How to root Android Optimus V
July 15, 2012 10:10 AM   Subscribe

LG Optimus V on Virgin Mobile -- this phone sucks. Or maybe it's the operating system? Anyways, tell me about rooting it.

A lot of apps are forced to go on the phone and not the SD card, making the phone's memory fill up VERY quickly. The phone freezes all the time -- it takes a while to send one text message, and if I try to send two text messages in a row, it will freeze for a minute or two. All sorts of apps freeze and crash all the time (granted, this could be on the apps and not the phone, and some of the apps I'm talking about are big hulking beasts that are known to be buggy, but who knows...).

Anyways, I'm sick of it. I want to root Android 2.2 and get the latest version of Android. There are some questions on askmefi about androids that are rooted, or specific other phones... but I can't see anything as straightforwardly obvious as "How do I root this phone?" [My one other option I would consider would to buy an unlocked iPhone off craigslist, but I'm not sure if it's possible to get that to work on your Virgin Mobile number. I don't really want to buy the new iPhone Virgin is offering, for price reasons.]

Via Google, it seems that this is a good reference to start with. Unfortunately, this is NOT very clear for non-techy people. (For example, there's an early warning that you need to find out if you have Android 2.2.1 or 2.2.2, but then the link that is a guide to finding that out immediately jumps into things that would only make sense AFTER you've rooted.) The more links I click on the more that site seems to be taking me into a rabbit hole of techy-speak I can't understand. Has anyone here rooted this phone? How? Is there an easy step-by-step guide?

TL;DR: I want to update my Android 2.2 Optimus V on Virgin Mobile to the latest operating system, presumably Android 4.0, so that it will work better and more smoothly and crash less often. How can I do this?
posted by lewedswiver to Technology (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Side note:

I don't have a USB that connects the phone to the computer: I used to, but it stopped working one day, and the charger that I bought to replace it was only a direct phone-to-outlet charger -- it didn't have a USB you could pull out of the charger and connect to a computer.

I was planning on getting the proper rooting files onto my phone via email or something like that.
posted by lewedswiver at 10:13 AM on July 15, 2012

I'm not all that techy, but I did use the androidforums guide to root my Optimus V. FWIW, it does still crash, and I *still* run out of room on the phone's internal storage sometimes, but it's way better than it was before.

This is the specific guide I used, IIRC - it's been a while, and the guide has been updated, but it seemed pretty straightforward. It says to use a cable (and a cable shouldn't cost more than $5, maybe more like $2, or if you know anyone with a USB micro-b device see if you can borrow their cable) but maybe you could transfer the files with bluetooth or download them directly to the device? I don't know if there's a reason why you *have* to use the USB cable.
posted by mskyle at 10:30 AM on July 15, 2012

I did just this (with an Optimus T). It got rid of the cruftware and may have speeded it up a bit, but I wouldn't say the changes are incredibly dramatic. I don't know if a 4.0 rom exists for the phone-- mine is still 2.2.

I did solve the phone's memory problem quite handily with Link2SD, which I recommend.
posted by alexei at 12:51 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might have better luck with this guide--it's what I used. (I find AndroidForums to be rather confusing.) I would strongly recommend you read through this reference thread though. It contains a lot of useful information.

Basically, you need to get the gingerbreak.apk on your SDcard somehow (email, Dropbox, whatever), then install the recovery. It really would be much easier if you got a USB cable though--they're cheap and you can find them at any electronics store.

I've been futzing around with the ICS ROMs and I have not found them to be stable, although other people have gotten them to work. For now, if you want stability, I would recommend a Froyo or Gingerbread ROM.
posted by calistasm at 12:59 PM on July 15, 2012

There are ICS ROMs for the V, though I'd wonder whether you'd be scraping against a floor in terms of hardware capabilities: Gingerbread ROMs are more mature and stable.

But as alexei suggests, I'd focus first on utilities that specifically address the shortage of onboard RAM before trying a new ROM.
posted by holgate at 1:02 PM on July 15, 2012

My optimus V never had the problems you're describing - I think it froze a few times, but that's it. Could an app be the cause?
posted by zug at 1:16 PM on July 15, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice about Gingerbread instead of ICS! Also you guys are right, I'm sure I can get a microUSB cord for cheap, i should just do that :-)

I really can't imagine the problems with texting -- lagging/freezing all the time, every time, particularly if I send a second text before the first has finished sending -- have to do with the apps, because there are no apps used when texting.

