Boxes and Dongles: Operation and Troubleshooting (Part 2)

Updated 21.05.19

In the previous part of this article we`ve given a general description of devices required for phones software repair and their classification. In this part, you`ll find out about possible errors and malfunctions that occur when working with dongles and boxes. Also, we`ll explain what requires special attention while troubleshooting.

How to Connect a Phone for Servicing

How to Connect a Phone

Currently, most phones are connected using a micro USB cable. For simple operations, such as unlocking or flashing, we use the original phone cable included in the package. Some phone models require connection using specific cables, for example, cables with a built-in resistor of a certain rating. Usually, box developers include the most commonly used cables into the package content. These cables can also be easily used when working with dongles because they are always connected directly to the PC.

However, you may need a UART cable for some operations. In this case, the phone must be plugged into a special port of a box.

Important! Always check connection manuals. Most box developers describe connection options and provide step-by-step instructions for each operation. Also, they usually provide a download link for appropriate drivers required for correct interaction with a specific phone model. While reading the manual, pay attention to the mode recommended for a specific operation and what options should be enabled in the operating system of a device.

Let`s find out more about the modes most commonly used for servicing Android phones:

  • Safe Mode – allows you to start the phone without signing in to your Google account.
  • Fast Boot Mode – used for firmware flashing (installing software) using command line tools.
  • Download Mode – also used for firmware flashing, usually when working with GUI tools.
  • Recovery Mode – used for phone recovery (e.g., if factory reset is required).
  • Diagnostic Mode – allows testing Android apps (also used for IMEI repair).

Important! Be aware that depending on the phone model, performance of some operations, such as resetting Google Factory Reset Protection (FRP) or downgrading firmware, may lead to the complete user data loss. Therefore, perform the operation only if you`re 100% sure in its result.

Typical Errors and Malfunctions that Occur When Working with Boxes/Dongles

Typical Errors

Problems with Starting a Box/Dongle

A box/dongle is incorrectly displayed or incorrectly recognized by the system

In this case, you should start with checking the box/dongle – PC connection by using another cable, connecting the box/dongle to a different USB port or installing driver recommended by the developer. Also, it`s recommended that you check the box/dongle with another PC, preferably having a just installed system, to prevent any software conflicts.

A box cannot recognize the phone

You should start troubleshooting from the Windows Device Manager. Make sure that phone drivers are installed correctly and there are no system conflicts.

Important! Pay attention to the way a virtual COM port is displayed. This port is created by the system when the box is connected. Also, pay attention to the COM port number, which the box is trying to work with. Sometimes the software access to the phone can be blocked by already installed utilities, e.g., antivirus, firewall, USB remote access software or USB Protocol Analyzer / USB Sniffer – software allowing you to analyze the data transferred between the application and the USB device.

When working with a JTAG interface, the main reason for all troubles is a poor quality of phone cables soldering. It`s recommended to use the shortest possible cables for phone connection purposes. Solder all pins once again if the first connection attempt failed.

Poor contacts condition

In most cases, smart card malfunctions occur simply due to dirt or corrosion, accumulated on contacts during long-term use. To eliminate this problem, it’s recommended that you extract the smart card from the card reader and wipe contacts with a rubber or isopropyl alcohol dampened cloth. Then insert it back into the box/dongle.

Important! You can perform this procedure only in case if the warranty period of a device has already expired. Otherwise, please contact our technical support.

Problems with Starting the Software

Quite often users are facing a problem when a box/dongle cannot read information from the smart card required for starting software. To find out the possible reason, first of all, check whether the card reader and smart card are recognized in the Windows Device Manager.

Cannot start software due to drivers’ versions mismatch

If you can see a card reader and smart card in the Device Manager, then check or update drivers for these devices. Also, it is possible that the OS might have ultimate drivers installed for a card reader or a smart card, depending on its own configuration. However, these drivers may be inappropriate and may differ from the drivers recommended by box/dongle developers. Check if recommended drivers are installed.

Important! Most boxes or dongles (for example, Octopus / Octoplus, Medusa / Medusa Pro, Sigma Box / SigmaKey, Smart-Clip2, Z3X Easy JTAG Plus) do not require drivers for smart cards. This includes Windows 7 OS and its later versions. Just do not pay attention to the yellow triangle in the Device Manager.

There are 2 options:

  • A specific driver intended for a smart card of your device is provided on the developer’s website or on the forumthis driver should be installed.
  • A driver for your smart card is not mentioned in the supported drivers list – no drivers are required for starting this software.

Cannot start software, update is required

Sometimes when you cannot start software, it informs you that you need to update the firmware of a smart card or a box/dongle. In this case, you should update your smart card / box / dongle according to the procedure described in the notification or the software manual. After successful completion of this procedure, restart the software.

Important! If you haven`t used your box for a long time, before using it please check the latest software version released on the official developer’s website. If the official developer’s website is not working, please check the official product forum page for updates. Most developers have their own page at GSM-Forum. Here you can find links for downloading the latest or test software versions. Also, this forum may be used to communicate with developers.

Software starts correctly, but functions incorrectly

You should contact the product developer directly. Use a feedback form on the developer`s website or create a new thread at the official GSM-Forum with a detailed description of your problem, attaching all available logs and screenshots.


The Box Isn’t Working

Warranty period has already expired

If you cannot solve the problem yourself (cleaning the smart card, performing the visual check of the box and its board), you should write to the official forum of the product. There you can often find similar cases and possible solutions described by other users. If you cannot find any information related to your case, create your own thread and wait for a response from the developer. Rather often, there is a special thread already created by the developers where users can describe their problems and share successful cases of their solution. We recommend that you check the forum attentively before submitting your own request. Use the search options.

Warranty period hasn`t expired yet

In this case, contact the product retailer directly to find out possible options.

If you`ve bought a product in our store and the above-mentioned recommendations were not helpful for you, please contact our technical support or write to our online chat. Please do not try to disassemble the box or dongle because damaged warranty seals will cancel any warranty obligations.


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