Mar 1, 2011

Changes to my Motorola Droid

I'm not all about basketball, sometimes I have other things on my mind. A short anecdote.

I've been using a Motorola Droid as my phone for over a year. Overall it's been a mostly satisfactory experience. However in the past several months, my phone has exhibited some infuriating behavior. When the battery level reaches 15% the phone lets out a loud, jarring sound that is quite annoying. This sound cannot be disabled except by silencing the whole phone. This wouldn't be much of a problem, except when I use my phone to listen to podcasts every day during my commute and forget to silence the phone. Many times I've been driving home, listening to an Adam Carolla podcast, when suddenly a horrifyingly loud noise explodes through my speakers. I literally get goosebumps after this from being so startled. And every time I want to throw the phone out the window.

Turns out the only way to truly fix this problem is to root the phone. For those who don't know, "rooting" is a way of allowing greater customization to the phone, at the cost of a voided warranty. This was not a big deal to me since I'd been pretty set on getting the iPhone when my contract expired. So I proceeded. Afterwards I was able to remove the particular sound from my phone's memory, and my podcast listening has been pleasant ever since.

Today I went a step further. After rooting, many Android users install a non-standard version of the operating system on their phones. This allows for use of a better version of the OS and thus improves the experience. Again, thinking about my impending transition to the iPhone, I wasn't concerned about any potential damage to my phone. After some fiddling with apps and downloads I was able to install a clean copy of the most recent Android phone OS, Gingerbread.

Simply put, I love it. One of my biggest pet peeves about Android was the unrefined feel of the UI, from stuttery scrolling to slow swiping home screens. Those annoyances are gone. In addition, it appears that Google's new scheme of syncing apps with the online Android Market web interface allows for basically a hands free back up and restore functionality. Within a few minutes of the OS installation, all my apps were magically back on the phone. And it appears all my pictures and songs are still present. The only things missing are the records of past texts and calls. (I did a Titanium Backup, which would allow me to restore these things. But I won't bother - its not a big deal.)

Can I tell you what the most amazing thing about my "new phone" is? I no longer feel the need to get the iPhone, or any other new phone for that matter. These changes have given my Droid a new lease on life.

Here are a few links that helped me with this process:
SuperOneClick - root
Android drivers
Motorola Droid driver
Titanium backup
ROM Manager help
Custom rom installation help

UPDATE (3/4/2011):

As I started using the phone more I ran into a few hiccups. First, there was a strange instance when I couldn't make/receive calls or texts. A reset fixed the issue. Then the camera stopped working, but it turns out that removing the camera_click.ogg sound file (to prevent the camera from making the loud annoying shutter sound) caused the problem. I've since replaced it and all is fine. Finally, audio playback would stutter whenever the screen turned on and off. I'd start playing a song, turn the screen off, and there would be about 2 seconds of stuttering before resuming smoothly. I flashed a custom kernel (also from, and it seems to have fixed the problem. Let's play around for a few more days to see if there are any more issues. But things look promising!