Rooting, ROMs and Other Mods

The final act of my switch from the HTC EVO 4G to the Nexus S was returning the EVO to stock condition.

The EVO is a great phone, despite being ancient in smartphone terms. When it debuted in June of last year, it boasted the largest screen (4.3 inches, which is still among the biggest available) on the market, the most megapixels (8) of any cameraphone, a front-facing camera (the first one on the market, I believe) and was the first phone to include a 4G (WiMAX) receiver, which I luckily was able to use from the get-go living in Portland, one of the first cities to get WiMAX.

Update: Jason (@harrisja) points out in the comments that the front-facing camera appeared on Nokia phones years before the EVO. A little digging shows that NTT DoCoMo seems to have produced the first phones with front-facing cameras in 2005. My bad.

From the it’s-a-small-world file, it turns out that my boxing coach worked with CLEAR to develop and test those very WiMAX drivers.

The EVO should have a place next to the original Droid and the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1 in the Android Hall of Fame. It’s that good.

Anyway, I wanted to restore it to its factory settings so that I can repurpose it if I want. Easier said than done because I had flashed CyanogenMod (@cyanogen) about a year ago, but I figured the Google would help me find the stock ROM to flash within a few minutes of looking.

Wrong. It took several hours over several days to find the right process and a stock, unrooted ROM to flash. I finally found it here. Along the way, I was reminded of why I’m done messing with my phone and why I nearly returned to the safety and simplicity of iOS.

There is so much you can do to an Android phone, generally speaking, but once you fall down the rabbit hole, you’re in a crazy wonderland.

FWIW, I should also note that jailbreaking an iOS device leads to much the same rabbit hole. For giggles, I jailbroke my original iPhone, and it took a similar amount of Googling and testing methods to get it back to stock condition.

Don’t believe me, ask Chet (@oraclenerd), who had a similar adventure with his HTC Incredible. The moral of the story here is that even really technical people like the ‘NERD himself (or El Nerderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) get stumped modding their Android phones.

That said, I’m glad to have the experience under my belt and equally glad that my new Nexus S does what I want without any bloat or crapware. I was pondering rooting it, but the process requires unlocking the bootloader, which wipes the phone entirely.

Upon reading that, I paused to take my own advice and decided to be happy without root, at least for now.

Have you rooted, modded or flashed your phone with a non-stock ROM? Thoughts on the process?

Find the comments.




  1. The EVo 4g was the first smartphone wit a front facing camera?

    Many a Nokia before the Evo 4g had this feature.

  2. I moved stock HTC Desire to stable cyanogenmod after being fed up of waiting for latest android update to fix my issues and soo happy. Also battery life seems so much better even with the juice defender I had on the stock rom..

    I`m giving you less than 3 months before you flash.. 🙂

  3. I found the same thing with the battery life going from Sense on the EVO to CM6, much improved. I’m not going to flash the Nexus bc it already has stock Android, which is why I went to CM in the first place. I would root it it the process weren’t so involved.

    Plus the Nexus will get Ice Cream Sandwich very early, and if I flash it, I’m missing out on that.

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