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HTC Amaze 4G ICS (Android 4.0.3) hands-on review

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Back in the end of April, first Ice Cream Sandwich leak for HTC Amaze 4G became available. During same week, a team of Android devs / hackers from XDA, came up with a working (albeit very difficult to implement) S-OFF method for this great phone – that was a great week for Amaze 4G community, and since I just switched to T-mo that week* I got full benefit of both ICS and S-OFF immediately, why so many people have been waiting for both, for many months :)

* On April 26 I got a T-mobile $50/mo unlimited small business plan which I reviewed back in April – check back for my review of this plan and mini review of the Amaze 4G and why I got it, instead of HTC One S.

ICS for Amaze 4G – first impressions:

So, just as I got my sparkling new Amaze 4G, I went to HTC website Dev section and unlocked my phone. I then rooted it, installed custom recovery and (not sure in which order) I did S-OFF wire trick and installed Ice Cream Sandwich leaked rom with Sense 3.6 – and guys, WOW – it made the phone SO MUCH BETTER, compared to Gingerbread! I will provide links to S-OFF method and the roms / dev info at the end of this article.

Note: I actually used the phone with stock T-mo GB rom for a day or two as I was busy with life things, but rooted it as soon as I had time. This day or two gave me a decent enough impression of GB and something to compare against, when I installed ICS.

Custom ICS Android 4.0.3 rom for Amaze 4G: Since I can’t stand manufacturer and carrier bloatware, I went with a custom rom, where ALL T-mobile crapware and some Sense 3.6 apps were deleted.

I first installed a SpeedRom, but it continuously gave me Force Closes of Dialer app, so I immediately removed it and installed One Good Roof v3.7 – and let me tell you – it is one good rom! I have no glitches with it. I had only one reboot the entire month that I’ve been using it as my daily driver, and I think it is related to a buggy app. I also further cleaned up my phone by removing other unnecessary apps with Root Uninstaller, so I might have deleted something “important” :)


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Major differences between ICS and GB on Amaze 4G:

1) ICS rom is running Sense v3.6 vs 3.0 on GB. I don’t really know what are the major differences, as I never really got to use GB stock rom, but I can tell you – 3.6 is much better than 2.5 which I had on my old HTC Desire HD / Inspire 4G.

Unfortunately, it is still not Sense 4.0, which is available on a VERY low end HTC One V, but not on HTC’s “best” phone of 2011 – very weird.

2) 2G Hardware Acceleration: Amaze 4G is running on a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm S3 chipset, with Adreno 220 GPU – I fill that it is a very powerful processor, but in GB, all two-dimensional (2D) graphics did not take advantage of extra power the processor had to offer. Instead they used main cpu to do all the work. In ICS, you can use a 3D processor to speed up the 2D graphics, and let main cpu run the actual OS and apps. As a result, this improve your battery life and speed of the phone!

3) Speaking of battery life – phone comes with 1700 mAh battery which is not the best, but pretty good for it’s screen size (to compare – HTC Desire HD has only 1230 mAh battery). However with all the HTC / T-mobile crapware installed on the phone, my battery life on GB was less than half a day. After I installed ICS, it lasts me almost a full day.

Keep in mind though – I attribute some of the battery drain to T-mobile’s “4G” network, and some to the 100% brightness that I usually have. You can always extend your battery live with external battery / solar charger, but they are bulky, and not always convenient.

4) Built in 3G/4G traffic monitor. This is a great feature, and I highly recommend everyone uses it, especially now, with tiered data plans from most carriers. I mad a mistake of not setting it up right away, and the stupid Google + app was syncing my 30+ GB of pictures with Picasa albums – this quickly took me over my 5GB of full-speed traffic and I was stuck with 2G service for 20+ days :(

Lesson learned – disable ALL unneeded syncing / delete Google+ app and more crapware :)

BTW guys – question for you – in Accounts and Sync, when I go to any Google Account, it also offers me to sync not just Google+ but also Picasa. What I want to know is which app is responsible for this??? I don’t have Picasa installed. Pleas let me know in the comments

I really don’t know what else to include here :) … the ICS feels great and VERY fast / fluid, with no lag at all (except for buggy apps – but that is not ICS problem). I highly recommend you install ICS on your phone.

However you may choose to get official OTA update, if you don’t feel like doing voodoo magic with your phone ( I mean to get S-OFF you actually need to use a wire to short-circuit some connectors, while your phone is on and connected to ADB – you can easily kill your phone this way 😀 ). Just make sure you back up all your data before you update, as I know some OTA updates are full-wipe, and will delete all your apps and settings.

PS – While writing this review, I realized that I had to jump through so many hoops, risking to completely brick my phone, just to get it working the way I want – this is even without installing my apps and settings. While I feel comfortable doing this, most users will never root their phone – never mind doing S-OFF wire tricks.

