It is been a very good couple of years because I final dabbled with personalized ROMs on my Android phones. Back in the glory days of the Nexus One particular and early Samsung Galaxy telephones, Android was uncomplicated more than enough and open up enough that many lovers would assume nothing of finding up new nightly builds from their preferred developers and flashing them on the major equipment.
These days, although, the most effective Android phones are vastly a lot more advanced and locked-down than in the early 2010s. NFC payments, safe banking applications, and emerging tech like cell driving licenses and even passports suggest functioning a rooted gadget is out of the question for quite a few. Even jogging unrooted firmware with no Google’s “SafetyNet” seal of acceptance can bring about headaches for every day functions like shelling out for groceries or using general public transportation.
Irrespective, the Android hacking community remains alive and effectively in 2021, and some enterprising builders are supporting to port present day visions of Android to positively ancient components.
1 of the oldest Android telephones I have in my stock correct now is the Samsung Galaxy S2. The GS2 was launched in 2011, ten a long time back, and was a single of the breakthrough Android devices credited for the platform’s early achievements. These days, although, the inventory Galaxy S2 is not particularly handy. The European Galaxy S2 model — not to be baffled with the plenty of US variants — was finally deserted on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. And although Jelly Bean technically continues to be supported for simple items like Google Participate in products and services and Google Enjoy Protect, applications themselves have lengthy since moved on. Employing an S2 on this degree of firmware in 2021 is mainly a aspect cell phone knowledge.
Many thanks to the devs, the course of action of having Android 11 on to the S2 was truly really uncomplicated.
So, with a trusty Micro-USB cable, a new set up of the ODIN Samsung flashing application, and a few useful ZIP documents, I established about bringing Android 11 to a telephone that at first transported on variation 2.3 of the OS. Could the Android neighborhood convey some daily life back again to this relic of 2011?
The credit score for truly obtaining Android 11 operating on the S2 belongs to XDA users rINanDO and ChronoMonochrome, who posted their earliest builds in December of 2020, and are continue to maintaining issues up to date at the time of producing.
For professional (or even lapsed) Android ROM fans, installation is rather easy. The to start with action entails repartitioning the S2’s interior storage and flashing a personalized recovery. Or, in standard speak: You rearrange the 16GB of space within the Galaxy S2 so that Android 11 will actually fit onto it, then put in restoration program that’ll support us put in Android 11.
The following problem was the phone’s wonky USB port, which struggled to maintain a details link — not a great problem to be dealing with although monkeying with the phone’s partition desk around that relationship. But at the ideal angle, my trusty S2 sooner or later soldiered by way of the course of action.
As soon as which is completed, the future stage can be accomplished with the support of a microSD card, this means no want to hook up a Pc or any other gadget to the cell phone. (That is, soon after wrestling with the phone’s creaky volume, property, and energy keys to activate the blend that boots the cellphone into restoration mode.)
It can be a two-phase method. To start with, you flash the ROM alone, LineageOS 18 (the hottest incarnation of what utilized to be referred to as CyanogenMod). Afterwards, there is certainly the solution to sideload some Google apps to make the cellphone a little bit more usable.
Just about everything will work, but you can need to have saintly endurance — particularly with Google applications.
To test anything was up and functioning, I to start with driven up the telephone with it jogging just barebones LineageOS — in essence open up-supply Android 11 compiled for this cellular phone with a handful of really simple apps. Straight-up LineageOS on the Galaxy S2 presents you the normal points like Contacts, Dialer, Messages, Alarms, Audio, Gallery, and a simple digital camera app, and which is fairly a lot it. From there, Lineage is in essence a blank canvas. You can keep points straightforward, download and get began with a third-get together app store, or flash just one of the Google apps (Gapps) packages obtainable.
Even accomplishing essentially absolutely nothing, with only a couple system apps in the app drawer, Android 11 on the Galaxy S2 needs a great little bit of tolerance. Scrolling is laggy, even though contact response — and typing in distinct — feels kludgy compared to any modern day machine. That’s not shocking, thinking about the S2 has much less processing energy than the ordinary 2021 smartwatch.
Even so, rather substantially every thing will work, which is impressive in alone. The simple internet browser happily loads webpages from the world-wide-web of 2021, with no the frustrating HTTPS glitches that you will see from the stock browser of the formal Samsung firmware. The digicam isn’t going to acquire you any awards, but it can effectively shoot photos and even delivers a few Professional manner capabilities that were not in the previous TouchWiz-centered ROM. Even useful conveniences you’d in no way hope to see on a Galaxy S2, like screencasting and wake-on-notification, are thoroughly purposeful. The phone was even capable to choose up a serviceable 3G sign and use cellular facts on a spare GiffGaff SIM I had lying about.
After implementing my Gapps package of decision, the performance dipped even further more, many thanks to Google Enjoy Expert services performing absent in the background. Just after enabling the cell phone a couple of minutes to get up to pace and incorporating my Google Workspace account, I eventually could see how the present crop of Android apps operates on the S2’s ancient components.
Opening up Slack? Ideal go make a sandwich and check again afterwards.
And… well, they get the job done! But after once again, in the vicinity of saintly endurance is demanded in working with an Android app designed for 2021 in hardware designed for 2011, and that even consists of the principles like Gmail and Google Calendar. Think about yourself fortunate if your scrolling speeds can surpass 30 frames per next. YouTube movies are just about watchable in comprehensive-display manner, but I discovered they dropped a few frames even at reduced resolutions.
Tapping buttons or controls? In some scenarios, you can expect to need to have to permit a next or two for the mobile phone to react. And as you would assume from a cell phone with a mere gigabyte of RAM, applications are aggressively purged from memory, which can lead to frustrations.
But even with all these compromises, the Samsung Galaxy S2, up-to-date ten yrs on to Android 11, primarily performs as advertised — albeit really gradually. And the developers should have credit score for squeezing a recent model of Android on to components that falls much underneath its minimal specification.
Is the Galaxy S2 any much more usable on Android 11 as opposed to Jelly Bean or Ice Cream Sandwich with non-functioning apps? Probably not. You are buying and selling application compatibility for performance, and the trade-offs are excessive in both direction. Nonetheless, it’s spectacular that this fusion of new program and outdated hardware is even feasible. Possibly in an additional ten years, the Galaxy S21 Ultra on my desk may possibly find new daily life on Android 22 with the same community’s assistance.