So, a nephew brought over his new Samsung Galaxy S4 last week. Very nice. A quick check showed it running Android 4.2.2. Ouch! My S3 is running the latest update from AT&T, 4.1.1. Europe has a beta of 4.2.2. AT&T has been promising 4.1.2 with mult-windows forever. I finally decided enough was enough. Time to strike out on my own.
After some research, I decided on CyanogenMod 10.1 stable release. The CyanogenMod team bases their ROMs on official Google Android releases and wring them out thoroughly. They based the latest 10.1 release on Android 4.2.2 and supported the Galaxy S3, so it filled the bill nicely. Time to get serious.
There are lots of pages online to tell one how to flash the new ROM manually, but I used ROM Manager. That proved very simple. My Galaxy S3 was already rooted and ClockworkMod Recovery install a long time ago. I was ready to rock!
WARNING: Flashing a replacement ROM to your phone will void your warranty and may cause your turtle to break out in hives, your truck to fall into a sink hole, and/or nuclear Armageddon to ensue. You’ve been warned.
Of course, it pays to be paranoid. I used Titanium Backup Pro to backup all my apps and settings, which I do on a weekly schedule as a matter of routine. I also have all my contacts, calendar, etc., synced to Google. Google Play keeps track of all my app download and purchases.
ROM Manager also asked me to update to the latest version of ClockworkMod Recovery (CWM), which uses a more graphical UI. After that, I selected “Download ROM.”
It then offered me a selection of ROMs to download and install. After choosing a ROM, the Manager displays user feedback on that ROM and you read the release notes if you wish. I chose CyanogenMod 10.1 plus Google Apps 4.2. The ROM file is around 180MB, so it took a few minutes to download to the internal SD card.
Next, ROM Manager offered flash the newly downloaded ROM. I checked the boxes to backup the existing ROM to the internal SD card, clear all the caches and reset to factory before flashing the new ROM. One should always clean out the caches when installing a new ROM. ROM Manager then rebooted the phone into CWR. Everything proceeded without further user intervention.
The backup took around 5 minutes, then ROM Manger cleared all the caches and formatted the /data partition. Lastly, it flashed the new CyanogenMod 10.1 ROM. When completed, the Galaxy rebooted into the new ROM.
After flashing a new ROM, the first bootup takes a few minutes while it sets itself up. Then CyanogenMod went through a new device startup sequence, requesting a WiFi connection password and Google account login. Once complete, Google Play automatically started downloading and installing all my apps on record. Google also synced my contacts, calendar, and some settings.
Once all that was complete, I then went to Titanium Backup Pro and had it restore all my app settings. This went quickly. I even restored Adobe Flash 11 from the backup and it works fine. After that, all I had to do was work through the system settings and populate/customize the launcher. As best that I can tell, the only data that I lost were the locally stored tweets.
Note that no time did I have to connect my phone to my PC. This process took place entirely over the air on my Galaxy. The whole process, including my preparatory work and several strategic pauses to ensure I didn’t mess up, took about 45 minutes. Actual processing time from start of download to finishing the reboot was more like 20-30 minutes. Sweet.
So far, I really like CyanogenMod 10.1/Android 4.2.2. It’s faster than the stock ROM and transitions more smoothly between screens. The interface can be more highly customized than the stock Samsung/AT&T ROM. Of course, none of the fancy Samsung hardware-specific things work, like the camera recognizing me looking at the screen and therefore keeping the screen on. Oh well. That was the only hardware-specific feature that I used, and it didn’t work right about half the time. I don’t miss the rest of the gimmicky gestures.
Here’s my new About screen: