Installing a Custom Android ROM on my defunct phone

Okay, this post isn’t really radio related, but…

I have had an Orange San Francisco Android phone for a while now, and have found it very useful for tracking satellites. Then late last year I lost my temper and this was the result.

A new screen (thanks Ebay) and I repaired it with no problems. Until several weeks ago when I noticed what looked like damage in the bottom right corner of the screen and started having problems with an unresponsive touch screen. Taking it apart I discovered it was moisture that had got in, a quick clean seemed to fix the issue until I realised the microphone wasn’t working either (I don’t use the actual phone very much) and the microphone is situated in the same area of the phone so I assume it is has also been damaged by the water that had got in.

Well I decided it was time for an updated phone and purchased a rather nice unbranded HTC Desire C for the princely sum of £79, it is much more responsive and has a newer version of the Android operating system.

I hate to throw anything out and the old San Francisco is fully functional apart from the microphone and works without a SIM via WiFi but what to do with it? The phone, which is in fact a Orange badged ZTE Blade and was full of uninstallable bloatware, hideous branding and the rather ancient Android Eclair 2.1 operating system.

I decided I would try to update it with new firmware. To be honest the whole experience has been a bit perilous and confusing. At one point thinking I had completely bricked it. I started my voyage by visiting http://sanfranciscoandroid.co.uk/ and followed the ‘easy’ instructions for updating it using ClockworkMod Recovery and then I came a cropper, the recommended ROM file link no longer worked, no worries the site lists plenty of others, I downloaded several of these and despite the update saying successful the phone would simply refused to boot.

Much Googling later I discovered a post on a forum that said installing the ClockworkMode update the phone from a GEN1 to GEN2 which means you needed a GEN2 rom. However the ones I were trying (Japanese JellyFish etc) were actually for GEN1 – told you it was confusing. I quickly found a link to a valid Swedish Snow RLS7 rom image and hey presto it works. 

From initial impressions it is like having a new phone (be it one without a working microphone!)

Just a disclaimer, despite it working for me anyone attempting to do something similar is warned you could end up making your phone non functional. All links to websites and files, programs are used at your own risk I don’t endorse anyone or anything and the usual caveats apply about the risks of downloading any software from unknown sources.