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Using a 2010 smartphone in 2016/17 - Is it plausible?

  
My Sony Ericsson Xperia X8, running Android 4.0

  A while back, I stumbled across a 2010 android smartphone, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8. I decided to get one, and one was shortly acquired for the extravagant price of 11.00, free shipping, unused in original box. In order to excuse my frivolous spending on this obsolete gadget, I challenged myself to get it to a point where I could use it as a 'daily driver', and have all the features I use daily on my current phone (an iPhone 4S).

  First of all, here's a quick spec list (Borrowed from Wikipedia):
  • Screen: 3.0-inch capacitive touchscreen, 320×480
  • CPU: 600 MHz ARMv6 processor
  • RAM: 175 MB
  • Storage: 128 MB 
  • Android 1.6 (Donut), Android 2.1 (Eclair)
 A few notes about memory: Most modern 2016 smartphones have about 2-4 GB of ram, 175MB is about 4% of that. Built-in memory is also minuscule, 128 MB is about 0.8% of 16GB, the standard low option storage amount for modern smartphones. Yikes!
That's what I've got to work with! Now, what does it need to do?
  • Email
  • Hangouts
  • Texting/Calling (Through hangouts)
  • Taking pictures
  • Music listening with/without headphones
  • Alarm clock
  • Reminders
  • Light gaming
  • Web browsing
  After it arrived, working as expected, I tried it out. It worked fine, connected to Wifi, and I was able to use an ancient version of Google Talk to tell all my friends about it. Web browsing was slow, but possible. But it couldn't do everything I wanted it to, and I didn't like the stock interface anyways... Time to begin delving into the wonderful world of open-source android!

As I began working on unlocking the bootloader, rooting it, flashing a custom kernel, and finally installing a custom ROM, I obviously ran into some issues.
  Issue #1 was getting the bootloader unlock program to recognize the phone properly. It happened to be some driver issues, me not having the correct driver installed. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity downloading ZIPs, .EXEs, and searching outdated forum posts, I got the right driver installed.
  Issue #2 was this- The method I was using to root it required the newer 2.0 or 2.1 version of android- and my X8 was still on 1.6. Normally, updating a phone to a newer android version released for it is no big deal, but this phone is so old, that the servers hosting the upgrade don't exist anymore! However, with some research, I managed to find the stock kernel I needed, and flash it. After that, everything worked pretty seamlessly, and I had a bootloader unlocked, rooted phone!

From then on, it was pretty much trying to find downloads when the original server didn't have the files I needed. Some I haven't been able to find, period, most I found from alternate mirrors, or in a few cases, a sketchy download somewhere.  Finally, I had several ROMs and Kernels that I'd tested and knew to work, and was getting tired of signing into my google account every few hours after testing a ROM- Time to settle on one and try to get some apps working. I decided on a  version of the nAa kernel, and the corresponding Ice Cream Sandwich ROM. Both were specifically developed for the Xperia X8, and are very stable, with plenty of extra features. 

Time for The Challenge: Can I install and use all the apps I use regularly on my main phone?

Answer: Yes, and no. I had a few issues with Hangouts.
  For any of Google's newest apps to run, they need Google play Services- Which I can install on the X8, with some tinkering. Issue #1: Google Play services is around 130 MB, and my phone simply can't store that much! However, with some fiddling with download settings, and the use of an app called Link2SD, I got google play services installed. 
  Then, I updated the Google Talk app I had to hangouts- And tried it out. No luck, hangouts would just crash. For that matter, my phone's storage was low, and google play services (and other apps) would cause the dreaded "Unfortunately, (App) has stopped" messages. Not quite the desired effect. After a few more tries, I decided, that while possibly doable, getting hangouts to run on this phone wasn't within my current knowledge or capabilities. Back to Google Talk. 

Otherwise, it can do most of the rest! Here's that list, updated with pass or fail:
  • Email - Using the default app - Pass, 8/10
  • Hangouts - Fail
  • Texting/Calling (Through hangouts) - Fail
  • Taking pictures - Pass, 5/10
  • Music listening with/without headphones - Pass, 8/10
  • Alarm clock - Pass, 10/10
  • Reminders - Haven't tested, as of yet
  • (Very) Light gaming - Pass, 8/10
  • Web browsing - Pass, 7/10
 And now, the real question- Is it usable as a daily driver? 
  Yes, depending. In a pinch, it works. I'm actually using it, at the time of my writing this, because I've temporarily (I hope) lost my iPhone 4S. But while it mostly gets the job done, I'm missing my iPhone. And to be honest, I'd probably do as well without having this as a backup. If I didn't use hangouts so much, it would work better for me. But not being able to run hangouts is a big blow (for me) to it's usability as a daily driver.

  Last, but not least- If anyone out there is trying to do the same thing I've done, and you need links to drivers and guides and forum posts, comment and I'll try my best to be of help. 

(If anyone is wondering, I don't know who the guy in my background picture is- But he seems pretty happy about his phone, which must be at least 15 years older than mine!)

 
 

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