April Showers

As I still don’t have a decent interent connection at home I’ve not been able to post during the month so here’s a collection of news items from the month.

It’s no Joke!

At the start of the month there was a post over on the CyanogenMod Blog announcing a new mascot, Cid.  I didn’t post about it as I was convinced it was an April Fools prank and am still waiting for the ‘fooled you!’ follow up post; Yes, you can tell I’m not a fan of the new mascot but to be honest I’m not a fan of Andy the bugdroid either.  Perhaps I’ll come to like it…

2011 Xperia official ICS updates

It’s taken taking longer than was originally announced but Sony are pushing out the official ICS update to the 2011 Xperia range of devices.  It all started near the middle of the month with releases in Nordic countries.  The Mini/Mini/Pro/Active updates are expected from late May and into June.  Over on Xperia Blog you can read some first impressions of the ICS update on an Arc S and already there are guides out there to get root access on the ICS firmware.  The last word on the Sony Mobile Blog doesn’t really tell us anything new..

Xperia Active’s successor

If you’re a fan of the Active (I certainly am and would love to get one if it were available on contract in the UK) then you’ll be interested in the rumoured ST27.  Predictably the screen size had grown but only to 3.5″ so hopefully bucking the huge screen trend!  Again, more details over on Xperia Blog.

Sony ST21i ‘Tapioca’

It seems that Sony have throw all their sleek designs out of the window and gone for a budget phone with a budget look as the pictures of the chunky ST21i/Tapioca have recently leaked.  With a 3.2″ display it’s a pretty small device although there’s quite a bit of bulk added to the phone with a large bezel.  It will be launching with ICS and the specs, while modest, aren’t too shabby!

Other news

Retro gaming fans might be looking forward to a slew of Prince of Persia (PoP) variants as the source code for the original PoP on the AppleII has been recovered and released.

For those with no shame or sense you can now pick up an Android Hoodie over on the Google store, I’d be more than happy to post pictures of anyone brave enough to buy one and wear it in public!

It’s the last day of April, in the UK it’s been really wet with heavy rain to get us to the end of the month, I hope the weather’s been better wherever you are!

The Suffering!

It’s been a long time but, for now I’m forced to use my X10 Mini Pro on the stock SE firmware…. Man it sucks!!!

It’s quite common that I hear from people who are fearful of moving from the stock firmware; they usually say something like “I want a flawless bug free experience” I don’t think they realise how ropey the stock firmware is; also it’s got bugs too!  The other thing that noo-b owners want to do is to emulate the original Xperia experience; I can tell you that in every area stock Android beats let alone when you start comparing CM awesomeness.

Being back on stock has made me realise how much of a mess Sony Ericsson made of Eclair; a lot of people make out that the original Android 2.1 itself was no good but anyone who’s actually tried AOSP Eclair will know it was class.  Why they felt the need to change break stock features and replace with inferior versions I don’t know; what where they thinking!

In case you’re wondering why it went like this:
My USB socket on my phone started playing up, it took me ages to get it sorted by T-Mobile as it went to the repair centre twice before they replaced the handset.  Unfortunately I got the replacement the day after I cancelled my home internet connection and I’m in broadband limbo so won’t be properly online now until May. Basically I can’t download the files needed (flashtool 100Mb+, MiniCM 88Mb) to get my Pro back in order. Oh well, it will make me appreciate running custom firmware even more when I’m back up again!

The State of All Things Mini(Android)

If a large phone isn’t your thing then recently there’s not been much going on as far as new android tech goes.

Now, what constitues a small phone is somewhat subjective, i.e. for some people a 3.5 inch screen is tiny, and something I’ve pondered over in the past when considering what to cover on this blog so decided to ignore anything over the 3 inch display size.  Well after months of watching (and waiting for Sony Ericsson to announce a continuation of the mini series) there has only been one phone of note, the Galaxy Pocket by Samsung; a low end device more in line with the specs of the original 2010 SE kit.  Hardly inspiring…

To be fair this is reflected in many of the surveys out there; most people are after a device just short of tablet proportions.

Obviously this leaves the mini Android phone space that the Xperia devices occupy open; not to forget that the 2011 devices, (the mini, mini pro and active), are pretty decent bits of kit and, in the UK at least, can be found with decent contract deals.

