A few months ago I cycled down to “downtown” Strasbourg and got myself a spanking new HTC Desire. Now this baby (below) is a great phone, miles better than its predecessor which I had (the Magic) – but it came with two downsides.First was the need to change my contract to the local Orange franchise – that it, what used to be France Telecom. I thought I knew a cutthroat mobile company before but boy, was I wrong. These guys, as it’s emerged in the last few months, are amazingly good at finding new and innovative ways of fleecing you from your money. And no matter what snazzy package you choose, the costs will always surpass this, sometimes by a lot! And not due to excessive talking…

However, that is a well-known problem which seems to blight Orange affiliates in many countries. What I did not expect, however, was that after choosing a not-at-all affordable package and phone (on what is supposedly an open-source OS-based phone) I got a phone which was 1. filled with integrated, non-removable software from the mobile provider and 2. that I was forced to rely on the same provider for software updates, i.e. updates to the Android OS. Now, anyone’s frustration from being forced to have non-removable apps he or she didn’t ask for bloating their newly-purchased mobile is one thing. Being forced to rely on a local provider for important OS updates, while the same company has a clear incentive not to upgrade so you are forced to return periodically and get a new device – totally sucks!

And so, as ever, I dove online in search of a solution, only to discover a myriad of souls across many countries in the same predicament – apparently mobile providers are uniformly nasty! I was happy to discover that one can a. ROOT his/her device and gain complete control over it – using either simple, one click processes or complex ones which take hours or days to figure out if it’s your first time . b. having done so, FLASH new software updates without relying on any company’s generosity (replying only on the wonderful open source community).

Hallelujah! Viva the revolution 👿

I’ve since also rooted and upgraded my old Magic, upgrading to Froyo before handing it over to my sister so she joins the Android crowd rather than the monotonous self-satisfied Legion of Jobs zombies.

A few useful links for you if you’re setting out to reclaim your droid:

  1. The Unlockr: a great repository for numerous mobile how-to’s, including notably rooting and flashing HTC devices
  2. UnRevoked – if you’ve got a relatively recent Android phone, this is the easiest one-click solution for rooting and taking control of your device.
  3. Leedroid – a great ROM developer – currently on Froyo (Android 2.2):
  • This is the web repository for all the relevant downloads.
  • This is the latest (as of writing) thread on the ROM release. Naturally, it’s on XDA developers, a wonderful website which you probably know and use if you’re not an Android noob, or will if you’re in the process of learning the ropes like I was a few weeks ago.

Oh. And in any case, mobile bloatware, provider control of OS updates, etc. etc…I’d stillrather get an open source Android-based device than yet another iPhone every day of the week!