I resisted getting a cell phone for a long time. This even cost me a date with a pretty gal twenty years ago, when I was supposed to meet her for a movie but somehow we got our details mixed up. I was at what I thought was the right theater at the right time. Obviously I was wrong, and I had no way to reach her.
It was Kristy who first dragged me into the cellular age by buying me a flip phone and helping me set up a pay-as-you-go account. I didn’t use it often, but I had to admit that being able to reach people and be reached while I was away from home was pretty convenient. I didn’t like that it couldn’t sync any addresses from my computer, though.
I eventually upgraded to a Blackberry 8300, which I used with third-party sync software which kinda worked some of the time, but that was enough to get me hooked. My first iPhone was an iPhone 4. i’ve been in the Apple mobile ecosystem ever since – or since long before then, depending on how you look at it.
But there are a lot of Android devices out there, and I like knowing how stuff works. So in 2018 I bought a Xioami Redmi Note 4 phone from Amazon for $170. That’s a basic Android phone made by a Chinese company for Indian markets, but it was compatible with CyanogenMod, an community-supported release of Android based on Google’s official code. The first thing I did was wipe the preinstalled MIUI and install that, and then install QooApp which let me install some anime-based games from the Asian market. I remember that the Google Play service wouldn’t let me run these games on the device because it correctly detected that I’d installed an unsigned OS on it … and I remember figuring out how to install a tool named Magisk which tricked the phone into thinking it hadn’t been hacked … and I remember being kind of horrified that all this was possible.
When CyanogenMod was discontinued, I switched to LineageOS. When that was discontinued, I switched to OmniROM. When that dropped support for this phone (the architecture named “mido”) in 2020, the phone gathered dust on my shelf. I always wanted to find a current version of Android that was still maintained on it, but I didn’t feel like figuring out how to install the right drivers to get ‘adb’ and ‘fastboot’ to work, remembering how to install a new recovery, dealing with the hassle of messing up the phone if something went wrong, &c. &c.
Until today. I was bored.
The new operating system is “PixelExperience”, which appears to be the last version of Android with regular builds for this device (and it’s available with Android 13, the latest version). The installation instructions are at “https://wiki.pixelexperience.org/devices/mido/install/”.
After I installed adb and fastboot, my first problem is that the phone wouldn’t stay in fastboot mode while it was connected to my PC; it would only remain there for a few seconds before it rebooted normally. This meant I didn’t have the right drivers for the phone. Getting the right drivers meant trying downloads from some sketchy-looking sites, which made me unfathomably nervous, and I ran a MalwareBytes scan often between attempts. Two different sets of drivers I installed didn’t work, but then I found a batch script at “https://github.com/fawazahmed0/Latest-adb-fastboot-installer-for-windows” which purported to automatically find and install the correct drivers. And that made me incredibly nervous. But hey, I’m backed up, and this is only my gaming PC, and GitHub wouldn’t host malware, would it? So I gave it a try.
And it installed the correct drivers! I could connect the phone and it would stay in fastboot!
From there, it was only a matter of following the instructions on that pixelexperience.org page to flash the new recovery, wipe the device, and then sideload the OS from the PC. I was a little confused because the page lists steps for the same part of the installation twice (under “Flashing RETROFIT Rom Guide” and “Installing PixelExperience from recovery”, but eventually I sorted it out.
And now my little kick-around phone is running the latest version of Android, and looking just like a Google Pixel!
Now to go look for what games it’ll run that aren’t available on iOS …