My first smart-phone was the Google Nexus One. I bought it in February 2010 direct from the Google store for £340, which took quite a long time on paper round wages. I don’t think it was ever sold in the UK through a mainstream network and I have never met anyone else who owns one. It was Google’s flagship Android phone and came out at a time when people looking for a serious smart-phone had the option of the well established iPhone or a handful of Android devices.
In my opinion the Nexus One was a massively underrated phone. This is partly Google’s intention as the marketing campaign behind it was minuscule resulting in it only briefly being sold through carriers in the US. At the time it’s hardware was excellent and even at the fast pace of the mobile industry I happily used it for the best part of three years. The amount of customizability available on Android suits me much better than iOS and I’ll probably continue to buy Android powered phones in the future. The Nexus One eventually died in December 2013, through the phone equivalent of passing peacefully in your sleep. For about a couple of weeks the charging LED was permanently red when lit and one day I tried to unlock the phone, it remained blank and subsequently never turned on again.
Anyway I’m currently borrowing a friends Desire HD, which despite being from 2010 too is a huge improvement. Flashed on it is Cyanogenmod 7.2. Cyanogenmod is an open source operating system based on Android but with more advanced features such as native theming, FLAC playback, OpenVPN client, revoking application permissions (often apps with very basic functionality demand a worrying amount of access) as well as increased performance and stability. The real purpose of using a custom rom for me is to remove the bloatware forced upon you by phone companies such as HTC’s Sense UI. I would much rather have a fast straightforward interface that is sleek and elegant. The process of installing a custom operating system varies by phone model but generally follows the same recipe. First the bootloader must be unlocked through the method for that phone. Then a backup is usually made using a tool such as Clockworkmod recovery that allows the user to revert back to the stock rom if something goes catastrophically wrong. Finally any custom image is copied onto phone storage and can be flashed from the boot menu. Once a device is unlocked it’s very easy to try out different roms but Cyanogenmod is by far the most popular and well supported.