I recently got an HTC one. It’s a beautiful phone but I did not start using it straight away because I simply had to root it and install a custom ROM first.
What is rooting? And why do it?
In my understanding, rooting enables one to use a phone to its fullest abilities, and removes manufacturer/carrier imposed restrictions. All bloatware and branding is stripped away, and more storage space is made available. This is especially important in phones that come with virtual, non-expandable SD cards like the One.
Phones come with stock i.e manufacturer’s standard operating systems or ROMs. There are clever people out there who develop their own ROMs which usually improve the performance of the phones. My favourite is mike1986, the creator of the Android Revolution ROMs.
I am not a techie; merely someone who loves all things Android and got bitten by the rooting/custom ROM bug a few years ago when I got my first Android phone, the HTC Hero. I was happy using the phone as it was, until it got a bit old, and my carrier stopped issuing OTA (over the air) updates for it. I started searching forums, discovered XDA Developers and haven’t looked back ever since.
I do not understand a lot of the processes involved in rooting phones, but I am good at following instructions, so rooting the Hero, and its successor, the HTC Sensation was a walk in the park, sort of.
The HTC One was a different kettle of fish. This is the ROM I eventually installed, but boy, it showed me pepper. To start off, it took me a whole day to discover that Windows 8.1 did not like HTC’s drivers. This was after I had spent hours on htc.dev.com trying to unlock my bootloader. I tried everything to no avail. I later realised that the fastboot drivers I needed were not compatible with my laptop’s operating system despite using the USB 2.0 connection.
I don’t have any friends who are into rooting etc, so I had to ask the Android gurus on the world wide web for help. However, I was aware how tetchy they get when they are asked questions they think you ought to know the answers to, so I did a lot of reading, and watched loads of tutorials. Nothing worked till the penny dropped that my laptop and HTC drivers weren’t about to become friends any time soon.
I got the phone on a Thursday. Spent the whole day admiring the box, didn’t open it. Unboxed it on Friday and spent the whole day trying to unlock the bootloader; no joy. Took the weekend off as I was so stressed out. Now, with the previous HTC models I had owned, there had been no need to unlock bootloaders via HTC, so this was something I had never been faced with. And there did not appear to be any workarounds, at least none I understood anyway.
During this period, I had ordered these screen protectors from Amazon. I was taken in by the sales pitch so was happy to pay £4.95 for a pack of two even though I thought it was ridiculously overpriced. I also bought a clear case by FoneM8 for £2.49 via Ebay. The screen protector went on well, but bubbled badly. This had never happened in the past with cheaper ones. I thought it was me, and had T fit the second one. Same result. Total waste of money. I cannot recommend this product at all. The phone case though fit like a glove, exactly as it says on the box. It also came with a free screen protector. Go figure!
On Monday night after another fruitless day, I decided to use a different laptop. This one ran Windows XP, so I thought it would be a breeze from here on in. Was I wrong! I downloaded and installed the required drivers, but they kept uninstalling themselves, usually just at the point when I needed them to work. I finally sussed it out the next day. It took me an additional day to install the ROM.
Then I had a smart idea. My apps and data were backed up using Titanium backup. All I had to do was do a batch restore unto my new phone. Everything went smoothly or so I thought, until the phone started displaying the message ‘Unfortunately HTC Sense has stopped’. Over and over and over again in a loop. I could not access anything on the phone. I broke out into a cold sweat. I was trembling. I knew I would not get any sympathy from T. He had told me to at least use the phone for a bit before I started tinkering with it. My stubborn self had refused to listen. And it looked as if I had wrecked the phone.
Going on forums, one suggested that the phone be returned to HTC. Before unlocking the bootloader, I had had to tick a box which said I acknowledged that by so doing the warranty might be voided. More sweat poured out. Powering it off did nothing to help. As soon as it came back on, the loop started again. And then I remembered that I had installed TWRP, so I booted into recovery and did a factory reset. That fixed it.
My error? I had tried to restore applications that were coming from an earlier version (ice cream sandwich) on to a version two steps up (Kitkat) and that had caused a system conflict. I jejely reinstalled the ROM, and then I restored some of my apps one by one. The whole process took a week from start to finish. Like I said earlier, I’m not a techie.
My phone was now where I wanted it, and I could finally start using it.
To be continued..