I bit the bullet last night (for all 5 hours of it) and rooted my HTC Desire Z and installed CyanogenMod 7.0.3.
Ever since I bought the HTC Desire Z from amazon.co.uk in 2010 I have had problems with messaging (text messaging, or SMS, as it may be known). HTC released an update around Christmas Day in December 2010 that significantly improved the ability to send messages, but for the last 6 months I have often received messages but not known about them until I opened the messaging app itself (maybe the day after). It has been a constant source of embarrassment to myself that I have appeared to neglect my friends – all because the HTC Desire Z would not always produce a notification icon in the status bar when a message arrived.
HTC did promise a release of Android 2.3 in June 2011 but it is now almost the end of June and the latest I have heard is that HTC may not release 2.3 at all. I was fed up and decided it was time to take a risk in the hope I would get better messaging on my phone.
I followed the instructions at cyanogenmod’s HTC Desire Z rooting page to the letter. I installed the Android SDK following the instructions on the Howto page (I also had to download HTC Sync for the USB drivers from the HTC web page, the standard Google USB drivers do not work with HTC Desire Z and Windows 7 – so watch out, that was frustrating to work out). I had to downgrade the version of my phone (beware, the image size of the old version of HTC Desire Z firmware is around 250MB in size) before rooting. But the root went okay.
Then I followed the instructions at “Radio and CyanogenMod” to flash the radio software in my phone. I used the latest version (26.08.04.30) from the HTC Vision Radios page.
Be aware that when using ClockworkMod Recovery you use the volume keys to move up/down in a list. And the camera button to select. The power button is like a “back” button. I kept thinking the power button was the select button and wondering why nothing was happening.
Lastly I downloaded CyanogenMod from the CyanogenMod Vision firmware page (version 7.0.3-Vision). And installed, from Marketplace, “ROM Manager” onto my phone. Then followed the instructions for “Second Method (via Recovery). Also I installed Google Apps from the Google Apps page (required for Marketplace, and Google Maps if you want it).
Lessons Learnt from the Upgrade
It took me about 5 hours. Maybe more. It was relatively straight-forward, the instructions on the CyanogenMod wiki are excellent, however it was laborious. I am a computer programming professional and I’m just saying it was laborious.
I also prematurely erased my previous installation. At the time I thought, “I don’t need to make a backup, I’ve already backed up my contacts and my SMSs”. However what I didn’t back up was my OI Notepad notes. Do’h!
GPS – holy moly it resolves quickly now, I don’t know what changed but it’s like a completely different device now. Using GPS Test from Chartcross I get a lock within, maybe, 10 seconds when outdoors. It used to take a full minute or more..
Messaging – I’ve yet to evaluate – considering it was the most important reason for wanting to upgrade. However I haven’t missed a text message due to absence of notification yet.
What do I miss?
I miss the clock/weather widget. It’s the best thing about the HTC phone. Sexy, but also useful, as it has a count-down timer and alarms. There are alarms in CyanogenMod but slightly harder to find.
I miss my Angry Birds game state. I had finished all the levels. Now I have to do them all again!
Was it worth it?
I think so. I’m not afraid any more. I’ll learn to live without the HTC clock widget. I feel inspired to write a better one. But ultimately the deal breaker is whether or not messaging works reliably. A phone that doesn’t do messaging and calls is like a luxury car that can’t steer or brake.