Liberating your Smartphone

By on January 19, 2011
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With Smartphones becoming more like computers, why restrict them to one OS.

Smartphones are wonderful devices, but more than that, is the community that tries to extract that extra bit of functionality from them that many manufacturers don’t allow us. For example, Jailbreaking the iPhone allows me to run SBS and LockInfo, two great tools that Apple won’t allow me. Similarly rooting my Android handset lets me take screenshots from the device or enable Arabic on a non-Arabic phone.

But thats not what I want to talk about today. My subject for today is the device that HTC released as HD2 but one that is lovingly called Leo in the xda-developers community. Leo was released over a year back but its specs can still put many Smartphones released last week to shame. It has a 4.3″ WVGA LCD screen, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 512MB or 1024MB flash ROM and all the other usual trimmings of a modern day high-end Smartphone. Since its over a year old, you can probably pick one up from the second hand market real cheap. I managed to get mine from dubizzle for just a 1000 Dirhams (US$270). This was a T-Mobile US version which has 1024MB ROM and comes with a 16GB MicroSD card. There were some at souq.com as well for around 1300 Dirhams. That little money for that kind of hardware is really a steel and I encourage any enthusiast to pick one up.

So you might ask why I picked up a unit that comes equipped with the aging Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system. Well, thanks to a bunch of wonderful guys at xda-developers.com, the Leo has become more of a computer than a mobile phone allowing you to run many different operating systems on it and not just the one installed by HTC. Other that Windows Mobile 6.5, you can easily run v2.3 Gingerbread of Android as well as Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 7 OS. With a little more time and effort, the Leo can also run MeeGo and Ubuntu. That is the reason I picked up the HTC HD2.

If you know what you are doing, installing these Operating Systems is not that hard. I bought the phone with Windows Mobile 6.5 pre-installed but I really wanted to test Windows Phone 7 so that is exactly what I did. The whole process took about an hour and my Leo is now sporting Microsoft’s latest mobile OS. Obviously, there are few things that are not yet working such as the Marketplace but overall the unit is running beautifully. In fact, I’m really liking Windows Phone 7 and thinking of buying an official device. I wouldn’t have done that had it not been for Leo and the xda-developers community showing me the way.


About

Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of tbreak.com and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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