But that's only one of the main problems -- the other main problem is the huge apps that can only be placed on the phone, not the SD card. And to use something like link2sd, rooting is necessary.
posted by lewedswiver at 1:33 PM on July 15, 2012

alexei has given you the answer that solves the vast majority of the Optimus V's problems: Link2SD.

Link2SD will automatically put most applications (even ones that can't be put on the SD card through the OS) on the card instead of the phone's internal storage; this results in an end to the frequent out of memory errors and also makes the phone a lot faster in just about any task. If you just root and install a new ROM, it doesn't put an end to the memory issues, and IMO, things will get worse.

However, there are three steps to the process, and it's pretty involved:
1) Get a big SDHC micro card (16GB? 32GB?) and re-format it so that there are two partitions - one for Link2SD, one for media.
2) Root the phone. You don't need a new ROM, the phone just needs to be rooted. If you do move to a new ROM, you should also move on to step 3 once you're done.
3) Install Link2SD (which requires a rooted phone), and start linking applications into the new partition you created in step 1.

I spent a year with the phone rooted, running the stock 2.2 and running Link2SD, and it was remarkably pleasant. I had run into the same problems you did, however, before rooting and running Link2SD.

If you read the instructions in rooting and Link2SD guides above and think it's beyond you, you should either find someone local who will root for you (check Craigslist), or you should grab an Optimus Elite or an HTC One V. The Elite is like the Optimus V with all the kinks worked out, and is incredibly cheap for what it is, but only runs Gingerbread; the One V runs ICS and has a nicer screen, but is more expensive.
posted by eschatfische at 1:38 PM on July 15, 2012

I tried to load an ICS build on my optimus V a few weeks ago, and it's definitely not stable enough yet, so I had to revert. Then I followed this guide from XDA-developers, and installed the Mirage build of CyanogenMod 7.2 (i.e. the latest Gingerbread available.) I love the new OS, and the phone feels fast again! Battery life has been pretty good as well.

Note that you will have to download and flash Google Apps separately, right after flashing the new OS. You will lose all your apps unless you've got them backed up to SD.
posted by Wulfhere at 2:32 PM on July 15, 2012

Here is the USB cable for $1.49 shipped to your house from Meritline, one of the zillions of cheapo online electronics supplier. (Though they sell just all kinds of stuff and not just puter stuff.)
posted by dancestoblue at 7:17 PM on July 15, 2012

I used to have that phone. It was definitely limited, but never froze like you described. I never used that many third party apps on it, though. The hardware on it is very limited, however; it'll never be as fast or as capable as a more powerful device. I mostly used it for mail, maps, and RSS, which it did fine at. Many third-party apps probably aren't designed on such low-spec devices.

You cannot use a used iPhone on Virgin Mobile. They only let you use their phones.

An HTC One V costs as much as a used iPhone would, and has better hardware and Android 4.0 already.
posted by akgerber at 8:09 PM on July 15, 2012

Copied from recently sent memail:

"So first off, bookmark this page:

It has on it a lot of resources should you decide to delve deeper. I haven't swapped ROMs yet, and so when I have the time to look into all the options, I will myself end up going back to that resource, too.

So first off, I'm assuming that you have a microsd card in your phone with ample space (1 gb free or so).

0. Read this:

1. Enable USB debugging on your device:
Go to Settings > Applications > Unknown Sources and Settings > Applications > Development > Android Debugging

2. Follow these instructions to root via Gingerbreak 1.2:

3. Review this thread that discusses stock bloatware:

4. Purchase (I think this cost $) and run a program called Root Explorer, and delete the things you don't want. Be careful, as there is nothing preventing you from deleting important system files when using this program, so be sure to do plenty of research.

I think this is everything I did on my phone - this was a few months ago, but if anything, I think you should at least have lots of juicy resources now. Happy hacking!"

To update, I'm now running cyanogenmod (7.1?) and there is not even a comparison. Battery life has doubled, the phone isn't running so hot, and it looks much cooler. Oh, and I did it all on a mac. Before you do ANYTHING else, buy a 16/32 Gb micro sd card. You can put most apps onto your sd card after rooting (most == all for me, but I don't install much on that thing). Memail me for details because I'm typing all this on an iPod touch.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:57 AM on July 16, 2012

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