Google has officially dropped full support for Android 2.3.7, leaving older devices like your trusty HTC Wildfire left out in the cold. Fear not, LineageOS is here! Previously known as CyanogenMod, LineageOS is helping bring older devices, up to date. In doing so, keeping thousands of devices out of e-waste and landfill every day! Lineage provides a stock(ish) experience whilst providing the option for Google Apps (GAPPS) to be installed alongside it. There are even maintainers for GAPPS over at OpenGAPPS who provide stripped down packages which can be installed that can give you everything from the bare essentials for Google Play, to all the apps that Google have to offer. Great for very old devices that run out of storage very easily!
LineageOS brings life back into old tablets, phones and even older computers. Why waste valuable hardware that could be perfectly capable of doing just what it did when it was originally release, but struggles now just because Google said so.
The entire community who work on Lineage aim for one thing, bringing a modern experience to older devices, no matter the challenge. With Android itself being an open sourced OS, the builds made into Lineage contain a-lot of the same codebase, including security fixes, feature updates and much more! Some devs have even ported device specific features into LineageOS as well including Music recognition, Always on display and even IR Blaster control for older Samsungs and Huaweis!
Be aware, LineageOS does have a couple of caveats!
- Your devices “Bootloader” must be unlocked (This is the part of your phone that controls what software your phone runs when you hit that power button. Unlocking a bootloader allows the phone to run software not originally shipped or intended by the manufacturer, to run on the device)
- Your warranty will more than likely be voided. Unlocking your bootloader voids your warranty. Although it can be locked again, majority of devices show a permanent scar that it was previously tampered with (HTC Devices will show “RE-LOCKED” in fastboot mode, Samsungs will show that Knox security was tripped and permanently disable Samsung Pay, Knox features and just to top it off, on newer models will even disable your cameras!)
- Some devices just can’t do it. Sony phones come in either a “YES” or “NO” state. This cannot be changed. If your device shows a NO condition, then your bootloader cannot be unlocked and you cannot run LineageOS. Phones that show “NO” are usually ex-contract phones provided from a network rather than from Sony directly.
- Some features may not work. Simply put, putting software not intended for a device, onto said device, may not run properly. Developers work many weeks, sometimes as long as years to make LineageOS as compatible with as many devices as possible. This doesn’t always go to plan. There are four different build states for LineageOS. OfficialStable, OfficialNightly, UnofficialStable, UnofficialNightly. OfficialStable builds can be used usually with no issues. They have been rigorously tested and are suitable for daily use on the phone it was build for. OfficialNightly builds are the beta version. They can contain new features or some work in progress parts. They aren’t intended for daily use as there can be some bugs. UnofficialStable builds are developed by the community but not officially recognized by the LineageOS team. This means that the developer of this build may have issues regarding testing or porting parts of LineageOS to their build. These versions are usually OK to run as a daily driver but if you come across a bug, take it with a pinch of salt. UnofficialNightly builds are danger territory. They can include bugs, unfinished sections, missing features and even fail to boot. Worst case scenario it may brick your device, and depending on how you installed LineageOS, it may not be recoverable! Usually the maintainer of these builds will have their own test devices and a small team to test these builds so if anything is severely wrong, they would probably know about it.
Keep this in mind if you’re looking to try out LineageOS for yourself. If it works out for you, that’s fantastic! You’ve brought at least 5 years of new life back into your device. If it fails, make sure you know how to get out of it. There are tutorials all over the web on how to reflash devices. XDA Developer forums contains the hub for LineageOS and developers will go above and beyond over there to help bring your device back to life.
Give it a shot! Got an old device lying around in a drawer? Head to XDA and see whats available for it. You never know, you might end up with a Galaxy S3 running Android 11 by the end of it!