Home > Tech > Android Luvin, part deux

Android Luvin, part deux

When it comes down to it there are basically two things that one can do with an Android phone:

1.  Use it like any normal phone. Make calls, download apps, show it off, brag about it, spar with ifanboys, and/or

2.  Open the metaphorical lid, thus invalidating the warranty, and customise the hell out of the thing.  More correctly known as rooting the device and flashing a custom ROM.

Guess which one I did?

But first, a disclaimer.  I am no phone hacker, nor will I ever claim to be one.  I just scoured the interwebs for how-tos and tutorials, which are not that difficult to find. The task is finding the one that is applicable for your situation.

It is actually funny in retrospect because about a month ago I had commented to a friend that I wasn’t the type to mess with the phone, as it was “outside my comfort zone”.

So what happened?  In my expanding thirst for Android gadgets I decided that I was going to get my hands on one of the tablets coming out in September / October.  I was particularly ogling the Samsung Galaxy S Tab (take a look here).  This would make my Nexus One semi-redundant (since I don’t use it for phone calls anyway), so I decided to step outside the comfort zone, unleash the wannabe geek in me and experiment with the thing.

Ironical side note: after I took the plunge, the pricing info for the Samsung tablet was released, and I decided it was out of budget.  Since I intended to use it mainly to buy and read ebooks I settled for the Amazon Kindle, so I went ahead and ordered the 6″ wifi Kindle 3.  It is currently out of stock, but if all goes well I’ll describe that process in a separate post.  Actually even if it doesn’t go well, as I’d need to vent.

Back to the thread, what I did was very roughly as follows:

  1. Backed up all my important stuff and downloaded apps.
  2. Accessed the bootloader and unlocked the device.
  3. Installed a recovery image, to be able to load the original software in case the device bricks (becomes as useful as a brick, maybe less so as you wouldn’t be able to stack them and end up with a solid structure).
  4. Through the recovery make a backup of the entire current OS. You know, just in case.
  5. Installed a custom ROM – in my case Cyanogenmod v6-point-something.  Not that I knew exactly what I was going into, but it seemed to be the most talked-about and praised ROM.

Oh there were many in-betweens.  One had to find the right site to install the Android SDK on the PC and hook it up via USB, download the recovery and the ROM, find the latest stable version, get blocked off the main Cyanogen site and thus having to find a costly roundabout way, find the right instructions / guidelines, none of which assumed my very basic level of knowledge so a lot of guessing was involved.

So why go through all this hassle?  One thing is that the custom ROM takes the device and puts every setting at your disposal.  This is not done out of the box to protect the owners of the devices by ensuring that it is stable and works well.  After all tampering isn’t for everyone.

Performance is also greatly increased.  Out of the box the software somehow limits the hardware’s performance, for whichever reasons (battery life, compliance with carrier restrictions, alien interference).  After installing the custom ROM even the basic handling on the phone noticeably improved.  One can also overclock the device, that is make the CPU run at faster speeds, but I haven’t tried that out yet.  Actually at this point there I many things I have to try out, it is wide open: tweaks, themes, apps, whole new ROMs, etc.

I will probably not bore you with the details.

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  1. KJ
    September 20, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I updated the Galaxy S I have to froyo, one that isn’t released yet and I have to say the improvements are insane, especially in the camera. I never thought the software would affect something like the camera features and clarity like that!

  1. September 17, 2010 at 9:18 am

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