This is part 3 of the Customizing Your Smart Phone series (part 1, part 2). This time we will look at the most important part of customizing your phone – installing a new software for the radio in your smart phone. If you look at the specs of any phone, you will see a bunch of frequencies that phone is capable of operating on. The most universal is considered a GSM quad-band that consists of four bands of GSM/GPRS/EDGE frequencies: 850, 900, 1800 and 1900MHz. Whenever you hear a 3G moniker, or lesser known in Northern America UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA bands they usually refer to 800/850/1900/2100 devices operating in UMTS frequency bands (data interchange bands, as opposed to voice interchange). While these numbers mean little to an unprepared mind, it’s important to understand that a connection possibility and quality of the call directly relate to which bands are supported by device and cellular service provider.
What the radio (and it’s software part) does is basically take care of how well your cell phone radio and your GPS behave when doing directly what they supposed to do. Interesting enough, certain versions of radio software behave better in certain markets, so you might want to go through a little testing. Pack an extra phone (don’t forget to charge it too) in case your updated radio version really suck. I spent about an hour per each version of radio and I only tested last three, so you shouldn’t do any worse than that.
If you have a HardSPL installed, then flashing the radio (i.e. installing a new or updated software package for your radio) should present any surprises. There’s a belief, although with little, if any, backing to it, that between radio updates it is a good idea to flash a stock radio (i.e. one that came from either original equipment manufacturer or cell phone company). I can hardly believe it’s true, but you’re welcome to acquire your own experience. Do your homework and follow the instructions to the letter, as missing the steps that might look small or insignificant may result in bricked phone or a failed flash.
There’s not much to the process of flashing of a new radio except for following the instructions. Make note which exact version did you test and what were the results. Pick a few spots where you know for sure the reception was good, decent and bad and test there thoroughly. Number of bars, no matter how heavily promoted by AT&T’s commercials, doesn’t mean anything – make calls longer then 3 minutes, note the call quality during the call. Take note on a battery drain as different versions of radio may consume power differently and the last version does not necesserily means the best. Remember, that you are testing same hardware in the same locations and the only thing different is your phone radio’s software. Pick the one that works best for you and move on.