Custom firmware updates

Due to a number of reasons there haven’t been updates to the blog for a while which gave me an opportunity to look at the stats and rethink things.  There’s been a lot going on with lots of ICS/Android 4 builds for all devices; just to remind anyone the devices (with links to the XDA forums) include:

2010 devices

At the moment the scene for the 2010 devices is much like it was in the early Froyo and Gingerbread days; there lots of different builds of Ice Cream Sandwich with a number of bugs but running pretty well.  For a lot of seasoned users the ICS ports are fine for use but for those looking for a seamless experience and fully functioning hardware it’s not for them; yet!

The most accomplished release is MiniCM9 for the X8 by NobodyAtAll, the most notable missing functionality is the camera.  It’s now only a matter of time for nAa to bring his work across to the LDPI X10 Mini/Pro.

Lots of other builds are out too, helped by a lot of work by paul-xxx of both ports of ICS/CM9 and guides to get others building ICS from source.

2011 devices

After a slow start the scene is now really active; a combination of builds based on modified Sony stock firmware, the FreeXperia builds of CM7/CM9 and AOSP (or AOKP if you like) are available.  Of course the official Sony ICS firmware is around the corner.

Future updates

I’ll be following up with some firmware roundups soon and working on adding to and updating the pages on the site.  I’m waiting for my X10 Mini Pro to get repaired as it’s not charging properly; very strange, it’s stopped taking a charge from lower amp USB sockets so am just waiting for T-Mobile UK to get their act together (it’s been weeks already!).

Apps2SD and SWAP explained

I just answered someone’s question about partitioning their SD card over on the XDA forums and thought it would be a good post to put on the blog.  Those running MiniCM-2.1.9 may already be using the new Apps2SD scripts or thinking about it so hope this is helpful!

Swap is a way of increasing available memory so you can run more at once but you shouldn’t use it unless you have a fast SD card (it should have class 4 or 6 on it); it does work with class 2 cards but performance can be poor.

Using Apps2SD you can store your apps on an ext partition of your SD card, this is similar but different to the native android way of moving apps to SD. I’ll elaborate:
The native way of moving an app to SD leaves a bit of the app in memory and the remainder gets put on the FAT partition of the SD card. There are two downsides: 1; space is still taken up in the devices internal memory, 2; the app is not available until the end of the boot process which means that anything that needs to run at boot doesn’t and you can’t use the apps widgets.
Apps2SD in MiniCM uses bind hosting to move the entire apps directory to the EXT partition of the SD card, this has some advantages: you can still use widgets and items can load at startup, you can also create a really big partition and install loads of apps. The disadvantage is that, unless there’s a way I don’t know of, you can’t use the space on your phone any more; you can’t move some apps to SD and leave some on the device. Again a slow SD card can lead to very poor performance; especially when you have a number of apps running at once.

I won’t go into the caches and other things, I’ll save that for another day, but I hope this has helped a bit!

When I get around to writing some instructions in the getting started section I’ll go into more details but for now if anyone has any questions I’d be happy to help.

Video tutorials added

I get a lot of requests for video demonstrations.  I’ve recorded some and added them to the Getting Started section, in the video tutorials I cover:

  • Restoring with SEUS and PC Companion,
  • Unlocking the bootloader with Flashtool,
  • Locking the bootloader with the S1 Tool,
  • Flashing a custom kernel with Flashtool, and
  • Flashing custom firmware with CWM recovery.

I own no decent recording equipment (ironically the best device I own for this is my X10 Mini Pro but I can’t use it to record itself…) so the quality is low but hopefully some people will find these useful.

This is all done on my X10 Mini Pro so relevant to all the msm7x27 devices (aka the 2010 mini Xperias).

End of the year update

Season’s greetings everyone

It’s been a busy time recently so here’s an update followed by a quick reflection on 2011.

Xperia X8 latest

The hive of activity on the X8 continues:

MiniCM7-2.1.6 Gingerbread 2.3.7/CM7.2 unofficial port for the Χ8 – MiniCM7 moves up to CM7.2

Ice Cream X8|Alpha 9 – the ICS port by troufiniou, still not ready for use as a daily driver (no GSM, WIFI etc..)

S-Rom™ [V009] – The latest release of the Senseified GingerDX release

FroyoPro – Continuation of Froyobread & FroyoPro, now maintained by lrakkarl@xda

Stornmix V2.2.0 – This popular release is supposed to be rather good looking; I’ll check out the X10 Mini Pro port soon.

