Sunday, April 3, 2011

Androids and Warranties and Voids, Oh my!

I haven't done a technical blog in a while, so I figure, why start now?

I broke down and bought one of those silly, "smart phones" last June.  I bought a T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Slide.

I was immediately addicted.  I can now look up stuff on the Internet wherever I may be.  I can listen to Pandora in my car.  It basically did everything the geek inside me wanted to do at a moment's notice.  But, I had trouble making phone calls.  And picture messages (mms) were spotty at best.  I had a 50/50 chance of getting disconnected when someone called because some Android Phone app was doing a force close.

Being that I had a year's warranty, I decided to make the best of it.  I called T-Mobile tech support.  They had me reset my phone to factory defaults.  A painful process.  All my little geeky settings I had spent hours setting up were gone and had to be redone.  Luckily, the second time around is faster.  The hard reset didn't fix anything.  They had me go to a T-Mobile store and replace my SIM card.  I did, it didn't help either.  Finally, they sent me a new phone (I guess they decided it was a hardware problem).  New phone had the exact same "features".  I could do all the geeky stuff I wanted, but phone calls were 50/50.

There were a few other quirks.  Like Bluetooth audio didn't work.  It was very sporadic.  Kind of like listening to someone speak to an audience through a microphone with dying batteries.  You get to hear bits and pieces of every other word.  This was more of an annoyance because I could use the auxiliary out to wire my phone in to listen to Pandora in the car.

Anyway, after a couple of months with my replacement phone, I went directly to a T-Mobile store and told them my story.  I was secretly hoping they'd just let me pay an upgrade price to one of the new 4G Slides.  I had no such luck.  They replaced my SIM card and told me to come back if the problem remained and they would replace my phone again.  Did I mention how painful it is to get everything setup appropriately with a new phone?  I think I did.  They also told me that if they had to replace the phone more than 3 times they'd force me to switch to a different model at the same tier.  I think my options were a Motorola Cliq.

It was sometime after this and when I head AT&T was thinking about purchasing T-Mobile, that I decided to screw the warranty.  It was obviously doing me no good anyway.  You know when you make one of those decisions and your only regret is that you didn't do it 8 months ago?  This was one of those times.

When you are "rooting" your android phone, you get all kinds of warnings about "this will void your warranty".  This is important so that the software helping you do this can cover their asses.  But, from what I read, people are doing it all the time.  Even people not as geeky as me.  Plus, in my eyes, my warranty was worthless.  All it was getting me was useless tech support.

So instead of figuring it all out myself and writing it all down for step by step instructions I just decided to follow this guys instructions after I verified the quality of the steps with a Google android site.  The steps were about the same except (I assume his name is) Richard had a few more details and described the "expected" results.  He also made recommendations on which upgrades to use and had handy links for downloading.

I, also, decided to go with CyanogenMod for my Android OS of choice.  However, last I checked his site recommended RC 2 (or CM 7 Release Candidate 2).  I opted for RC 4 or the latest greatest Release Candidate.  I had a few hiccups along the way, but for the most part, following Richard's step by step guide, I was able to get CyanogenMod installed on my phone.

The unfortunates.. I keep my contact list backed up to T-Mobile.  Cyanogen doesn't seem to know about T-Mobile.  It seems to assume that you keep everything backed up at Google (or your required gmail account).  So, I lost some contacts.  If I got your phone number in the last 3 months, could you send it to me again :)?  Thanks.  Or, if you'd just like me to have your phone number and you are a pleasure to be around and have Friday's open for going out to the party.  The more the merrier you know.

I always put crap like that in when my blogs get wordy.  It tests the ability of my readers to see if they actually read all of this drivel.

My picture also disappeared from my phone.  This seems a little odd, but when you get a smartphone and you start texting, you get to put little icons next to people by modifying the contact card with a small picture.  Most of my contacts are also on Facebook so their picture comes directly from Facebook which can magically synchronize.  I normally have to setup my picture by modifying the "me contact".  When I installed Cyanogen, this ability was lost.  I had to download a little app from the market called "My Phone Number" which simply allowed me to enter my phone number.  Once, I entered my phone number, Cyanogen goes to my gmail account and grabs my picture.  The important thing to remember: if you are missing your picture after you violate your warranty, get the "My Phone Number" app and keep it handy.  Unfortunately, every time you reboot your phone, you'll have to run the app again.  That is until someone comes up with a more permanent solution.  I did hear of people putting their SIM card in an older phone which would allow them to set their number on the SIM card.  I also suspect the useless folks at T-Mobile tech support might be able to do it.

The exciting and unadvertised!  I have now had Cyanogen installed for 4 days and have had no dropped calls!  My text messages and picture messages are sent instantly (it's almost scary).  Everything runs faster! I play Angry Birds.  The game was horribly slow before.  Now, with Cyanogen, it's alarmingly speedy and responsive.  Pandora quit cutting out.  Bluetooth audio works (with a small caveat of having to turn off Wi-Fi before pairing with a Bluetooth device)!   I can easily move stuff out of phone memory and onto my SD card to help with troublesome installs.

But, the most pleasant thing of all.  At my house, I have spotty coverage.  I usually have between 1 & 2 bars for signal strength.  It's irritating.  The new Android has a feature called Wi-Fi calling which basically says, if you are connected via Wi-Fi, use it to make calls instead of the cell towers.  T-Mobile is somehow associated with this so any calls you make still go against your minutes, but when I'm at home my Wi-Fi signal strength is much better than my radio strength.  Every time I get home, I just enable Wi-Fi, my phone magically converts over to Wi-Fi calling and I have perfect coverage.  I can't believe they don't advertise this!  I'm always talking to people who have crappy coverage at home.

And just to finish things on a positive note.  I'm sure I'm leaving out stuff.  I've only had it for four days.  I hate Apple and their proprietary BS.  Here's to the magical Androids leaving the iCrap in the toilet where it belongs!

1 comment:

  1. OMG..I soo often hate this techno world. I have to assume you are younger then me and are already hard wired to "get it" Do you think SOMEONE out there is pushing us toward the PETER Principle and eventually only 10 yr olds will be able to function ?I too have a smart phone It often texts things I cannot bring myself to say! Scares my friends and family. Also will not speak French..although I do have Spanish option. Odd no?