December 25, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Once again, all of us here at XDA would like to wish you a Happy Holiday Season! Undoubtedly, many of our happy readers are waking up to some extra Holiday cheer in the form of shiny new tech acquisitions. Luckily, XDA is here and has your back in helping you make the most of your new, Android-powered tech toy(s).
You may remember that a little while ago, we shared with you our Best of 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. Now, we’re going to take some of these “Best” devices that you all voted for, and help you make the most of them. Obviously, we’re going to start with gaining root access and installing a custom recovery. But on some devices, this will even include installing an aftermarket ROM or even enabling multiboot!
Let’s start the day with your top pick as best tablet of 2013, the Google Nexus 7 (2013). With its high end specs and budget-friendly price, we think it’s safe to assume that quite a few Android fans are waking up to a brand new N7.
Since the Nexus 7 is a Nexus device, unlocking and rooting is incredibly simple. You will want to start by installing ADB and Fastboot by downloading the Android SDK (or installing minimal Fastboot and ADB installer, and the associated drivers). Then after you have ADB and Fastboot installed, the real fun can begin!
If all you want is root access, the easiest way to accomplish this is by running CF-Auto-Root for the Nexus 7 (2013). CF-Auto-Root will get you rooted and install the latest version of SuperSU in practically no time and with virtually no effort or hassle.
Not everyone likes it simple, though. For those who’d rather get a bit more hands on, you can unlock your device by turning on USB debugging in developer settings and rebooting your tablet to bootloader by issuing the adb reboot-bootloader command. From there, you can unlock your new device by entering fastboot oem unlock. Then, simply reboot your device with fastboot reboot, reenter your bootloader with adb reboot-bootloader, and flash a custom recovery using fastboot flash recovery <recovery image filename.img>.
After you have your custom recovery installed, your doors are now open to installing some of the more popular custom ROMs, or perhaps you can even give Multiboot a try! All of this and more can be found in our Google Nexus 7 (2013) forum, here at XDA.
Now let’s shift our attention to your top pick as best smartphone of 2013. Surprise, surprise. It was the highly anticipated Google Nexus 5. Just like the Nexus 7, it also offers a wallet-friendly price. But unlike its tablet sibling, it also offers bleeding edge specs like a quad-core 2.26 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor.
Just like the Nexus 7, unlocking and rooting the Nexus 5 is a cakewalk. Just like what we covered above, you will want to start by installing ADB and Fastboot by downloading the Android SDK (or installing minimal Fastboot and ADB installer, and the associated drivers).
Once again, if all you want is root access, the easiest way to accomplish this is by running CF-Auto-Root for the Nexus 5. CF-Auto-Root will get you rooted and install the latest version of SuperSU in practically no time and with virtually no effort or hassle.
For those who’d rather get a bit more hands on, you can unlock your device by turning on USB debugging in developer settings and rebooting your tablet to bootloader by issuing the adb reboot-bootloader command. From there, you can unlock your new device by entering fastboot oem unlock. Then, simply reboot your device with fastboot reboot, reenter your bootloader with adb reboot-bootloader, and flash a custom recovery using fastboot flash recovery <recovery image filename.img>.
Once you’ve got your recovery installed, you can now begin flashing any number of custom ROMs and kernels. And for those willing to try something a bit more ambitious, you can even play around with multiboot. Obviously, all this and more can be found in our Google Nexus 5 forum.
Next up, we have the HTC One. Although the device is no longer on the bleeding edge in the specs department, it offers build quality and a design aesthetic simply unparalleled in the Android OEM world.
While the process is a bit more involved than it is on the Nexus devices listed above, it is fully possible to unlock, root, install a custom recovery, and do much more on the HTC One. Thanks to the hard work by ieftm and his team, the device can be unlocked. There are also several custom recovery options available, as well as Official OmniROM and CyanogenMod installations, though you will want to make sure you are installing the appropriate version for your particular variant.
