Wednesday, May 26, 2010

HTC Magic, Vodafone UK, CynogenMod & Android

I've paid the price for being an early adopter. Over a year ago I was very excited to get an HTC Magic with Google Android. Since then it's be a frustrating endeavour getting the best out of what this phone and other operating system have to offer.

First off, this device is the limited 32B model of the handset, with small Ram and is also the 'with Google'. The problem with this is that the OS rom is thus controlled by Google and not HTC. The HTC released roms with SenseUI are not compatible and won't be pushed to this device. Nor can you download it from HTC as it requires serial authentication.

The phone initially was released with Android version 1.5. Vodafone and Google eventually, and frustrating late, finally released 1.6. It took well over a week of waiting by which time my frustration got the better of me and I decided to download and upgrade the ROM manually rather than wait any longer for the over the air release which seemed to be very slow to get out to some phones, despite using numerous tricks to get the unit to try and phone home for the update.

Rumour about Android 2.x started a few month later. Excited anticipation was met with the same frustrations as before. The standard Vodafone response being that it was up to Google to release the updates, they did know when and we just had to keep waiting. 14 months into an 18 month contract and my HTC Magic was still suffering on Android 1.6 with poor performance and very poor battery life. Weekly visits to the Vodafone forums showed many others venting the same frustrations at being sold what was essentially a crippled handset, how crippled I wasn't too sure since I had no benchmark to compare it too.

Then there were the post mentioning CynogenMod. It tweaked my interest and I started reading up on it. It looked a little daunting and the continual warning from Vodafone on their forum that any Rom upgrades would invalidate the warranty (utter bollocks, but that's another story).

So eventually I decided to bite the bullet and go for CynogenMod.

I'm not going to go into the process here but give a little background.

1st I installed the recovery Rom via Fastboot (the hardest bit, that went very smoothly).

Thereafter it was the CynogenMod a tweaked version of Android 1.6. The improvements were staggering. It was like I had been given a new phone. I could hardly believe it was the same phone at all.

Never the less after some more ready and now filled with a bit of confidence about how to go about flashing the new Roms I took the dive towards the CynogenMod 5.0.7 test builds which were Android 2.1 builds.

Once again a staggering improvement in usability my phone was a puppy again. Battery life was vastly improved. a few tweaks here and there and the performance is staggering.

CynogenMod 5.0.7
quickly moved from test 4 to test 7 in a few short weeks before being released as stable this week.

Vodafone need to pull their finger out and look after their existing customers. This crap about blaming Google for the release schedules just does not wash with me. I'm not paying Google £30+ per month for 18 months for their services and handset.

I can now say that Vodafone are neglecting HTC Magic users and are more than happy for these customers to soldier on with cripple handsets that are barely fit for purpose. Is it really that hard for them to do such a simple this as to look after their existing customers? This problem is not unique to HTC Magic or Google, other carriers with the exact same model of handset have been able to facilitate these Rom upgrades for their customers.

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