As I sit here waiting for my OnePlus One to hopefully boot up properly for the first time in over 24 hours I thought it would be best to share some new-found wisdom with you, the reader. Guess what I learnt in the last 24 hours? Hacking your phone can be a risky undertaking. Hands up here who has bricked a device? Unrecoverable. Good for nothing but a doorstep.
Those of us who routinely hack or tweak every single device they own will have seen disclaimers like this everywhere. This particular one is the standard CyanogenMod disclaimer so many may know it but how many actually pay attention to it? How many stop and think twice before flashing a new rom, a new recovery or for the more adventurous a new bootloader or radio? Until something goes wrong though most people are happy to just go along with the ride.
In case you have been avoiding the biggest and best Australian Android site around for the last few weeks you will know that I scored myself a OnePlus One. Rare as hens teeth and not easily replaced. So of course what do I do? Hack it as soon as I could (when I’d finished reviewing it). Did I read the disclaimers? No but I would not have paid them much attention anyway. I mean, why would I? There are a lot smarter people than me out there coming up with these ROMS, recoveries, apps etc and surely they have tested them all and found all the critical bugs in the software. Sure a friend once flashed a new radio as soon as it came out to his HTC Magic and ended up bricking it. That is something I certainly wouldn’t be doing so I’d be ok right? (He is now permanently rocking an iPhone, no doubt scarred by the event)
Not so much. Well, kind of. I had skipped over the posts in the recovery threads so I didn’t notice that quite a few people are having problems with their chosen custom recovery recognising their partitions on the phone and thus not booting. Surely the fact that all downloads were still up meant that they were ok to use? I’m an experienced hacker, I’ll be fine. Or so I thought. I should have read the posts closer. At 1am the following morning, and the World Cup final only a few hours away I was wishing I’d read those posts much closer. By half past one I’d realised that yes there were issues with the hacking of the OnePlus One, yes the skills I have learnt with regards to adb and fastboot had proved themselves invaluable yet again, yes I was lucky to have a fully functioning device yet again and finally, yes the disclaimers are there for a reason.
I’m not going to go into what happened because at this stage still no one knows what caused the problem and although there was an attempt at a fix in the form of an updated recovery the problem is still there. Some say it may be because of the two different versions of the international OnePlus One (16GB and 64GB) and how CyanogenMod handle them, others have no idea at all. It’s for people much smarter than me to find out the issue. I’m just here to test any fixes. So what did I do wrong?
My OnePlus One finally booted with the new “fixed” recovery. It took about 4 reboots before the phone found all the correct partitions. Of course after doing a few tweaks etc you need to reboot for them to apply, so like a sucker I am once again sitting here waiting for it to reboot. Sometimes I ask myself why I do it.
What I did wrong was to try something that was known to have bugs, albeit intermittent. The OnePlus One is not a widely circulated device at this stage so anything that is released for it will most likely not have been tested extensively. But all devices have to start somewhere don’t they? Someone needs to do the testing. This is what I learnt. All hacks to your phone are not tested by the manufacturer. Actually, most likely none of them are. Your phone is not designed to have these things done to it. Of course that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t nor couldn’t be done. That’s part of the fun for me. Testing exactly what my device is capable of. I’ve learnt that unless you know your way around using commands in a terminal to flash or fix your device you should not be flashing any hacks or tweaks to your device. Toolkits are not what I’d call using commands.
For my entire time here at Ausdroid I have espousing the destructive nature of all-in-one toolkits, especially for newcomers. It’s the easy way out and it makes it easy to unlock a bootloader or flash a recovery but they do very little to help you if something should go wrong. They do not teach you the commands that are going on. They are not able to help you if you have issues. Before doing anything to the stock ROM on your phone I would suggest you learn adb and fastboot inside and out. There are enough guides around- we have a few here on Ausdroid.
I did not perform a nandroid backup (in recovery) before wiping my device so there is no easy way to go back to how it was. I was only flashing a new ROM, how dangerous could it be? Well, I learnt the hard way. A five minute backup would have saved a lot of time for myself.
So to sum it up this is what I’ve learnt:
- If you have issues Google them. Chances are someone else has had the issue before.
- Learn all about your device and the common issues before doing anything to it.
- Learn how to fix your phone should you have issues with it. Is there a way to restore it to a factory ROM? Do you need any special software to flash it?
- ALWAYS backup your data before performing any and every modification to the software of your phone.
- You should not hack a device that you cannot afford to lose nor unable to replace.
- You should always look before you leap. Know the risks before undertaking the process and make sure you can live with the worst possible case scenario.
I’ve sat here waiting for my OnePlus One to boot up for a long time. Worst case I can fastboot over the stock ROM from theCyanogen Inc website and thus restore it, although I will lose all data on my device. Yes I can get into recovery and adb backup everything to my Chromebook if required so no great issue but thanks for caring.
After all this, there is a happy ending. I am pleased to report that it finally booted after many stressful minutes, just before I was to pass this onto the editors. Phew. Heed my warning readers.