Android on Openmoko Freerunner

I’ve got an Android phone. Which, you ask? If you have read my previous blog entry, it’s a phone which I said “not very cheap” and “way uglier even than G1” and then “Noway I will be getting this, no way”. But I did get the phone. Yep, it’s the Openmoko Neo Freerunner. They have a 3d look of this phone which can be viewed on

But it turns out that it’s not that bad. And I’ll tell you about the phone right now

1. The Neo Freerunner
* Overview
The Neo Freerunner is a descendant of the Neo 1973, by the Openmoko (which means “open phone”). First to say, as they tell us on their page, the Neo Freerunner is an opensource phone. What is an opensource phone anyway? First, its CAD design, circuits structure… is made public available for technicalists, developers and end-user. And second, although it’s made to run their opensource Openmoko Linux, but it also can run numbers of Linux based operating system for mobile, such as Trolltech Qt (now Nokia)’s Qtopia, FDOM, FSO, Debian, Gentoo… and my favourite, Google Android. Most of these operating systems is ported by the community, not the os vendor itself (ofcourse except for OpenMoko Linux). People are free to choose which operating system is best for them, and don’t have to tied with the vendor’s operating system.

The Neo Freerunner also has a great built-in hardware support. It has a 640×480 touch screen, tri-band GSM ad GPRS, 802/11 b/g wifi support, GPS enable, a 400 MHz ARM processor with 128MB RAM and 256MB internal NAND flash (support for 8GB expansion MicroSD card), bluetooth support and two 3D accelerometers (for telling the device orientation). I should mention that not all hardware is supported by default. Each operating system has support for some hardware, and seems to be no operating system has stable support for every hardware.

Anyway, the Freerunner is not made for everyone. It’s highly unstable and mostly for developers only. Ofcourse if people want a stable phone, he can use Qtopia, which is highly stable, but, well, that ruins the fun of this phone. ^^

* Phone Specifications
# High resolution touch screen 2.84” (43mm x 58mm) 480×640 pixels
# 128MB SDRAM memory
# 256 MB integrated flash memory (expandable with microSD or microSDHC card)
# microSD slot supporting up to 8GB SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards (Supported microSD cards)
# Internal GPS module
# Bluetooth
# 802.11 b/g WiFi
# 400Mhz ARM processor
# 2 3D accelerometers
# Tri-band GSM and GPRS

* My personal ideas
Well, I still give my prejudice of the phone. It’s ugly! Openmoko is not a real mobile vendor such as Nokia or Samsung.. and they really don’t know how to make a good phone. Ugly looks, does they really think an egg like that is good looking, nah. Bad buttons design, I still can’t imagine how the hell could they think about that idea about the buttons position. High resolution is good, but for that small screen, you’ll expecting very tiny text on your screen and your eyes will soon be exploded. The lack of a QWERTY keyboard and a camera is a minor minus too. And the most crucial part is its battery life is suck. With less than one day standby time, I don’t think anyone would be using it as a phone.

Anyway, if consider it just as a mobile internet device, it’s good with those awesome hardware stuffs. And playing with the phone is fun, too.

2. Koolu Google Android
As I say, Google Android is not made for the Freerunner, but good thing is, a community call themselves Koolu, has put much of their effort to port Google Android to Neo Freerunner. Although there are a lot of bugs to be fixed, Google Android still can be run quite stable with the phone with most features enabled

You should all know Google Android has been my favourite operating system for mobile ever since. Why? Because I love opensouce, love Linux and I love Google too. As a developer, I see a very promising future of Google Android. Have you seen any operating system for mobile has made their way to computer yet? No. But Android is on its way. Soon there will be one or more netbooks with Google Android, and that’s for sure.

After using Android of some times, here is my few remarks:
# It exactly is Google way: Simple and efficient. It isn’t look gorgeous, shinny like iPhone or pro like Windows Mobile (only WM6 backward. From WM7, it becomes more and more smartphone-like which I consider it a huge M

s mistake, but I’ll talk about it later) but it still has a very elegant attractive. Google Android has a medium customizable, and you can personalize it your way, such as choosing which icons will be display on desktop. and choose position for your widget… It’s not much like which Linux has to be, but I think it’s efficient enough.
# It’s very powerful. If you just look at the operating system itself, you may not see that. But if you look at its API Demo, you will change your mind. Google Android provide a feature rich API, and you can do a lot with it.
# It’s very intelligent. Not only for its design, but also for its operation. Such as if you are choosing a thumbnail for a contact, it’ll automatically detect the face on that picture for cropping to get thing done faster.
# It’s not complete yet. It has a lot of things to be improved. Some function is still not quite stable yet. Some other function is quite silly. Well, at least it’s open source, so improve it or fix it is not a real problem. It only needs to be more poplular, and yes, it is.

3. Hand On
Enough talk. I know what you really want to see ^^. Here is a few pictures of my Neo Freerunner.

This is the FreeRunner’s box

The FreeRunner itself

It has a stylus pen that can be used as a normal pen and a laser pen too. It also has a card with “Thank You for your effort to free the phone”. Hey, I have to charge my money for it!

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