As a result – most Android phone users will be stuck with manufacturer and carrier installed crapware and suffer, waiting for months if not years to get updates, and live with phone lags and bad battery life. No wonder so many people say iPhone just works, and abandon Android, even given all its “greatness”.

So I will put together why I think Android phone makers kill their own sales, help promote iPhone, and how Apple told ALL carriers to “screw” and they did :), and why iPhone is still the best selling smartphone and will remain #1 for years to come ( as “sad” as that is :( ).

Amaze 4G ICS References: – note: most of the methods linked below can make your device completely unusable, and will void your warranty. Perform all actions at your own risk!

Follow ALL installation details – and you will have great success! Note – links below are placed in order of events that you must perform to install custom ICS room on your Amaze 4G. I will post my own rooting and S-OFF guide soon, as some instructions were poorly written and are difficult to understand. I will try to do a better job.

Amaze 4G Unlock – HTC.
Amaze 4G Root – XDA.
Amaze 4G S-OFF – XDA.
Amaze 4G Super CID (requires S-OFF) – XDA.
Amaze 4G OneGoodRom ICS 4.0.3 – XDA.

Roms I will be trying soon:

I will update my OneGooRom to current version 3.8 and will also try RMS Quick Sense v6 as well as “Sense-less” RMS rom, which is themed as Sense 4.0.

If you are already rocking ICS – congrats. If you plan to install it – be careful and do not rush, and have fun!

One last thing – check out my post on how to install screen protector on Amaze 4G.

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May 29th, 2012 at 2:53 pm

AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked

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Fresh off the rumor mill – an Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.3) rom for AT&T Galaxy Note LTE version (i717) has leaked, and is now Rooted, Deodexed, and Zipaligned. Any band all bloatware (AT&T just loves to fill up their phones with useles and NON-removable apps) is still there, but you can sure expect these to be removed very soon – as soon as dev get some time to clean it up. Remember – this has just leaks a few hours ago.

image of AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked rom - app drawerimage of AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked rom - home screenImage of AT&T Galaxy Note ICS leaked rom


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Besides all the good stuff that very talented devs will do to this rom in coming days, this actual rom is already flashable with CWM (ClockWorkMod recovery), which will make it easy to do for anyone who has already rooted their i717 Note.

Another great news is that this ICS rom already has a flashable modem / radio which will allow your AT&T Galaxy Note to work on T-Mobile 4G HSPA+ network (which we reported back in March).

There is a number of CWM flashable files already available on XDA-developers. Links to ROM and T-Mobile modem files download and installation instructions, are at the end of this article.

AT&T Galaxy Note (i717) ICS rom compared to international Note (n7000)

The good news for i717 owners, is that this is an almost OFFICIAL AT&T rom – not the Chinese ICS leak for Galaxy Note n7000, which came out almost a month ago, and is still very much unusable as a daily rom.

I anticipate this Ice Cream Sandwich rom for Galaxy Note to be very stable. I assume it is almost ready for OTA update, and will be released soon after Samsung officially releases ICS for Galaxy Note N7000.

Most n7000 ICS roms are very unstable due to multiple bug, force closes, freezing, random rebooting (which I experienced with MIUI beta rom on my Galaxy Note n7000), etc.

Read my MIUI for Galaxy Note n7000 review, to see what it looks like, and for a full list of bugs that come with it.

Reference info, Rom and Modem files download:

ICS rom for AT&T Galaxy Note: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1581065

i717 ICS modem files for T-Mobile: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1581084

MIUI (ICS) for Galaxy Note review (Custom Rom – ROOT required)

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MIUI has been my favorite rom, long before the Note was even announced. After trying out multiple other custom roms on my HTC Desire HD (Inspire 4G) I’ve fallen in love with MIUI. Some of the best features for me were Speed, Clean and Bright look, Easy Backup and Restore features, Music controls on the lock screen, MIUI themes, Light weight and low memory requirements, etc.

Image of MIUI 4 for Samsung Galaxy NOTE

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After getting Galaxy Note, I was almost happy with it. However, Samsung’s Touch Wiz interface is just horrible (in my opinion) and it’s too deeply integrated into the Android OS on the Note. So deep, that using other launchers is not a viable option – you are still stuck with all the Sammy’s system apps – dialer / lock-screen / contacts, and others.

And for the longest time ALL custom roms were just cleaned up versions of stock TouchWiz roms. However, ever since the first ICS leak for Note, a multitude of truly custom roms began popping up on XDA and other dev forums, including AOSP, AOKP, CyonogenMod, and MIUI!

