Saturday, October 1, 2011

Motorola Charm MB502 customization


This note talks about the software customization I have done on Motorola Charm to make it usable, for what it is worth.


I bought this device for one reason - productivity. Read more about my thoughts in this note.






In-Short
A very good hardware and form factor, excellent keyboard, optimal performance using the 600MHz processor. Unfortunately, lacks in display (QVGA) and video (max CIF) support. The screen is indeed bad and some widgets look squashed.


Customization
I did some customization to improve on the UI and brighten up the pixelated looks. My current home screens..

 Turtle Photoframe
 Turtle Photoframe
 Screen Filter, uptime, Weather, Agenda widget
Precious Metals Price Widget, aCurrency, Google Finance
 Turtle Photoframe, Drinking Water
 Mensa Word of the Day, Google+, Seesmic
 Android's Fortune, Babyage, Calorie Counter
Lock Screen














I am jotting down the list of changes I did on the device.

root it
Don't do this if you are concerned about support. Else do yourself a favour and root the device. Motorola is not interested in upgrading this device any further, you are left alone (check official Motorola forums on this). This device is probably on end of life list and may not get any more updates.

I downloaded and extracted the SuperOneClickv1.6.5-ShortFuse.zip, and followed the instructions (look for reference link below). This also needs the Android SDK and Java SDK to be available on the system. Note, version 1.6 is required for this device, the higher version did not work for me.



Partition the SD card
This is required for the subsequent step for linking apps and moving them to SD card. I made use of MiniTool partition software to make three partitions on my 16GB SD Card (look for reference link below).

Cell1 -  11GB  (for actual data)
Cell2 -   3GB (for link2sd app)
swap  - 840MB (for additional memory space support)


















 
link2sd - move apps to SD card
Downloaded and installed link2sd from market. The software link2sd requires a second primary partition. This basically moves all apps related files to the 2nd partition of the SD card and leaves a link in the internal memory that points to the actual file on SD. This saves huge amount of internal space and therefore allows installation of large number of apps. Something just not possible without rooting the device.




ADW Launcher as UI

Motoblur UI isn't that bad, but this is a small screen and I did not want it wasted on the dock bar and screen position indicators. The more space available for actual data and widgets display the better.

Installed ADW Launcher from market for easy screens. As the screen size is small and there is a physical keyboard available, I decided to remove the dock bar. Next I made some changes in the keyboard quick launch options to gain easy access to my frequently used apps.

Changed the home key to point to apps drawer and the double tap on home key to phone dialler. The quick launcher option also allows setting of search+ key to directly invoke apps. This is pretty cool as I can now avoid putting apps shortcuts on the desktop.


Font Changer

Downloaded and installed Font changer app from market. Font changer allows changing of font density from the default 120 to 140 or higher. This basically makes the font look bigger on the small screen. Though 140 was good to look at, it also increased the sizes of some of my apps. For instance,  the ADW Launcher 5-icons panel extended beyond the screen size. At a higher sizing, even the default dialler misbehaved due to the spillover of
buttons. I decided to keep the density at 120 and change the default font instead. I copied the Liberation fonts from my Linux desktop to the font changer folder. Then set Liberation Sans font for display from font changer app. This is much more crisp and easy to look at than the default font.

I found out that using a Mono font, such as Droid Mono, gave a good reading quality that did not strain the eyes. However, this takes up lot of space and most short-cuts and widget data is truncated. So will have to stick to a type face font.

Quite a few apps also allow setting there own custom font, this serves well for such small screens.

Some of my widgets did not allow font sizing and are barely readable. You will be able to make out from the screen shots. I still keep them as they act as reminders to get into the app itself.


Issues
I faced following issues with the device.

Battery charger conked
The battery charger worked for the first use. It just failed to work after this. The phone is getting charged from the USB link when attached to a computer. The phone is also getting charged from my wife's Samsung charger (same Micro-USB port). So Motorola does have some quality issue here. Checked some forums and realised I am not alone. It is OK for me as the alternatives work.

Washed out pictures
I knew the video quality on this device is pathetic. Was not happy with the pictures, 3MP should have been able to deliver better. With no flash present, the pics are unbearable in low light. There is a Kodak app included in the device that does picture enhancement. This is working out good for most pictures I take. So will use this as a process to enhance my snaps.

