There has been quite a bit of to-do in the cell phone industry lately, almost all of it because of the iPhone 4s release. I dont have an iPhone, and I’ve never had one. I wasnt even planning on getting a smart phone.
That obviously didnt go the way I wanted it, so there I was with all the other
nerds financial bloggers at fincon11, tapping away on smart phones during sessions and breaks. Due to the fact that I dont want to be constantly under a cell phone contract, I probably had one of the oldest smartphones in the building at the time, an android HTC Eris (which a friend informed me is the “3rd oldest” android phone). Back when I bought this, there was an iPhone, but I couldnt get one in wyoming because AT&T didnt provide service in my state (no joke), so we basically had verizon, sprint or a regional carrier to pick from. The iPhone didnt appear here until verizon got it recently.
This phone has been pretty good to me, but it has taken a while to upgrade the OS. For the longest time I ran android 1.8, then verizon upgraded me to 2.1 after quite a while, and I’ve been running that ever since. The current os version is 2.3 (gingerbread) – but my old phone doesnt have the guts to run it. I’m still rocking eclair for you android fans. Lately, I’ve been having crashing problems and wanting an os upgrade, but Verizon won’t give one because my contract is almost up and they just want me to get a new phone with another 2 year contract, where ill no longer get unlimited data and will be slowed to 2 gb/month. Obviously, I don’t want that, so I really want to keep this phone as long as possible and was looking for ways to do that.
Disclaimer: Everything past this point that i’m going to talk about will void the warranty for your phone (and could “brick” it). If you’re unsure, dont try it and if you are sure, try it at your own risk.
After talking with a programmer buddy of mine and a few others, they convinced me to get “root” access so that I can do an os upgrade on my own. I hemmed and hawed for a while before I got one, and my final decision was made because if I messed something up and did ruin my phone, my contract was up so I could get a new one at a discount. I decided to get ready and go ahead with it.
The first thing that I had to do was back up my data (which I unfortunately didnt get all of, but oh well) and save it all on the computer. That part was easy, and didnt take much but a bit of babysitting time.
After that, I needed to find an updated version of the OS that would run on my phone. I found this post about how to get this done on my old phone. After backing up data and finding the correct version, I was off to the races. I’m not going to tell you that this wasnt slightly nerve racking, but I made it through. The worst part was having to look up a solution for how to select the proper software because the way the website said to do it did not work at all.
Once I had the new software up and running, I grabbed all my back ups and reloaded them. All of this was pretty easy, but it was time consuming taking all of the data from my old apps and putting it back on the new apps. Of course, I could have paid 6 bucks to upgrade the app that I used for backup, but I didnt want to.
After using the new os for a few days, I’ve found a few bugs, but have also found the bug fixes. Once I get those loaded on to my phone, everything was be fine. For those curious, I was having problems with the GPS which started going haywire because it was trying to triangulate my location instead of using the built in receiver – a process that earned an inappropriate comment from a friend of mine. It also had issues where the browser would crash about 2 seconds after it opened, but one bug fix corrected the GPS issues and the browser. There was also troubles with the camera (it wouldnt work at all) but I downloaded an aftermarket free camera app from the market and that fixed that. The nice part was that people had done this quite a while ago, so there was plenty of information to be found in the forums. Honestly, it feels like a totally new phone. Everything works faster and better and all the screens are different. I feel like I got an awesome new phone, but I didnt have to pay a thing!
While the manual upgrade process did take quite a while and could have been a total disaster, it was fairly easy and a great way to upgrade the phone. I’m not in the I need a new phone all the time mindset, and I’m saving quite a bit of money because of it – from not having to upgrade my phone and from not re-signing a contract! Not only is this better on the pocket book, its better for the environment. In a book that I’m reading and will review here shortly, they say Americans throw away 140 million cell phones every year! Doing this is one way to keep mine out of the landfill for a while.
Readers: Have you ever tried to save money by doing a manual phone upgrade? Are you leery of doing something like this (I was) or would you be willing to give it a try?