Sunday, January 23, 2011

How I Got into Mobile Testing and My Adventure with Buying a Droid Incredible on eBay

I got into mobile testing by chance during the uTest 4th Quarter bug battle. Granted I have owned a few Nokia phones that I inadvertently tested for durability...I left one on the car roof and drove away, drowned another one in the river while fishing, dropped a 3rd one from a deck onto a concrete floor in a backyard. I was very nervous when I got my first smart phone, a Palm Pre. I liked it because it was small (I was hoping I would not drop it as much), had a sliding keyboard, a multi-tasking feature where you can have a bunch of apps open at one time and just push them out of the way like cards and then bring them back up via the touch screen gestures. Figuring it out was intuitive but there are not many fun apps for it. OK there is Angry Birds, Evernote, and a few others..but nothing like what my husband's Droid Incredible (DINC) phone had at the time. He would tell me of another new app every week.

Then came the uTest Bug Battle when I had to beg my husband to let me use his phone since neither eBay nor Overstock had an app for the Pre. As we both used eBay and Overstock apps he kept complaining about things not being user-friendly or a resource hog. I was ecstatic however as I was able to log these bugs. By the end of the Bug Battle I knew I had to get my own Droid phone.
I searched for one on eBay, reviewed postings where sellers had 100% positive rating and the phones had a clean ESN with a reasonable price. I submitted my bids and won a practically new DINC phone from a parent who decided to downgrade her teenage son's phone. On top of it she offered free shipping. It seemed too good to be true. I received the phone a few days after I paid. It arrived in its original box, with all the accessories, manual and phone cover. It did not look used at all! I was thrilled and could not wait till I get to the Verizon store.

At the store I was told that the ESN was still locked. Getting in touch with the seller was a breeze. She took care of unlocking ESN and I went back to the Verizon store. Everything was going great until the Verizon rep started applying OS updates, then the phone went dead. The rep powered it on but the phone would not boot up. The welcome screen flashed, I heard the familiar Droid announcement and then nothing. The screen just kept flashing, stuck in a loop. The only way the phone could be turned off was by taking the battery out. The rep handed me the phone, apologized and told me that nothing could be done since the device was not under warranty. "But it happened at your store!"...I exclaimed. The rep chanted the party line apologetically again and called another customer. OK, I thought I would send the phone back. I call the eBay seller and told her what happened. She told me to go ahead and ship the phone back and that she would try and get it exchanged. I felt badly however. This happened while the phone was in my possession. Maybe it was meant to be and I have to learn something from the experience. After all it was reality testing!

I looked for a mobile repair store on, called them up and dropped off my phone at the place...and waited. In the meantime I decided to Google for what other folks have dealt with while applying updates. It turned out to be a relatively common problem caused by Verizon sending a corrupted file over the air and/or not having proper error correction in place before installing the image! See post here. Mostly people have just been sending it back to Verizon.  One of the workarounds is to keep flashing different versions of firmware onto the phone. I just hoped that the guys at the repair store were good.

It's hard to wait when you are obsessed with the outcome of something that is important to you. I ended up calling the store. The tech guy told me that they tried reloading images of several different versions of Android for my phone. All of them were rejected by the phone. He suggested sending it back to Verizon.  By now I read about 'rooting' a phone. ( Getting root or rooting your phone is the process of modifying the operating system on your device to grant you complete control over it. Once you gain administrative privileges to your phone you can perform things and access files that would otherwise will be restricted. When you are using a stock device, you have the equivalent of “guest” privileges.) Rooting the phone meant that I would no longer enjoy the official "Verizon experience" or use the Verizon apps such as V-cast.  I also read that a "rooted" phone is more flexible than a phone with stock firmware so I was prepared to go that route and told the guy to do it as a last resort.

While waiting I went through many forum posts and learned a ton about Droids, apps and mobile troubleshooting.  Lucky for me the guys at the repair store got my DINC to work without rooting it. I activated it back at Verizon and have been successfully participating in uTest mobile test cycles since. In the back of my mind I am still thinking about rooting it. Why? I would like to be able to take snapshots of the bugs that I find without using a camera or PC tools and just utilize one of the Marketplace programs such as 'Screenshot' that only works with rooted phones. Testing never ends for me!

Here is another fun trance song -

1 comment:

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