Sunday, September 04, 2011

why and how to overclock your android phone

Overclocking is a geek's dream come true. Overclocking your pc is old. Overclocking your phone for better performance is something really exciting. The only problem is either you could brick your phone or fry your phone. So if you plan to go ahead be very very sure of the risk that you might lose your phone as well.

I did a lot of reading before going ahead with the overclocking. The first thing that you should be aware is that for any type of overclocking or tweaking at the system level, you need administrator privileges. The term here is "root" ing your phone.

By default all phone providers lock their users out of their phones. It is somewhat similar to ubuntu where root is not enabled by default. Gaining root access allows you to do whatever you want with your phone. Which means that you can very easily brick or fry your phone.

Motorola defy is a good handset costing around 15K Indian Rupees. It has a 800 Mhz processor. The factory settings were over safe. The phone was underclocked and overvolted. So it runs slower than it actually should and drinks more battery than it should.

Lets see how to first root and then tune your phone for better performance.

Rooting the phone

Rooting ideally is a very simple task. All you need to do is select an app and run it with your phone connected to the pc. There are multiple apps available to root your android phone. some of them are

1. SuperOneClick
2. Universal Androot
3. Z4Root

Please go through the supported devices list and see if your handset model is listed there. I used SuperOneClick. You can download it here. I used version 2.1.1

Rooting is simple

1. Extract zip file on your windows desktop.
2. run the exe with admin priviledges.
3. reboot your phone.
4. unmount the SD card.
5. enable usb debugging
6. click on "Root" - you will get a prompt "waiting for device".
7. connect your phone via usb.
8. The app will automatically detect the OS version and device model and automatically root the device. It will run a "su" test before giving an OK.

I ran into a small problem. Superoneclick froze on around step #5 causing my heart to stop for a second. I waited for 10 minutes before rebooting the phone and connecting it to the pc to run superoneclick again.

Once your phone is rooted, if an application tries to gain root privileges, you will get a prompt with the option to allow or deny.

Overclocking and undervolting

After searching around a lot, i finally figured that my phone can be overclocked to 1.2 GHz without any issues. Overclocking or undervolting is a simple app available freely in the android market. the two main apps available in the market for overclocking are

1. setvsel
2. milestone overclock.

Again I chose setvsel.

The default speed and voltage combination at Motorola Defy was

1) 300 MHz at VSel1 = 33;
2) 600 MHz at VSel2 = 48;
3) 800 MHz at VSel3 = 58;
at a threshold of 86%.

Threshold says that if the processor runs at 86% capacity it will step up to the next higher speed available.

Here are the ranges where people feel that the phone is still stable

- 300 MHz, VSel1 24-33
(some people report stable systems as low as VSel1 14);
- 600 MHz, VSel2 31-48;
(some people report stable systems as low as VSel2 27);
- 800 MHz, VSel3 41-58.
(some people report stable systems as low as VSel3 39);
- 1000 MHz, VSel3 45-74.
(above VSel3 58 your phone may get really warm).

- 1100 MHz, VSel3 55-66;
- 1200 MHz, VSel3 60-75.

I did the following settings

300/24, 600/34, 1000/52

Most of the time when the phone is idle, its processor remains at around 300 MHz. Normal browsing, calling takes the processor upto 600 Mhz. But It is the games and graphics that take the processor upto 1 GHz.

I will try reducing the voltage to see upto which level the phone remains stable.

Reference :

Here is the benchmark result after overclocking. Earlier my device was listed near to the HTC Desire. Now it has moved to the top.

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