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Samsung S7 Update Voice Mail Hell – Solved

Basically we are all guinea pigs

(unpaid beta testers) seemingly for every technology company lately.  Microsoft raised this to an art form by giving away Windows 10.  Think about it… Why would they give away a new operating system for a year?  Two reasons:

  1. If you didn’t pay for it, you can’t complain about it.
  2. It phones home to mother constantly, providing massive amounts of data regarding compatibility issues, errors, crashes, etc.  This is invaluable, considering it is virtually impossible to test a new OS on all the possible combinations of hardware and software.  The permutations are staggering.

Now you know.

But I digress.

One of my pet peeves has been the way cell phone providers routinely push new OS / application updates that negatively impact performance and stability.  In the past, this has been the extent of the problem.  Eventually, you will have a paperweight instead of a phone because the latest update is designed for a much newer and faster phone than yours.  You either live with a phone you hate or pay big bucks to upgrade to a new one.  Does this seem contrived?  Think back to when your first got your new phone.  It was FAST.  Everything worked.  It was responsive – and a joy to use.  But somehow it slowly, inexorably degraded to a point where it was painfully slow and aggravating.  It didn’t happen overnight – or even over a span of weeks — or months.  You would notice that – and call someone.

It’s like the question “how do you cook a frog?”

Put it in a pan of room temperature water and slowly bring it to a boil.

By the time the frog figures out what’s happening – it’s too late.

We have all come to expect a pattern of worsening performance over time.  This just seems to be the natural order of things.  Most people have come to accept it.  But why?  Do you naturally expect the performance of your car to degrade over time?  Do you have to plan ahead for acceleration, knowing that the throttle response is now markedly different (worse) than when you bought it?  No you don’t.  That would be ridiculous – and frightening.

So why do we accept this with our phones?  And why does this happen with our very expensive smart phones?  The answer to the first question is “because we have been conditioned to expect it.”  The answer to the second question is “because if your phone continued to perform efficiently, you would be less likely to replace it with a new one.  It is called “planned obsolescence” and is driven purely by corporate greed.  If they made phones that always worked beautifully, repeat buyers would be few and revenue would taper off drastically.

Enough of capitalistic philosophy.

By now you must be wondering why I called you all here.

Samsung S7 Voicmail Hell

Samsung S7 Voicmail Hell

My wife and I have the Samsung Galaxy S7 phones.  They are no more than 3 months old at the outside.  When we originally bought them, they were excellent.  Reception was good and responsiveness was world class.  Over the last month or so, some serious weirdness has set in.  My email is all POP accounts than come from my domain servers.  Nothing has changed there.  It now can take 5 minutes to retrieve new messages.  This was never the case before.  Recently my wife has sent me texts that show as Sent on her end, but I never receive them.

The most vexing problem popped up in the 3rd week of August 2016.  It happened on both phones.  We would place a call to someone with an iPhone and when they did not pick up, it did not go to voicemail.  There was no outgoing message.  There was no beep to indicate it was ready to receive a voice message at the other end.  Just dead air.  Then we found the same thing true when calling Windows phones.  And even Android phones.  That’s when I tried looking up the phenomenon online.  I couldn’t find any reports of similar occurrences.  I took my S7 to the AT&T store where I bought it and the brain surgeon behind the counter checked everything I had already checked with no “AHA” moment.  He suggested I take it to the Samsung repair place in Plano.  Instead I called them and ran down a list of symptoms.  No one had heard of any of these (seriously?).  They suggested I call Samsung.  I did.  40 minutes on the phone with a nice enough young man who suggested I replace the SIM card.

So I planned to do exactly that the next day.

But first I tried a couple of new iterations of the prior search phrase and found the solution.

It was in an AT&T forum on  the topic of Samsung devices under

I can’t reach other people’s voicemail to leave a message (Samsung Galaxy S7 edge)

Indeed one of the new features that force-fed itself to my phone, turned on a function that is very simply NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME.

Here is how you fix the problem:

  1. Open up Settings
  2. Search for Mobile Networks and select it
  3. Select Mobile Data
  4. Uncheck Enhanced LTE Services

This is a broken feature that I never selected in the first place.

It also seems to drain your battery in record time.  My battery was under 10% by mid afternoon with this service enabled.  Even with the phone just sitting on a counter and doing nothing but receiving the occasional text.  So disabling this “feature” has more than one benefit.

I’m still going to get another SIM card to see if some of the other weirdness settles down.

The sure-fire way to keep your lovely new phone working like new?  ROOT it.  This gives you the power to remove the provider’s (in my case AT&T) crapware, meaning you can make it a pure OS (in my case Android).  It will never automatically receive another update.  You cannot do this with the Samsung S7 unless you bought it outside of North America.  They are locked and encrypted.

This will void your warranty, but maybe that’s an acceptable trade-off for having a very happy phone.

Name of author

Name: Wizard

Short Bio: The Computer Wizard (TCW). TCW was founded by Warren P. Harris in 1994 to service and repair computers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Relocating the business to Plano, Texas in 1999, TCW continued to flourish when an unfortunate loss of data for a wedding Mr. Harris photographed, caused him to research data recovery options. Realizing he would have to either pay someone to recover the photos or find out how to do it himself, the rest, as they say "is history". Approached by a friend who was a Private Investigator in 2006, Mr. Harris studied for his Investigator's license and began honing his skills in Computer Forensics. The company was renamed DFW Computer Integration in 2015.

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