This review is for a beta build of MIUI Revolution (Android 4.0.3) by Livewings. It is based on early MIUI build, and original ICS leak for Galaxy Note

As we reported in our early post, the official ICS with Premium S Pen Suite for Galaxy Note will come out sometime in Q2. However, great Android developers all over the world have been hard at work to give us first taste of ICS on Note, and now there is an almost fully functional MIUI rom that can be used as a daily driver.

MIUI 4 Revolution video hands-on:

MIUI Revolution for Galaxy Note – installation:

I will not go too deep into installation of MIUI on the Note, as it’s very technical, and is outside the scope of this article. Whatg you should know if you plan to try this yourself – your note must be rooted, and you will need to first install the original ICS leak repack by ChainFire, to install and preserve proper ROOT on you ICS rom. All the links to installation instructions and downloads will be at the end of this review. All in all, the installation takes about an hour, assuming everything goes well.

Features that DO NOT work yet (in MIUI Revolution V1B):

First, let me mention again that this is a BETA release, and some features still do not work, or need a work-around to function properly. This is in part because of AOSP bugs in Android 4.0.3, unfinished MIUI base, and lack of certain files, drivers, and kernel source code for the Galaxy Note (both ICS and GB). For this test I used MIUI Revolution V1B by Livewings. Later version will fix many if not all bugs, and as soon as official ICS for Note and final MIUI builds come out, things will get much better.

– HDMI Output
– Video Recording (AOSP BUG) – use
– Flash Video (Samsung Kernel bug)
– WiFi Direct
– No S-Pen apps from Samsung included in this rom (S Note / S Memo / S Planner, etc)

Also, since all current ICS roms out the are still based on the original Chinese Galaxy Note (i9220) ICS leak, the CPU is clocked at 1.2GHz, versus international Galaxy Note’s (N7000) standard 1.4GHz.

All other bugs (such as USB mass storage, etc) have been fixed in previous versions.

image of MIUI 4 (ICS) for Galaxy Note

MIUI Revolution – First impressions

WOW – MIUI for Galaxy Note is beautiful and fast… when on Nova launcher – MIUI lags, which can get annoying. Current MIUI launcher is ported from Gingerbread 2.3, and is not a native MIUI 4 launcher. Until MIUI team finishes native MIUI 4 launcher, we will be stuck with this one, and it can get VERY laggy at times.

While this beta is almost fully functional, it is still buggy, and I experienced MANY random reboots, as well as laggy MIUI launcher.

Reboots can be caused when you launch too many resource-intensive apps. In my case I had ScreenCast screen recording app running along with launching many other apps. However I also experience reboots without screencast running.

Despite bugs, this is an excellent rom, considering what the dev had to work with – an even bugguer original CL1 leaked rom, bugs in AOSP source, in Samsung kernel & unfinished MIUI base.

I can’t wait for official ICS for Galaxy Note to come out, along with official MIUI 4 builds, and then a fully cooked MIUI for Galaxy Note – that will be my everyday rom! But until then – I’m back to Gingerbread – DarkyROM 3.3 which has served me well for more than a month now! (I used to be an obsessive flasher, so > month is a long time).

Additional Resources for MIUI Revolution:

Below are links to installation instruction and download sources, if you want to try MIUI on your Note.

WARNING: Rooting, flashing new / custom roms and doing other modifications to you phone will void your warranty and can permanently damage your device. Do at your own risk – we take no responsibility if you damage your phone or loose data or anything else.

With that said, here is a link to Livewings’ thread on ICS Forums: http://www.icsforums.com/forum/showthread/502 – there you will find installation instructions and download links to all the files needed to install MIUI on your Note. Good luck!

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March 29th, 2012 at 4:52 pm

LG Optimus Vu – this Phablet will be announce at WMC 2012 in Barcelona

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LG Optimus Vu is a new Phablet device to be announced at World Mobile Conference 2012 in Barcelona – the device features a 5″ screen with 4:3 aspect ratio (compared to 5.3″ screen with 16:9 aspect ratio on Galaxy Note – it’s closest competitor).

image of LG Optimus Vu phablet (tablet / phone) with 4:3 aspect ratio 5" screen)

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Other specs for LG Optimus Vu:

5″ IPS LCD display, with 1024 x 768 resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio
1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU
Android 2.3 Gingerbread (though, we suspect this may be running Android 4.0 soon after officially launching — LG promises within 3 months)
Stylus-input capable with stylus-friendly applications built in
8 megapixel rear-camera likely to come with 1080p HD video capture.
1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
650 nits brightness on the display, mirroring the super-bright display found in the ASUS Transformer Prime
32 GB built-in storage (no word on microSD slot)

LG Optimus Vu video teaser:

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February 24th, 2012 at 12:44 pm