Extending the Life of Older Android Devices Through ROMs
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I have been on a roll rooting Android phones and installing custom software -- ROMs -- lately. Recently I faced some "mobility" problems. I didn't want to shell out $300 for a good used Android device nor did I want to shell out $650 for a new one, off contract -- and I wanted Android 4.2. I was left asking myself
how do I root a particular Android device when, in unusual fashion, there are no Mac OS Terminal instructions because the device I am working with requires a Samba server to accomplish the task?
My brother and I recently each acquired the Droid Bionic for use with Verizon. It is a two year old phone, released at the same time as the iPhone 4S and is roughly equal in specs. The phone is made by Motorola.
It has gotten some love lately from Google and has been updated to android 4.1.2 - the latest OS of any of the late 2012 releases from Motorola for Verizon. For those of you who have never touched an Android device - 4.1 is really the baseline for Android devices. It lifted Android to be on par (or near par) with iOS. The current OS is 4.2 for all new non-Google manufactured devices.
My brother and I each picked up this phone for about $80 on eBay.
Why? It has extensive support
from the independent developer community out there, leaving us wondering why. Most of the phones that the devs like to hack are GSM phones (phones that would run on ATT or TMobile). The Bionic has developed an audience because it was one of the first dual core phones with LTE (4G) support. As of late 2011, AT&Ts LTE network was pretty puny. Verizon was the LTE king of that era.
Rooting phones can be fun -- a good project -- a chance to brush up on some command line skills. While OS X's Terminal is a proper interface that can be used to modify many Android devices, it can't for this model. The Bionic requires the creation of a Samba server. Samba functionality was stripped out of OS 10.7
One guy made an easy tool that ran a small Linux distribution called TinyCore OS for Windows Virtual Box that would root the phone -- and I had an old Windows XP laptop kicking around that I used to modify my phone. However --- I wanted to do this on Mac!
Well -- I didn't have the $50 to $70 to buy Parallels or VMWare Fusion and my brother needed his phone rooted as well.
My MacBook Air's 128 GB was already too full to do a Boot Camp with a 32 Bit Windows on the other partition, plus i didn't want to use Windows.
So I installed the latest Oracle Virtual Box for Mac - and the USB drivers extension pack. Then I downloaded the long term release of Ubuntu Linux 32 bit. The 32 bit version was key to accomplishing the task here here. I ran it as a virtual machine. Oracle Virtual Box set up an unnecessary firewall -- even though my OSX firewall was off. Once I removed this NAT -- I was able to follow the programming scripts -- setting up the Samba share and --- in less than 10 minutes the Bionic was rooted.
With his phone rooted, I was able to install the leading Android Custom ROM - Cyanogen Mod -- which is an official release for our Droid Bionics. We are now running OS 4.2.2, with a pure Android experience.
My brother was very happy. I won't be running Ubuntu all the time but -- I am now intrigued to play around with it from time to time especially to compare and contrast its terminal and under the hood functions with the Macs.
This entire exercise makes me think -- I really wished I learned how to program when I was younger. Some school systems are now recognizing programming languages as equivalent tolerating a foreign language. More of them should follow suit. Instead, we're still telling kids in Connecticut to plan for jobs in the insurance industry. :)
I recently found this as well... My 3 year old HTC Evo 4G was getting long in the tooth. It shipped with Android 2.1, and OTA updates stopped at 2.3. Recently I was having a lot of problems with 2.3, and was almost ready to get a new phone. I had one last look at the ROMs available, and discovered that people have been building ICS and JB for it. I settled on a 4.2.2 ROM.
It is more stable than the OTA 2.3 ROM was. I installed A2SD to help with my constant lack of app storage space. Performance is quite a bit worse than it was on 2.3, primarily because of A2SD hampering read speeds, I believe. It's a tradeoff of speed and functionality that I am willing to make. Also, I can use current Google Apps, even Google Now.
It's not a speed demon, and I certainly wouldn't recommend someone buy an Evo 4G at this point in time--but the Jelly Bean ROMs available can give it a lease on life if you already own one.