In addition to the custom ROM fun, those who are feeling a bit more ambitious can give Multiboot a try, as well as a Google Play editions conversion. Just like the previous two devices, all this and more can be found in the HTC One forum.
Please note, however, that the above links are intended for the INTERNATIONAL version of the device. If you’ve got yourself a shiny new carrier-branded variant, make sure you find your appropriate XDA forum before getting to work.
Let’s turn our attention over to the popular and powerful Sony Xperia Z1. Unlocking the device is a breeze. From there, you will want to gain root access, as well as flash a custom recovery. Once you’ve gotten that done, Official OmniROM and CyanogenMod builds await. And like the devices above, all of this and more can be found in the Sony Xperia Z1 forum here at XDA.
Now, we will talk about the wallet-friendly Moto G. Although it’s not the fastest device available, it offers a fantastic value that is simply unmatched in other budget devices.
Luckily, it is quite easy to unlock the Moto G directly through Motorola. From there, you can easily achieve root access and install a custom recovery. There’s not much in the aftermarket development world beyond the above, but you can rest assured that this is only a matter of time, thanks to the device’s popularity. And of course, keep your eyes peeled on the Moto G forums to keep apprised of any and all development activity for the device.
This innovative Moto X proves that raw hardware specs aren’t everything and that an innovative feature set can make for a great user experience, even on non-bleeding edge hardware.
Let’s start with rooting and unlocking, which is now possible thanks to jcase’s RockMyMoto exploit. From there, you will want to install a custom recovery. Then, you can try out any one of the source-built custom ROMs and kernels available in the Moto X forum.
Now we have the largest phone on this list, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Packing bleeding edge specs, a mammoth sized screen, and the fantastic Wacom-based S Pen, the Note 3 is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Luckily, rooting the device and installing a custom recovery are quite easy on the Note 3. Development support is also quite widespread on the Note 3, so be sure to check out the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 forum here at XDA. Please note, however, that the above links are intended for the INTERNATIONAL version of the device. If you’ve got yourself a shiny new carrier-branded variant, make sure you find your appropriate XDA forum before getting to work.
Rounding out this article, we have the Samsung Galaxy S 4. Much like the highly acclaimed HTC One, the SGS4 is no longer the king of all of the hardware specs battles. That said, it’s still a great phone, jam packed with plenty of great features.
Thanks to the device’s age and vast popularity, root access and custom recoveries are both possible, with much more available in the Samsung Galaxy S 4 forum. But just like the HTC One and Note 3, be sure to visit the appropriate forum for you carrier-branded variant if you’re not running the international version of the device.
We wish you much Android-powered joy for this Holiday Season! See you in the XDA forums!
Greg Motorola is at it again! Earlier today, we talked about how Motorola (and Verizon) were issuing official Android 4.4 updates to the Droid Maxx/Ultra/Mini devices. Now, Motorola is sharing some update love with the highly regarded Moto G.
The Moto G, which is prominently displayed in our Best of 2013 Holiday Guide as the one of the best budget smartphones of 2013, is not a “high end” device in the traditional sense. Despite that, it still features a fantastic user experience. And now, this device is further proof that Motorola is capable of delivering updates at a pace that simply embarrases “flagships” from other manufacturers.
Today’s update brings the Moto G to software version 172.44.4. The update is currently rolling out in the form of a staged rollout, and it is currently only being delivered to US devices bought directly from Motorola or unlocked from Amazon. Update timing for carrier-branded devices, as well as devices purchased outside of the US is still up in the air.
We’re quite happy to see Google-owned Motorola pushing out updates at this speed. Are you a fan of Motorola’s expedient update timing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to get in on the discussion in the 4.4.2 discussion thread.
