Samsung Galaxy S4 owners on Verizon, there's a new update available for your phones. But don't bother checking your Settings menu for an over-the-air prompt: it's only available via the Verizon Software Upgrade Assistant after connecting the device to a PC. Standard users should be fine, but rooted users (or those who intend to root or flash a new ROM sometime in the future) should avoid this one. According to several posters on XDA, the VRUAME7 patches existing root methods, and flashes a new version of the locked bootloader that prevents users from flashing a pre-release kernel, effectively blocking another path to root. A similar update may have already gone out to Sprint Galaxy S4 owners. At present, no one has found a way of rooting the new firmware.

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Screenshot from XDA poster shuddle13

The VRUAME7 update has no changelog at the time of writing, but some users are reporting that it includes the limited Apps 2 SD function (moving applications or application data to the SD card to save storage space) found on other recent S4 updates. It seems unlikely that Verizon or Samsung would send out an update for the sole purpose of blocking root methods, but the inclusion of a new locked bootloader certainly indicates that the subject is receiving some attention. At least one XDA user has stated that the update activates the Knox Agent, a Samsung-developed secure boot method intended for "bring your own device" solutions, but also works as an active block for SuperUser applications.

Fortunately, the update seems to be limited to Verizon's proprietary Software Upgrade Assistant (available via a virtual CD drive when you plug the Galaxy S4 into a PC) or Samsung's own Kies, so it's fairly easy to avoid at the moment. (The download itself seems to be failing for a lot of users, on both the Upgrade Assistant and Kies.) We're sure the tireless root/ROM community will have a solution at some point, but considering the extra effort Verizon is putting in to actively block root, it may take some time. Advanced users, consider yourself warned.

Sources: XDA 1, XDA 2, XDA 3

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Shingo Tachibana

    And that's why, kids, we tell Verizon to go fuck itself.

  • RaptorOO7

    +1,000,000 and a Here Here on that comment. I left VZW as my voice provider for this very reason, I now enjoy an unlocked Developer Edition HTC One 64GB with the ability to do what the hell i want.

  • chris125

    And this is why the developer edition is worth it...

  • Wyatt Neal

    One of these day ... I really hope that we get the Cell providers into actual ISPs. I will gladly lay down a significant amount of cash for the cell phone that works like my laptop does ... on EVERY F***ING ACCESS POINT.

    • Matthew Fry

      More like the cell providers become ISPs and start locking down your laptop.

      • Wyatt Neal

        And that will be the day I start a new planet.

        • Matthew Fry

          If there will be cookies, beer, and free unlimited Internet I'm there.

  • plastikman

    Not that I am a Verizon lover, I left them due to lack of phone selection. AT&T rolled out a very similar update that patched the bootloader and blocks existing root. There are mixed comments on the Sprint rollout but it seems that the "Loki" Exploit is patched on the big variants.

  • Armus

    I just want to know Who. Who at Vzw makes these ridiculous calls, shutting down bootloaders, only carrying the lowest end of the market phones, stripping features, cutting data plans and upgrades, and overall ruining what we love most - using great devices as much as we want.

    • Matthew Fry

      They know that their biggest selling point is their network availability and people will take less for more money for it. Incidentally, this is the reason they have so much capital to continue to expand their network which allows them to further dangle the carrot.

  • Phil Fernandez

    FYI... My Verizon S4 just received the OTA update.

  • sgtguthrie

    I didn't think Loki would last long term. That's why I'll only buy a device that has been truly unlocked already :-)

  • Thomas Cameron

    Just got this as an OTA update.