I was not the greatest expert on Android phones when I purchased the X2, and will not claim to be that now. When I bought it, I had been using a Sanyo Zio for quite some time, but decided to switch when I read that the X2 boasted the uber-fast Nvidia Tegra 2 chip.
Eventually, after many Froyo nightmares and force-closes, I realized that specs don’t mean everything. The software was nowhere near what it needed to be to make the phone a great device. However, a bit of trolling through XDA’s forums presented to me that light at the end of the tunnel. And that light was the Eclipse ROM.
A Long Wait
Motorola Droid X2
The worst thing about the X2 was the wait for a software update. After months on Froyo, I started subscribing to every forum that had any evidence of the day we’d be graced with Gingerbread. I knew this phone could do better. It had to, right? After all the frustration and expectations of the X2, I decided to get a leg up on the updates. I signed up for soak testing.
Finally, while I was away on business, I received notice that testing was about to begin. The next day, while working in Austin, Texas, I got the most surreal of signs, an update! Finishing up my work, I darted back to the hotel room, plugged in my phone, paid the outrageous cost for hotel WiFi, and began the update. Gingerbread 2.3.3, here we come!
Well, to be honest, Gingerbread was exciting for the rest of that trip. The battery life had improved a bit, it seemed to be a little zippier in scrolling, and most of my apps saw a decent improvement in load times. Unfortunately, I began observing some new issues. My keyboard would deteriorate every few weeks and would force-close every time I tried to text. I even began receiving duplicate texts, sometimes seven or eight in a row.
I started losing hope in the Droid X2 altogether. After all that time waiting, there were no tremendous improvements. Just new and seemingly creative errors to make this phone a pain. I was tempted to call back the Zio. Though it was slower, didn’t have half the features, and was tiny, it worked the way it was intended.
In a final effort to make this beast of a phone behave nicely, I turned to the development community at XDA-developers.com.
In Their Hands
I will not pretend to be a seasoned developer. Honestly, those guys are way smarter than me. I am, however, a connoisseur of device improvements. Whatever can help me get more mileage out of my electronics, I will try. That is where ROMs come in. With a ROM, one can find himself overclocking his phone, partitioning SD cards for faster read speeds, and customizing all elements of User Interface and performance.
I knew that with a bit of time (and an official SBF release by Motorola), my X2 would see the love and attention it needed to become the phone it was born to be. As soon as the SBF (or Single Binary File for the technically minded) hit the airwaves, X2 developers started tearing apart the software.
One of the early pioneers of the Motorola Droid X2 ROMs was Nitroglycerin33. He was the father of the Eclipse ROM, the ROM I am running to this day.
Finally, a Bright Side
I first flashed the Eclipse ROM when it was still very much in beta. At version 0.5, there were some bugs – but far fewer than stock Gingerbread 2.3.3. I found it amazing what a dedicated developer could do where Motorola seemed unable. Even still, it needed some work, so when Nitro released v0.6, I jumped on it to take advantage of a very active development and testing community.
Amazingly, v0.5 and v0.6 were leagues apart. I took the leap to v0.7 and finally v0.8 before I got ROM-flash exhaustion. I figured I would bypass v0.9 and wait for the long anticipated 1.0. After all, 1.0 typically meant it was out of beta, right? Now following @Nitroglycerin33 on Twitter, I kept up with daily updates, and when the day came to release 1.0, I was among the first to grab it. Now to try out some 2.3.4 love.
X2 Antutu Benchmark
Finally, my X2 was humming right along. I was getting Antutu benchmarks that outpaced the Motorola Xoom. My duplicate texts seemed to become a thing of the past. I could push this device to the edge and it still kept ticking. Battery life? Good. Benchmarks? Great. Overall experience? Excellent.
Ironically, the next day after I flashed to v1.0 of Eclipse, he released a 1.1 patch. It really made me appreciate the organic nature of the Android development community. As a man who served in the Marines, I appreciated the mantra, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.”
I Am Not Responsible If…
I am not responsible if this ROM blows up your house, slaps your children, gives you a lazy eye, etc… If you’ve used ROMs before, you’re used to the perverse and often humorous disclaimers. I am surprised by just how bizarre they can be but seriously, you really are taking a chance every time you jump into Clockwork Mod and flash a new ROM.
That risk is increased by the fact that the X2 still has a locked bootloader. If you’re waiting for that bootloader to be unlocked, fine, but you may be waiting for a long while.
For me, the risk proved to be worth it. I have flashed several versions of Eclipse with this phone and have lived to tell about it. However, if you’re no expert or don’t want to risk bricking your phone, don’t do it. I will be writing a step-by-step how-to on getting your X2 to the newest version of Eclipse for my next piece. I will be writing as I walk through every step of the process.
I will begin from stock Gingerbread 2.3.4, address rooting with a popular one-click method, adding recovery, and go through the entire process. I will be walking through every moment as if it were my first. Just remember… I am not responsible if this ROM runs away with your wife to Tahiti.