Getting the Verizon Droid 2 Global working on USA GSM Networks

So, you got yourself a Verizon Droid 2 Global. Perhaps you had ideas of using it with both Verizon and another GSM provider, maybe one for voice  and one for data. Or maybe you just got a cool phone heap and want to use it with someone who is not Verizon. Either way, you have a problem. Because despite the specs showing that the phone has radios for GSM providers in the US (2G on T-Mobile’s network and 3G on AT&T), Verizon had the phone locked down so that you can only use it with their service within the United States. So what to do? Well, it turns out that a hack was found for the original phone firmware (software/drivers/etc) that the original D2G was released with.

So, provided that the phone is unlocked, all we need to do is restore the phone back to that firmware version, perform an update to install the hack, then get on your favorite GSM provider’s network. Sounds simple right. . . well, not quite. There are a few more steps in-between all that which are summarized here:

  1. Network Unlock the D2G.
  2. Using a special program, restore original firmware.
  3. Reboot phone and gain root access then install superuser program.
  4. Install bootstrap recovery program, then boot to recovery mode.
  5. Install hacked radio firmware file, then reboot phone.
  6. Switch phone to GSM/UMTS mode to use on USA GSM provider.

I will provide more details and files to perform all of the above steps as well as some extra tips. Like how to disable bootstrap recovery once you are done and how to use the phone if it starts up in activation mode without having to actually activate it with Verizon. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

0. Download and extract this file to a folder somewhere convenient (like your desktop). You will need an sdcard with which to load the following files: z4root.apk, bootstrapRecovery.apk, superuser.apk, and radio_update.zip. Just copy them to the root of the sdcard. What this means is that when you connect the card to your computer (either by itself or through the phone), if the card comes up as D:, you open D: and place the files right there. Not in any other folder on the card or any folders you create. Once done, install sdcard in phone (if not already there). You will also need a USB cable for the phone.

1.  Network Unlock your D2G. Easy if you already have a Verizon account. If not, I suggest buying a phone that has already been unlocked. You can take your chances with online unlocking services, but in that case I suggest doing your homework and making sure they state definitively that your phone is supported by their unlock process. Put the SIM card in the phone (if SIM not already installed).

2. Install the Motorola drivers from the provided files. You may need to reboot your computer. Install the RSDLite application. Turn on the phone.

3. Connect the phone to your computer via USB. Wait for any driver detection and installation process to complete. Turn on debugging by going to Settings->Applications->Development-> Check Debugging Mode.Wait for any further driver detection process to complete once you’ve enable debugging.

4. Launch the RSDLite application. If the drivers installed properly, you will see some text in the Devices window (identifying your phone). Select the SBF file (browse to the folder you downloaded and select the D2G29SBF file. Hit Start . Wait for it to finish. This will take a while. Device will switch to bootloader and begin the flashing process and will reboot when it is complete.

5. Once RDSLite says successfully complete, disconnect the phone via USB. The phone should have been rebooted automatically during this process.

6. From the home screen, access settings. If you can’t get to the home screen because you’re at the Android Welcome screen and it wants you to activate the phone with Verizon, then do the following:

  • Tap each corner of the screen in this order from the Android Welcome screen.
  • Top left
  • Top right
  • Bottom right just below the android
  • Bottom left just below the android
  • You may need to repeat a couple times to get the touches in the right place.

Ok, so, from home screen, access settings.

7. Select Applications ->  Check the unknown sources box. This allows us to install applications from places other than the Android Market (like our sd card for example).

8. Goto home screen, open the applications launcher, and launch the Files application.

9. Browse to the sdcard folder. Open that, then click on z4root. This will open a dialog and ask you if you want to install it. Do so. Once installed, the dialog will ask you if you want to run the program, run it. This may take up to a couple minutes to successfully complete. If it says it is unsuccessful, goto home, the applications launcher, tap z4root to run it again until successful (though should work the first or second time).

10. Launch Files, browse to sdcard folder, click on superuser. Install it, then run it.

11. Launch Files, browse to sdcard folder, click on bootstrapRecovery. Install it, then run it. Click on bootstrap recovery. Power off your phone, turn it back on.

12. When it comes on, it will automatically enter recovery mode. You use the volume keyes to navigate up and down and the camera key to select. Navigate to update via sdcard and select it. Navigate to radio_update.zip and select it. Navigate to confirm update and select. Wait for process to complete, then Navigate menu to get to reboot phone and select.

13. After your phone reboots, from the home screen, goto Settings -> Wireless and Networks -> Mobile Networks -> Network Type and select GSM/UMTS.

14. Your phone will register on the GSM network identified by your SIM and you can now make calls to your heart’s content. If you are using AT&T or T-Mobile, your internet settings will be configured automatically for data access should your plan include this. If you are using an MVNO like ATT GoPhone or StraightTalk Wireless, you will need to configure the APN using their provided settings.

