Pushing a shitty droid into usability
Android is an amazing operating system. Despite feeling like a bloated piece of shit because apps run on top of Dalvik (Android’s Java Interpreter), droid phones and tablets have always been my preference as they offer the most for a specific price range and allow deep customization no other OS is capable of.
What bothers me is that a lot of manufacturers make shitty phones, with little to no shit given that a worthless phone has come out of their company.
I happen to own one of said shitty phones, an Alcatel 918N. It’s advertised as an uber entry-level phone, with super mediocre specifications which just barely get the job done. What matters are these: a 650MHz MTK6573 processor, 200MB of internal storage, and 160MB of RAM (which is a fucking joke if you ask me). My last phone, LG’s Optimus One, had similar specs but comes with half a gig of RAM. While I may have not been able to compute for the millionth digit of pi, at least I was able to keep apps in memory and switch between them without a problem.
Don’t get me wrong: I know better than purchasing this phone. The only reason I have this is because it’s a replacement phone for our postpaid plan on Sun Cellular. All the others were feature phones, and I didn’t want to bother myself with those, though after a few weeks, I felt regret, because…
THE PHONE IS PAINFULLY SLOW. To be able to use the phone primarily as a…phone, I had to go through shit no cellphone user has to go through. Ever. Like:
1. Resort to ultra-light launchers
Remember how this phone has only 160MB of RAM? The phone idles with 40MB RAM free, which isn’t a lot. The ultra light launchers, theoretically, will occupy less space on RAM, and give way to my more important apps that need frequent switching, like messaging, phone, and my browser.
It has been many months and Lightning Launcher serves me well. I haven’t come across any other usable tiny launcher.
2. Ultra-light apps
QuickPic and Opera Mini both are excellent at whatever they do, with a bonus of having an extremely tiny footprint. Plus, the shitty processor on this phone doesn’t have to do a lot of webpage rendering as Opera’s servers already take care of the majority of that.
Of course, I didn’t stop there. Those are the super easy ones, actually. What follows require a rooted phone.
3. Moving apps I cannot live without to the system partition.
This phone has a combined internal memory of about 250MB based on my estimates. Those are then split up to each partition that Android requires.
Huge bulks of the space are given to the /system and /data partitions, and the negligible tiny ones to /boot, /recovery, and a few more I do not know.
The system partition holds the operating system, and the data partition holds user data which includes downloaded apps, and the like. This is why doing a factory reset by wiping data makes the phone feel “good as new”.
This is good, actually, but bad at the same time. Most of the times I find myself needing more space on the /data partition while /system sits there with plenty of unused space. What I do is use an app named Apps2ROM that moves apps that I really really like onto the /system partition from /data. They then take less space on /data, with the added benefit that if I do a full wipe (factory reset), the application will not be removed.
I know that /data can be symlinked to an ext partition on the sdcard, but I do not approve of that solution.
The reasoning behind the above screenshot is that preinstalled Google Apps updates are placed in /data, with the original app being on /system. By moving the entire app to /system, I rid the phone of duplicate APKs and therefore save space by having only one copy on /system.
4. Frozen Apps
Back to the “I have only 160MB of RAM” thing. Freezing an app means they temporarily do not exist, therefore they cannot start and consume physical memory. Why do I do this instead of just not-starting-the-damn-application?
Because Google Apps aren’t designed to not run, I guess. I have Maps always running on the background, and I never use them as offline functionality is non-existent at best. I replace Maps with OruxMaps and proceed to freezing Maps and a few more apps.
The quarantine list shows all the apps I have frozen. I don’t need any of those, for now, as I use this phone for only light browsing, calling and texting, and music playing. Google services will do me no good in this piece of shit.
5. Remap Keps!
Not a performance issue, I know, but my power button decided one day to just stop working properly. It now requires me to put all my strength onto one thumb and thrust with piercing force the very center of the power button. To solve this problem, I remapped the keys so that my search key becomes my power key. I never really used the former, so it’s not a big problem.
This HAS to be the last phone of it’s kind that I’d be using for the rest of my life. I’ve had enough. I’m not going through all these lags ever again. Anyway, those are all the things I’ve been doing for years on my phones, and I fucking assure you these deliver more than tWeAk_scRiPtZ you download from random shit in the internet.