how to hope this newbie easy his Samsung galaxy/android OS pain?
October 10, 2011 7:03 AM   Subscribe

How do get the most out of my new Samsung galaxy S2 (or android generally speaking) without it getting the most out of me?

I just upgraded from a seven-year-old Nokia brick to the Samsung galaxy S2, thinking it might improve my productivity with the voice dictation but up till now I only have several frustrations. (not wanting to go to Apple and doing this right before the Siri announcement-- although I have my doubts about it working here anyway-- off topic which is ruling out taking it back and going to the Apple) I've spent about 10 hours or so on it so far before coming here.

I found a ton of websites online about all things android. But what I want to know is there a quick guide out there for someone who's a complete newbie to android? It's so customizable and there's no limit, but I can't find a good starting point. Intimidating.

Since I bought in China it was loaded with lots of Chinese crap where and doesn't include the swipe input method. (Really pissed off about this!!) The Samsung store only loads in Chinese, with no settings to change it.

I have no way of telling whether or not the original load of the phone came with useful Samsung apps, or quick start guide/tour of some kind. I can't find any links to it from the Samsung Phone's page. (hell they don't make it find easy to find any support including the manual-- finally found it) Is it worth taking it back to have it installed with the original configuration as it would've been sold? what am I missing in that configuration?

Any idea why my Astrill VPN service wouldn't work on it, when instructions are set up to a "t". Any app to manage a VPN connection you would recommend? (Needed to access the now blocked android market in China, and maybe get out of some stupid geo-targeting)

What's the <>>> way to sync it with my computer and backup the data? (Going to use everdroid for the contacts)

is there a default software like Sony Ericsson or pc suite that I can use to control the phone from the the computer and maybe accomplish #4 above)?

Quite a few different questions. If anyone can shed some light it would be much appreciated. I prefer simplicity over advanced options at this point. Obviously, free apps would be preferred. Thanks!
posted by chinabound to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
2. You could try re-installing the google apps from here.

3. vpns should work fine. What type do you have?

4. Don't. Sync with Google instead. If you *really* want to sync with a desktop, use Kies.

5. Use Kies air. You can then enable wireless and access the phone's data (call info, contacts, media, etc.)
posted by devnull at 7:12 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: sorry in #four it should be "easiest" with emphasis. I don't know I didn't show up

I don't know how to load a ROM

I use astrill VPN
posted by chinabound at 7:33 AM on October 10, 2011

Okay. So..

2. You don't need to load a rom, it's an apk (package). You just install it. *I would avoid this until you have more experience.*

3. Astrill supports a Layer2 VPN, which Android natively supports. Go to Settings> Wireless & Network> VPN Settings and have a look around. You might need to get Astrill to set something up on their side. Ask them about it.

4. Syncing your email and contacts with Google is the easiest.
posted by devnull at 7:38 AM on October 10, 2011

3. Oops you linked to the Astrill docs. If it isn't working, send them an e-mail.
posted by devnull at 7:39 AM on October 10, 2011

Best answer: You want the Complete Android Guide from the guys at Lifehacker.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:35 AM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

Hi Chinabound

I too recently made the smartphone jump to this particular phone and have spent large amounts of time fiddling with it. My main source of information is a site called, so I went there to see if anyone had shared your difficulties.

Sure enough, there's a thread there that suggest that some of the information above is not much good to you. Specifically, the Chinese s2 does not synch with google, can't have european standard roms (even 'stock' - official Samsung - roms) flashed to it, and cannot access the android market (the samsung apps app is a cut down version thereof).

However, by the looks of that thread, there's a homebrewed work-around which would involve rooting and flashing a different rom to get most of what s2 owners consider standard, but for many of your issues it would seem the chinese s2 is hamstrung.

NB: I don't read chinese or profess any actual knowledge of how samsung works, I'm just passing on a resource that might answer some questions. Happy to help with any questions you might have about how to get the work-around running if you decide to go that route.
posted by Sparx at 10:58 AM on October 10, 2011

As a newcomer myself to the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Android in general, I was excited by blue_beetle's link to the Complete Android Guide. Note that the page in that link prominently features an e-book you can buy in a variety of formats for $9. Even better (and not so evident from that page) - after a little surfing around, I discovered you can get the same info as an android app for $0.99, or read it on the web for free.

I'm really looking forward to reading this! Thanks, blue_beetle!
posted by ManInSuit at 8:06 PM on October 10, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the links about the guide that's exactly what I'm looking for.

I've been a member of XGA developers form for quite some time.but I never understand what they're talking about .for me tarballs something that washes up on the beach.

In China there are the official versions and then the illegal imports period I bought an illegal import period it was only €300 period

I believe it originally came from the Middle East so it was originally a euro based rom and then it was flashed to whatever it is now. so in theory the key question is number to whether or not it's worth taking back period for example doesn't have the swipe method, but the manual mentions it. period it was also loaded with clockwork mod and the Odin program, but I don't know what I am doing and when i tried odin it froze for several hours . Now that i am in Hong Kong Google app store works but still no Samsung apps. Mores disturbingly is that lookout has labeled a app as a virus/ malware and other Chineseapps won't uninstall. a big part of the reason I wanted the illegal import because it was supposed to be a European model and avoid all the hamstrung limitations of the Chinese model. should I just go with what I have or is it worth trying to go back and arguing with them to restore back to whatever it was when it was sold?
posted by chinabound at 12:22 AM on October 12, 2011

Best answer: Ah, thanks for the further info, CB.

It definitely sounds like your best bet would be to reflash a euro based rom, and wiping your phone to get rid of all the chinese cruft.

You don't seem super-comfortable with the idea of doing it yourself - fair enough, I don't want to push you out of your comfort zone, but I will offer to walk you through the process by MeFi mail if that would make life easier. If your phone has ClockWorkMod on it already (does CWM run when you start it?) it might even be rooted already, which would make life even easier.

But yes, if that's not a good option for you, go back and see if they will flash something else - you'll be missing out of some of the features that make android android otherwise, and dodgy chinese apps that give virus warnings never sound like a good idea.
posted by Sparx at 2:42 PM on October 12, 2011

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