It was over a year ago now that myself and my fiancée broke free of the shackles imposed by network carriers and refused to lock ourselves into another two year contract. This new found freedom came at a price, however, as we both needed to continue using our old phones for a while until we could afford new devices for ourselves. This turned out to be quite a while, with my fiancée upgrading her aging Nexus S and getting a Nexus 5 in the new year.
While we save for my upgrade, I took the opportunity to ditch my HTC Desire HD and use the Nexus. To give it that “new phone” feel, I installed the latest stable version of Cyanogenmod available for that particular device: 10.2.0. I had already taken the plunge with my Desire HD months ago, so I was familiar with the installation process; using the adb command line utility to push a recovery tool and system image over to the phone.
The first big improvement this ROM has over stock is the fact that it’s based on Android 4.3, whereas Google themselves stopped releasing updates for the device after 4.1. On top of this, I noticed the following out-of-the-box improvements:
- A torch application installed as standard, with it’s functionality exposed via a new icon in the notification bar for easy access.
- Root level access
- A terminal emulator (perfect for a geek like myself!)
- The ability to customise button behaviour, power menu and notification bar.
- A customisable lock screen, where it’s possible for to chose an action or application for swiping in different directions to unlock:
In summary, I’ve found Cyanogenmod really can give a new lease of life to old devices, especially those that have fallen out of favour with their manufacturers. If your device is a bit worse for wear physically, you could consider repairing it using Sugru, as suggested by my fellow author, Adrian Willings!
I would even consider the ROM for newer devices if you’re interested in heavily customising your Android experience. With the recent release of their new installation tool, the process of switching should be even easier for those people out there who would like to give it a go, but were put off by the original installation method.