When a Software Update Actually Downgraded Your Smartphone

I had successfully resisted the temptation. I had thought “It was too early to go for it; also, it was not official, so it could harm the whole setup.” It was the Odin ‘unofficial’ 2.2 update that was available for my Samsung Galaxy 3 a.k.a I5801 a.k.a I5800. So, days, weeks, and months had passed by, and I had successfully resisted my temptation.

One fine morning, Kies, Samsung’s tool to manage the phone, told me that an update was available. That’s it. I just yielded. I ignored the usual Windows wisdom that the device (my phone, that is) could perform faster if it was connected to a USB2.0 slot. I have no 2.o slot in my computer, but have successfully connected to Kies in the past, so it would be no different this time. Or, so I thought.

Kies slowly but successfully downloaded the firmware, but when it reached the 85% mark and started decrypting, Windows couldn’t suppress its anger and made it clear that “the USB device has malfunctioned”. A chill went down my spine. Had I just made a brick out of my phone? The phone was showing the message “Downloading…don’t disconnect the device,” but the mighty Windows didn’t recognize the USB port. Kies, for its part, told me that it could not upgrade my phone and I had to initiate an emergency recovery. I followed the instructions to a T, but Windows had already made the decision: I would not be allowed to use the below-par USB port. I shut down my phone and restarted it. It took a few minutes to show any sign of life, but finally displayed the home screen. The download could not start, so my phone came out unharmed.

In the following weeks, I went through all the reviews. A lot of people had experienced the problem, but there were no solutions. Most people yelled at Samsung for making them wait for long but finally providing them with a buggy update. Most of them reverted (or wanted to revert) to 2.1. I thought “OK! I will stick with 2.1 for the rest of my phone’s life or until Samsung provides a propah update, whichever happens early”.

But, destiny made it sure that I had to suffer the update. The day when a friend handed me his laptop to install Windows Security Essentials, I couldn’t resist for the second time. The laptop had a lot of USB ports, all 2.0. So, went I again through the vicious cycle. Installed Kies and followed the instructions. In no time, the firmware update was over. “What? Have I completed the update process? Am I looking at a Froyo phone? Is this real?” I pinched myself hard. A quick check of the settings confirmed that my phone had indeed been updated to 2.2.

So, you have been waiting for the climax, right? Here it goes…

Proximity sensor only works if you trick the phone. I started the phone and made a call to my wife. Once the call was over, the phone didn’t show any display, so I pressed the menu button. The call was still continuing, which meant the proximity sensor didn’t work. I made a few more calls with the same result. In desperation, I switched off the phone, restarted it, and made another call. Now, the proximity sensor worked. “So, it is only an aberration,” I sighed in relief. But after sometime, the sensor stopped working again without any reason. Now I know the trick: If I go through the switch-off-switch-on rut, the sensor will work for sometime till it thinks it has had enough for the day.

Update: The proximity sensor works now. Here’s the new trick: Take out the battery and SIM card (I don’t know why I took out the SIM card :)), wait for a few seconds, and insert them again. Now, while making or receiving calls, keep the phone at a good distance away from you (maybe, one foot) . Voila, the sensor works.

Positive: 0 Negative: 1

There are no live wallpapers. One of the reasons for going for this update was to enjoy the live wallpapers (though they would suck the juice out of the battery), but I couldn’t see them listed. I am sure the hardware may not be the reason. If Galaxy 5 can be provided with this feature, why not Galaxy 3?

Positive: 0 Negative: 2

The volume control button doesn’t have the necessary credentials to shut up your phone when needed. You can’t simply press the volume control button repeatedly, as you usually do, to switch from “reducing the volume” to Vibrate mode to Silent mode. The button now only has the power to reduce the volume and, if you insist, put the phone in Vibrate mode.

Positive: 0 Negative: 3

Swype has vanished into thin air. I admit that I am not the type of person who shoots 100 SMS messages in a day. But I love Swype. It makes sending messages a joy. But with this update, Swype is gone.

Positive: 0 Negative: 4

I could connect to the Internet at my own will. Though there are apndroids available in the Market, I couldn’t disconnect successfully from the ‘Net, so I have had the privilege of 24X7 connectivity. I tried all the tricks. I even created an APN without providing any connection information, but still my BSNL SIM card somehow connected me to the 3G network. (3G doesn’t work when I am at home, but that’s another story.) After this update, I can “clear” a checkbox that shuts down the Net connection. Whoa!

Positive: 1 Negative: 4

In the end, the update proved to be a bane for the people living in the 3rd planet of the Samsung Galaxy. Now, it’s up to Samsung to save its netizens.

P.S. In hindsight, I think I should have told my friend to download Microsoft Security Essentials from Microsoft’s website himself.


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