I was very excited last month to spend some time with my Neo FreeRunner last month. I purchased the US (850/1800/1900) version. This is the first Open Handset I have played with. According to Open Handset theory, you buy your phone and then choose your carrier. Also applications that run on the device do not have to come from the carrier. I can see a whole vendor community springing up for real estate. Yep, we love our mobility!
Of course, the first thing I did was pop my T-Mobile SIM card into the phone to see just how open the Freerunner was. To my delight, I was able to make a call to a co-worker. I wonder if the folks I call when testing things ever get bothered? Next was to receive a call. This I did from from land line (preserving the patience of my brethren). I can tell you that the ringtone of the FreeRunner is very “retro”, sounding like a landline in the UK.
The next order of business was to look at the applications. The preloaded applications are based on the QTopia platform. Phone … check. Contacts … check. Browser … check. Good. Now to hook up my various e-mail accounts. Hey, not e-mail client (grrrrrr). An e-mail client is a Google Summer of Code project, but the fact that it is missing keeps me from trying to use the phone daily.
Scanning the wiki, I decided to try updating the applications. Since the applications are open source, this should not be a problem right? Hey correct! I was able to upgrade to the latest stable versions that are updated daily. Curiousity got the better of me, so I decided to venture into the “bleeding edge” and update the unit with untested, development quality versions. Bad move, I made my new phone into a high-tech brick. It would not boot.
I did not need a new toy for the shelf so I decided to see if I could resurrect the FreeRunner. In my haste to play, I bypassed all of the reading material (bad move, I know). It turns out that the device can boot from a microSD chip (supplied). All I had to do was follow the directions. This took me several attempts due to office interruptions, but it did work.
After booting with the new image, I was confident that my phone was alive. The next order of business was to “flash” the phone with the factory defaults. Through the USB connector, you can access the bootloader, making flashing pretty simple. Overall, I would recommend not “bricking” you phone though.
I have now updated the phone to the OM stack and will give you a progress report soon!