This Moto G software update is for all Global GSM and US GSM models purchased online in the United States. After installing the software update you will notice numerous enhancements and changes, including:
Android™ 4.4, KitKat® Android 4.4.2, KitKat, is the latest release of the Android platform. KitKat includes enhancements such as restyled status and navigation bars, a new full-screen mode, color emoji support, improved closed captioning support, stronger security, smarter power use, and more tools and capabilities for better app development. Phone dialer Improved the phone app with the ability to look up contacts directly from the dial pad, see and tap frequent contacts, and search your corporate directory easily. Camera – Focus and exposure Enhanced the “touch to focus” option with a new circular, on screen control that can be dragged by your finger around the viewfinder to adjust a photo’s focus and exposure. Gallery – Photo editing Added new photo editing options to the Gallery app including new filter effects, draw on your photos, advanced cropping, and adjustments to color, exposure, contrast and more. Printing documents and pictures Added support for printing photos, Google Docs, GMail messages, and other content via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and hosted services like Google Cloud Print and HP ePrinters. Hangouts – SMS/MMS support Incorporated a new version of Google Hangouts that supports integrated SMS/MMS messaging. Hangouts can be set as the default SMS app under Settings > Wireless > Default SMS app. Accessory support Added support for Square credit card reader.
December 14, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
About a month and a half ago, Motorola decided to remove some of its reliance on firmware updates by putting its camera app on the Google Play Store. And although we’ve seen generally great response times from most major carriers in updating the flagship Moto X, this was a fantastic move on their part because devices could now have an improved camera experience, without having to wait for a carrier-approved OTA update.
Now, Motorola has issued an update to their camera app , bringing some new and exciting features for Moto X and Moto G devices running Android 4.4. First and foremost, the app brings focus and exposure control by allowing you to drag the exposure and focus bracket to anywhere on the screen. These are set together, so you can’t focus in on a certain object while metering for another, but that’s not a huge limitation. And speaking about exposures, they are not locked during Panorama capture, making for an overall smoother picture.
December 8, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Despite its insanely cheap $179 asking price, the Moto G is a legitimately good smartphone. Sure, it doesn’t pack the latest specs or highest resolution and largest screen, but it is more than powerful enough to deliver a fluid user interface to its more than adequate 720p panel. And to top it off, the device is slated to get official KitKat love in the relatively near future.
We recently created a forum for the new device, and it has since seen the beginnings of aftermarket development love. Now, things are about to get a whole lot more exciting, as Motorola has released the GPL-mandated kernel source for the device—a prerequisite for the real development to begin.
Naturally this means nothing in the immediate term for end users. However, the timely source release and the device’s excellent value will almost certainly equate to plenty of development fun to come. Head over to SourceForge to download the open source files, and don’t forget to share your development work in our newly created Moto G forum!
We added a couple of new forums today for a pair of very intriguing devices. First up is the Moto G. This recently released device doesn’t exactly have flagship aspirations. Its $179 off-contract asking price isn’t really targeting the midrange either. Rather, this is meant to be a phone for the masses. But unlike most other devices in its price range, the Moto G actually packs some relatively healthy specs. The device features a 4.5-inch 720p LCD panel. Powering the screen, we have a quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, which is backed by a 2070 mAh battery. The device features 1 gig of RAM and either 8 or 16 gigs of internal storage. It lacks LTE and even DC-HSPA+, but it can reach a theoretical maximum of 21 Mbit with its single-channel HSPA radio. The device ships with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but will see an update to Android 4.4 KitKat. The Moto G is already available in Europe, and is expected to arrive stateside by the end of January.
Next up is the Oppo N1. This device is intriguing on many fronts. First of all, it’s huge. With a 5.9-inch 1080p IPS panel, the phone certainly stands out. It also has a rather unique camera module that rotates to allow for full quality selfies. The N1 packs relatively powerful internals thanks to its quad-core 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 processor. It also features 2 gigs of RAM and either 16 or 32 gigs of internal storage. The device ships with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. But much like the company’s previous efforts with the Find 5 and the R819, the N1 features tremendous development potential thanks to the company’s developer friendly attitude and early work by developers such as XDA Senior Recognized Developer XpLoDWilD.
Do either of these new devices tickle your fancy? Personally, I can’t think of a better budget option than the G, and anything from Oppo is automatically exciting. Head over to the newly created forums below to get started: