Month: September 2012

Android Setup for a Samsung Admire (SCH-R720) with MetroPCS

This weekend I reloaded my Samsung Admire from scratch because my internal storage ran out of room.   I had also learned a lot over the past few months about which apps were the best.   With this new setup, my cheap Samsung Admire that was practically given away to me when I signed up, and which I’m sure was engineered to try and get people to buy better phones, has become a decent phone for my needs.   The following requires some computer expertise, and I would not go down this path if I didn’t have a good technical background, but for someone who is willing to do a little work, and get through the trial and error process, here is how to have a semi-decent phone:

1. Root the Phone and Load Superuser

If you want to do anything even semi-advanced on a phone, you need to Root it, and get the superuser app.  Instructions for rooting the Samsung Admire (SCH-R720) are available here.   One thing I found in this process, is that the batch file didn’t work right for me at first.  So I looked at all the commands in it, and just ran them one by one from the command prompt, and it worked just fine, even though there were some error messages along the way.   After rooting the phone, make sure you go to Google Plan and download the Superuser applet.

2. Setup the SD Card to be used for Apps

One of the major problems with the Admire, is that it has a very small amount of internal memory for loading apps.  Originally I had tried DroidSail Apps2SD to fix this problem, but this app and similar ones don’t really get all the parts of an app to be moved to the SD Card.  The real solution is to use the app Link2SD.  There is a guide here, that while for a different phone, is basically what you need to do to get this to work with the Admire.  As a point of caution, it took me several goes to get this to work, and I had to make both partitions “primary” and with Fat32 file systems. (Although other partitioning might work also.)   I also used the Bootice program that was suggested in this article.   When you do all of this stuff, you really should backup your SD Card ahead of time, as you will probably lose all of its contents while you are mucking around.  Somewhere in the process, my laptop stopped recognizing the phone as USB storage, and at first I thought my phone was at fault, but it turned out it was just something about my laptops driver, as it still works on other computers.

But, even though this whole process was time consuming and frustrating, I am VERY happy with the results.   All of my downloads automatically link the SD Card, and now after reloading all my apps from before, instead of only having 40MB free of internal storage, I have about 150 MB free.   Before with the low amount of internal storage available, my system was unstable, and that is why I needed to reload.   I recommend any new Admire customers who are tech savvy to do the Link2SD when they first get their phone, and save themselves a lot of future headache.

3. Get Titanium Backup

This free app does so much and works so well.  I previously had Root Uninstaller Pro, and it didn’t work nearly as well or do as much as Titanium Backup.   I used Titanium Backup before I set my phone back to factory defaults, and it did a nearly perfect job of recovering my apps and data afterwards.  The only thing I didn’t get back was my messaging history, but everything else worked.

4. Other Apps I really like

The first 3 things are what I considered required if someone wants to have a Samsung Admire and actually have it be useful for anything beyond the very basics.   But there are other apps that I have downloaded that I like (most requiring root)

  • WiFi Tether – If you want to use your laptops web browser with this and MetroPCS, you must have a way to make it look like a mobile browser, as MetroPCS blocks PC browsers.  I personally use Firefox with the User Agent Switcher add-on to do this.
  • Open Manager – An Open Source, non-ad based file manager, that requires root access
  • Advanced Maps Live Wallpaper – Always have a map of where you are in your background.  This is especially useful, since for some reason the built-in Google Maps app doesn’t seem to do this on the Admire, when it has this feature on most other phones.
  • Ralf’s Flashlight – There are WAY too many flashlight apps out there.  I just wanted one that didn’t only use the camera flash, because the Admire doesn’t have a flash, and didn’t have ads that stalked me.   This little app seems to work pretty well, and is very simple.