Why I’m not upgrading my S9 to Android 10

Android 10 for Galaxy flagships is a trending topic right now, with the stable update having been released for Note10, S10, and now Note9, with the S9 stable update not too far away. However, I have not installed the beta, and will not be installing the stable either. Here’s why.

In November 2018, Samsung announced Linux on DeX, a feature for DeX users to be able to run Linux images and programs. It was initially exclusive to the Note9 and Tab S4. But in April 2019, support for the S10, S9, and Tab S5e on Android Pie was implemented. We were all expecting for Samsung to support the Note10 and Tab S5 (which actually turned out to be the Tab S6) with Linux on DeX when these devices were released. But they didn’t.

In November 2019, Samsung announced that the Linux on DeX beta program has come to an end and that the app would not run on any devices running Android 10. Linux on DeX will continue to work on compatible devices on Android 9.

I’ve been using Linux on DeX on my S9 since support was added for it. I enjoy using it as it opens my device up to more program options as I can now use Linux programs too. However, when I found out that Linux on DeX wouldn’t support Android 10, I knew I couldn’t lose this functionality.

Android 10 for Samsung devices isn’t as big an update as Android 9 was. Android 9 brought the new OneUI which changed the user interface a lot. Although Android 10 does have some cool new features, Android 9 is still perfectly adequate and still works with Linux on DeX.

How long I’ll hold out on upgrading is unknown for now. If Samsung announce that Linux on DeX will be released as stable for Android 10 later on I’ll consider upgrading, but for now I’m staying on Android 9. Linux on DeX is crucial functionality for me and I don’t want to lose it.

Do you need a custom ROM on your device?

When I first bought my Nexus 7 (2012), it was on Android 5.1 and was really slow. I downgraded it to the official Android 4.4.4 firmware, but when apps started showing incompatibility, I asked myself: is now the time for a custom ROM?

After searching around, it turns out the slow performance on the Nexus 7 (2012) was only affected by Android 5.x, with people reporting much better performance on Android 6.0 and 7.x based ROMs. So I decided to give one a try.

My first pick was Unlegacy Android, based on Android 7.1. I was forced to use the pico package for OpenGAPPS, which only included the Play Store and other services needed for it to function as the system partition couldn’t squeeze in Android 7.1 and all the Google apps.

UA 7.1 would freeze up randomly sometimes for me. It would sometimes stutter when switching between apps, but it was still better than Android 5.1. I decided that I needed a more stable ROM so I tried LineageOS 15.1, recently released and based on Android Go for a more smooth experience.

LineageOS 15.1 required me to use OpenGAPPS pico as it was based on Android 8.1 Oreo. It was slow. A little faster than Android 5.1, but slower than Unlegacy Android 7.1 and stock 4.4.

I then decided to try Unlegacy Android again, only this time it was based on Android 6.0 instead of 7.1. Frustratingly, I still had to use OpenGAPPS pico, explaining why Google did not release Android 6.0 to the Nexus 7 (2012) as they would be unable to fit all their services and apps in as well as the Android 6.0 system.

UA 6.0 ran much better. It was smooth, no stuttering, and never froze up. However, there was something wrong. What made the Nexus 7 so special was that it was Google branded. It was running on stock Android, just like Unlegacy Android does. But I missed all the Google apps other than the core Google Play functionality. Sure, I could just install them all from the Play Store. But that’s time consuming. I like having them all there.

I’m currently running, yes you heard right, stock Android 4.3 on my Nexus 7. I decided I want the fast performance and Google app presence associated with the stock firmware, so I switched back. The apps I want such as Minecraft and Crossy Road still install and almost all incompatible apps such as YouTube have an older version available. It’s fast for my Nexus and its perfect.

Do you need a custom ROM for your device? Maybe. As a power user for my Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus, I do run a custom ROM based on Android 9.0 and quite enjoy it. But if your device’s firmware is still adequate for your usage and custom ROMs just don’t mix well with it then maybe staying on stock is better.

Nexus 7 (2012) – why are there no Android 10 or 9 ROMs available and why has the only Android 8.1 ROM available only been released recently?

