Upgrading the Samsung Captivate to Android 2.2 (Froyo)

  1. Root the phone. This provides superuser/administrator access to the OS. Refer to this xda post for details.
  2. Install ClockworkMod’s ROM Manager. This can be downloaded from the Android Marketplace. It’s been so useful that I went ahead and bought it.
  3. Enable non-market apps on the phone (needed Titanium Backup used in the next step). Refer to this xda post for details.
  4. Install Titanium Backup. This program provides a way to restore your apps once you’ve upgraded to the new OS. I used the free version but it’s so useful that I’ll probably buy it.
  5. In ROM Manager, flash to the most recent version of the restore firmware (it’s the first option in the list of commands) to the internal SD card.
  6. Make a Nandroid backup. To do this start ROM Manager then choose “Recovery Mode”. This will reboot the phone into recovery mode. The phone will boot to a text interface with menus for executing commands. The volume up, volume down and power buttons can be used to navigate up, down and select (respectively). I put the backup on the internal sd card (/sd on a stock Captivate) but it could just as well have been put on the external sd card (/sd/sd on a stock Captivate). Once the backup completes (took about 20mins on my device) and the phone reboots connect it to your PC and copy the update.zip file that was created as a part of the backup. Rename this file something meaningful like “stock_captivate_nandroid_backup.zip” in case you need to revert the OS back to the one that ships with the phone.
  7. Make a Titanium Backup backup. Include system and apps. The backup can be stored on the internal or external sd card. Make a copy of the file on your PC for safekeeping.
  8. Download a ROM. I used Cyanogen’s Cognition v2.3b8 since it says that it’s “intended for the USA Captivate”. The ROM will be a single zip file. Copy the ROM onto the internal SD card of the phone.
  9. Start ROM Manager. Choose “Install ROM from SD Card” then browse to the Cognition ROM copied from your PC onto the internal SD card.
  10. Sit back, relax, brew some tea and take a walk. It’ll be a while (took about half an hour). The phone will boot into recovery mode (I think it’s recovery mode, might be download mode. Either way the whole process occurs in the text-based boot menu).

Once it’s all finish setup your Gmail account first since other programs use this login information. Titanium Backup can be used to restore individual apps (change the filter to “uninstalled” to limit the display to uninstalled apps backed up by Titanium Backup). I’m not sure if this is strictly necessary for purchased apps because the Android Marketplace seems to remember the apps I’ve bought.

Cognition includes AdFree (it’s not uninstallable directly) which seemed to cause Pandora to stop streaming after a while. So I downloaded AdFree from the Android Marketplace, used its “revert” host files option then uninstalled it.

Enjoy Froyo! Cognition’s ROM takes a little getting used to (e.g., the Applications screen scrolls top-down while the home screen scrolls left to right) but seems quite responsive and solid (not having lots of “force close” dialogs). Kudos to designgears of xda for getting us Captivate users access to flash!

Android and the Samsung Captivate

Things I like about this phone and its OS

  1. The screen is absolutely gorgeous. On those rare occasions where power isn’t a concern this screen is so beautiful that I sometimes crank up the brightness just to look at it in all its glory.
  2. The phone is incredibly slim with a stylish design. Even with a rubber protector/glove it easily fits into my pants pocket without looking like I’m smuggling bricks.
  3. The Android marketplace has really taken off. There are a lot of apps. My favorites so far are Google Maps/Nav, Google Listen, Pandora, Last.fm, SlingPlayer and TouchDown.
  4. Contacts. Firstly, linked contacts are awesome. No more having 5 entries for the same person from my yahoo address book, Google address book, Facebook, Twitter and SIM contacts. The native Twitter and Facebook clients pull data from the sites and automatically associates it with the corresponding contact. Google smartly included the ability to manually link contacts. It even tries to speed manual contact linking by displaying a list of close matches when you’re manually linking contacts.
  5. The browser is excellent. I really like how the browser automatically lays out most web pages so that text is displayed in a single column that doesn’t spill over and require horizontal scrolling. It doesn’t work on every website but works on most.
  6. Access to the shell. This comes in handy when debugging network connectivity issues since it’s a full featured linux shell. It’s also a quick way to reboot the phone without having to power down. I like having access to the underlying OS without having to jailbreak the phone (ala iPhone).

Things I don’t like about this phone and its OS

  1. It’s got perhaps the buggiest GPS I’ve ever seen. The current location jumps about like a firecracker in a soda can. It’ll blithely move my car from a bridge across Lake Washington to a few dozen feet out on the water – who knew I was driving a submersible?
  2. Poor integration with the Windows Live suite of services. There’s a Bing client and I think there are ways to integrate with messenger but that’s about it. This may not be a problem for most people but if you’ve got a lot of stuff (pictures mainly) in the Windows Live infrastructure then it can be a pain.
  3. No native sync. So when I buy music on my laptop I have to manually move it onto the phone and vice versa. The phone is so handy that most of my music purchases are on the phone. I’ll have to check out DropBox, or a similar service, to address this.
  4. Android’s music client is blissfully unaware of classical music. I don’t listen to a lot of classical music but while cruising Amazon’s MP3 store there was a special on “99 essential pieces of classical music” that I couldn’t resist. Unfortunately it shows up in the music client as 99 separate albums!
  5. The native exchange integration, at least as of Android 2.1, is minimal. No global address search. No sender photos. No notes. Fortunately TouchDown shores this up with a stellar exchange client.