Second-hand Andoid phones.
Although this is wildly off topic I just wanted to relate my recent experience buying a second-hand android handset.
First a bit of history; my first experience with a smart-phone was with an old WinMo device. I liked the idea of having a computer I could fit my pocket but as a phone it was completely impractical. Fast forward a few years and my friends all had androids and iphones. I liked what I saw and I wanted to get in on the action.
Unfortunately though, I know what I'm like. Wandering around with the better part of half a grand in cash inside my wallet is a very unnerving experience for me. I really couldn't see how going around with an equally valuable smart-phone in my pocket would be any more pleasant.
With this in mind I started my search knowing that I wanted a smart-phone for a feature-phone price (about £75 or less). I'd read about the San Francisco but although it has a good screen it seemed to make too many compromises for £100 plus a £10 topup. This set me searching for a second hand device on ebay.
I eventually won a HTC Hero for £51 after rather annoyingly missing out on a HTC Legend for £60 because of a few last minute bids. I also bought a replacement battery for just under a tenner (this is a nearly 3 year old phone after all). The phone has scratches on the corners of case but the screen appears to have had a screen protector on it and is scratch free. The phone itself works perfectly.
As soon as I got my hands on it I wiped it and flashed the latest (gingerbread based) Cyanogen rom. Cue disappointment. The rom worked but the Hero was just too underpowered for it. The stuttering of the UI could be mostly ignored when browsing the web or writing text messages but waiting 4 or 5 seconds for the 'answer' button to load when receiving a call was just infuriating.
After reading through the GSM Hero section of the XDA Developers' forum I discovered a rom called Heroine++ (based on HTC's stock 2.1 Hero rom) which not only promised greater speed than gingerbread based roms but also the Sense UI (with extras such as FriendStream ripped from the Legend rom). After flashing my phone's UI ran perfectly smoothly but the fire was in me and I was determined to squeeze even more performance from my newest purchase.
Much to my amazement, overclocking an android handset is not only possible, it's easy. I downloaded a free app from the market, granted it SU rights, adjusted the clockspeed slider and my little old Hero had gone from a stock 528mhz to 691mhz. What's even better is that because the app lets you use a custom power management profile, which is more efficient than the one that comes with stock android, there's no appreciable difference on battery life in day to day use.
The only downsides to the phone so far are:
- It has no flash on the camera (unlike the Legend and later phones).
- It only supports flash-lite which means you can stream stuff on youtube but not the iplayer (because of DRM I think).
- Whilst it'll play any resolution video off of the SD card it really needs to be transcoded down to the native resolution to play smoothly.
- It will play simple games (I'm currently addicted to Bubble Shoot and FF6 via a snes emulator) but games containing physics engines like Angry Birds are too choppy to enjoy because (again unlike the Legend, cursed ebayers) it has no dedicated graphics core.
All in all the second hand market is certainly worth checking out. As always though, caveat emptor.