Why you can’t find any Android 9 or 10 ROMs for the Nexus 7 (2012)

The Nexus 7 (2013) has a ROM for every Android version since the version it first launched with. Even when support for it was discontinued when Android 7.0 Nougat was released, the development community were quick to make ports of it. A port of Android 10 has recently been released.

The year older Nexus 7 (2012) only had ROMs going up to Android 7.1.2 until recently where a LineageOS 15.1 ROM was released. How come the Nexus 7 (2012) has a lot less ROM treatment than the one year newer model?

First of all, let’s start with hardware. The Nexus 7 (2012) has 1GB RAM and a Nvidia Tegra3 CPU, whilst the 2013 variant has 2GB RAM and a Snapdragon S4 Pro. That’s a noticeable difference in speed and performance just there. The Nexus 7 (2012) was good back in its day, and even now, if you choose the correct ROM, can make a good tablet, but Android 9 and 10 just won’t run very well on it. On LineageOS 15.1 and Unlegacy Android 7.1.2, I experienced lag but on stock 4.3, 4.4, and Unlegacy Android 6.0, it was perfectly acceptable for every day use.

Android Go was announced by Google a while back providing an optimised Android version for low end devices such as the Galaxy J2 Core. LineageOS 15.1 appears to use Go’s optimisation for the Nexus 7 (2012) but a 2019 low end smartphone may just be that little bit faster than a mid-range tablet from 2012.

Let’s not forget the system partition. When I tried Unlegacy Android 6.0, 7.1.2, and LineageOS 15.1, I had to use the minimal GAPPS package (pico) only including the Play Store and basic Google functionality. The Nexus 7 (2013) has a resize method available but it appears to be hard to use and you risk messing up the partition table resulting in an unrecoverable device. There is no such method for the Nexus 7 (2012). Recent Android versions take up more space and on the Nexus 7 (2013), the only currently available Android 10 ROM requires a resize before it can be installed.

Can we expect Android 9 or 10 ROMs for the Nexus 7 (2012)? Probably not. Unless a resize method is found for the system partition, there’s little chance of it and even if it was made, it probably wouldn’t run very well. Luckily, Android 6.0 or 7.1 is still adequate and a great majority of apps still work fine on it so if you’re looking for a good ROM to revive your tablet, look there instead of hoping for a ROM which could put the tablet past its limits.

What ROM do you have on your Nexus 7 and how does it run? Tell me down below in the comments section!

-Chas 😎

Galaxy J3 (2016) LineageOS development cancelled

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned that I was going to start development of a LineageOS 15.1 (Android 8.1 Oreo) ROM for the Galaxy J3 (2016). A couple of weeks later after testing and error fixing attempts throughout the build (which have failed or led to more errors which are harder to fix), I regret to inform you that development of this ROM port is coming to an end.

It appears that currently the J3 device tree for LineageOS 15.1 is still unstable and still being worked on, explaining the errors and also the fact that a developer who promised a LineageOS 15.0 ROM a couple of years back never posted it, probably because it errored out or they got it to build but it was way too unstable for general use.

I can say that I will attempt to make other ROMs for other devices, such as the Nexus 7 and Lenovo Tab4 8 Plus. But sadly, all the J3 ROM slots have been taken and porting newer Android ROMs to this device is incredibly hard.

I hope that I can announce the development of a new Android ROM for another device but at the moment I’ll just be playing around to see what I can get to work before testing anything.

Sorry for this, but Oreo for the J3 (2016) doesn’t seem possible just yet.

-Chas 😎

Support for the original Pixel and Pixel XL coming to an end after three years

Three years ago on the 4th October, Google launched the original Pixel and Pixel XL. Three years later, Google are now bringing support to an end for these phones.

The original Pixel and Pixel XL may have unexpectedly received the Android 10 update but did not receive the November 2019 security patch this month while the Pixel 2 and later did. The official Google support page states that update support will end after October 2019. That time has come and so the original Pixel and Pixel XL will no longer receive software updates.

It was not expected for the original Pixel and Pixel XL to even receive Android 10 but Google decided to support the 2016 lineup in Android 10.

