Updating an old smartphone with a custom Android ROM?

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somitomi
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Updating an old smartphone with a custom Android ROM?

Postby somitomi » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:02 pm UTC

I've been using my Samsung GT-I8730 for four years now, and I've been mostly satisfied with the experience. However, Samsung abandoned support for this phone a long while ago and I've been running into the issue of apps not being compatible with the Android 4.1.2 running on my phone. I'm somewhat reluctant to replace the phone yet, because it does most of what I want (I'm no power user) and so the benefits of a new phone probably wouldn't mach the price tag. Therefore I've been looking into updating to a newer version of Android. Apparently it's entirely possible to install even Android 6.0 on this phone using custom ROMs and it would do away with the bloatware as an added benefit.
On the other hand I've fairly minimal experience with custom ROMs and I don't know how well the old hardware would run a newer, possibly more resource-intensive version. I might be naive, but I'd think Samsung stopped updating it for a good reason. Additionally there's the issue of how much I could trust a ROM I downloaded from the internet and how reliably it would run, even if I avoid immediately bricking my phone while installing it. Does anyone have any experience in the area?
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Link
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Re: Updating an old smartphone with a custom Android ROM?

Postby Link » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:11 am UTC

Planned obsolescence is pretty much the only reason they stop supporting old phones. You definitely shouldn't trust any arbitrary ROM, but the popular ones on xda-developers are usually OK.

Personally, I've been running LineageOS 14.1 (Android 7.1) on my HTC One m7 for a good while now, and it's a nice, clean OS. It's available for your phone too. Getting to the point where you can install a custom ROM differs by phone and can sometimes be a bit tricky; see the xda-developers page for your phone for lots of links to relevant threads. It's probably best to ask further questions there, since the people there have a lot of experience with after-market firmware.

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somitomi
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Re: Updating an old smartphone with a custom Android ROM?

Postby somitomi » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:19 pm UTC

Link wrote:Planned obsolescence is pretty much the only reason they stop supporting old phones.

Maybe I should become ruler of the world only to outlaw this nonsense.
Link wrote:Personally, I've been running LineageOS 14.1 (Android 7.1) on my HTC One m7 for a good while now, and it's a nice, clean OS. It's available for your phone too. Getting to the point where you can install a custom ROM differs by phone and can sometimes be a bit tricky; see the xda-developers page for your phone for lots of links to relevant threads. It's probably best to ask further questions there, since the people there have a lot of experience with after-market firmware.

Yeah, part of my fear comes from a previous failed attempt at rooting my phone, after which I reinstalled the original OS and never tried again. I will look into it nonetheless, thank you.
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somitomi
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Re: Updating an old smartphone with a custom Android ROM?

Postby somitomi » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:26 am UTC

Oh, a rather noobish question popped into my mind. Installing a new OS will no doubt erase all data from the phone, can I access backups on my Google drive afterwards?
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Re: Updating an old smartphone with a custom Android ROM?

Postby Link » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:40 am UTC

AFAIK you need something like Titanium Backup if you want to restore all of your data after a ROM change, but that requires root. Some individual apps may back up their data to Drive in a way that allows you to restore it from a newer OS later, but I don't think that holds for all apps. The good thing is that your phone is supported by Framaroot, so you can easily root it first (no need to bother with stuff that's likely to mess up your phone!) and install Titanium Backup.

Normally the contents of your SD card should be saved when flashing a new ROM, but there's a chance this may not hold in your case since unified storage was introduced in Android 6 (IIRC). I'm not too sure about that, but in any case I would recommend pulling the contents of your SD card to a PC after using Titanium Backup to save your data. Then you can go on with the destructive process of unlocking your boot loader (if necessary), installing TWRP, and flashing LineageOS. Personally, I'd wipe everything including the SD card so you can be sure you have a clean install. Don't forget to flash the LineageOS root add-on and the package generated by Titanium Backup!

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Re: Updating an old smartphone with a custom Android ROM?

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:51 am UTC

Installing a new OS usually doesn't erase data (stuff like photos and documents, even app settings if those were stored in a particular way). I used to install lots of new ROMS without much in the way of data backups because it always worked. But don't bet on it if you value the data.

There are different ways to do a backup:
- just copy the relevant document folders to a PC or dropbox or whatever. i would advice to this anyway for data that you really value, because it is transparent. Before you go ahead you can check the files. And whatever happens you still have them.

- Use titanium backup. This does much more than saving some files. It tries to replicate your old setup on the new OS. All the apps, settings in the apps, passwords, homescreen layout etc.

- A nandroid backup. You can easily make these in TWRP (which you need anyway to install custom ROMS). These are more less backups of your OS/ You can use these to "undo" the custom ROM, and get back to the old situation. So it's not about data protection, it's more a safeguard against technical issues.

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When I changed ROMs a lot, I would do it like this:
- One time copying files off the phone. Doesn't have to be repeated if you try multiple ROMS

- I don't use titanium. I don't mind installing some apps again, but you mileage may vary

-Always the backup in TWRP, and I usually copy the resulting backup file off the phone to be sure.

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Re: Updating an old smartphone with a custom Android ROM?

Postby speising » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:04 am UTC

your phone has a removeable sd card. probably a good idea to remove it / swap it before doing brain surgery.


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