Not much can be done of the video quality. The CIF format is the best one can get from this phone. This will remain a bad score for me.



keyboard Delivers

This is the best part of getting the device. I typed most of this note on the device itself. I setup quick launch keys for my most frequently used apps (calendar, Seesmic, catch, Springpad, MySettings, greader, email clients..). Gotten used to this now. The keyboard is where the device delivers.

Working apps
I use the following apps on the device. Haven't noticed any issues in these. Some show a smaller font size though, have tweaked the settings of some to give better looks. Have put some screen shots here.

- aCurrency lite
- Adobe Reader

















- Astro















- Agenda widget
- Android's fortune
- AVG Anti-virus
- Babyage
- Business calendar free
- Default Browser
















 

- Default Dialler














 

- CamScanner
- Catch

 












 
- Calorie Counter
- Drinking water
- Font changer
- Folder Organizer lite
- Google+
- greader
 







 


















 




- Default picture Gallery












 


- Link2SD
- Load Monitor

 















- Default Messaging



 























- Mensa word of the day
- MortPlayer Audio Book
- Market

 














- MySettings














 
- Openoffice document reader
- Precious Metals Price Widget
- Root explorer
- Seesmic
-
Screen filter
- Seven mail
- SMS backup
- SMS popup
- Springpad















 
- Turtle photoframe
- Google services (gmail, contacts, reader, maps, youtube etc.)

 












 































Final note
The device is much more acceptable with the above changes, but not quite there. Guess this is the maximum I can achieve on this hardware. I will be using this device till I get another up-scale qwerty device, may be in a few months time.

Reference
http://www.dkszone.net/root-motorola-charm-one-click-root-motorola-charm
http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Droid-Serif
http://blog.wirelessground.com/motorola-charm-battery-issue/
http://www.diy-computer-repairs.com/partition-sd-card-android-installation/



31 comments:

  1. how you did the partition

    ReplyDelete
  2. ok i had did the partition
    but when open the link2sd it ask to restart
    automount script created,plez restart to mount ext partition

    and then i restarted the phone
    and same happen
    please reply why

    ReplyDelete
  3. I used minitool utility to partition the SDCard. Please note, both partitions have to be primary. Do try to expand the minitool screenshot I put above and look at the Disk2 setup. Hope you have got something similar.

    Try using FAT32 instead of ext partition also. link2sd should auto detect the 2nd primary partition and use it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. i spend all night to do this
    ok what i need just to trans apps to sd card
    can you explain in detail from beginning till last what do i need actually step by step?please make it easier since im newbie in android.

    ReplyDelete
  5. i had rooted using superoneclick and superusers
    but i dont know what is Android SDK and Java SDK ?is it need to enable trans app to sd.
    i had done the partition using minitool as you did
    but when i opened the link2grand it said
    please restart your phone
    automount script created,please restart you phnoe to mount ext2 partition.....

    ReplyDelete
  6. For me to be able to assist you, I will need more inputs on this. You mentioned you have already rooted the device, let me know how you have confirmed this.

    Yes I required the Android SDK and Java SDK software for rooting the phone. The links to downloading these software can be picked up from the "References" note I have put. The steps are easy. Simply download and install it on your PC. The links provide more details.

    If you have done SD partition similar to this note, I fail to see why it is saying an ext2 partition is to be mounted (you will have fat32), and if a restart is not helping there must be some privilege issue. Can send me your SD Card screenshot view in minitool.

    ReplyDelete
  7. ok thanks i had done
    thank you

    ReplyDelete
  8. ihave one more question
    how to install directly to sd card bcoz i have an apss that bigger in size than my phone storage.

    ReplyDelete
  9. and remove preinstall aps as myspace etc?
    you have an idea

    ReplyDelete
  10. now my phone stuck to boot with M logo screen :)
    can you help me?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Link2sd will come in after the app is installed on the internal memory. So there is no methods directly do it in 2.1. See if you can first push all custom installed apps to SD so that you get all the available space.

    To remove pre-installed apps, you can install "root app remover" from the market. This will allow you to remove what came with the phone. Be very very careful and know what you are doing. Removing a wanted app can break the software link and deem the phone unusable,

    ReplyDelete
  12. is it true to make batery life longer just remove voicecommands.apk because it running in the background.?
    but now .. my phone are bricked
    i tried to reset back my phone but when reboot it still with M LOGO screen and white background
    is it need to sbf file and rsd?
    if yes how to use it.
    i hope you could help me
    i can understand litlle bit now in android.

