Motorola w370: Hacked?

One of the most popular articles on this site is this post about “hacking” the Motorola w370, a mobile phone distributed by Tracfone, a prepaid cellular provider in the US. The phone recharges via a standard “Mini USB B” connector, the same type of connector used to connect most digital cameras to desktop computers. However, with this particular model, the USB connector is connected to a standard charging unit; you cannot use a regular USB cable to charge the phone.

Or can you? reader Andy left a comment in the original “hacking the w370” post that said this:

I was able to get my phone to charge off of any windows XP or Vista computer. To do this you need to download Motorola End User Driver Installation which you can find here When you plug into a USB port it will detect the phone and install the drivers (first time only). Now I hardly ever use the wall plug.

I can confirm that this works, albeit with a couple of caveats. First of all, the hyperlink to the required software on the page Andy links to gave me a 404 error. I found an updated version of the drivers at this page. And, in testing this software out at home, I think I found an even easier way to install the phone on your computer and enable charging via USB:

1) Download this file to your desktop and unzip it.

2) Attach the w370 to your computer via a standard USB cable with a Mini USB B connector.

3) When Windows prompts you for a driver, select “Install this software manually” and then click “Next”. Choose “Do not search, I will choose the driver to install” and click “Next” again. You’ll then be prompted to select which type of device you want to install; choose “Modem” and click “Next”. You then be presented with a window that has a list of manufacturers on the left hand side and particular models on the right hand side. Click the “Have Disk” button, and navigate to the folder you unzipped in step 1. Click on any of the .INF files listed, and choose “Motorola USB Modem” when asked to choose a device. You will probably get a warning box saying that the software might not match the hardware; this is OK, just click OK to continue.

4) When the Add New Hardware wizard is complete, unplug the phone, wait a few seconds, then plug it in again. You should see the following listing in Device Manager:

Your phone should now charge off of the USB port on your computer!

I’ve tested this on my main rig using the method in Andy’s comment, as well as another computer here at the house using my “shortcut” method. Both were running Windows XP Professional SP3.

Hopefully this is only the tip of the iceberg! I’ll mess around with this in the next few days and see if I can do anything more interesting than simply charging the phone via USB.

Lastly, I want to send a big THANK YOU to Andy for sending in this comment! You rock, dude!

36 Replies to “Motorola w370: Hacked?”

  1. great work thank you work like a charm do you know how to unlock the Motorola w370 or how to flash it let me know feel free to email me thanks

  2. Thanks for the response. I gave it a try and it works great on my PC under XP. I’m going to boot my Mandriva Linux (I dual and sometimes triple boot depending on my current mood/hard disk configuration) partition tomorrow and see what happens when plugging in the USB cable.

  3. Just a short follow-up. I booted my Mandriva partition and plugged in and no drivers were installed that I could see, but I can charge the w370 off the USB port just fine.

  4. Will any of this work on the W376g?

    Is there a way to get this to work on a Vista system?

    Has anyone found a way to “unlock” the usb so we can transfer pictures from the phone to the pc?

  5. I tried this back in Sept and it worked nicely. Thanks!

    Jim, Any progress on this front? “Hopefully this is only the tip of the iceberg! I’ll mess around with this in the next few days and see if I can do anything more interesting than simply charging the phone via USB.”

  6. >>Will any of this work on the W376g<<

    Just tried connecting the W376g with a USB cable to my Macintosh running OS 10.4.11. Phone reports “Charging,” and finally later “Charge complete.” Unable to transfer data unfortunately.

  7. Well, folks, I’m dropping out of the “hack the w370” race.

    For Christmas, I got one of Tracfone’s new LG 600g phones – with a camera *and* Bluetooth! – and I’ve officially retired the w370.

    Look for a review of the 600g in a week or two, after my BT accessories come in.

  8. Great work, thanks a ton.

    Just so you know I had some trouble with this. I had trouble getting the add hardware program to recognize the drivers, kept saying that they weren’t associated with my hardware.

    I fixed it by going into the motorola driver installer through the start menu and updating the drivers. When I tried again it worked great.

  9. FWIW, I know that the W370 will charge off the USB with Ubuntu 8.1. So if you wanna run that 8.1 CD as an OS you can plug the phone in.

  10. I tried this with a Tracfone W376g (the one with the camera) and it worked well – my phone is charging as I type! Thanks!

