back to article How to... re-energise your Android smartphone's OS

Generally, users have two beefs with Android. One, handsets often don’t get updated when a new version of the OS rolls out from the Chocolate Factory, and, two, many of the bespoke overlays and ROMs cooked up by handset makers and telecos are more akin to painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa than adding anything of value to the …


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  1. LeoP


    ... works in CM7 on the Orange SF, which happens to be my main phone.

    Just google around for the apk - I don't dare to redistribute it lest a black helicopter lands on my lawn. Don't expect speed records, but that silly website with the flash-only menu will work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It's probably Flash Lite. Basic functionality only.

      1. Force.

        If I remember correctly...

        I don't think it is flash lite. I have it installed myself it is a cracked version so that it can run on armv6 processors however it is still too buggy and the phone to slow for it to be of much use in my experience.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just bought a san fran for this purpose too

    I just bought a san fran for updating to a later version of android. Main purpose was to see if after loosing two jesus phones in a month, I could get a reasonable smart phone for a lot let.

    There does appear to be a 100 websites/youtube videos showing how easy it is to update these phones but the modern ones have the boot loaders locked and its not just a matter of holding down the right buttons at boot.

    There is an error in the article in that you can update parts of the firmware on the phone (to Gen2) and then install CM 7.0.3.

    All in all I now have a phone with better gmail support (I used gmail for home/work email), reasonable Internet browsing and terrible battery life. For 100 quid a day or two of mucking about.

    I would still prefer an iphone 4 but when I leave this phone down the pub some one is more likely to hand it back.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    ZTE Racer

    I've run this ROM on my '3' ZTE Racer for some months. It unlocked the phone and removed all the '3' bloatware. Additionally I can now use WiFi Tether to allow me to connect my Android WiFi Tablet to the Mobile Internet vis the ZTE Racer. For 'free' software this is highly recommended.

  4. Matt Brigden

    Galaxy S

    CM7 has no stable release for the S . If you want a good Rom for the S then check out DarkyRom which is as good if not better than CM7 . Its also a lot easier to flash as all you need is access to download mode rather than having to root the phone .

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I've been using Cyanogenmod for months...

    Damn awesome.

    I originally had the stock HTC sense ROM and installed a Modaco mod to rid it of all the Orange branding and other cruft. I used that for a while, until it dawned on me that this was just another layer of cruft slowing down my phone.

    I discovered Cyanogenmod - and the fact that it runs Android as it *should* be run is just a winner.

    My phone is fast, has no restrictions - such as tethering - and just looks and runs better than the HTC crap.


  6. drongo
    Thumb Up

    CM 7.1.0

    I have a similar setup running CM 7.1 on a Blade but I hadn't delved into some of the Screen Tweaks. Thanks for the tips.

    I get _very_ occasional reboots when GPS switches on sometimes but other than that, very stable and a step up from the Swedish Spring ROM I was using previously.

    There are means to move a first gen Blade upto a second gen so that later versions of CM7 are available. Fully reversible if anyone's worried about doing damage.

  7. Force.

    ZTE Blade owner

    After reading the first page I was wondering if the writer was going to realise that for the latest ROMs you need to convert to gen 2. I did it a few months ago it is very easy if anyone is interested:

  8. DrXym Silver badge

    CyanogenMode will do great business when 4.x rolls around

    Assuming Google hold up their end and release the source of the merged 2.x / 3.x trees, I think that CM is going to be massively popular with tablets and handsets currently stuck in 2.x land. I think a lot of handsets won't be upgradeable for lack of memory or features but those that are will benefit enormously.

    I also think that if Amazon is foolish enough to lock down their Android based tablet so it's tied to Amazon only services that they will join the list of supported platforms in no time at all.

  9. Sandy Ritchie

    2011 calling...

    Wow August and the Reg have just cottoned on to what we've been doing for 8 months.... most of us will read this topic as un-news and we'll all feel more stupid for reading it.

    Still credit where its due, you used the best phone to test a cracked rom. ZTE Blade is a fantastic wee phone for the money. I got mine back in January for £89 when colleages were buying the HTC wildfire, with its slower processor, poorer quality screen, massively inflated purchase price (basically double the ZTE), oh but it had build quality (aye you'll need that when you have to keep the phone for 12 months longer than the blade to make it cost effective).

    Cyanogenmod 7 is one of the most stable ROMS i've tested, in fact its currently in everyday use by my fiancee (Non-tech savvy, all she wants is txts and internet).

    1. Rob Beard
      Thumb Up

      Sounds like a great purchase then...

      ...I'm on the lookout for a phone for my wife and a phone for my eldest daughter who is 11. Sounds like these phones with the Cyanogenmod 7 rom would be ideal for both of them.

      I am a little tempted to try it on my Galaxy S, but I've still got 18 months left on my contract so I wonder if I should just leave it as is (Android 2.3.3) for now.


