Samsung Captivate software update (JH7)

UPDATE 2: My Captivate powered down this morning twice of its own accord (in a span of about 2 hours, which is a new record for me). The internets suggest that the JH7 software update fixes the power down issue for some, unfortunately not me. I’ll be backing up my data and attempting to get a replacement from AT&T very soon. If that continues to exhibit the issue (and probably even if it doesn’t), I root the device and install a custom ROM, because I’m fairly certain this is a software issue. I say this because searches for Fascinate and other Galaxy S device power downs yield insubstantial results, and they presumably have very similar hardware when it comes to anything unrelated to the 3G networks.

UPDATE: It has been 24 hours since my update to the JH7 software, and no random power down yet! This is the first day without a random shutdown in over a week. I have Launcher pro enabled, Live wallpaper, and I made sure to charge it until the battery full popup window displayed - and this time I manually dismissed it before unplugging the cable (some forum posts indicated that the problem may have related to that windows acknowledgement or self-dismissal by removing the cable). I will point out that the battery full popup window is different than it was for the old software. I’ll update this post again in about a week if things are still positive; if anything goes wrong, I will post immediately after getting AT&T to send me a new device.

I recently acquired a Samsung Captivate device. I will admit to being slightly disappointed from the start, as Samsung debuted their Galaxy S line with a better primary camera, a flash, a front-facing camera, and a touted latest android version. By the time Samsung got AT&T to agree to the device, none of those features were around, and I can’t help but blame Apple for all of the castrated Android devices that AT&T offers. Unfortunately, my vehemence toward the iPhone and AT&T’s non-iPhone throttling has not yet made the missing features suddenly appear on my Captivate.

Nonetheless, I am fairly pleased with the Captivate overall. The still camera is lacking, and suffers from the old iPhone 3 issue of “can’t take pictures in the dark, because I’m a $500 gadget with a 5MP camera that should take pictures of reasonable quality, except I have no flash”. I can live with only taking pictures in well lit areas, and in those well lit areas, the video recording is better than I expected. In terms of the phone itself, lots of worthless AT&T applications, but they aren’t really hurting anything, just taking up space. A little LauncherPro, some new icons, backgrounds, 8pen keyboard, a couple of games, and a few other tweaks, and I’m pretty satisfied with my Samsung Captivate (now all I can complain about is the marginal AT&T coverage).

A couple days after getting the device, I decide to check if there are any software updates available. I spent a lot of time working in wireless development, and know that often there are software updates made available between the time a device ships, and the time it’s available to customers. Usually these are automatically pushed via SMS or some other means, but I thought I’d run the manual check. So, Settings -> Software Update -> Check for update. Connection Failed. Odd result, one would think they should say something more like, “No Software Update available at this time”. I’ll try again, Settings -> Software Update -> Check for Update. “Sorry, 24 hours has not elapsed since you made your last request for software update…” Are you kidding? Is Samsung/AT&T monitoring their bandwidth that closely, that I can’t check for a software update more than once a day? Who came up with this terrible flow? Anyway, I let that slide, and went on my merry way. Fast forward…

Now, 5 weeks into my Captivate relationship (that’s a week or so beyond the standard AT&T device warranty window), I start finding my phone turned off when I am fully expecting it to be powered on. Strange, am I running some random app that is killing the battery? Or maybe I turned it off in my pocket accidentally? Turns out, this is a pretty widespread issue with the Captivate.

I called AT&T and they walk me through the standard: power cycle the device, is it water damaged, is it physically damaged corral. Then they say, are you using the latest device software, and I confidently say, “I think so, the software update always fails to connect when I attempt an update, though.”. But I read them my software version (I897UCJF6), and they say that I should try an update. The update, of course, fails to connect. So AT&T says to go to this web page (they spell it out, because the can’t send me a link for some reason - i asked.): w w w . samsung . com slash u s slash captivate slash software update all one word. As I marvel at how technologically advanced my morning is proving (can’t update over the air, can’t get a link from AT&T tech support, can’t seem to keep my smart phone powered on…), I start skimming the Samsung page and find that I can only install the software update from a Windows computer. WTF? It gets better.

