Last updated 3/20/2018
The Samsung Galaxy Tab E is a 9.6-inch, budget tablet offering by Samsung and was released way back in 2015. At the time of this writing, the Tab E 9.6 variant is still available for purchase on Samsung’s website and private retailers.
Samsung released the Tab E 9.6 in a couple of variants. There’s the U.S. released Tab E 9.6 (SM-T560NU), which had a Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor, and then the rest of the world was handed the SM-T560 (Wifi Only) and SM-T561 (Wifi/3G). The latter two variants had a weaker, lesser-known Spreadtrum Processor, which Samsung allocates towards their budget devices.
Read our review of the Samsung Tab E SM-T561 here.
Photo Credit: GSM Arena
For reasons unknown, Samsung made Android Nougat available to the US TAB E (SM-T560NU) variant, while the rest of its brothers were left stuck on Android KitKat (4.4), a head-scratching move by Samsung. Most probably it has something to do with the difference in processors but Samsung is keeping mum on this matter in the Samsung forums.
While manufacturers struggle to bring updates, independent developers are working very hard to bring the latest possible OS possible to abandoned devices. Luckily, one developer ported a Nougat ROM to the T561.
Today I will guide you on how to update your Samsung Tab E SM-T561 to Android Nougat 7.1.2 via LineageOS 14.1. Formerly knows as CyanogenMod, this ROM is based on the Android stock ROM released by Google, which the LineageOS team modifies.
Credits go to the LineageOS team for making this ROM available to many devices and to independent developers like Ma3a_XaTa for porting this ROM to the Tab E SM-T561. I would also like to acknowledge the XDA-Developers and 4PDA community for making things a little bit better in the world of Android.
WARNING: This process will BREAK YOUR WARRANTY and can render your device USELESS. As always, PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
What’s working in LineageOS 14.1 (based on Nougat 7.1.2)
- SIM card not detected
- Occasional Android warning prompt (related to SIM, but has a workaround)
- …this list will be updated.
What you will need is a PC with working ADB drivers installed (meaning the PC can detect your Tab E), a sturdy USB cable, and of course your Tab E 9.6 SM-T561 with MicroSD.
Backup your Data
Important: make a backup of your messages, photos, videos etc. on your PC. This process will force you to wipe your device.
Installing TWRP Recovery and Rooting the Tab E
*Skip this section if you already have TWRP, otherwise, proceed.
> The first essential step is to install a TWRP recovery as well as Root your Tab E T561. Follow this guide on XDA-Developers here.
Concentrate on this process first as this is a very important step to installing custom ROMs on your TAB E.
Note: Make sure to select the correct recovery (twrp_188.8.131.52_sm-t561) under the Spreadtrum option. To Root, flash the latest SuperSU version via TWRP as stated in the guide.
*Credits to ashyx of XDA-Developers for making the guide and most especially to TeamWin for TWRP.
> Once done, Reboot your device.
Installing Android Nougat on the Tab E SM-T561 via LineageOS 14.1
> Next, using your computer, download the following software components and save these in your microSD card, under one folder.
- LineageOS 14.1 here.
- Open Gapps ARM 7.1 Pico here.
- The latest SuperSU you downloaded previously.
- TWRP 3.0 here.
*Credits to Ma3a_XaTa for porting LineageOS 14.1 to our device and Mahereg for providing the TWRP 3.0 link (made by Ma3a_XaTa).
> Next, reboot your device and re-access the TWRP Recovery
- Turn off the device.
- While holding the Volume Up and Home button, long press the Power button
- Release the Power button when the device vibrates but hold on to the Volume Up and Home button until you access TWRP Recovery.
> In TWRP Recovery, create a BACKUP of your device’s ROM and data in your MicroSD. Make sure to check everything that needs to be backed up. In case something goes wrong, you can always do a RESTORE process via TWRP Recovery.
> After the BACKUP process, go to WIPE > Advanced WIPE (check Dalvik/ Art, System, Data, Internal Storage, cache) BUT DO NOT include the MicroSD and USB OTG.
> Next, in TWRP Recovery, go to INSTALL > Select Storage and navigate to the TWRP 3.0 zip file saved on your microSD.
> Swipe to flash the TWRP 3.0 zip file then Reboot to Recovery.
You should see that your TWRP Recovery has been updated to TWRP 3.0.
> Go to INSTALL > Select Storage and Navigate to the LineageOS 14 zip file.
> Add More Zips > add the GApps zip file and also add the SuperSU zip file.
> Swipe to confirm flash. It would take 10 – 15 minutes to finish the ROM flashing process.
> Once done, do a WIPE (Dalvik, cache).
> Reboot the System.
Setting up the device
Wait until the device reboots and you will see the LineageOS bootup logo.
During initial setup, the device will inform you that the SIM card is not detected, which is a known bug of this ROM. You will also notice occasional prompts from the Android system.
“com.android.phone has stopped”
This is a bug related to the SIM card and Phone app. For now, there are no solutions to these problems unless the developer fixes the ROM, but fret not as there is a temporary workaround to this annoying pop-up.
> Go to Settings > About Phone and tap Build Number multiple times until the Developer Options is available.
> Go back to Settings > Developer Options > Turn On.
> Inside Developer Options activate Android Debugging.
> When the warning prompt re-appears, there will be a new option (Mute until device restarts).
This will hide the pesky notification until you reboot your device. You will have to mute this warning every time you do a reboot of your device.
That’s it enjoy Android Nougat on your Galaxy Tab E.
Screenshots and ROM Review
As per my testing, the LineageOS 14.1 is somewhat smooth on this device, especially compared to Cyanogen Mod 11, 12 and 13. The battery life seems ok as well. For now, this ROM will do for those who had been waiting for Android Nougat on their Tab E 9.6, but is willing to sacrifice the SIM functionality. Be sure to follow this post as I will update on new bugs, if any.
In case you want to go back to your previous ROM, just re-access TWRP Recovery, select the RESTORE option and navigate to your TWRP folder in your MicroSD.
Tip #1: To improve the visual appearance of the display, go to Settings > Display and adjust your preferred Display Size and Font Size.
Tip #2: To improve the speed of the tablet, turn of animations inside Developer Options.
In the future, I might add a few tips here and there, as well as updates on the ROM development scene for this tablet, so do follow this post.
Read our review of the Samsung Tab E SM-T561 here.
Having problems or do you have questions? Sound off in the comments section below. Let’s discuss!