It should be possible to download the source for the latest available Android build for the original Pixel lineup and then manually backport the changes into it if willing to put in the effort, but this is not for the inexperienced and one wrong move during backporting could cause noticeable instability on your device.

Custom ROMs are available for the original Pixel lineup and at some point they will contain newer security patches then what the latest stock firmware provides. When Android 11 is released, custom ROMs will be the only way to get it on the original lineup and also will continue support for the device and introduce you to the world of tinkering with your Android device.

Currently, LineageOS are providing official nightly support for the original Pixel lineup for LineageOS 16.0, based on Android Pie. Although it isn’t Android 10, it’s still worth checking out if you want to learn about ROMs and LineageOS 17.0 is only around the corner if you want to get used to what may be your new ROM if you want continued support.

What Android device do you currently use and is it still receiving updates? Tell me down below in the comments!

-Chas 😎

LineageOS 15.1 for Galaxy J3 (2016) development 

The Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) launched at the end of 2015 running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and has never received a major OS update and to this day is currently still on Android 5.1.1 should you choose to stay on stock firmware.

However, custom ROMs for this device have been made based on newer Android versions without the TouchWiz UI, such as LineageOS 13 (Android 6.0.1) and Resurrection Remix based on Android 7.1.1.

However, the community has never seen a development of an Android 8.x based ROM for this device. There was an attempt to port LineageOS 15.0 (Android 8.0 Oreo) to the J3 (2016) but the developers abandoned the project and never provided a download link.

Luckily, I’ve came across a kernel and device tree for the J3 (2016) supporting Android 8.1 Oreo ROMs, as well as a tutorial for making unofficial LineageOS ROMs for devices that don’t have official support (like the J3 2016). I’m going to attempt building it. Will it work or will I find out why LineageOS 15.0 was abandoned for the J3 (2016)?

I’ll keep you updated of progress of porting it here, and let’s hope it will be a success.

Wish me luck!

-Chas 😎

Galaxy S10 Android 10 beta now available in select regions

Samsung have launched the Galaxy S10 Android 10 beta, or ‘OneUI 2.0’ in select regions.They have currently launched the beta in Germany but the US and South Korea are sure to follow. The beta includes features such as Google’s new gesture based navigation feature, a redesigned camera UI, and a built-in screen recorder.

It is currently only available in Germany, but more countries are likely to follow soon. It isn’t a massive software update, not as big as Android Pie/OneUI 1.0 was.

To sign up for the beta, sign up through the notice in the Samsung Members app and then check for updates. Be aware that the update may take a little while to show up in Settings.

Enjoy!

-Chas 😎

Galaxy Fold, Galaxy Xcover 4s, and Galaxy A50 to receive monthly security updates

Samsung adds three devices to the monthly schedule, removes three devices completely, and demotes one to the ‘other regular’ schedule.

Samsung have updated their security updated devices list and added three devices to the list of devices to receive monthly security updates. They have also removed a few devices from the list completely, meaning that the benefit of security updates for them is coming to an end. The Galaxy A50, Fold, and Xcover 4s are the lucky devices to be put on a monthly schedule, whilst the Galaxy A3 and A5 2016 variants along with the Tab S2 Refresh appear to have been removed entirely from the list. The Galaxy Tab A (2017) saw a demotion to the ‘Other regular security updates’ list, meaning it will now only receive updates when necessary.

Usually, flagship devices and some lucky midrangers are put on a monthly schedule, whilst most other midrange devices are put in the quarterly updates section. Older devices that are on their way out are usually put on the other regular updates schedule for a while before being removed completely.

The Galaxy A3 and A5 2016 variants were announced at the end of 2015 and for them to get software updates until October 2019 is really impressive. This indicates a bright future for software support in the future. The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge were announced in February 2016 and are still on the quarterly schedule. Will we soon be seeing three major OS updates for flagships?

If you own a device that has been removed from the list or demoted to other regular updates, now may be a good time to look at upgrading to a newer device. Not only do security updates include security fixes but they also include bugfixes which will improve the stability of your device, so it’s important to ensure that your device is still getting updates.