"thats what i need, a digi cam for when i need to take pictures. im not going to go around taking photos and stuff." Julio
The issue is support Prior to replacing my android phones, I rooted every single one of them because I never bought new until the Nexus 4. Thankfully the N4 came along and rooting (while I did it) was optional not mandatory which speaks to the broken nature in the Android realm. There are hardware dependencies and newer drops don't have drivers or the drivers are native and they need to be kernel loaded to "halfway" function. I was hacking the Moto Triumph, and no amount of hacking could ever get it to work properly because of the bluetooth/wifi chipsets were native meant for running on a Froyo (very old) kernel.
In any case another phone (mytouch 4g) DID have CM7 support, except the dev left and it never got CM9 support. What most people don't know is that there may only be 1-2 people maintaining the drops and usually 1 modding the kernel. These devs are hackers, so they are always looking for new stuff to play with, and once they do, POOF the community disappears to the next toy the devs play with.
In any case hacking was fun but time consuming. The phones became stable but required care and feeding and out of the box features never worked correctly.
N4 (GSM) changed all that, and if the N5 supports CDMA/LTE then there is a chance the people can have a phone that is supported and potentially take to other carriers and have Verizon/Sprint too.
In the meantime I replaced my phone w/ an iphone5, and my wifes N4 with a iphone4s. No problems. The N4 STILL has bluetooth issues and wouldn't reliably connect to my 2012 Van nor 2011 car (we are not talking old). A full rebuild an voila it was back for a few weeks until google updated the framework again and BAM back to bluetooth issues.
So now I spend my time looking for productivity apps, and not band-aiding the phone so it can simply work. It was fun for the last three years, and now that Google is getting their act together maybe in another year the O/S will be stable but it is not there yet. BTW, my N7 on the last update now sucks the battery down in less than 24 hours. I got tired of that and just use my ipad which will last a week or more with occasional usage.
My point is Android is still broken, but may get better. As for the 100million devices out there, good luck.
I dislike MSFT and metro, but outside of Apple WP8 is way more stable and better than Android, except it's MSFT. Or now MSFT-Nokia.
Using ODIN I rooted my GS3 within a month of getting it using ODIN and a custom recovery. It is recommended to use TWRP and then you can choose a stock ROM, which I used for a while, the entire system remains stock but I could remove system apps and had total control of the phone. I then picked a custom ROM, MOAR, and it is so customizable and comes with great baked in features, ie call blocking, call recording, light manager, custom colors and so on, and no bloatware, I love it. There is always risks involved, make sure you make back ups and the software needs to be phone and carrier specific. You can check xda to see if it available and I used Android Central for the rooting process, it is dumbed down for my semi geek self, just look up your phone and carrier and off you go, takes about an hour.
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Re: Droid Razr Maxx
said by simlesa:You can still tether. Better yet you can get rid of the plan on Verizon and use it for free now.
Ever since Verizon pushed 4.1.2 on the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx it has been running sluggish, dropping connection, and not being able to connect with older routers.
I would like to install the new 4.2 ROM but I have few concerns -
Will I be able to use tethering? It's included with my plan, but I assume a custom ROM would not include the Verizon tethering app?
Also, I have read that HDMI out will stop working after the switch. Is there any way to get that working?
And finally, how hard is it to return back to official Verizon release, if I realize it's not working properly for me, or if I have to return it to Verizon for repair?
In need of a Vegas vacation.
·AT&T Wireless Br..
Galaxy S4 I didn't like Sprint bloatware (nor the Samsung apps or features or, well, Touchwiz), but I bought the S4 after playing with it in the store (it's snappy!).
So in the first 15 minutes (probably less than 10) of owning the phone straight from the store, I had rooted the stock firmware and, just my luck, a CM rom was available from the start (apparently it had just been released only a few months prior to when I got the phone).
Now, I'm running CM Android 4.2.2 on the GS4 (but I did keep the Sprint Voicemail app) and Android has never been so responsive before - usually with all the background stuff I run on it like VoIP clients and CPU monitors among other things it really acts jerky some of the time.
I looked at the HTC One (the sleek silver metal HTC phone), but it seemed to be not as easy to root and ROM (specs come first, then the root/ROM functionality), so I skipped over it.