How I modded my aging smartphone into a proper ereading platform
August 1, 2014 | 10:20 am
Following Juli Monroe’s illuminating article on how she installed Cyanogen Mod 11 on her Nook HD, I thought I’d share how I pulled off a similar trick on my aging ZTE Skate, an older model Chinese-manufactured phone which, although robust and built with an attractive 4.5″ screen, was fast being left in the dust by the ever more bloated ereaders and other apps of the latest Android generation. And in the case of the Skate, the problem was made worse by the machine’s niggardly internal memory of 512 MB – only some 200MB of which was available for apps.
To squeeze some more internal memory (and useful life) out of the phone, I first, of course, rooted it with the aid of ClockWork Mod, and installed a variant of Cyanogen Mod 10 called Paranoid Jelly, replacing the original Android OS, v2.3 (Gingerbread) with a version of Android Jelly Bean. Then I used a TPT template posted by the modder Amphoras to repartition the machine’s internal memory and reduce the generous cache allocation from 35MB to just 2MB, requiring a reinstall of Paranoid Jelly. The final result was a machine with 200MB system memory, 2MB cache, and still only 238MB for data.
I then used a step-by-step guide by Prashant Sharma to increasing the internal memory on a ZTE Skate. With this, I reformatted the phone’s SD card to create a partition for installing and running downloaded apps. Afterwards, I downloaded the app Link2SD, which helps users to move apps to the SD card and generally reduce their memory footprint on the phone. Following the rest of Prashant Sharma’s guide on how to use Link2SD, I was able to move bulky apps (like Amazon’s Kindle client) and even system apps like Google Play Services onto the SD card, where they ran more or less as normal.
The result? I have a phone that can handle the latest update to the Kindle app without the endless infuriating “insufficient memory” warning I used to get on the unmodded phone when trying to install or upgrade large apps. I also am even able to convert and move my system apps to the SD card with Link2SD, or even delete unwanted ones entirely. And instead of carrying around my Kindle reader, I’ve gone back to reading books on my phone again.
There are some bugs. The machine crashes periodically, and if I had known just how efficient Link2SD is in allowing extra memory add-on, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to repartition the phone and push its cache size so far down. But overall, I’m very satisfied with the result.
Of course, I could have bought myself a newer, smarter phone and saved myself all the trouble. But what self-respecting Scot likes to spend money needlessly? And where would I get that satisfaction of doing it yourself? Lame, maybe, but an added pleasure for my ebook reading …