What Samsung device do you have and when do you intend on upgrading? Tell me down below in the comments.

-Chas 😎

Nexus 7 (2012) review

How well does a 2012 midrange tablet hold up in 2019? Let’s find out.

Recently, I purchased a Nexus 7 (2012) from a local store. I’ve wanted this tablet for years now but it was always too expensive. But last week my lucky day came as a local shop was selling one for £35.

Android Lollipop issues

Turning it on, it ran the slow and laggy Android 5.1 Lollipop. Opening and switching between apps was a nightmare. And don’t even get me started on updating all the apps on ancient versions. I couldn’t put up with this, so I downloaded the KitKat 4.4.4 factory image from Google’s website and flashed it.

On KitKat, I can certainly say that it is faster than Lollipop, significantly faster. Updating apps took about 5 times quicker than on Lollipop, mainly because KitKat is more optimised for the Nexus 7 (2012) than Lollipop is, but also because not all the updated versions of preloaded apps can run on KitKat.

App support

App support on KitKat is still fairly good. Yes, some apps are starting to require Android 5.0 and 6.0, but those that I wanted to install that did had an older version that could be sideloaded. I managed to install an older version of Gboard to replace the old stock KitKat keyboard on there, as well as old versions of the Microsoft Office mobile apps. They all still work without issue.

Minecraft, WordPress, and Geometry Dash World all installed fine on their latest versions. They all work without issue, except Minecraft which lags unless you turn off all the fancy graphics.

Specs and performance

There is an explanation for this, of course. The Nexus 7 (2012) has a Nvdia Tegra 3 CPU consisting of four ARM Cortex A9 cores clocked at 1.2GHz, along with 1GB RAM. Back then that was considered midrange and could probably run Minecraft and other games at high graphics. But now? Nah.

Custom ROMs

What about custom ROM support? It appears the community have developed ROMs for the Nexus 7 (2012) up to Android 7.1 Nougat. I haven’t tried any, and honestly, I wouldn’t expect great performance from these ROMs. The Nexus 7 (2012) runs near stock Android anyway, which most of these ROMs are based on. If the Nexus struggles to handle stock Android 5.1.1, as much as poor software optimisation could be partially the problem, I’m sure the specs play a major part too and that 6.0 and 7.x ROMs wouldn’t run much better.

Conclusion

So, how well does the Nexus 7 (2012) still hold up in 2019? As a basic tablet for playing basic games, word processing, and browsing the internet, it holds up well. But for heavy tasks you might want to look elsewhere as the Nexus 7 is not as up to the task in 2019 as it was in 2012. But for basic use, the Nexus 7 is a great tablet and holds up well provided you downgrade it to KitKat, even in 2019.

Do you still use a Nexus 7 and how well does it hold up in 2019? Tell me down below in the comments.

-Chas 😎

Google to require all devices launched after 31st January 2020 to run Android 10

Soon, Google will stop approving new devices running Android 9 or earlier to have Google services preloaded on them

After the 31st of January next year, Google have confirmed that they will stop ‘approving’ new devices running Android 9 or earlier and only approve Android 10 devices.

In order to have Google services on it, a phone must be ‘approved’ by Google. Take the recent Huawei Mate 30 for example. That wasn’t approved and therefore Huawei are finding ways to build their own ecosystem without letting US company restrictions for working with them standing in their way.

So basically, after 31st January 2020, Google will stop allowing new devices running Android 9 or earlier to have Google services such as the Play Store and Photos preloaded.

It was noted on XDA that manufacturers could get past this and launch a device running Android 9 or earlier after the deadline by submitting the approval application for the device before the deadline and then launching it after the deadline. This is probably how Samsung released the Galaxy M10, M20, and M30 which ran Android 8.1 Oreo despite being released after the approval deadline for 8.1 Oreo and they still managed to include Google services.

Please note that this will not affect old devices released before 31st January 2020 that are stuck on Oreo and still being manufactured. This only applies for new devices announced before 31st January 2020.

What Android did your device come preloaded with and currently runs? Are you satisfied with it? Tell me down in the comments below.

-Chas 😎