online. You need to find one that matches your region. I’m in Australia, so here are the Australian CSCs:
- XSA – Australia Open (e.g. no carrier)
- OPS – Optus
- TEL – Telstra
- VAU – Vodafone
If you are on a specific carrier you may choose to use that particular carrier (e.g. I’m with Telstra so I picked TEL) to enable maximum compatibility (e.g. with network features). If you aren’t with a particular carrier, or you don’t want to be bound to a carrier firmware for whatever reason, use XSA. It’s up to you which one you pick. If you’re with Telstra, Optus, or Vodafone, I’d probably pick their CSC and use their firmware because it’ll receive the updates for that particular carrier. Otherwise, pick XSA. Some regions get updates before others – usually places like Malaysia and Singapore lag behind.
Installing your apps:
- Install Odin and SamFirm
- Install the USB drivers
- Install RealTerm
Get the Combination File for your Note: This is the one I used. To be honest, this is the part I can help the least with – I don’t really understand how to pick an appropriate combination file. What does it do? This is a kind of service OS that allows us to run some terminal commands to change the CSC. You have to flash this, otherwise you can’t change the commands. Extract this and you’ll get an md5 file.
Get the firmware for your new CSC. Open up SamFirm and set Model to SM-N960F. Next to REGION, type in your new CSC, then click Check Update. This will find the firmware. Next click Download. This will download the firmware (it’ll be about 4.7GB) and will save it as a ZIP file. Have this ready to go – extract it and you’ll get a bunch of md5 files.
Flashing the Combination File
CAUTION: FOLLOW THESE STEPS CAREFULLY.
- Power off your Note 9
- Launch Odin
- While holding down the VOL DOWN and BIXBY buttons, plug in your USB Cable
- Don’t press the power button – it’ll just boot the phone
- You should now see a screen warning you about installing a custom OS
- Press the VOL UP button to continue
- Odin should now have a blue box near ID:COM area – this means it has a connection to the phone
- Load the combination file into the AP box
- Click AP
- Select the md5 file you got from the combination file archive
- Wait for a sec while it loads it in
- Click START
- Do not power off your phone during this process
Wait for it to finish – the phone will reboot when it’s done an Odin will show a success message. Unplug the phone.
Setting the CSC
Once the combination file has been flashed, you’ll see your phone go through a different boot up – you’ll see some small purple-pink text at the top, and then it’ll be replaced by a mostly white screen showing your model number. This is good – this means we can now enter the commands to change the CSC.
If you aren’t seeing this, something has gone wrong. See the XDA Forums for help.
Now start RealTerm as an administrator (right click the shortcut -> start as Administrator; only use the one labeled RealTerm, not the others). Now plug the phone back into the USB port. If you’re not familiar with these kinds of things, all you need to know is that you’ll be sending commands via the bottom half of the screen, and watching for a response in the black part – you’ll see all the commands you send, plus a lot of weird characters and ‘junk’ appear, so you’ll have to read carefully through the terminal window to see what the device sends back. Yes, it’s annoying – I said this wasn’t simple.
Do the following:
- Go to the Port tab
- Set Baud to 230400
- Set Port to one labelled something like “ssudmdm0000” (this is the USB port)
- If you aren’t seeing this, check the phone is plugged in via USB
- If it still isn’t appearing, try a different port (the safest are those directly on the motherboard – USB3 ports are fine)
- Click CHANGE (with the green tick mark)
- Some green boxes appear on the right of the screen
Now we need to confirm we’ve got a connection:
- Go to the SEND tab
- Type AT in one of the boxes and click SEND ASCII
This should return something like: OK or “+USB READY BOOTING COMPLETED”. Sometimes it might return ‘ERROR’ but you can usually ignore this. If you get no reply, try clicking the “+CR” box next to the SEND ASCII button. If it still doesn’t work – something went wrong, and I don’t know what.
Now, type this:
That’s PRECONFG, not PRECONFIG – which is what I typed for ages before realising I’m stupid.
This will return your current CSC – something like this:
Now we will change the CSC. Type the following:
AT+PRECONFG=2,### (where ### is your new CSC. Example: AT+PRECONFG=2,TEL would set it to the Telstra CSC
It should return “OK” or something like that. Now, confirm it by sending AT+PRECONFG=1,0 again – this should return the new CSC instead of the old one. If you see your new CSC appear (e.g. in my case, TEL would appear instead of XME), then it worked. You can now unplug the phone and turn it off.
Flash the new firmware
Now we’re going to flash the new firmware using Odin that you got from the SamFirm app. Make sure you’ve extracted all the files.
- Ensure your phone is off and unplugged
- Hold VOL DOWN and BIXBY buttons and plug it in – just like you did to flash the combination file
- Start Odin and ensure it’s connected
- Now add in each of the MD5 files by clicking the boxes and selecting the appropriate file – this is easy because they all start with the corresponding spot (e.g. click AP and select the file that starts with AP, click CSC and select the one with CSC, etc…)
- NOTE – Do NOT use HOME_CSC – under normal cases you can flash this to preserve user data, but because we’ve changed the CSC this can cause the device to revert back to the old CSC.
- Click Start – it’ll take a while to finish
- The phone should restart when done – back into the new device setup screens
And that’s it!
That’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s a pain in the arse – believe me, I thought long and hard before attempting it – but once you know what to expect, and how to find the files, it’s not to difficult. It’s worth it to get proper carrier support for your country.
Remember – this isn’t risk-free. Follow it carefully. If you have any problems – well, you’re pretty much screwed. See the XDA Forums for help.