Oh, The Huge Manatee

A blog about technology, open source, and the web... from someone who works with all three.

HTC Inspire, Cyanogenmod 7, and HSUPA

About a month ago, I picked up my first Android phone: the HTC Inspire 4g, from AT&T in the US.  I determined to root it, install a custom OS, and laugh at all the poor saps who get bad battery life on HTC Sense.

The first challenge is in the name.  See, the HTC Inspire 4G is really just a rebranded HTC Desire HD, which is a tweaked HTC Desire, which is another name for the HTC Ace.

I eventually got my head on straight, with the help of the good people at the xda-developers forum, and in particular with the Ace Hack Kit which is linked there.  Windows types might be interested in Bubby’s Simple Root and S-Off kit, which is apparently wonderful and easy to use.  I wouldn’t know, my PC is all the way on the other side of the room.   I did this on my Mac, which is right in front of me.

In a nutshell, here’s what you do:

1) Downgrade the ROM to an older version, from the international Desire HD.  The old DHD had a vulnerability in the radio which we’ll exploit, but otherwise it’s very similar to the stock Inspire ROM.

2) Use the vulnerability to get root (don’t get excited, the fun stuff is all done by scripts).

3) Use root to install the custom bootloader, which we need to make installing new ROMS easy.

4) Upgrade the back to the stock Inspire radio firmware.

5) Use the new custom bootloader to install the ROM of your choice.  My choice was Cyanogenmod 7.

The whole process is described well in the README that came with the Ace Hack Kit, but it’s described even BETTER and more generically in the Cyanogenmod Wiki.  What a great resource - it’s even got download links for every radio firmware version for each phone!

Everything went smoothly… but I did this whole process after I had already left the US.   I was actually in one of the countries where I’m on roaming, so I don’t use my cellular data… I just came back to my apartment in France, to find that cellular data is stuck on EDGE mode.  That gets me about 1/5 of the speed available on the network, and it gets me very frustrated.

So I stopped by my mobile provider to see if it was an issue with the plan I’m subscribed to.  Apparently not; they were just as puzzled as I.  I’ve pored over Cyanogen’s settings, but no luck.  So tonight I brought out the big guns.

First I backed everything up, like a good little boy.  I used Titanium Backup, and boy I hope it works.

Then I tried just re-flashing the Cyanogenmod ROM.  Actually, I flashed an update from RC7 to the full release, using the ROM Manager program.  No improvement.

So I downloaded a special script to wipe ALL of the non-user directories, and ran THAT from Recovery, THEN re-installed Cyanogenmod.  No improvement.

Then I started really hunting around in forums.  It seems that some people have trouble getting HSUPA going after this unlock process I described above.  They have good network connectivity when they downgrade, but after upgrading back to AT&T stock firmware, they get stuck on EDGE.  So the recommended solution is to re-downgrade, then skip the AT&T stock firmware, and re-upgrade to something newer/better.

So that’s what I tried.

Now I’m stuck in a boot loop… and when it DOES boot, I still only get EDGE.  I’m starting to worry that the Inspire is limited to picking up US HSPDA+ frequencies, and just doesn’t “get” the EU frequencies.  In that case, maybe I’ll have to try some of the Desire HD kernels which have been hacked for Inspire hardware…

So now I’m left - you guessed it - swearing at yet another computer.

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