  10. JamsieL


    I have Cyanogenmod installed on my old HTC Legend (which i use as a phone for festivals) and its great. It has some great features that aren't part of standard Android, certainly breathed a new lease of life into it.

    On my Main phone, DesireHD, i run Android Revolution HD, which is customised and optimised for the phone, increased battery life (especially standby) it's faster, smoother, and less force closes on app's than the standard HTC rom.

    There is alot to be said for rooting your android phone and sticking on a custom rom, and the XDA forums are a great source of help. Just make sure you read the walk through's carefully and fully before asking questions.

  11. James Le Cuirot

    Upgrade to second gen

    You can upgrade the Blade to the second generation firmware. It is a tad risky but it's worth it to get the latest CM7 versions, where there have been a lot of bug fixes and new features like USB tethering. When I did it, it involved some horrible Windows program (penguin head here) and wasn't easily reversable but a week later, they came up with a much safer, easier and reversable method!

  12. mrmond
    Thumb Up

    Awful Orange UI

    The first thing I did, literally within an hour of unboxing my San Francisco was to put the Jellyfish rom on and LauncherPro.

    I don't care about the warranty, as long as I can turn it on I can restore the default if I need to.

    It transformed the phone (I knew what the Orange rom was like allready).

    I've thought about Cyanogen but I'm quite happy with how my handset performs currently and watch flash video and iplayer using the Skyfire browser.

  13. PaulR79

    Only problem encountered - hidden dockbar?

    "In two weeks, I only encountered one issue with CM7: every so often the dock would partly vanish. A quick re-boot always fixed things so it wasn’t the end of the world, though even locking the homescreen didn’t prevent the problem occurring."

    Are you perhaps talking about the hidden dockbar that is part of ADW Launcher? It hides some extra icons in a bar that shows where the main launcher buttons are if you pull up from the launcher bar. I've had many issues where it wouldn't give me back the launcher bar due to me not knowing how to close it so I disabled it. If it isn't this then I'm at a loss as to what it might be.

  14. NoneSuch Silver badge

    I got...

    ...a 15% boost in battery life using CM7. Add in the extra functionality and life is good.

    Coming up with a non-vendor specific brand of Android is a great concept and one all manufacturers should emulate.

  15. cexcells


    Having waited and watched the yes, no, maybe Gingerbread update for the HTC Desire I took the plunge and rooted and booted with clockwork mod to CM7. Great improvement in storage and battery use and very tweakable.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Excellent stuff.

    Running Cyanogen CM7.1 nightly on my HTC Legend, and it's as upto-date as possible (Android 2.3.5), runs really well, and you can easily remove some of the Cyanogen crud (google for Cyanogen Barebones).

    The biggest tweak is to make it look and behave like my Original HTC Sense, by downloading FancyWidgets and Go Launcher EX.

  17. Rovindi

    Always nervous...

    ...about the idea of rooting my Galaxy S and installing CM. Like you, it is my main phone and despite being a techy for many years, fiddling about on an Android phone is something I´m distinctly nervous about.

    Is my paranoia justifed?

    1. Matt Brigden
      Thumb Up

      re - Always Nervous

      Relax install Titanium Root and backup the phone first . Then head over to DarkyRom its a specific Galaxy S Rom . Install the 10.2 Resurection Edition and use your Titanium backup to reinstall your apps and data and your good to go . It wont brick your phone if you read the instructions and follow them to the letter . Be brave its a whole new world out there :D

  18. Random Noise

    words of advice

    Although I'm guessing a high percentage of El Reg's readership are fairly switched on to this kind of thing, for any first time flashers a few words of advice.

    1) Backup everything before flashing. And by backup I mean back it up to a seperate device. Some roms require that as well as wiping your phones internal memory that you repartition your SD card. You've just potentially lost all your photos, contacts, text messages etc.

    2) Look for an unbricking guide prior to flashing. If you've just killed your only phone handset & still have 12 months to go on your contract it could be brown trousers time. Fortunately there is usually a way back from a bricked device, but better finding a guide specific to your handset & reading through it / watching a youtube vid BEFORE you start.

    I do highly recommend trying new ROMs. I've loaded a Sense 3.0 rom on to my original HTD Desire. I get all the pretty interface action from the desire HD, with a phone small enough to fit in my pocket without getting any 'is that a phone, or...' comments.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      A pointer... where to find such goodness for the original Desire would be handy, I Googled but only found such for the HD and Z models.

      1. m45h3d
        Thumb Up

        Sense 3.0

        Haven't tried it recently because I'm a MIUI fan but search for leedroid on xda, he's released a gingerbread version on there with sense 3.0. I don't think its on his mini site yet though.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        let me google that for you

        It's the first result for searching for cyanogenmod htc desire...

