Last Friday I downloaded the newest official ROM from Samsung for my Galaxy SII from SamMobile.com and flashed it. I had no time over the weekend, but I just now deactivated the workaround solution I found on xda-developers and did some tests with meeting invitation responses and read receipts and I’m glad to confirm that I9100XWLPD indeed seems to solve the “connection error”-bug which ruined my initial Ice Cream Samsung experience. Yay!
[Update 21-5-2012: Samsung released new firmware, version I9100XWLPD, which seems to fix the bug.]
Since updating my Samsung Galaxy S II to Ice Cream Sandwich, I’ve regularly been experiencing the dreaded “connection error” in the mail client when trying to fetch mail from the corporate Exchange server. A colleague of mine, who agreed to have me upgrade his SGS2 after I promised everything worked flawlessly, had the problem even more regularly.
Searching the web turned up this interesting thread on xda-developers, which had amongst others a fix for the adventurous, but also this eye-opening comment:
The messages in question are Read Receipts, Delivery Receipts and similar messages. Once there is one of those in your inbox, you’re stuck until you delete it. […] A better solution which has worked for me is to create a folder for your receipts. Then, on your PC, create a rule to move the receipts to the folder on arrival. This will obviously also work when your PC is off, as the rules are stored and executed on the server. You will have to create a rule which processes emails on arrival, matches a series of strings in either subject or body of the message and moves them to the folder.
And that’s exactly what I did; mails sent only to me with “Declined:” or “Accepted:” or “Tentative:” or “Read:” or “Not read:” in the subject line are automatically moved into a “tmp” folder. Your mileage may vary (apparently there are other conditions under which the Android/ Samsung mail client has problems downloading items form Exchange), but based on my limited experience up until now, this workaround gets most problematic items in my Inbox out of the way. Now let’s hope Samsung fixes this blatant error (and that it isn’t in the ICS-version on that beautiful Samsung Galaxy S III)!
Last week I flashed my Samsung Galaxy S II with the official Android 4 firmware from Samsung. Here’s some information and semi-random thoughts about the upgrade and my Ice Cream Sandwich on Samsung-experience so far.
- About the upgrade:
- I didn’t use KIES, the official Samsung upgrade utility as it claimed there was no upgrade.
- Instead I downloaded the ICS image for the Netherlands from sammobile.com and followed the installation procedure as described on the forum there.
- Samsung allows you to flash, no need to crack your bootloader, flash a new recovery image or anything similarly scary.
- Flashing the official firmware does not overwrite data or apps, you don’t loose a thing.
- After booting into the new firmware, your apps are first and foremost optimized for ICS.
- Battery usage was very high after the upgrade, with the Email app (which connects to an Exchange server) using a lot of CPU. I rebooted and the problem went away.
- What Ice Cream Samsung is like:
- Battery life actually seems a bit better than with the Gingerbread-based firmware.
- Ice Cream Sandwich seems slightly faster as well, more responsive.
- ICS isn’t all that different, from a user interface point of view. Some small tweaks and usability improvements, but nothing major.
- Face unlock (having Android unlock your phone after recognizing your face) is a nice gadget, but it’s of little use if you value security.
- More interesting, from a security point of view, are “encrypt device” and “encrypt SD card”. Should give that a try.
- The data usage app is really great, allowing you to monitor and manage data usage for the entire device and on a per-app basis. “Data Usage” is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the hidden treasures in ICS!
- Tailoring ICS to my liking:
- I’m not a fan of Samsung’s TouchWiz, which also features in their ICS implementation, so I don’t use it.
- At first I installed Nova, an ICS-only launcher, but I wasn’t blown away, so I reverted to good old ADW.
- I rooted the phone with CF-root to be able to install SetCPU.
- SetCPU, which I had previously used on my HTC, seemed to work all right at first, but it sometimes put my phone into a deep sleep during phone calls or when idle, with nothing but a forced reboot to wake it up. I uninstalled SetCPU (and am still looking for a similar tool to save battery mainly).
- I also installed AdFree Android, which adds known ad-domains to your hosts-file, having them point to localhost. Only for rooted phones, but it works like a charm. More privacy and better battery-life will be yours!
Every now and again you should go out of your comfort zone to get a new perspective on things. Or so they say. I love my comfort zone, it took me 43 years to build the damned thing after all, so please leave me be, will you?
But things break and in this particular case the screen of my trusty old Samsung Galaxy S2 went dark, literally. I brought the phone in for repairs and grabbed the only test-device left at work as a temporary replacement. It was a Samsung Omnia 7 with Windows Phone 7. Now look at this little droid-boy getting pushed out of his comfort zone!