15. To disable the bootstrap recovery, launch the application, then click on recovery. Reboot your phone. If it doesn’t enter recovery, then you’re fine and can uninstall the app once the one reboots. If it does enter recovery, navigate to reboot and try again.

16. You can uninstall unneeded apps (bootstrap recovery and z4root) by going to Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications. Select the app, then tap uninstall.

So, things to know about your phone:

  • Never update the firmware – that breaks the hack and you’ll need to do all this over again.
  • Whenever the SIM card is removed, the phone will default to CDMA mode. When a SIM card is replaced, the phone will default to Global Mode. You will need to remember to switch it back to GSM/UMTS.
  • It will configure APN settings (data networks) from a major GSM service provider automatically. If using an MVNO (a service provider whose network actually runs on one of the majors), you will need to manually configure this to get data to work.

Device will switch to bootloader and begin the flashing process and will reboot when it is complete.

MMS on T-Mobile Prepaid with Non T-Mobile Android Phone

So, I’ve got a Dell Streak. And I’ve always had an issue with getting MMS to work correctly. At one point, one of my Streaks actually worked – some configuration in one the DJ_Steve builds, but after another update it was gone. I’ve talked with T-Mobile customer service and they just gave my some BS answer as to it being a known issue after the rep was unable to figure out how to configure my phone or what the settings should be. Anyway, after consulting my prodigious memory, I had a flash of seeing TWO APN settings in my phone (back when MMS worked).

So, I decided to add an APN specifically for MMS and change the default one’s types to just be Default and Supplicant. And it WORKED!

Here are the settings:

  • Name: T-Mobile US
  • APN: epc.tmobile.com
  • Proxy: <Not set>
  • Port: <Not set>
  • Username: <Not set>
  • Password: <Not set>
  • Server: <Not Set>
  • MMSC: http://mms.msg.eng.t-mobile.com/mms/wapenc
  • MMS proxy: 216.155.165.050
  • MMS port: 8080
  • MCC: 310
  • MNC: 260
  • Authentication type: None
  • APN type: mms

 

Now, you may be wondering. . .How do I test these things without potentially spamming my friend’s phone? Well, as we all know, our phones actually have email addresses. They are of the format YOUR_NUMBER@tmomail.net. Other service providers have different email formats so if you wanted to email stuff to their phone, google “phone email address ATT” or whatever. Now, if you just send text only, it will come as an SMS. If you send an attachment, it tends to arrive as an MMS (assuming the attachment is an image or mp3 or supported file).

Anyway, after configuring your MMS settings, email yourself a picture. If you receive the MMS, then you know your phone can receive. Then reply to that MMS with a picture of your own (from your phone). If you get an email with the image, then sending also works. Pat yourself on the back!

Further Update on The Vaio Z2: Linux, Weight, and Video Playback

One thing that is interesting for me is getting used to the weight. The laptop is at least 1lbs lighter than my previous ones and the lightness is affecting how I’m used to holding and balancing the laptop. But in any case, I’d loaded up a usb drive with Ubuntu 11.04 (latest as of this post) and tried to boot a live image using the laptop without the PMD. After the initial selection screen in the bootloader, it proceeded to load Ubuntu, but the LCD remained bank. I know it successfully booted into Ubuntu because I heard the usual chime/whatever played once the OS is up. Next was trying it out with the PMD. This time, it didn’t boot at all. I’ll try again with Ubuntu 10.04 and BackTrack5.

So, the LCD resolution has been a tricky issue. There have been arguments back and forth. Some argue the Full HD panel (1920 x 1080) is best. Others go for the 1600×900 panel claiming it is brighter and results in increased battery life, not to mention better readibility. So you can imagine I was a bit worried about my choice – the 1600×900 version. I have to say that I’m pretty pleased with my decision – though it is not without hiccups. Anything at standard definition or lower definitely looks “low res” now. But the upside – the sweet sweet upside – HD resolution videos look amazing on this panel. And it’s got the hardware to decode things for incredibly smooth playback. I used to think that media shot in lower than HD resolution would still be with us for many years to come. But after this experience, you can bet that I will utilize every opportunity I have to watch things in HD.

Oh and yes, the mic in the noise canceling earphones bundled with the laptop can be used as a microphone source.

My New Sony Vaio Z2 – Preliminary Thoughts


Two days ago, I received an email stating that my new Sony Vaio Z2 laptop had been shipped. According to the fedex tracking info, I could expect delivery Friday, August 12, by 10:20am in the morning. So, you can imagine that this morning, while taking an extended nap, I was quite annoyed to be jarred awake by the sound of my doorbell ringing. Anyway, I hopped out of bed and headed to the front door ready to give whomever decided to disturb my rest a piece of my mind and open the door to a Fedex delivery man.

