Time to root – or dump – my AT&T Samsung Infuse 4G phone

Well, 2011 has given way to the New Year, and AT&T have failed to fulfill their promise to upgrade the Android software on all of the 4G phones which they sold in 2011. Back in the summer I embarked on an experiment to see what life outside Apple’s walled garden would be like. The results are in: it sucks. Battery life is awful, system freezes are common (often with the phone feeling dangerously hot), and app management is broken (somehow I have acquired two copies of several apps). I could go on, but why bother?
The main takeaway from this is that Samsung and AT&T (and probably other carriers and manufacturers) haven’t understood that Apple changed the rules with the iPhone, by bringing the PC (and Mac) upgrade model to mobile communications. Backward compatibility is mandatory. Software and hardware upgrades are decoupled. Bugs are fixed. OS and app features are delivered regularly. I’m sure Google hoped that the Android ecosystem would follow this path, but if so they’ve completely failed to convince their partners.
So what to do next? Yes, of course I can root the device, find and install a ROM image of unknown provenance, etc. But I resent the need to do this*, and I’m distinctly uncomfortable doing so on a device which is used for corporate communications. I could dump the Infuse and buy an iPhone 4S, but after only 6 months on the contract it’s a relatively expensive proposition. And the final insult is that most of the tools for hacking Android phones seem to be Windows based, and I don’t have any Windows machines lying around.
File under #FAIL.

* And that’s assuming that I don’t inadvertently brick the device. For those who haven’t explored this stuff, here’s the simple version of the instructions for a popular ROM:

  • Ensure you have both root and CWM. See the reference post if you do not have both of these.
  • Copy ROM .ZIP to SD card
  • Shut phone off. Hold Vol Up + Vol Down and Power on device
  • Wipe Data and Cache (Wiping data will remove your installed applications and settings. You have been warned!)
  • Flash CM7 zip
  • Reboot. You will get stuck at Samsung screen. This is normal.
  • Pull battery, and reboot into recovery (Hold: VOL+ VOL- Power)
  • You should now be in ORANGE -OR- BLUE CWM
  • Go to “mounts and storage”
  • Select format /system
  • Reflash CM7 zip
  • Don’t forget Google Apps as well. You can get the gapps easily using Rom Manger -> Download ROM -> Scroll down to Google Apps). Google Apps download link is also at the bottom of this post
  • Reboot into CM7 goodness, made possible by LinuxBozo