  11. This worked. Some of the responses were not exactly the same as outlined here, but they were close enough to figure out what to do. My phone charged fine. Keep up the good work!

  12. this worked fine. Some of the responses were not exactly the same as those outlined here, but they were close enough to figure out what to do. My phone charged fine. Keep up the good work.

  13. Wow! It actually works on vista, I’ve got confused a bit in the starts(since vista has a bit different terminology) but, guys try it out – works. I lost my charger… So I had to buy a USB one for 10$ instead of getting the wallplagin from Radioshack one for 30$ (which is the price of the phone) lol haha 🙂

  14. You can just search the Motorola home page for “pc charging drivers”; the link has the most recent version (3.7 as of this post)

  15. Reflash to OEM? I’m considering using a service to reflash to phone to oem to rid myself of tracfone’s limitations (like no usb to backup data)
    I don’t care about ringtones & images — just want to back it up — I’m shocked that I can’t use the usb for this.

    Has anyone every successfully used a driver with the w370 to exchange data via the USB?

  16. Installed to my new Acer 8.9 netbook and works like a charm..
    PS Charger can be bot at WallyWorld for $10.

  17. Thank you sooo much. Had a old phone # I needed off my tracfone, but lost the charger. This realllllyyy saved my arse. THANK YOU!

  18. Wait till you hear this. I followed the procedure to the letter and when I was done and replugged in my phone it was a good news, bad news scenario. First the good news; the phone, a Motorola W376g Tracfone was charging from my computer. The bad news is that my mouse (Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3000) no longer worked, the computer responded to keyboard commands, but the mouse pointer was frozen in place. I decided to try a wired mouse I had as a back up, the wired mouse worked fine. I’m not sure if the reason is that the wireless transmitter is plugged into one of the usb ports on the front of the computer, while the phone was plugged into the other front port right above it. I will try moving things around to see if it makes any difference, but if anyone out there has any idea why this happened and/or how to get around it so I can charge my phone and have full use of my computer using my wireless mouse, I would love to hear from you.

    Ed J.

  19. Hello again, I moved some things around and actually solved my own problem. First I tried moving the mouse to the top front usb port and, of course moving the phone to the bottom port, this didn’t change a thing, the mouse pointer froze as soon as I plugged in the phone. I then moved the phone to an unused usb port on the back of the computer and kept the mouse transmitter in the front (trying to keep it as close to the mouse as possible). When I plugged in the phone this time, voilà it began to charge and I was still in control of the mouse. It would seem obvious that the proximity of the connections caused some kind of interference with the wireless signal to the mouse, but if anyone has any theories to the contrary, I’d like to hear them. I also found something else that was differed from the what was expected when I looked in my device manager for the motorola driver it was not under modems. I finally found it under “Ports (COM & LPT)” listed as “Motorola USB Comm Port (COM3)”. I have no idea what this means, but so far it hasn’t caused any problems. Anybody have any theories on that?

    Ed J.

  20. ok so hopefully someone here can help me since there are solutions to everything but Im not sure how to search for what I need. Ok so Ill be completely honest, I recently found out my husband had a “secret” cell phone to talk to other women. I found the cell phone and when I confronted him, he tried to take it from me and broke the top screen off. the cell comes on, ive even been able to call my phone to get the number so it works just no display. I have a cord to plug it into my laptop but I need to get all the info out of it. I need a screen to see whats in there. I can bring it to somewhere to have it fixed but I dont want to pay for someone to put the screen back on but I need to know whats in here. text msg, contacts…. thats about it. We are back together doing fine but this just lingers in my head, whats in there. If I could see it was just friendly stuff I can move on but wondering kills me. so if anyone has a suggestion before I go to have this fixed ($ is the reason why I dont want to) Please any advise would be appreciated.

  21. Thanks for the info on the W376g USB charging driver. It works exactly like you said it would.

    Does anyone know what the little round rubber plug on the back of the phone is covering?

  22. Vae – if the phone has a SIM card and you have another one that does too, put the SIM card in that phone and if the text messages or anything for that matter is saved to the SIM, you can access it. Good Luck. Hope you get this message. I see you posted the question a while ago.


    Screw this phone.

  24. Thank you SOOOO much for the charging tip. Worked perfectly and I am charging like madman! LOL

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