        (been running CM7 on my desire for months now, in fact I only stuck with the stock ROM of about a week)

      3. David Paul Morgan

        google & cyanogen are your friends!

        Searched for wiki desire cyanogen & now have a rel 7 desire.

        Took about 2h. Great fun - hardest part was reading the boot rom menu screens!

        how do i get rid of the initial O2 splash boot screen? (I'll search..!)

  19. Bill Cumming
    Thumb Up

    Love this mod

    I've been using it for over 6 months (ever since I got my Desire HD)

    it's fast, and stable (even when over clocked to 1.4Ghz) battery life is good with this mod.

    Oh and i've set a lower screen density (effectively giving me more screen acreage!).

    I've tried a few of the "sence" and "Miui" mods (LeeRoid being one) and they just don't feel as snappy as CM.

  20. Tom Richardson

    Article Title Fail

    I already have CM7 on my Desire so it doesn't affect me, but I like that you call an article "How to... re-energise your Android smartphone's OS", and then skip over the "How To" bit entirely.

  21. beboyle

    Works great on original Droit

    I've been running C7 on my original Droid for about three months now. Works great an definitely better battery. I also loaded a custom kernel which give both better speed when I'm actively using the phone, and lower battery draw when it's idle by adjusting the CPU clock.

  22. scarshapedstar


    Once you go CM there's no going back. When I used the HTC Sense that came with my phone, I had a whole mess of klugey widgets just to do simple tasks like turn wifi and 3G on and off. Now they're right in the windowshade along with the flashlight, brightness control, etc.

    All the Apple fans who say that Android is a shitty ripoff of iOS really ought to see the cool things people are doing with open source ROMs. I agree that the locked-down crappy ROMS that come preloaded are just as locked-down and crappy as iOS, but who cares? That stuff's for the moms in minivans. Use CM, use some good widgets (Pure Messenger, LauncherPro), you can make a very different experience from anything that Apple, MS, or Google's partners are offering.

    Google's not innovating enough? So what. That's why open source is nice. Unfortunately, this isn't a retail-friendly message, and Google seems poised to kill off AOSP... :\

  23. Mr Floppy

    for the HTC dream/magic,

    since CM (and the other guy who I can't remember) no longer has this phone, CM 6 is the only stable build. As nice as that is and fast, it's still froyo but have no fear, Ginger Yoshi is here and it's good as. Android 2.3.5!

    1. Arrrggghh-otron

      More life in the G1?

      I wasn't aware that anyone was still spinning roms for the G1...

      I'd recently ditched the G1 after many years of faithful service due in part to the lack of any more CM roms and also the now unbearable battery life (3 batteries later) and laggy performance in favour of an HTC Touch Pro 2 cast off work phone that I was able to get running xandroid. Not quite CM but better than the horrible, horrible windows mobile that it came with and most importantly of all (for me anyway) is the 5 row hardware keyboard!

      But I may just give the G1 one last stay of execution and try the Ginger Yoshi rom.

  24. Goat Jam


    This article inspired me to flush the Telstra/Samsung bloat from my i9000 once and for all.

    Didn't go so well, the phone is (nearly) bricked now.

    Oh dear!

  25. gav_taylor

    "Moral: RTFM." and be careful with your "'what does this button do?' activities"

    while the purpose of the article is great for both users of old(er) devices and a great bit of PR for CyanogenMod, apart from the very misleading title, it struck me as potentially dangerous for novice users who don't quite know what their doing due to a lack of warnings in a couple of places.

    The two biggies that could lead to a few angry readers with bricked devices are:

    "The first time I tried this the Zip wouldn’t install. So I downloaded the same Zip again and it worked. Go figure."

    - this is ROM flashing 101, always check your MD5 hashes before attempting to flash a zip! (If your using the ROM Manager, it does this for you automatically) Downloads cant sometimes get corrupt, your phone is sensitive to these things and a dodgy zip flashed to the wrong place can seriously damage your phone.

    "I tried bumping the San Fran’s 600MHz chip to the maximum indicated 806MHz and everything froze"

    - Just because the option is there, doesn't mean your device supports it. How much you can and cant under/over-clock your cpu is down to your specific cpu and depends on various things like build quality, device age, mood of QA guy testing it...

    A bit of trial and error is needed when doing this, and you should always bump up to the max value not start at the top and work down.

  26. Christian Berger

    This kind of article should come by default with any hardware test

    I mean who here wants to run stock software. The point of having Android is that you aren't forced to use the OS your phone manufacturer decided to mess up for you.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Why are they so poor to start with?

      You can argue that it's like changing the stereo in your car and putting alloy wheels on it.

      But there's also the point that if the product you are buying sucks a bit then why should you yourself have to spend your valuable time improving it? what are the phone software developers and testers doing for their money?

      Contract phones should not arrive in such a bastardised state and the OEMs who release sub-standard ROMs should be employing better people. I believe Samsung have already make strides to do so by employing the person who creates this mod.