These were the steps I took to get the new software on my Captivate (I even skipped a few that I executed out of pure desperation, but don’t fret, I did NOT restart my computer - even though they told me to do so):

1. Boot up the Windows partition and install their crappy Kies mini application (which adds desktop and quicklaunch shortcuts without asking). I was already mildly disappointed by the lack of non-Windows support in the formal Kies application, the fact that Windows is necessary for a Software Update is ridiculous. Also, not one of the four individuals I spoke with at AT&T could provide insight as to why the OTA download seems to fail for so many people. 2. Launch Kies mini, which says “Please connect your mobile phone”. 3. Connect Captivate to computer via USB. 4. Self-dismissing error message (when is this ever a good idea?), “Cannot connect in debugging mode.Please select Kies mode on the mobile phone and reconnect”. First of all - nowhere can you generically flip your Captivate into “Kies mode”. Second - why is this already such a pain?
5. Go to Settings -> Applications -> Development -> uncheck USB debugging. Re-attach USB cable. 6. Another self-dismissing error message from Samsung, “PC connection available only in idle screen. Close running applications.”
7. Back out of Settings to the Home screen. Re-attach USB cable.
8. “PC connection available only in idle screen. Close running applications.” Launcher Pro?
9. Download a Home Switcher application, because the Samsung TwLauncher is very well hidden within the Captivate, and I can’t seem to re-enable it. After Home Switcher installation completes, set TwLauncher as the default Home app. Re-attach USB cable. 10. Samsung Captivate says it’s connected, no reaction from Kies mini, which provides me with actions “About” and “Exit”. 11. Re-read the fine print on the installation page. Notice, “Unplug the cable from the phone and power off the device. Hold down both the volume up & down keys while inserting the data cable. The phone will enter a Downloading mode. The computer will then install the rest of the driver files. If there is a problem with Windows finding the driver, let it search online to grab them. Once the computer has finished, unplug the device from the computer, remove the cover, remove the battery, insert the battery, and place the cover back on. Lastly, power on the device.” It’s worth noting that the next step is “Restart the computer”.
12. Find that holding down volume keys with phone off does nothing. I am simply charging my phone via USB and looking like an idiot in the process. I find a post after much searching that indicates some laptops work with Kies if you set the Captivate to ask how to connect when it detects a USB connection. This works for me (Dell Latitude E6500, Windows 7 (32 bit), plugged in to the USB/SATA combo port). 13. Click “Phone Upgrade”. Immediately receive message: “Upgrade cannot continue: Not connected to the Internet, or cannot connect to server. Please check the Internet connection.” When did “Internet” become a proper noun? 14. I find another website that claims my phone must have USB Debugging enabled. That’s interesting, Kies mini told me explicitly that I couldn’t? But that was before I changed USB connection type to ask on connect, so I’ll give it a shot. This does not work for me, I get the same error as before. I try connecting in all of the various USB connection types (Samsung Kies, Media Player, Mass Storage, PC Internet). Each of these installs additional drivers. When I try the Samsung Kies connection type a third time, it makes a successful connection, I check the box saying I understand the disclaimer, and press the upgrade button. I’m not certain if it matters, but I noticed that Windows popped up an AutoPlay window in the background, I did not make a selection or dismiss this window (I doubt that it matters - but just in case). The download commences, and takes approximately 7 minutes at mid-range cable speeds. 15. The phone screen displays a pretty slick Android under construction image with a loading bar - very reminiscent of a geocities web page. This requires another 4 minutes on my device. 16. The device begins to power up, Kies mini says the upgrade is successful, wait until the phone reboots completely. During the reboot there is a short interval of console like startup text (in Android green), and the Kies mini application pops up a Reminder to reconnect the device in Samsung Kies mode. (This is while the “wait until the phone reboots completely” message remains on the screen.) 17. After startup completes, I get a message to press the Home key to exit Kies. Checking my Baseband Version, it is now I897UCJH7.

This required nearly 105 minutes of my life, ugh. I will update this post with information regarding the continuation or resolution of the power down issue.

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android captivate