If you’re here for info on installing Cyanogenmod on your S3 and just want to get to it, skip down the page a bit. First a bit of self-indulgent history, blogger-style:

Back at the start of 2013 my S3 phone started freezing randomly. My phone carrier, O2, refused to help me so I had to research the issue myself, a process which worked. I chronicled the mess in a blog post, including full instructions in case anybody else had the problem. You can find the blog post here.

Take a look at this image:

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Those are viewer stats for this very blog. Note the peak: that’s when I published my post about fixing an S3. Turns out quite a few other people were having the same problem. 65 people have commented on the blog, generally thanking me for posting the instructions and saving their phones. Which is lovely.

Some more stats:

  • The S3 fix blog post averages 100 views per day. This is a post 9 months old on a fairly low profile blog.
  • At its peak in July 2013 the post was getting over 200 views per day.
  • At the time of writing, the post has had 29,779 views. That’s a fricking lot for something I have NEVER promoted, except for a couple of simple tweets when I first published it.
  • These viewers and commenters are from all over the planet. This isn’t a problem specific to O2 customers in the UK, as I’d partly assumed.

It indicates a couple of things to me:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S3 phones have a serious problem that only manifests after a certain time or with a specific firmware.
  2. Carriers in particular don’t understand or acknowledge the problem and certainly aren’t inclined to fix it.

It’s a pretty terrible state of affairs for such a premium, expensive phone. Due to their terrible service I’ll be abandoning O2 as soon as I can. But what about the Samsung end of things?

Since fixing my phone I’ve bought a Google Nexus 7 (2013 version). This was something of a revelation, as it revealed what using an Android device should be like: fast, slick, responsive, logical, tidy…easy. Not having anything in particular to compare it to, I hadn’t realised quite how sluggish my S3 was with Samsung’s alterations to the base operating system.

Samsung cripples their fantastic hardware in three ways:

  1. They lag behind the official Google Android releases. In turn, carrier modifications and requirements add extra delay – sometimes meaning Android updates never reach customers.
  2. They load up the phone with random Samsung clones of established products: a Samsung app store, a Samsung games area, a Samsung chat system, etc etc. Nobody uses these things. All they do is use up storage and memory.
  3. They add on their own Android UI layer called TouchWiz. While it has some feature merit, functionally it’s slow and a bit crashy in my experience.

Having experienced simple, functional Android on the Nexus 7 I found the S3 increasingly irritating. Thus I thought it might be an idea to look around for a new fix.

That fix came in the form of Cyanogenmod.

Cyanogenmod is a silly name

I’m sure there’s a good reason for Cyanogenmod’s name, back in its geeky historical roots, but it’s a bugger to write each time.

Anyway, to install Cyanogenmod on pretty much ANY Android device, including an S3, you do this:

  1. BACKUP STUFF.
  2. Adjust a couple of security settings on the device.
  3. Install an app on the phone, run it.
  4. Install a program on your Windows/Mac/Linux computer, run it.
  5. Wait a bit.
  6. That’s it.

That is, genuinely, all there is to it. You will need to reinstall apps and set up your home screens as you want them afterwards, but otherwise it’s an almost absurdly simple process.

To actually get started just go here.

The result is my S3 feels like a new phone. The difference is fairly stunning, honestly, and far more noticeable than I’d hoped. My S3 is now also on Android 4.4 KitKat. Easy.

A note on backups: I didn’t really need to backup much as all my stuff is auto-backed up to Dropbox/Google/etc and most of my apps are cloud-based to some degree. The only major exception were my SMS logs, which are local to the phone and get wiped when installing Cyanogenmod. To backup and subsequently restore SMS check out an app called SMSBackup+.

Anyway, I highly recommend giving Cyanogenmod a go, as it’ll refresh your device and save you having to spend money on anything new for quite a while.

It is, though, as ever and always, at your own risk.

You can support this kind of post via my Patreon

Neil · January 21, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I looked into the feezing issue as it happened on my Note2 too. Bit hazy but it’s something to do with a bug when writing to a certain memory area on some chip, so it only happens when the device is x old and has been used y much. Samsung acknowledged it and did a fix which had to be in the kernel (it had to live-patch the firmware on said chip), so that meant a new firmware release. I think (again hazy) it was shortly after the main 4.1.2 update so was a small version release on top of that. I guess O2 couldn’t be bothered because they’d just spent some amount of time testing the main 4.1.2 and welding some of their own bloatware onto it.
Don’t know how Samsung let them get away with that given that they’d acknowledged the issue. A wipe without upgrade would fix the problem temporarily but as you saw it came back. I guess that satisifed O2’s repair centre :-/

And the bloke who started CyanogenMod is called Cyanogen. Originally it was his own private project but at some point he open sourced it and it became the giant it is today.
I guess there might have been some discussion on renaming it as it’s not all him any more but it’s a brand now.

How to fix a Samsung Galaxy S3 on O2 with the 4.1.2 freeze problem | Simon K Jones · January 20, 2014 at 11:48 pm

[…] 2014 update: You may want to consider skipping the faff below and simply install Cyanogenmod on your device. It’s easy and will upgrade your phone to Android KitKat 4.4. Find out more here. […]

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