Every once in a while a piece of technology sets it’s foot from inception to reality, that is perceived ahead of its time. It features tech which makes people awe in wonder. People dream of owning such a piece of technology that catapults them into the future.
One such device was my Optimus One P500 (O1 in short), an Android device manufactured by LG which featured specs which were uncommon at its price point. Granted it was not supposed to “take you to the future”, but it was as close as you get if you were under a budget. The device had 512 MB of Random Access Memory, which none of the branded manufactures at the time managed to pull it of in a sub 10k phone. Quickly it became the most loved gadget by amass and also among the developers at XDA, a place where developers collaborated for the greater good.
O1 came with Froyo (Android ver 2.2) when it was launched in October 2010. With the curves and specs it had it looked a neat little Android gadget to admire. It was after 9 months of the launch that I came to know about O1, took me one month time to research, write a blog about it and to finalize that my next smartphone can only be “the One”. After that it still took me 2 months to save money from teaching programming classes to school students, apart from doing 9-5 regular job. But it was a good phone and a gadget worth the hard work to own.
I remember when the delivery boy from “LetsBuy.com” came to my home and handed me over the phone while I was fiddling with my wallet to make it lighter. My dad was surprised by the way I handed hard cash to some stranger who just arrived at the doorstep. That was my first experience in online shopping but I trusted it. And it payed off well over the years.
As I unpacked my first Android phone, a rush of excitement was flowing through my body. I could hardly control my mental level which were overloaded from thinking about all the possibilities that the little gadget lay upon me. The phone also came with a good Leather pouch with “Google” label on it, a set of headphones and a charger with a long one meter detachable USB cable. I even created a video of the unpacking of O1. But partly due to the fact that I was doing that for the first time and partly because I was so choking up in excitement, the video came out pretty bad. I never uploaded it on Youtube. But now that I am sharing my experience I am prepared for a little embarrassment. Below is the video for your pleasure (along with soft coded subtitles). Apologies in advance for the out of focus video feed and terrible audio, but it does document how fluid the UI was when the O1 was running Froyo, and a thing which I solely started to miss when I upgraded it to advance versions. But I am getting ahead of time.
My experience of using O1 stretches to a long 3 years. Here’s what happened in excruciating detail.
The stock Android “Froyo” was very fast and responsive. And I could have upgraded to “Gingerbread” easily. Yet their was something about being stock that didn’t appeal to me. Getting on the O1 bandwagon later than most gave me an advantage of the cumulative experiences of various forum members who went through trial and error while experimenting on their devices. So I had plethora of options to choose from Custom ROMs, Kernels, Basebands and Recoveries. But using any of those customization meant I first had to root the device. Rooting the device for the uninitiated, means taking full administrative rights. I wholeheartedly thank @Sam from digit forum in this regard since he was the one who saved me from drowning myself in the ocean of perplexity that came along with experimenting. Even when you have the plethora of experience from other members, when it comes to messing with your own device nothing can prepare you from the nerve wrecking moments that comes with them.
The phone was among the best in hardware but was filled with bloatware apps. Apps such as “Bollywoodji” were not only unnecessary but also made the phone a bit slow. So one fine day I decided that I must root my phone.
It was the start of new year, 2012. After a lot of research on XDA forums and (Think)digit forum I sat down to unleash true powers of my phone. I took a deep breath and installed an app which was supposed to root the device. Something was not right, and the process was taking too much time. I started to become nervous and thought I might not survive if anything happened to the phone. It was then when I saw sam online on Facebook. He talked me through the process. He cracked jokes to help me ease by eagerness to finish the process of rooting and installing custom ROM over the next several days.
Following in the spoiler are some of my conversations with him that I am glad to share today. It feels amazing to look back now and read them again:
13/01/2012 00:01 —
Vyom: I dont understand… if Android is open source, why we have to take so much pains!
Sam: so what do you get by open source? does it mean less pain? or it means free to use & brick your mobile?
Vyom: From open source, I mean, why we have to take risks.. why can’t be there full proof method, since every code is so clear… why patches are needed… such as gingerbreak..
to root.. why can’t their be inbuilt mechanism to allow rooting…
Sam: well open source mean free to use & free to share. but safe or not. its something else. gingerbreak? ask LG.
Vyom: so even if Android is open source, LG don’t want people to take full utilization of their handsets? isnt it?
Sam: actually if you are given root on a stock mobile, most will get access to system files, fiddle with it & then brick, crash, etc
yup. kind of like that.
04/02/2012 18:15 —
Sam: when optimus one started coming with Android 2.2.1 or 2.2.2, many ppls at XDA downgraded android. more than half of them bricked mobile.
