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Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Samsung Galaxy S

This is the first blog post I've written entirely on my phone. I thought it would be interesting to write about my phone, using my phone. Right off the bat some of you are probably thinking, why the hell would Ian write about his outdated phone? It's because I had planned to write about it almost a year ago but never got around to it. Now of course their is a very popular Galaxy S2 that is an upgrade to my phone in every way imaginable. So why don't I upgrade you ask? For one, I'm still in a contract and would need to pay full price for a new phone, and two, the Galaxy S3 is just around the corner and will likely be a significant improvement over the S2. Besides, my phone is still holding up very well, especially with some of the customization that I've done.

The Galaxy S is an Android phone that, according to Google, is not designed to handle the newest Android software (version 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich"). Obviously this news was a bit upsetting as with anything else I want the latest and greatest and my phone apparently can't handle it. So what does one do when your stuck with Android version 3.2 "Gingerbread"? Well it's not a bad version but it's not the newest and maybe isn't the best available anymore. What I decided to do was research the available Android versions for my phone. I quickly discovered that every phone has different software/firmware versions that are released in many different regions. I found out that the non-Canadian version of my phone, the international version had Android 3.4, 3.5 and a 3.6. So I checked out the differences and found that their were lots and it was safe to say that these other, newer versions were compatible and an upgrade for my phone. I managed to "flash" my phone with a program called Odin and get into 3.6. It was nice to see a new version of Android on my tired phone but in the long run it just wasn't what I was looking for.

Image credit: "Hanne" of the DarkyROM forum
During my research I found a whole new direction for software, "custom roms". A custom rom is like a home made operating system for your phone. It might be very similar to the stock Android rom that came with the phone, or be very different and have many performance enhancements that you didn't know were possible. Anyway, the custom rom that I stumbled upon was called DarkyRom and is built around already stable versions of android but with vast improvements. I'm not going to get into all of the differences between DarkyRom and Android Gingerbread but two obvious ones are the speed increase and the fact that it is "rooted". If your phone is rooted, you have the ability to access all of hidden and sensitive files burried in your phone. This ability actually lets you install apps that can do really neat things like control battery drainage better, remove advertisements, use overclocking and other "advanced" functions. The point of the matter is that DarkyRom really took my phone to the next level and I was happy about it.

My phones best Quadrant benchmark score
So for anyone here as a 1st time reader of my blog, you should know that I'm a performance nut. I like to tweak settings to get the absolute most out of my stuff. I was able to install some apps that really put the Galaxy S in a completely different league of phones. I've run several benchmarks and managed to get about twice the original battery life and get it about 35% faster. Also, because the phone is rooted, I was able to easily remove tons of "bloatware" like Samsung's app store and messenger app to name a couple. Being able to delete those, and many other apps freed up a ton of storage space that I can now use to store 5—10 more Angry Birds sequels.

Lastly, it's important to mention that a major reason that I experimented with my phone is that my phone was out of warranty. You must understand that their are risks involved with these operations, as it is possible that your phone might hiccup in the middle of an install and just never turn on again, it's not likley if you know what your doing, but it can happen. I'd be happy to help someone who wants to breath life into their good ol' Galaxy S. So please feel free to comment or email me.

Ian

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