Huh. Before I could say anything, and still in my pajamas, he says “Hey, sorry to wake you up, but you probably want this”. And indeed I did in fact want this. Because this could only be one thing, my much awaited (well, barely two weeks) laptop! I signed for the package, and took it into my living room for an assessment. Now, pictures of the unboxing are here. I apologize for the quality of those. My camera was ensconced in my desk at school and all I had available was my cell phone which doesn’t take the best of pictures and is apparently foiled even more by the lighting inside my living room. Anyway, the album can be accessed here: http://picasaweb.google.com/kamakula/SonyVaioZ2

So, the first thing I’d noticed was that my order was bundled with sony’s noise cancelling earphones which seem to be specific to the recent vaio lineup. It would appear the active noise cancelling is handled by the laptop itself. The earphones are just earphones with a mic (and actually a pretty decent set of earbuds on their own). Hmm, I wonder if the mic can be used as an actual mic. . . will need to test that out later. Aside from that, and the space-age wrapping of the power media dock, the biggest thing for me was the laptop itself. Cobalt-blue. At the moment, I only have a couple pictures that really capture the color accurately but it is much nicer in person than I expected based on the pictures/renders available. In fact, it is only a few minutes ago while taking pictures with my camera that I noticed the power media dock is colored to match the laptop as well. Pretty nice and subtle touch.

Since the first start, I’ve had several opportunities to restart and reboot the system (upgrading to Windows 7 ultimate – the perks of being a college student), playing around with graphics settings, etc – and I’m pretty blown away by the boot speed. And I’ve not yet even enabled fast boot. It is incredibly fast on it’s own with those raid 0 ssds. I’m also very pleased with the build quality. The laptop feels very strong and sturdy. I didn’t have the screen wobble or flex issue seen by the engadget reviewer. Now, that’s not to say that the screen can’t be induced to flex, but it requires application of not inconsiderable force (compared to what you’d normally use with any device with an LCD screen except perhaps a stubborn microwave). The lightness is awesome. Oh, the lightness. This Z2 is replacing a thinkpad x series tablet. Which was sorta a crisis point for me, because in getting this, I was choosing between getting another tablet or an ultraportable. But the big thing for me was lightness combined with power. Unfortunately, the tablet I’d initially ordered ended up being backordered for another month (for my given screen configuration) and given that I could not hold out for too much longer without a primary computer, I needed to find a suitable replacement. When I looked at what was out there, frankly, there was no competition for the Sony Vaio Z2.

So, one thing I’m noticing in the process of typing up these set of impressions is the location of the home end keys. They are located on the arrow keys through use of the Fn key. That is annoying. I tend to make good use of home/end while typing up long posts or pretty much anything. We’ll see over time whether this is a deal breaker. But this paragraph was to talk about the keyboard. Another issue brought up by early reviewers was the keyboard. I’m starting to think one person just had an issue and everyone else who did a review decided to jump on the bandwagon. Or like with the screen flex issue, perhaps it’s due to non-production models sent out to reviewers. In any case, the keyboard seems to adapt well to my hands. My typing speed seems to be about the same, errors the same (ie when my train of thought too far outpaces my ability to type and I end up with words or sentences where I realize I need to slow down and figure out what it was I meant to say at that moment in time). It feels really nice to me. In fact, contrary to some reviews, I’m finding that I’m using less force when typing, not more.

Another complaint was inadvertent triggering of the fingerprint sensor. I’ve not had that issue but I will say that the trackpad actually seems not to be as sensitive as I’m used to. I’ve not played with its settings yet or done too much with it. The most common thing so far is it missing the start of a single finger scrolling swipe. Usually doing it again with a bit more force gets the job done. I’d gotten my laptop with the 1600×900 display. I was a bit worried that I would regret not going for the full HD, but based on what I’ve read about it and my experience so far, I don’t think it will be an issue for me. I will say though (after watching some hulu videos), 480p isn’t all that great anymore. I’m definitely being spoiled already.

I’ve read that some have had compatibility issues with the wireless card. I’ve not had that yet. Currently, I’m running Windows 7 Ultimate. I also run linux distros from time to time and later this afternoon will be testing backtrack 5 to get an idea of compatibility, primarily on the wireless card level. I’ll also pop-in Ubuntu and see how it plays with the power media dock. All in all, I’m currently pretty pleased with my purchase. Heh, I just realized something. . . this screen resolution will make composing posts a bit tricky. I’ll need to pay more attention to image resolution than I did before where I could gauge things by how they showed up in the editor.

Updating the Dell Streak to Android 2.1

So, you have a Android version 1.6 Dell Streak and want to upgrade to version 2.1. The issue – the available 2.1 build is only for UK O2 sim locked Dell Streaks. So, how do we get around that? Pretty simply. 1. Make your Dell Streak think it is a UK O2 Streak. 2. Then do the upgrade.