Sam: downgraded to Android 2.2.0 as it was the only rootable android. i half bricked my mobile but successfully flashed second time. a big relief that everything went fine.
i was literally shaking when i clicked proceed button. even if PC shuts off for some reason, mobile will be dead
then I didn’t have UPS in my PC
You are a gambler my friend!
Vyom: Hi… Help me! Stuck at Oxygen logo! 🙁
Sam: oops. so ur mobile is bricked?
Vyom: NOOO. its not bricked!
Sam: lol i know. just kidding
Vyom: see what happened.. It took just 2 min.. to flash
Sam: ok…. so tell me what u have done till now. step by step. everything.
05/02/2012 17:14 —
Vyom: MAN! I got scared a little… when I saw that even after removing battery… Oxygen logo was still there!
Vyom: Then I realized, that it (my phone) was connected to USB! 😛
Vyom: My phone RUNS W/O battery TOO!!! Just like LAPTOPS!
Sam: i’ll try that too with my mobile
mobile runs on electricity, not battery. lol
Anyone seen new Android (Lollipop) adverts where they advertise Android as AND-riod? Well look who coined this term first:
05/02/2012 17:26 —
Vyom: Btw.. Arc retaines the ANDROID logo…
Sam: haven’t used arc yet
AND DROID logo sounds better
Phone was the same. Hardware was the same. And it was not supposed to run “ICS”. But it was running it quite fluidly. A generation passed and then came “Jellybean”. We thought we might not be able to enjoy the advantages of “Project Butter”. But we were simply wrong. Due to efforts of developers at XDA we got a brand new ROM that was based on Jellybean. Our happiness knew no bound back then.
In the spring of 2014, “Kitkat” arrived. I remember how I started to eat Kitkat chocolates since I thought we can’t have the flavor of Kitkat on our legendary P500. But destiny had something else in mind. Mukulsoni, a teenage developer had done the seemingly impossible thing. He ported Kitkat on our age old but smartest smartphone. Our devices had unofficially started to take advantage of “Project Svelte”! We were on ninth cloud.
Kudos to developers like Mukulsoni and hephappy and lupohirp and franciscofranco and fserve and more! Thanks to them we could enjoy things never in our life we had imagined. In total Optimus One saw five generations of Android development (and still counting).
But the 4 year old hardware can only bear so much. ROM’s which were ported by extremely talented developers worked flawlessly. But the app industry doesn’t have a generous bunch of people. Apps get bigger as time progresses. Be it feature addition or bug fixing, an app never stops to grow. Demands of requirement for playing games also kept on increasing. Due to this our beloved Optimus One had more and more bloated apps to run. But in the limited internal memory which it had it was becoming increasingly difficult to house. So as time went by we started to feel that the age of Optimus Prime is nearing its end. It was not due to any shortcomings of the device itself, but to the fact that app industry had grew up to a point that even basic applications needed a plethora of space to install.
The start of year 2014 marked a turning point for Android devices. Motorola’s Moto G with its budget friendly but feature rich phone shook the mobile market for good. Devices with better specs and designs under 10k stared to emerge. Even companies never heard of before like Oppo, Gionee and Xiaomi started to bring out economical devices. Hence many of the people who originally bought P500 started to upgrade. Almost everyone upgraded to devices with higher specs and more features. In our very own forum, sam moved onto Moto G 2nd generation.
But there are people who are still using O1 and some who still want to use it for coming years. On the digit forum for example, Kaz wants to upgrade to Mi4 when it arrives but happy17292 still wish to use his O1 for next 2-3 years. I for one decided to move onto Moto X, not because O1 wasn’t a good phone, but because app industry needs people to upgrade their phone so that they can push more feature rich apps and games.
Whatever phone we use in future, one thing is for sure, I can never forget the importance that it had in my life. The immersion it gave to me. I would never forget the thrill of trying out new ROM’s and the risk that came along with it. LG’s P500 was my first smartphone and it gave me a chance to see how software can have no boundaries. The device also brought many people together, from digit forum members to developers at XDA, we came together to explore new horizons and uncharted territories. No matter if LG’s P500 was your first smartphone or second, one thing is for sure, we can never forget the things it taught us.
On a personal note, even after I have bought Moto X, the P500 won’t just fade away from my memory any time soon, and will still be a secondary phone to which I can rely on. But when it comes to daily driver now, I say my adios to the almighty legend. And hope the best for many other people who still would be using the Optimus One, a gadget one of its kind!
Here are some of my initial posts on digit forum. Reading myself back when I first got my O1 makes me feel nostalgic!