Android 2.1 on the G1 – My Day in the Upgrade Barrel

Android 2.1 makes your G1 phone faster than it has ever been even since the first day you owned it! Simply put the speed is amazing! Rooting your G1 and upgrading it only takes 15 to 20 minutes.

Researching every step so that you end up with a working phone instead of a brick, priceless! Uh, I mean well that takes at least a day or two, because there are multiple steps documented on multiple sites and the authors don’t keep in sync with each other.

For example at one point in the process I had to do a backup and one site gave the correct command to do so EXCEPT that the author had updated the program and it now required a “#” in front of the command line to execute.

Simply put, that was one of those “Oh shit!” moments in the process.

In addition, the authors of these upgrade sites make a lot of assumptions that you know and understand their terminology.

UNDOCUMENTED SECRET that truly makes it all worthwhile: Before you begin this entire process, buy yourself a Class 6 Micro SD card. Why? Because Android 2.1 has an app called “App2SD” which (duh!) moves your apps out of the very limited system RAM to the SD card where they are stored and executed.

You want Class 6 because that’s high speed, so don’t buy a Class 4 or any other lower speeds. I bought an 8GB card for $20. 4GB cards sell for $12-$15 so why not double the capacity for a few more dollars? If you are truly feeling flush, you can purchase a 16GB card for around $60. As most Android apps are less than 1MB in size, even a 4GB would take a long time to fill. However you can also store music, photos and video on the SD card so that will add to using up space.

Go here: to see a photo of where the SD card slot is located. The good news is that you don’t have to disassemble your G1 to replace the SD card. It’s about as simple as possible.

TERMINOLOGY LESSON #1: The G1 is referred to by its model name, DREAM.

OK, this isn’t a “pure” version of Android 2.1, it’s the CyanogenMod. If you want to wait on T-Mobile to provide an upgrade to 2.1, fine, but I have to say it appears to be a highly improbable scenario unless they sell the upgrade program on a CD. It would take an insane amount of bandwidth to do it over their network and frankly having gone through the process, I am pretty cynical about it ever happening for the G1.

Here is the site for the step by step instructions to root your G1 and then upgrade it. This site will take you off to other sites to get all the bits and pieces done.

STOP! This install guide is generally fine BUT it skips the entire important parts of correctly formatting and partitioning your new Class 6 Micro SD card! Go here first:

Once you understand the IMPORTANCE of having an “ext” partition on your SD card, THEN you can go to this site for the step by step instructions:

On this site, down under “Custom Recovery Image”, step 4; THAT line HAS to begin with a “#”! That was my “Oh Shit!” moment during installation.

TERMINOLOGY LESSON #2: Booting into “Recovery mode” means restarting your powered off phone by holding down the power button AND the HOME button.

TERMINOLOGY LESSON #3: Booting into “Fastboot mode” means restarting your powered off phone by holding down the power button AND the CAMERA button.

Part of the process will involve the installation of DangerSPL which you can find here:

Carefully read the notes on installing the proper radio.

Following the steps on the above DangerSPL page will get you through the process.


"Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."

We have a fridge magnet with this printed on it, and I always find it to be inspiring.