I’m going to start this post with two links. These links lead to the most valuable communities in the Android world (for the end user):

At this point if I don’t sound kind of silly it’s because you’ve heard of or enlisted the help of these communities. XDA is a collection of extremely talented developers how have normal day jobs like you and I, but spend their time trying to make their phones prettier, faster, and better. ‘Cyanogen’ is a custom ROM or Firmware that has had nothing but acclaim since the cellphone carriers started to treat your phone like a billboard (more on that in a bit).

I was recently given the opportunity to try the nightly builds for Cyanogenmod and although they are experimental, they are so much better than what Sprint and Samsung have provided me with. Certain features are still being perfected (the compass and some aspects of the accelerometer) but as a whole, it’s much faster and more stable than anything the creators and distributors of my phone have given me. Then again, it’s a business for them and like it or not, they are in the business of selling phones. They don’t want to make your mediocre 17 month old phone better. They want you to renew that contract and buy a new phone!

Now, consider these things: When a carrier sells you a mobile phone contract in the US, they use you as a billboard. They either charge you sticker price for the phone $550-$750 USD or enter into a 2 year contract with you ( roughly $1800-$2600) USD over the course of the contract plus the $150-$300 for a subsidized handset. If you ask me, it feels like at this point you’ve paid for the device and it’s yours. So why does your device have a bunch of un-removeable Verizon or Sprint Apps on it? Why does AT&T disable side-loading on some of their Android phones? Why does Sprint constantly bombard me with special deals and offers in my notification area that I can’t opt out of. Why? The answer is money. This is a business and even after paying a lot of money initially and on an ongoing basis, we’re being marketed to and nickel-ed and dime-d. Tethering or WiFi-Hotspot functionality is another rant that arguably doesn’t belong here.

The whole point of this rant is that if you have an iPhone, great. Apple cares about your experience as a user and will likely try to not ruin that relationship. However if you chose the promises of an open ecosystem (Android) and the ability to use any app you want, or make your phone serve whatever purpose you desire, but feel a bit let down by your carrier’s restrictions or attempt to “market-you-into-the-ground” then give Cyanogen a try. If it’s not available for your phone (I had to wait 17 months, but that’s not typical) go to the forums, make a donation to the good work these guys and gals are doing. You may even find a “Custom ROM” for your phone that removes some of the bloat and crap-software; you’ll get better battery life, a faster phone and less daily frustrations. At this point, Cyanogen is the pinnacle of this movement in my opinion.

  • Have your customized your phone?
  • How do you feel about this issue?


Cyanogen Mod 9 (CM9 also known as Ice Cream Sandwich!) is now available as an alpha build for the Epic. Find out more about it here: CM7 Status and here: CM9 Status. If you want to give CM9 a test drive then follow this guide: Installing CM9 on the Epic 4G. Just be sure to backup all your stuff first as it does require a full wipe of your phone’s apps and data. Everything on the SD card will be untouched however.