I’ve been using it for 5 days now, so why not make a small list of what sucks and what’s great? Here goes:
- The browser.
It’s notI can’t live without Firefox Mobile, but boy does Mobile IE7 suck.
- No Internet connection sharing (not over USB, not over Bluetooth, not over WiFi)
- The fact that the phone doesn’t present itself as a USB storage device when I connect it over USB with my Ubuntu netbook
- The lack of an SD card slot
- I can’t login with my Live ID (my ancient Hotmail address) on my phone (but it does work in Zune), which means I can’t install applications from the Marketplace (I’m asked to call support! Seriously?)
- The fact that after installing Zune on my work PC and then waiting until I got home because Zune doesn’t do proxies, I still wasn’t able to upgrade to Windows Phone 7.5 (which does have Internet connection sharing and a more decent browser)
- There’s no way to reliably fetch information from the Exchange servers at work. Every once in a while mail gets downloaded, but in general there’s error code 8501001D ruining my Exchange experience
What’s great? Just one bullet point actually;
- The UI!
Really, despite my grievances about how poorly the device integrates with the outside world, my general feeling about Windows Phone is positive, and that is because Metro really is that great! The screens are sober, with lots of space and a prominent place for content (text & typography). Applications scroll horizontally to display different views and it’s the typography that makes this pretty discoverable. The graphics effects and sound add to the great responsive “feel” of the UI. And tiles are a radical break form the icon-based approach that is typical of iOS (and Android, classic Mac OS, Windows 3.11 and …), you could compare them to widgets (as seen on Android), but without the anarchy and clutter.
So yeah, really, I ♥ Metro! I hope Google (Android), Mozilla (b2g) and Ubuntu (Unity) take clues from what is, in my view, a pretty radical break in graphical user interface design, because I would love the computing environments in my comfort zone to be more about content and less about chrome as well!
I didn’t really like the look & feel of my Galaxy S II’s GUI, so I decided to customize my experience to feel a bit more at home on my “personal digital assistant”. One of the first things I did (after installing some apps) was extracting my old wallpaper from the Cyanogenmod 6 zip-file to replace the ugly Samsung wallpaper.
Next on my hitlist: getting rid of Samsung’s iPhoney TouchWiz. I was very fond of the simple elegance of the open source ADW launcher on my Cyanogenmod-ized HTC Magic (which is for sale by the way), so I installed ADW.Launcher from the Android Market. I then configured ADW to display 5 instead of the default 4 rows to better use that incredible screen resolution.
A small inconvenience of ADW.Launcher is that you don’t get notification-bubbles that display the number of new mails, messages or missed calls on the icons of those applications. ADWNotifier, an ADW.Launcher plugin, solves that problem just fine.
What’s next? Rooting that fabulous GT9100, I guess. And maybe try this early Cyanogenmod 7 build for it?
Two years ago I bought a HTC Hero, my first Android handset. I lost that great device about half a year ago and -after trying a very basic Acer e110– replaced it with a 2nd hand Belgacom HTC Magic which I upgraded to Cyanogenmod 6.
Now don’t get me wrong; me and my Magic, we got along real fine. But my employer likes the smell of a fresh smartphone in the morning and subsidizes to make that happen and when I saw a colleague with a Samsung Galaxy S II, I knew me and my Magic HTC had to part ways.
The Galaxy S II sports a huge, bright screen with vivid colors (Samsung’s super AMOLED screens are simply stunning), a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 16Gb of internal storage (with an microSD-slot to be able to add up to 32Gb). There’s no hardware keyboard like on the HTC Desire Z I once was planning on buying, but the Galaxy does come with Swype, the virtual keyboard that takes most of the pain out of … not having a keyboard. I’ve installed all of the favorite apps from my HTC-days and as a bonus I can now finally also use Firefox Mobile (which is great, by the way).
So what’s not to like about it? Well, it’s huge, for starters. Big hands come in handy when using the S II, so I wouldn’t want to market it in China, except as a mini-tablet maybe. I’m not too thrilled about Samsung’s TouchWiz as seen on the homescreen. And battery-life isn’t that great, but that’s to be expected, with that humongous screen real estate I guess.
All in all my S II is a great smartphone. One probably doesn’t really need a dual-core handset with 16Gb of memory and a 800X480 screen, but it sure is nice little gadget to play around with for the next 2 years or so …