      It beggars belief that many non-technical people are having a less than great Android experience as a result of running poor stock ROMs.

      1. Force.

        I have to agree

        I own a orange san francisco/zte blade, that I have fully unlocked, installed a custom ROM, tweaked to my liking, changed the launcher, replaced system apps etc. The other day I came across someone who owned the same phone but hadn't done anything to it (not surprising as they weren't particularly 'techy'), it was rather strange to compare the two device which were technically the same but one (my one) was actually nice to use..

        It's things like this in my opinion that give people bad opinions of 'android phones'.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone recommend a ROM

    for the Galaxy Ace?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Me too

    I have been using various ROMs on my San Fran for over 9 months now and have finally settled on CM7. This, for me, is part of the fun of owning an android phone - messing around with it! I love the fact that I own it and I can do what I want with it - unlike any apple products or Sony Play stations etc

  29. sisk


    I may have to give CM another go. It was one of the dozen or so ROMs I jumped through trying to find one I liked back when I first got my Droid. It was decent, but I ultimately settled on one that has since fallen into neglect by it's creator.

    Right now I'm running Liquid Smooth, but it has one very bad bug related to the phone app that's more or less a game killer. I've been looking at other ROMs.

  30. pixel

    HTC HD2

    Works beautifully on my HTC HD2.

  31. blcollier

    Misleading Title - Agreed

    This isn't a "how to" at all. This is more of a "look what I did!!1!eleventyone!!" article. A "how to" tells you, you know, *how to actually do something*.

    How do I root it and what are the risks? What's the link to the files/application I need to root? How do I check which version of the phone I have? What is the best source for ROMs? Which ROMs are generally acknowledged to be the most stable? How do you boot the phone into Recovery mode in the case of a bad flash? What's the best way to back up? Can I make a backup of my phone exactly the way it is now in case I don't like it or screw up? If you can't be bothered to write all this up, then can you at least give me a link to someone who has actually bothered to do so?

    Incidentally, don't bother telling me to google it. I've been flashing ROMs on mobile devices since the days of my Compaq iPaq PDA over 10 years ago, and pretty much every phone I have had since then has had it's ROM/firmware modified in some way - including my Desire (which is running GingerVillain, by the way). Hell, I even managed to get FroYo running natively (i.e. without haret.exe) on my 4 year old HTC Kaiser. Suffice it to say that if I wanted to install a custom ROM on a ZTE Blade, it wouldn't exactly present a challenge. My point is that the title of this article included the words "how to", and didn't actually tell you how to do it.

  32. Kamao

    Desire S-OFF

    Recently went through this process and found it very worth while. Rooting was a breeze thanks to unrevoked, but then found I needed to get my phone to S-OFF status before being able to install CGM. If you find yourself in this situation I can only recommend checking out 'revolutionary' - a few minutes was all it took!

  33. Cleverfiend
    Thumb Up

    The vanishing toolbar is a feature....

    It caught me out many times too - until I found out how to turn that feature off (it's called the hidden dockbar and is empty by default), it's in the UI settings. I've been running Cyanogenmod for about 8 months and I love vanilla android without all that HTC Sense rubbish. (Interesting to compare it to iOS on my iPad and see how customisable it is!)

  34. dssf

    CM feature question-- any contact list vault?

    Does the CM7 or any other ROM any of you know of offer a "contact vault"?

    I ask because i am sick and tired of social networking software that tears through the contact list and makes ALL my contacts (current and havent-contacted-in-4-years) and I don't know if the social networking app maker is harvesting a copy of the contact.

    I don't want to strip names from the contacts because that then makes it a PITA to know who's sending text messages.

    Also, the social networking software doesn't offer up a list of who we want culled from the auto-update. Imagine if one's priect or sifu or parole officer or whomever is in the contact list, then all these contacts get "so and so recommended you try out our app", but the site -- dodgy or not -- ends up informing ALL your contacts directly or indirectly by association that y ou belong to a network. Some will do so by phone number.

    I really think that google's "do no evil" motto is sorely lacking because the default android contact list has no privacy vault. It from the very first customer use should "vault" all contacts added and then the customer be shown an overlay or checkbox to make certain contacts visible to an app ONLY on a case-by-case basis so that trial and other apps are not hoovering up privilieged information. Even google should not be hoovering up contacts, but at least recent Android contact list settings now allow one to deselect a contact from auto synching or auto updating.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now I'm just throwing this out...

    ... because I can pick San Francisco's up on Ebay for about £20. But I've often wondered if it's possible to use a mod like this, to de-Phoneyfi the unit, and turn it into a cheap ipod touch clone, which I would then give to my 9 year old son who is pestering me for a (rather expensive I think for a 9 year old) Ipod Touch.

    Any ideas?

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