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Mobile Phone Service Provider Killed My Android!

Are you thinking of letting go of your current mobile phone?

I was. I have been a happy customer of HTC for about 2 years now. I upgraded my old iPhone 3gs in late 2010 and I have not looked back since. My HTC Sensation XE android phone beats anything apple have released before or since. Recently, I started to suffer problems with my HTC sensation after I accepted an update pushed on me by my mobile service provider (o2). Since then my device has been slow, unresponsive and bizzarely no longer supports some of the apps that were working fine prior to this 'software upgrade'.

I was a little displeased about this to say the least so I looked into rolling the update back to the previous version. This is not as easy as it should be. In the process of digging around for a solution on mobile software forums I was shocked to learn about some rather troubling practices employed by mobile companies.

According to what some beleive, it is a common policy for mobile service providers to provide updates for phones that are approaching the 'end of life' (ie. when the manufacturer stop providing support). These updates are deliberately designed to 'hobble' your handset with software (known as 'bloatware') that slows down your operating system once your handset is deemed old, obsolete or 'end of life' by the mobile provider. This is done to degrade your phones performance to the point where it begins to frustrate you, the user, and push you into upgrading your handset (and parting with some more cash too).

After finding out about these unscrupulous practices I was determined not to let them take me for this particular ride so I tried my hand at installing a 'pure android' version of their latest (stable) operating system - Android Jellybean. (At the time of writing 'Android KitKat' is pending any day now but a decent stable custom build of this is still a couple of months away according to the XDA-Developers forum - link below).

Installing A New Version of Android

The process of doing this is a little daunting. It involves backing up all of your data, unlocking the phone, wiping the phone clean of the pre-installed (stock) software and then installing the latest version of the Android operating system in place of the original operating system that came with it. These modified operating systems are packaged by enthusiasts who optimise devices for optimal performance and battery life. They do this by stripping out all the 'bloat-ware' and customising the operating system to run as efficiently as possible.

 I can honestly say that it was well worth the effort. My phone is running at least as well if not better than it was when it was brand new, it has the latest OS, as a bonus it also sports more features (panoramic camera, superuser permissions, speaker DSP, full control over app features, advertisement removal & more) and it also looks much nicer bringing the user interface in line with the version of android I currently have runnning on my Nexus 7 Tablet. I was close to buying a new handset but I may yet get another couple of years out of this one after breathing new life into it. It really is running like a dream, looks fantastic and I cant imagine a new phone would run any better or look as good as what I have now. Not a bad return for a couple of hours work. 

If you are interested in upgrading your handsets' stock-android OS with a 'pure-android' version I recommend having a look at CyanogenMod to see if your handset is supported. If you are an apple customer then i am afraid you are out of luck. Apple are very careful about letting you do anything that might allow you to get around paying them extortionate amounts of money so all I can do is advise you to throw it out and go google android. 

External Links

http://www.cyanogenmod.org/ - Software required to install custom Android OS
http://www.xda-developers.com/ - Search for custom Android OS Roms for your handset.

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