It all started almost two years ago. I knew it was time to upgrade my phone but I could not find a suitable replacement for my ‘rooted/custom ROM’d’ Windows Mobile 6.5 phone – an HTC Touch Pro2. When I say suitable, I must first explain who I am and what I do. That may help to understand why I need what I do. I will also give out some definitions later too.
I have been having issues with my phone for over a year now, and of course they are not getting better with age. Hardware related problems and not ROM/Operating system issues like the reception of phone (which used to be stellar) getting poorer, data and GPS not working all the time – especially and of course when needed most. So I began my phone search in earnest nearly a year ago.
My background: I am a Network and System Administrator and integrator. I manage systems including Windows Domain(s), Cisco Firewalls/Routers/VPNs, VMware clusters and many Operating systems contained therein – Windows, OSX, Linux, Cisco IOS etc. I have been working in IT for a few decades, so I am very comfortable with technology. I am also not a ‘fan boy’ of any particular type of Operating System or hardware. I have and use Windows machines primarily, but have a Mac and Linux box here under my desk (and many Virtual Machines of those OS’s too). I have owned many machines since my first Amiga in the 70’s as a kid. I simply use the tools that provide me with the best ability to do my job(s) and any other tasks I may wish to.
I settled on Windows Mobile years ago because of the amount of customization and third party tools I needed that I could use with it. I need MS Exchange support, Terminal services/Telnet abilities, MS Office compatibility and other remote management software and tools – all to at least do my job and NONE available on any other platforms at the time. I was also able to put a custom ROM on my device to provide for even more flexibility and control of the Operating System, applications and themes.
I looked at the BlackBerry and iPhones but neither had the application support I needed, let alone the ability to customize the operating system in any real ways.
And the Android phones at the time were also limited in their functionality and performance. But I was sure that the Androids would improve fastest.
So I figured my next phone would be a Android but didn’t rule out the iPhones either. With the increasing ease of ‘Jailbreaking/rooting’ the iPhone and the newer iOs I thought that might be an still be an option for me.
Next and just as important for me is the service provider. I have been with Sprint for over a decade and it has provided phenomenal value, and most importantly RECEPTION in the places I use it most – home and work.
I had a friend who was on ATT and was considered the Blackberry guru – seriously this 80+ year old guy would show the ATT reps how to use their phones! [RIP Gerry] And his phone lost reception at my house and our office fairly often; much more than mine. So ATT was probably out. My fathers Verizon phone(s) too didn’t work well in his house or mine (both very close to each other) and neither did my step-brother’s Verizon phone(s). So Verizon was probably out too. I’ll stop here and say what ever phone you get won’t mean crap if you have no coverage and can’t use it!
A few months ago I demo’d an ATT iPhone and could not get ANY reception at my place – so goodbye ATT. Plus I was still not able to do all the things necessary for my work and fun. Even ‘rooted/Jailbroken’, the Apple device is WAY to constricting for me. Don’t get me wrong. the iPhone is a fine device. It makes phone calls, chats, take pictures and plays music and video well. And all fairly simply for the novice and average user. But to truly customize this device for my uses and needs is nearly impossible.
ALSO and this is NO small point the iPhone 4S is NOT repeat NOT a 4G device! No matter what network you use it on it uses 3G phone services! [look it up if you don’t believe me]. I require fast data connections for many of the management activities I do and it would be foolish for me to not have a 4G device. I also was again tempted to move to Verizon because of their build out of their 4G LTE network, but their recent changes in data plan fees are WAY too costly and restrictive for my uses.
So I stuck with Sprint. Now which phone? I purchased an EVO 3D a few months back but returned it because I just didn’t like the phone enough and the phone itself had some connection issues (much like the iPhone did – poor antennae placements I think) and it just didn’t quite meet my tech needs.
Back to my old dying Touch Pro2…
I found a device to dramatically increase my reception in my home for Sprint called an Airave for only $50.00US on Amazon and decided to give it a try to ‘extend’ the life (and reception) of my poor old phone. WORKED AMAZINGLY! It is essentially an in home ‘cell tower’. It uses your broadband connection to extend your wireless services. [Both ATT and Verizon offer these type of devices too by the way. Except Verizon’s devices START in price from $250.00US and ATT’s the same!] I was also able to install this device behind my home router in a DMZ – so it has it’s own network and is separate from my home systems yet still used my cable broadband.
So on to my final choice. After doing months and months of research (I’m kind of a nut about that) I settled on the Sprint Galaxy S2. And wow, am I a happy camper! I have the ability to completely customize the sh*t out the operating system(s). Blazing speeds on wifi, 3G and 4G and a very nice multi-media device which can actually play more types of media from more sources than the iPhone! With a rooted Android phone I can put any number of customized ROM’s and applications on the device – freedom, yay!
I mentioned rooting/jailbreaking. I would not get any device that did not provide me with this ability.
I completely understand why so many people (probably MOST) would not care one rip about this. They just want to be able to do what ever they can very easily. And they don’t mind be limited by their carrier, hardware or phone operating system as to what they can or can’t do. That is one reason the iPhone is such a huge success. It ‘just works’ as the fanboys like to point out. But of course it only works the way Apple and the carrier ‘let you work it. Period. Me, I must know that I have full control of the device I own! I must be able to make a ‘real full image back up’ of my device not just a file backup. And secondly I do not wish be stuck in a ‘walled garden’ of ‘approved’ applications and devices. I own it I want to be able to do what ever I want with it.
So let me briefly explain those terms.
What is Rooting/Jailbreaking?:
Android Rooting is a process that allows users of mobile phones and other devices running the Android operating system to attain privileged control (known as “root access”) within Android’s Linux subsystem with the goal of overcoming limitations that carriers and manufacturers put on some devices. A good description of why.
iOS jailbreaking, or simply jailbreaking, is the process of removing the limitations imposed by Apple on devices running the iOS operating system through use of custom kernels. Such devices include the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and 2nd Gen Apple TV. Jailbreaking allows users to gain root access to the operating system, allowing iOS users to download additional applications, extensions, and themes that are unavailable through the official Apple App Store.
A jailbroken iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad running iOS can still use the App Store, iTunes, and other normal functions, such as making telephone calls. Unlike rooting an Android device, jailbreaking is necessary if the user intends to run software not authorized by Apple. A tethered jailbreak requires that the device be connected to a computer each time it needs to be booted; an un-tethered jailbreak allows the device to be powered without computer assistance. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, jailbreaking Apple devices is legal in the United States.
Essentially a ROM is the phone’s operating system that comes with your phone when you buy it.
I was going to explain what a ROM is but this post here is WAY better than I could ever have done so check it out.
I just realized how freaking long this post is! So I am going to write another post about the steps and tweaks I applied to my device along with some tips and tricks for Android and the Galaxy S2 in particular. Stay tuned.. [I post most of this sh$t for my own reference anyways. 🙂 ]
A little side by side with the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy SII