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Joel's timeline story
I was on Rogers pay-as-you-go for the longest time, starting off with probably the cheapest offering they had...the Nokia 6080 (and I didn't want a flip phone). Was all I needed for the longest time.
In 2012, I helped a friend move and she gave me a Samsung Infuse 4G (long story). I played with it, but didn't make it my daily driver...ever. I never even had my SIM card inserted for more than a day at a time.
Around that time I was starting to text more so early last year (2013), I bought an LG GW525 second-hand unlocked. Having a physical keyboard was much more convenient than the old T-9 configuration. The Nokia was relegated to a box in the basement until I gave it back to Rogers late 2014.
Around January 2014 I became really interested in heavy modifications to the Infuse. Consider it a guinea pig (all it was really being used for was playing music). I rooted it (and failed miserably), got it functional again, SIM unlocked it (though wasn't really necessary since I was still with Rogers at the time), and about 4-6 weeks later, replaced the firmware with Cyanogenmod 10.1. I breathed new life into an old phone!
By this time I heard that they made Androids with physical keyboards (believe me, it was an oversight on my part), so after some research (GSM, recognizable brand), I got one (HTC MyTouch 4G Slide) off eBay around March. I had to send the first one back due to a hardware issue (the seller was very accommodating although didn't have any others in stock - I got a full refund), but the second one worked great! Within the first week I had it rooted, SIM unlocked, and flashed with official Cyanogenmod 9 (Android 4.0 ICS). Because of the glitches with CM9 ROM, and that I couldn't connect my work email to the device, I upgraded to CM10.1 where I had little issue. I've tried other ROM's but it remained the daily driver for a long time before building a ROM for it (CarbonROM KitKat).
Some things were a pain. There was the frequent lag. Some receiving calls didn't go through (but that could have been my carrier). There was even the black screen of death (sometimes the screen wouldn't turn back on). Having more money than brains at that point (it wasn't really a bad decision), I decided to import a new device into Canada. This time it was an LG Optimus F3Q.
Because I was switching providers that September, by the time it arrived, I had almost two months to set it up before transferring my life over. So I did the usual. Rooted it, SIM unlocked it (albeit with a bought & paid-for code - unlike the other times where I scoured the device looking for the unlock info) and installed a custom recovery when one became available. I also installed XPosed and GravityBox for some tweaks. While installing apps, I found that I ran out of space easily, so after getting a MicroSD card, I got the Link2SD app and moved some lesser used apps to the MicroSD. Over time, I had to shift a lot of apps (about 500MB worth) to external, or else the existing apps wouldn't update. It was a real pain.
Around that time, I also purchased a tablet, the ASUS MeMO Pad 8 from Staples. I went on and applied similar treatment - root, ClockworkMod recovery (albeit temporary), and XPosed/GravityBox.
By then, it was September and I had my new carrier picked out, Eastlink. Inserted the MicroSIM into the F3Q, and after some jigging, things worked! Phone, texting, data. Never did get MMS figured out though - it only started working months later. With that in place, and my HTC Doubleshot starting to gather dust, I made that the media player/spare, and sold the Infuse (after updating it with the latest KitKat nightly).
I became fed up with the trickle of a developer community (XDA) for the F3Q, so I worked with a gentleman from Germany with the same device (well, his Wife's), and (using his kernel) I was able to make a debloated ROM, based on the stock version. There was so much garbage removed I have Link2SD installed, but it remained unused for the longest time (I now have to move some lesser used apps to external storage, due to system app updates). Still, it leaves new hope for this phone, and maybe we shall see some activity in Germany (or elsewhere) in a little while.
In the meantime, there was something else I got fed up with ... the provider updates my phone was receiving were not being applied, so every so often I would not be able to make or make or receive calls (unless I was roaming), but texts and mobile data worked fine. At that point I heard about the ZenFone 2. I was hesitant about Atom-based Androids (vs. ARM), and the size of the screen, but it had a MicroSD card and a great price point. Once I found a lanyard case for it, I took the plunge.
Upon receiving it, I was dismayed by the amount of bloat-ware on it, but after the usual process (rooting) I got that under control. I also unlocked the bootloader on it, as a safety measure if one of the future updates go bad. It wasn't long before I compiled CarbonROM Lollipop for the device, a ROM that I had for a daily driver and updated until around mid-November. At that point, due to circumstances, I went back to a stock-based ROM and removed root.