GingerXperia V20 – a new version for the super nAa kernel

Ginger 3D v2 – A new release; anyone tried it?

GingerCruzt Revision 8.5 – a number of fixes and a new boot animation

FROYO 2.2 Update 2 (GingerBread Features)

LinuXperia Escha Arch 4 (Mint)

heroDROID – a new release based on hero 246

Bolt™[v001] – from the maker of Srom, anyone tried it?

cm-x v1.1

nAa-08 Kernel – is this the best kernel for the X8?  nAa releases a super new version

If you’re not up to date, or starting out from scratch try using flashtool.  Alternatively here’s some links to get your device rooted and a recovery installed:

Rooting from stock (2.1)

ClockworkMod Recovery

Flashtool version – the XDA discussion thread for the X8 can be found here

Now if you’ve run into trouble then you might want to check out this guide to get your phone up and running:

How To Unbrick Xperia X8 | Kernels | Tweaks | ROM | Extra

Xperia X10 Mini latest

The latest x10 mini firmware news and releases from the  XDA forums are as follows:

GingerDX | v021b – a feature packed update for the popular GingerDX; check the change-log for all the changes!

MiniCM7-2.1.6 Gingerbread 2.3.7/CM7.2 unofficial port for the Χ10 Mini – MiniCM7 moves up to CM7.2

nAa-08 Custom Gingerbread kernel + CWM Recovery – You’ll need this for the above!

If you’re not up to date, or starting out from scratch try using the new flashtool.

Flashtool version

Xperia X10 mini pro latest

MiniCM7-2.1.6 Gingerbread 2.3.7/CM7.2 unofficial port for the Χ10 Mini Pro – Yes, nAa’s amazing MiniCM7 comes to the X10 Mini Pro.

nAa-08 [28/12/11] Custom Gingerbread kernel + CWM Recovery – Of course you couldn’t have MiniCM7 for the Mini Pro without the nAa kernel…

Fa kernel 0.4 beta – updates bring CWM recovery v5 and governors

If you’re not up to date, or starting out from scratch try using the new flashtool.  Alternatively  here’s the best place to get your device rooted and a recovery installed:

ClockWorkMod Installer – Windows v4, Linux v4 – for Windows users it’s all self contained in the zip file, Linux users need to root first; there are links to the Linux Rooter in the thread.

Flashtool version – The XDA discussion thread for the X10 Mini Pro thread is here.  The major new features include: the Fastboot toolbox for 2011 line devices and Bootloader unlock for X10 Mini/Mini Pro and X8.  Anyone tried it out yet?

If you’ve tested or use any of the firmware listed please give  feedback to other users via the comments.

2011 Xperia Devices

I’m not sure this reflects everyone’s views but I keep an eye on the 2011 device forums and look out for new releases but every release, apart from official CM/FXP, is based on stock firmware.  I’m hoping this will change and some genuinely interesting releases will appear built from source.

Hello 2012

We’re nearly into the new calendar year; I get really bored with everyone recapping on everything that has happened so I’ll keep this concise:

  • We’ve had a new set of mini Xperia devices; the active, mini and mini pro are really super mini devices.
  • Sony Ericsson have really upped their game and gone from a failure, yes the way they moved to android in 2010 was poor, to one of the top manufacturers.
  • The development scene for the 2010 devices is really healthy and continues to give new life to the ageing hardware.
  • We had a big lift with the official addition of Xperia devices to CyanogenMod with the bitter-sweet drop of the 2010 hardware (really the hardware just isn’t any good these days).
  • Despite the ageing hardware there are ICS releases for all the 2010 mini devices.

I’ve only been the administrator of the blog for a few months but hope that everyone has enjoyed reading my posts.  You can’t please everyone so am sure that it’s not to everyone’s tastes but let me know what you think and I’ll try and improve.

It still seems that the Xperia range is the only one to be delivering mini android phones.  It’s taken me a while but I’ve decided on what Mini means and it’s simple; 3″ display or smaller and the device not being much larger (i.e. not any of the blackberry a-likes like the HTC chacha).

I’ll be out of contract in 2012 so am looking forward to the new Xperia range, there’s still no word on the specifics of any mini devices so will watch eagerly!

Happy new year .