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Rooting + Flashing…an Android Device

Android robot logo.

He is a cute little guy

With one swift upgrade to an iPhone 4, my girlfriend’s old iPhone 3G had become a dust magnet on my computer desk.  The thing about this iPhone is that for the entire 2 years that she used it, it was always kept in a case with a screen protector.  It sat around and was part of a few projects for me on Saturday afternoons just to stretch out my “hacking” (note the quotes, using this term extremely loosely, considering I am not hacking but merely following the instructions posted by people who did the real jailbreaking work…)

I downgraded it to the last version of iPhone OS 3, jail broke it, unlocked it, played with the notion of dual-booting it with Android, but never really did anything with it.  I actually threatened to make it a remote control for the Apple TV I don’t have yet.

So what started out of boredom with a few spare hours this weekend in reading about rooting & flashing Android ROM’s and other general hackery, I traded the dust magnet iPhone 3G for a T-Mobile G1, straight up.

I have flirted with Android in the past with a Nexus One (but twice actually), but never kept it around as I was constantly switching the SIM and having to use it as a primary phone, which was pretty annoying. This time around I didn’t intend to make this a primary device, but a little test bed to really play around with Android.  I snagged a quick pre-paid SIM for it at T-Mobile for $30.00 with basically enough data for me to activate the phone.  It has been on Wi-Fi ever since, so I won’t even get close to the data cap.

What has made this phone fun for me is that it is fairly easy to get into and modify.  The original Google Phone comes with Android 1.6, which is a pretty old version of the “Droid” system that people know and love today.  I think there is enough material for a different blog post in just the jumps Android has made in less than two years, as this phone is a pretty crazy reminder of how dumbphone Android used to look.

I had already done some research on how to root the device and load the latest version of Android on the G1.  I knew performance was going to be terrible, but I really wanted to give it a shot to see if I can do what people are charging $20 bucks on Craigslist to do.

After a few YouTube clips and a step by step tutorial and a few hours, I was able to successfully replace the old version of Android to basically the latest thing in market today (2.2…for now).  The speed is lacking, there isn’t any storage, but there is something fun to be said in terms of completely wiping out this phone, restoring it with something else and actually having it work after I was all done.

It was pretty cool.  I think I can kick up my geek cred a little bit.


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