Trying to get Android OS 2.1 installed on myTouch 3G. Or, CyanogenMod?
November 2, 2011 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Just bought a T-Mobile myTouch 3G. Can I actually get Android OS 2.1 (or even later) on it? Alternatively, what potential pitfalls should I be aware of if I install CyanogenMod?

I finally wearied of my ancient G1 so I bought a myTouch 3G on ebay (didn't want to pay for upgrade to 4G service). I chose this path at least in part because, though I realize 4G is superior, I had read online that this device "just upgrades out of the box"* to Android OS 2.1 (Eclair), so I thought I would at least get something out of upgrading.

However, now that I've activated it through T-Mobile, which went fine, I see that its Android OS version is "DMD64" (apparently a T-Mobile specific strain of 1.5) and it says it is up to date - it is not downloading 2.1 or anything else for that matter. Lots of apps no longer work on Android 1.x; I wanted to upgrade at least PARTLY into the present. Is there any "official" way to get 2.1 onto my phone? I would prefer not to root it to get this working if I don't have to. I have been unable to find anything on the T-Mobile website, but it is rather confusing.

In the alternative, how is it to install CyanogenMod? I am not afraid of voiding any warranties per se, though honestly I want to minimize hassle with my new phone. Assuming the install process goes OK, is it going to "just work," or will I have to set up lots of things like email, apps, the market, etc? They warn that installing CyanogenMod may cause you to lose "all your data" - like what? Texts? The phone is new so there is nearly nothing on it. I have not put the old microSD card in it yet so I assume there is no possible way that could get erased. Perhaps most to the point, will my phone run up-to-date apps from the T-Mobile marketplace if I install CyanogenMod? I really do not care about the "cred" of running a rooted ROM on my phone and I only want to do it if it will run better apps.

Thanks for any advice.

(* Those comments were in the NewEgg forums for this device.)
posted by rkent to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
I hate to break it to you, but what you've bought is a G1 in fancier packaging. The innards are almost identical, so if it was performance you were trying to gain, you would be better off getting a different phone. The MyTouch 3g was only officially updated to 1.6, to get 2.1 on it you'll have to root and install CyanogenMod.

With a phone this old and virtually unsupported by the carrier, there is literally no downside to installing CMod. You'll have better performance, and you won't be missing anything. The data you'll lose will be installed apps (no worries, they're linked to your account, so you'll just have to re-download them once you sign in to the Market,) texts, phone call logs, things like that. Plus, you'll gain access to newer and improved versions of the OS. Luckily, installing Cyanongen is dead simple, and the community to wonderful and helpful. Head on over to the wiki on his website and it'll show you step-by-step how to install. The manufacturer name for the MyTouch 3G is the HTC Magic, so you'll see it referred to as that a lot.

Have fun!
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:49 PM on November 2, 2011

I have a my touch 3G Slide - and am running 2.1 - don't know if the Slide makes any significant difference to the guts of the thing.
posted by leslies at 5:06 PM on November 2, 2011

The Slide has marginally better internals, enough to run 2.0+.
posted by InsanePenguin at 5:15 PM on November 2, 2011

I could be wrong, but I believe there was an official Froyo (2.2) release for the myTouch 3G. It looks like it might depend on which version of the phone you have (original vs. updated model with 3.5mm jack vs. Fender edition). You might be able to force the phone to update by going to phone and entering this string:


(that's *#*#checkin#*#*)

That should theoretically let some server know that you're ready to update. Be aware that the update might not appear instantaneously; your phone may, in fact, be sucking down that very update right now without you knowing it.

None of this is to dissuade you from Cyanogenmod or any other alternative ROM for Android. But if you're cool with official, this might help.