However, do perform these two steps, there are a few things that are needed. We will actually be doing the following:

1. Flash the recovery image (the program that runs when you put your Dell Streak into recovery mode) with a custom version that allows us to replace the existing firmware with a custom firmware image.

2. Install a custom firmware image that will change your Dell Streak type to one that will allow you to upgrade to version 2.1

3. Reinstall the original recovery image so that we can perform the upgrade.

4. Upgrade to version 2.1

Now, to make everything neat and tidy, I’ve collected all the files you need into one source that you can download here:  . Download and extract to whatever folder you want. Then follow the instructions below. Since it is a relatively large download (185MB), please read over the instructions beforehand while you wait for the download to complete: http://www.sendspace.com/file/r253q4

*Another note – Before you start, plug your Dell Streak into your computer and make sure the USB drivers have been installed.

  1. Put your device in bootloader mode – Unplug the device from your PC, remove the device battery, then replace it and turn device on while pressing the camera button. You must not have the USB cord connected to the computer at this point.
  2. Select (by tapping with your finger) the ‘fastboot’ text on the top right, wait around 10 seconds then plug the device into your PC. The screen display should change to ‘FASTBOOT MODE’. If it doesn’t, repeat and retry (it’s a bit temperamental!)
  3. Goto the folder where you extracted the files you downloaded. Double click (to run) install-recovery-weethomas-step3.
    • MAC – Open a terminal window to the directory containing the files, and type ‘chmod +x install-recovery-mac-weethomas-step3.sh‘ followed by ‘./install-recovery-mac-weethomas-step3.sh
    • LINUX- Open a terminal window to the directory containing the files, and type ‘chmod +x install-recovery-linux-weethomas-step3.sh‘ followed by ‘./install-recovery-linux-step3.sh
  4. After a few seconds, you should see “Download RECOVERY Done!” on your Dell Streak screen. If it doesn’t say this, retry step 3 then steps 1-3 until it works. Don’t worry – it should work the first time.
  5. Now, unplug the Streak from the PC, remove and replace the battery. Then turn on your Streak.
  6. Plug in the USB cable, and copy the file called firmware-image-weethomas-step6.zip to the Dell Streak SD card. Just put in in the root folder – so if your Dell Streak comes up as the E: drive, double click E: from my_computer and place it in that folder.
  7. Rename the file on the Dell Streak SD card to Update. The name is case sensitive, so make sure you make it “Update” without the quotes of course.
  8. Unplug your Dell Streak and turn it off. Then start the recovery app by holding down both the Volume Up and Volume down keys while pressing the power button.
  9. Using the volume up/down keys to navigate, goto the 2nd option “Update pkg”. Select it using the camera button. If nothing happens, press down a bit more on the camera button. It needs to travel a bit more than the other buttons which you are likely more used to pressing.
  10. At the next screen, choose the option to apply the update.zip. This will now update the firmware on your Dell Streak to a type that will allow updating to 2.1. You are halfway done.
  11. After this is complete, you can either navigate through the menu to reboot your Streak, or just unplug the USB, remove & replace  your battery.
  12. Turn it on, connect it to your computer, and delete the Update.zip file from the Dell Streak SD card. From the folder where you extracted the files, copy the Update.pkg file to the root folder on your Dell Streak SD card.
  13. Now, unplug your Dell Streak, turn it off. Remove the battery, replace it, and put your Dell Streak in bootloader mode (like step 1) by holding down the camera button while pressing power. Again, make sure your Streak is not plugged in via USB.
  14. Select the ‘fastboot’ text on the top right, wait around 10 seconds then plug the device into your PC. The screen display should change to ‘FASTBOOT MODE’. If it doesn’t, repeat and retry (it’s a bit temperamental!)
  15. Now, go to the folder where you extracted your download, and double click (to run) the file named install-recovery-weethomas-step15.
    • MAC – Open a terminal window to the directory containing the files, and type ‘chmod +x install-recovery-mac-weethomas-step15.sh‘ followed by ‘./install-recovery-mac-weethomas-step15.sh
    • LINUX- Open a terminal window to the directory containing the files, and type ‘chmod +x install-recovery-linux-weethomas-step15.sh‘ followed by ‘./install-recovery-linux-step15.sh
  16. After a few seconds, you should see “Download RECOVERY Done!” on your Dell Streak screen.
  17. Unplug your Dell Streak, remove and replace the battery, then put it in recovery mode by holding the Vol up/down buttons while pressing the power button.
  18. Use the Vol up/down buttons to navigate to option 2. Select it using the camera button.
  19. You will get a warning that by updating the firmware, you will erase all data. Go ahead.
  20. Once complete, reboot your Dell Streak. Congratulations, you now have a Streak with Android 2.1.