Samsung Galaxy Tab Love Affair

Whenever I make up my mind to buy a new phone, it is usually the beginning of a strong love affair. First I list all the things I need in the phone, starting with the things that frustrate me or are lacking in the current one. Of course this leads to several phone comparisons and this goes on and on for days.

When I eventually buy the phone, I would have read so much about it online, that by the time it gets into my hands, I am in love.

This love affair lasts for a long time, sometimes years. It usually takes something very strong, like being robbed, to move me up to getting another phone.

This time around, I had repaired my errant Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 but was still frustrated at the slowness of the phone, and the way it 'hangs' when even one app is running. The usual remedy is to go through the process of getting another one, but something struck me.

Every phone within my budget had exactly the same hardware capabilities as the Tablet, especially the RAM capacity. so I asked myself, do I really have to buy another phone? Why not find a way to install the latest firmware on this one instead?
And so my research began.
Here is what I gathered:

1. Samsung has firmware updates for each device, with different codes. Samsung also has special software called Samsung KIES, that can be used to backup your phone data, and also to update the firmware. The firmware updates can also be carried out over the air (OTA), using the devices themselves.

2. These firmware updates however, are extremely tied to country, mobile carrier and device. Not every country, or mobile carrier for that matter, gives the firmware updates to the device users. In fact, some don't even bother giving device updates after a new device is launched. I found that while Nigeria (ECT) gave us the update from 4.0.3 to 4.0.4, they went no further. India (INU) gave their users up to 4.1.2, and France gave the highest I could find, at 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.

3. If you lived in a country (or used a carrier) with a lower official/stock firmware version, and wanted to upgrade, you had to decide to do either of the following:

A. Change the CSC: The CSC is the Consumer Software Customisation code of your phone. It specifies the regional settings applicable, which may install additional programs as well as provider-specific settings (APN). The downside of doing this is that it will carry out a factory reset, and you would lose all your everything on your phone - contacts, apps, everything.

B. Using another installer: Another installer can be used [Odin] to install the firmware on your phone. The downside is that your CSC would be different from your phone code, which means you wont be able to use Samsung KIES to upgrade your firmware should a new one come forth.

C. Do both: First do [B] then do [A], changing it to the CSC of the updated firmware you just installed. This way your device firmware will be updateable via Samsung KIES because the codes will be the same.

D. Install a Custom ROM: In some cases, the latest firmware is still not recent. In my case, the most recent one is 4.2.2, but that is just Jelly Beans update. Android versions have advanced up to 6.0 [Marshmallow] since the Jelly Beans versions were released. If you really want the latest firmware, the only option is to use custom OS developed by third parties. There are rules though: You have to 'root' your device [thereby breaking your warranty], and you need to use the Odin installer.

Option [D] seemed really daunting. At first it seemed the only way out, until I found that the official/stock firmwares were available for download.
Right now, I went with option [B]. It took less than 5 minutes to update my Tablet to Android 4.2.2 Jelly Beans version. It was worth it. The device is a lot faster than it has been in years, and the UI is smoother.

There is however, a lot of software that have been discontinued within the official/stock firmware. Even on Google Play Store, the apps say 'Terminated'. There is no way to uninstall them outright. The only solution is to take option [D]. Sounds exciting, but for now, I need a break from all the acronyms.

I just want to enjoy the phone - I haven't been able to, for a long while.

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