It wasn't long before I had the compiling bug again. With the ZenFone 2 out of the question due to circumstances, and although I was still maintaining the Doubleshot's KitKat ROM, I wanted to keep trying things other than apply commits for old packages. With my ASUS tablet reaching it's age (by that, I mean it's OS that does not look like will ever be updated), I looked around for options for a newer tablet. On a tip, I ordered the Nvidia Shield tablet.
I had to be careful with this purchase though, as there were many versions that had bad batteries (prone to dangerous failures). When I received it, I confirmed it was not affected by the recall, updated the software, and then with a ROM waiting, I unlocked the bootloader, backed up all the system partitions, installed a custom recovery and flashed CarbonROM Lollipop. It wasn't too long later that I had a pre-release version of CarbonROM Marshmallow running in it's place. Currently I switch back and forth between LP and MM about once a month.
As I write this, I am eyeing the ZenFone 2 Laser, for three reasons. One is for the removable battery, as my current ZF2 does not have a user-replaceable one and I feel it's charge becoming a little limited (charging on a daily basis now along with the LG G Watch I bought last fall - down to 50-some percent by the end of the day each). Another reason is that I am not ready to make the switch to USB Type C for probably another five years (at that point, I plan to replace every daily in close to one go). The last is that I sort of miss the headaches that it took to get a custom ROM built for this device. If it becomes spare (a dedicated build device), then my circumstances no longer apply. I hear the headaches got worse for Marshmallow if you are not using a ROM that is heavy on CyanogenMod, and I feel like I'm up for the challenge to learn. Since the release of the ZenFone 3 is imminent, I plan to get a good deal on last years' ZF2 Laser a short time after that release.
Joel, 29.05.2016, 04:29
Still new with this one, but it's a good experience so far, beside being so huge. Battery life is on par with other devices out there, nothing fantastic. I love the system and calling features (call forwarding in busy/unanswered calls instead of voicemail). I dislike the OTA process (because I am rooted), and plan to do it less than every time. Custom ROM's would be nice in that regard, but I am not in a hurry for such.
My first Android daily driver. Sucks that officially never got past Gingerbread, but is expected for a phone of that age. Great camera, loved having the keyboard although in hindsight the 5th row would have been helpful, and having solid keys - the squishy buttons make it hard to type fast. Also, battery life is pretty bad unless you buy 3rd party (i.e. Anker) replacements.
Specifications leave a bit to be desired. This phone should have came with an 8MB ROM, like the carrier's predecessor. Instead, you have to fight with limited space (1.3GB available to you out of a 4GB ROM). The front panel should have physical buttons. Size is a little too big for me (or at least my case), but manageable. The OS is outdated, and you won't see any updates. The "unofficial" developer and support community isn't really there for it either. Noone really seems to care about this phone.
But I do. In spite of it's budget hardware (for a mid-range phone) it has an effective physical keyboard. Although the firmware is old, it is not ancient where apps won't develop for it. Finally, with a few modifications available, the device can be quite livable.
Not a bad tablet. Was hoping for something more Nexus-like performance-wise (since ASUS provided the Nexus tablets since late 2014), but having the MicroSD slot (which I hardly use), kind of makes up for that. But the performance is good. The odd thing is the long time the kernel splash screen kicks in from when the power button is pressed (5 to 8 seconds). This model is supposed to be plagued with Wifi issues, but I have yet to see a problem. My only regret with this tablet is the lack of development for it. But then again, there are positives to sticking with the stock ROM, which is very tolerable (after a few optional tweaks with XPosed).
If I didn't get sucked into the dazzle of Android, I would still be using this, and happily. Convenient physical keyboard for texting, Call quality decent, great battery life, good size, although in retrospect the UI is glitchy.
Am neutral on this one. Not a bad phone, but I never really got into it, as in I hardly ever had a SIM card inserted. Was too bulky for me (although phones larger than this are now the norm), and later I became a keyboard lover. I held onto and maintained this (latest unofficial firmware) until my daily driver became spare.
Basic phone at the time; all I really needed (for emergency calls). The thing was overdone in cheap plastic, the FM radio was spotty, and had proprietary connectors. But great battery life and overall size. I don't really dislike it, but I wouldn't EVER want to go back to it.