A Droid By Any Other Name Would Surely Smell Sweeter
It wasn’t long after I had received the Android 2.1 update for my Droid Eris, which I had been not so patiently awaiting for some time, that the hardware limitations of the device became painstakingly obvious. Translation: it was slow. Too slow. I managed to stop by a Verizon store this past weekend to play a bit with the HTC Droid Incredible and the Motorola Droid. These devices performed wonderfully. They navigated between screens and applications with minimal to no waiting at all. I was rather disappointed to find out that I still had over 1.5 years before I was eligible for an upgrade! I can’t complain too much. I purchased my Eris less than 6 months ago for $20. But, as they say, you get what you pay for.
Earlier this week I had surfed on by the Droid Eris forum at androidforums.com, as I often do to check for any news from the community, when I came across a rather interesting thread. The thread asks one simple question: why should I root my Eris? Rooting was something I hadn’t really considered in the past, as I didn’t really think there was anything in it for me. None-the-less, I was still interested to hear the responses. I was very excited to learn that rooting allowed you to overclock the phone, and even more excited to see that many people were reporting that doing so eliminated all the performances issues that had been plaguing my Eris. At that point, I was sold. Now, before I recommend to you that rooting your phone is the greatest thing since sliced bread, you need to understand a few things:
- Rooting your phone will void the warranty. If you need to take it to a VZW store for service, you had better hope you can remove any evidence of ever having rooted it.
- You can seriously screw up your phone if you do it wrong.
- Always back up your phone before making any significant changes.
Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, rooting your phone is actually an easy (and well documented) process. The difficult part is all of the options involved. This required a couple days worth of research on my part. The main thing to decide is what custom ROM you would like to use after rooting your phone. You don’t have to use a custom ROM, but it doesn’t make much sense to go to the trouble of rooting and not use a custom ROM. A ROM is essentially an image of a new OS for your phone. It starts with the base Android image, and then the ROM developer makes changes to get it the way they want it.
I chose to go with xtrSENSE 3.1. The ROM boasted both stability and increased performance, which is exactly what I was looking for. This version of the ROM includes Sense UI, but there is also a version that does not, called xtrROM. Since I have installed the ROM I have disabled Sense, but it’s still a nice option to have. In my limited experience so far, I can say the ROM has lived up to the authors claims. Other popular ROMs include: KaosFroyo – the most popular Android 2.2 ROM, White Widow, and Evil Eris. I suggest you read up on each to see which one best suites your needs.
Now for the good part. You can read up about the rooting process here. There are several ways to root, including one that doesn’t even require a PC at all; you can find links to the various ways within the threads I’ve linked so far. I chose to use the Android SDK to root because it was the most straightforward and flexible method for me. After I had all of the required software downloaded and setup, I was able to complete the process in about 30 minutes. This includes a NAND backup before flashing my new ROM.
Once you have your custom ROM installed, you will undoubtedly want to overclock your phone. The software you will use is called SetCPU. This thread offers an excellent discussion of overclocking, and information about how to use SetCPU effectively. I have my overclock profiles setup exactly as discussed in the thread. I can honestly say, my phone no longer has all of the lag and performance issues it did previously. It’s like a brand new phone. I also love the replacement keyboard application used by my ROM – the HTC keyboard is terrible.
And without further ado, it’s time for some screen shots of my home screens…
As you can probably tell, I have quite a bit of custom software going on here beyond what is used in the xtrSENSE ROM. In my next post, I’ll talk about all of the apps I have on my phone and how I have it setup.