    ReplyDelete
  13. O man, I was trying to warn you of that very situation. Most services are interdependent. Though you may not use it explicitly, other internal programs may require it.

    See if a factory reset works. Use instructions provided at http://www.knowyourcell.com/motorola/motorola-charm/charm-guides/532175/how_to_hard_reset_the_motorola_charm.htmlthe.

    If this does not do, I am out of ideas. Only option would be to take it back to the provider who would do a firmware reset for you. Let me know how it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sorry the link was incorrect

    http://www.knowyourcell.com/motorola/motorola-charm/charm-guides/532175/how_to_hard_reset_the_motorola_charm.html

    ReplyDelete
  15. i create link on link2sd then i turn off my phone
    then it does..and maybe i updated the su and su binary from market i though

    ReplyDelete
  16. i though i corrupted some of the root files, causing the phone to crap out.

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  17. So how did it go? Were you able to restore it back to its original state? Or the phone is bricked?

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  18. Hi, thank you for your share.. It helped me a lot.. I still have one question, how to install springpad? I searched app market, but found nothing..

    ReplyDelete
  19. Demoria, springpad should be visible on the Market. If you are unable to find it, try using the android market website (https://market.android.com/).

    Search "Springpad" and try to install directly from the site itself. You phone should show up in the install device list.

    ReplyDelete
  20. i want to ask. i just bought my moto charm. i have root my phone using superoneclick. and i want to use the link2sd. but after i create partition for in my sd card using the same software u use, the link2sd software said that mount script error or something like that. i tried so many times but still fail. do u have any idea. i use 4gb memory card.

    ReplyDelete
  21. It would be difficult for me to comment here. Ensure both the partitions are primary and of FAT32 FS. That should do it as link2sd is searching for the 2nd partition to work on. Size of Card should not be an issue here.

    ReplyDelete
  22. wta.. how can ur internal memory can be free up to 140mb? mine after move all software using link2sd include all lib, dalvik cache etc, delete sms and cache.. ru removed stock app to? im only have 87mb free only

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  23. Sorry for the late response. Honestly, I haven't done anything special (apart from above stuff). I haven't removed any stock app either (this is harmful). The only thing to attribute to is link2sd. Let me see if I can find time to dig this further. Cheers.

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  24. hello i like what u have down with your Motorola charm. i almost bricked my phone trying to uninstall motoblur from system apps, learnt my lesson the hard way.may i suggest some gr8 applications
    beautiful widgets
    tomcat
    android pro widgets
    app backup and restore
    wats app messanger
    eset antivirus
    ultimate juice
    skyfire browser
    all these applications take about 3 mb of your internal space provided u have linked them to ur sd throught link2sd. will mail u these apps if u want

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Rama Krishna, thanks for your feedback.I will be able to arrange your apps list at my end, if I decide to try this out. Thanks again.

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  26. Amar, Not able to download super one click program from www.shortfuse.org, do we have any alternates to root my charm

    ReplyDelete
  27. Amar, Anyone - can you also help me with 1.6 version links of Android SDK and Java SDK as suggested above before rooting my device.

    its bit urgent, Please help, i need to root it for more apps..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pawanjeet,
      I noticed the shorfuse link is not working anymore, will have to check if any other link exists. I am time pressed right now and can do a check as soon as I am in a position to do so.

      Delete
    2. Pawanjeet,
      you should be able to download Java Software Development kit from this link - http://www.java.com/en/download/manual_v6.jsp

      I don't do updates on Motorola Charm anymore, so my information above is what I have got at best. Keep me posted on how it goes for you. Thanks

      Delete
    3. Get latest Android SDK from link - http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html

      Delete
  28. hey amar and everyone else, there is another way to root your charm without the use of any SDK. Just download and install Universal androot App by googling it as it is not available on the market!
    Just open the app and click root! your phone is rooted within just 10 seconds.
    And amar i have this problem that last year link 2 sd worked perfect for me with ext2 partition but a month later i returned back to internal memory and unrooted my cell.this year when i tried link 2 sd procedure again, it showed problems, my sd card got corrupted and did not work anymore with my charm. Although it worked fine in my galaxy y. this sd card problem prevents me from going through the link 2 sd procedure again. any help on this?

    ReplyDelete