(The myTouch3G Slide is a completely different phone with different guts and the relatively unique, and shitty, Espresso overlay on top of Android. And, speaking from very recent experience, not all that easy to root.)
posted by hoboynow at 5:16 PM on November 2, 2011

Thanks both for the advice. I have done a bit more research; there was a press release like 18 months ago that said T-Mobile would be adding support for Eclair (2.1) in the myTouch 3G, and the Wikipedia page for the HTC Magic (super official, I know) says "Most carriers have upgraded this phone to Android OS 2.2 Froyo, including T-Mobile and Vodafone," so it is unclear to me why it is not upgrading automatically.

leslies, it appears that the 2 phones use very slight modifications on the same baseband processor, so I should in theory be able to get 2.1. FYI, Wikipedia says that T-Mobile provided a windows-only update program to put 2.2 on your device, if you're interested.
posted by rkent at 5:18 PM on November 2, 2011

The T-mobile myTouch 3G can definitely run 2.2.1, because that's what mine is running it now. It was running 1.6 (I think) when I bought on ebay, and got an over-the-air update to Froyo last fall.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 9:02 PM on November 2, 2011

I have to agree that the MyTouch 3G isn't a significant upgrade over the G1. I'd try to get something with at least a cortex a8 CPU. Those old android phones are just excruciatingly slow.
posted by The Lamplighter at 9:15 PM on November 2, 2011

The press release may have been taking about a different cointry's t-mobile. In fact, their MyTouch 3G may not even be the same phone as the US version. The MyTouch brand is confusing.
posted by The Lamplighter at 9:53 PM on November 2, 2011

Good to know rkent - thanks. Since I'm mac-based and the phone is getting a little wonky not sure what I'll do. It's been a great phone but is suddenly showing its age.
posted by leslies at 4:50 AM on November 3, 2011

Yeah, echoing everyone else: Your new phone ain't much of an upgrade over a G1.

As such: It's not supported by CyanogenMod anymore. I believe they dropped support with CM6 (Android 2.2) and the CM5 builds were dog-slow anyway.

There was definitely a time when T-Mo was pushing a 2.1 update for these, but they might have stopped doing so. You best bet may be to go non-CM custom. (A lot of these are based off of the CM5/CM6 source, with a lot of stuff taken out so it'll run better.)

The xda forum for the MyTouch should be instructive. You're going to want to make sure you're 100% aware of the following before you do anything:

1. You absolutely, positively, must figure out if you have the 32A or 32B model. Once you know this, always make sure you only flash updates intended for that model.

2. You absolutely, positively, must be aware of Radio/SPL compatibility. If you upgrade these, ALWAYS FLASH RADIO FIRST. R BEFORE S. Failure to do so is a guaranteed brick.

I'm happy to help more if you want to email, but in the end, I would suggest getting a better phone. Even done 100% correctly, and perfectly optimized, you're just not going to be very happy with your MyTouch if you found the G1 to be too slow.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:34 AM on November 3, 2011

Be aware that the update might not appear instantaneously; your phone may, in fact, be sucking down that very update right now without you knowing it.

Turns out that was the trick. Almost 3 hours after this post, and over 6 hours after I enabled my phone, I spontaneously got the upgrade pushed. I think the point of confusion was that I tried manually starting the upgrade in every way I knew how, and it affirmatively said "up to date, no more updates are available."

Since then I've confirmed that I can get a bunch of apps that were previously unavailable on 1.5 "DMD64," which is really what I was aiming for. Thanks for the advice on upgrading handsets; I know that is imminent, but at the moment I'm waiting out the T-Mobile / ATT thing and don't want to commit to any plan extension at all (which I understand would be required to enable a 4G phone). My G1 was physically breaking so I needed something, even though this is not much of an "upgrade" long-term. Thanks again.
posted by rkent at 8:53 AM on November 3, 2011

I have a MyTouch 3G Slide on T-Mobile, and I got the Windows-only (glad I still have my old laptop lying around) update some months ago, so I'm now running 2.2.1. And life has been better since that update.

I've considered CyanogenMod if only to help with space issues, since I have to be very considerate of which apps I have installed so the phone doesn't start complaining about low space and start acting wonky. The last time I looked at the instructions, though, it seemed like a real pain.
posted by cardioid at 9:19 AM on November 3, 2011

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