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Advice on flashing radio

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by MarmiteX1, May 15, 2011.

  1. MarmiteX1

    MarmiteX1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter


    I have a rooted phone with Cyanogemod 7 and my current radio baseband is:

    I would like to upgrade to a newer version. I don't have S-OFF.

    I am on 3 UK network. Should I be aware of anything before I flash a radio? Which radio do you recommend I flash please?

    Is it possible to roll back to a previous version if say I face issues?

    Thanks in advance,

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  2. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Firstly, do you have an actual problem, or do you just want to try a newer one to see whether anything improves?

    I have to ask that because unlike a bad ROM flash, a bad radio flash can brick your phone irrecoverably. I don't want to overstate the risks (I've done it a fair few times myself ;)), but you should be aware of this before deciding whether to procede.

    That's a pretty new radio you have. The newer ones are the one in my sig, and two that start 32.56 (the second of which is a very recent leak, and which I've not tested yet). You'll find all but the very latest via the "useful downloads" link in my sig.

    The important thing about flashing a radio is that you must not interrupt it. The flash is fast, but it will then install when you reboot the phone, and reboot by itself once or twice in the process. Do not panic and pull the battery when this happens, as that could be fatal to your phone - just leave it alone until it has booted up properly. Otherwise the procedure is the same as any other flash. Note that nandroid backups don't include the radio, so you can't undo a radio flash that way.

    You could also (or instead) try the 2.2.1003G RIL, also via the useful downloads thread. You're probably using the 1.6.1062G one with CM7. RILs should be flashed after ROMs or radios, but unlike a radio you can undo these by reflashing the ROM or restoring from a nandroid.

    Hope this helps - sorry to post and run, but have to go offline now.
  3. MarmiteX1

    MarmiteX1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter


    Thanks for the info. I am trying to see if i get improvements regarding signal strength when I am at home. The signal strength varies room to room. If I use my phone outside and at work the signals fine.

    I tried an o2 sim, tesco sim and it works fine with the current radio(full bars inside and out). So I feel that it could be due to network coverage.

    I was thinking of upgrading to to solve the issue(I could be wrong).

    Do you think this would this have any improvements?


  4. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    It's very hard to say. It's extremely likely that the main thing is network coverage - 3G signals in particular are very much affected by building. For what it's worth, I believe that Tesco use the O2 network anyway.

    I cannot really say whether that radio will help. It's the one I currently use, and I've found it very good, but I'm on a different network and probably in a different place. The only way really is to try. Some people claim big effects with different radios, but I've usually found them relatively modest. I do get slightly better 2G reception with that radio and the RIL (Radio Interface Layer) I'm using than I used to get with the 32.49 one an the 1.6G RIL, but can't say I noticed so much difference in 3G. But as I say people's experiences differ. You can only try and see.
  5. togger161

    togger161 Android Enthusiast

    I had lots of issues when I was on O2. I'd wake up in the morning to find the phone dead and it had been searching for a network signal all night. I've since switched to 3UK because the signal at my home and at work is far better. I'm using an old radio, one recommended by a rom developer on another site. I'm happy with that.

    I'd guess that network coverage will be the issue rather than the phone, but best idea would be to check. Have a look at this link, zoom in and see what masts are near to you. Also have a look at network specific coverage checkers.
    Sitefinder Mobile Phone Base Station Database
    O2 | Network Coverage | Coverage Checker
    Coverage checker mobile

    Something I was told on several forums (including Giffgaff (O2)) when I looked around was that O2's network was installed some time ago when 2G masts were sited. 3UK are one of the newest networks so they only ever fitted 3G masts. Therefore if you get a signal on 3, you'll get 3G where as on O2 you may get a signal but it may only be 2G. O2 are having to go back and upgrade their masts to 3G. So you may get better coverage on O2, but the data network generally isn't anywhere near that of 3's.
  6. MarmiteX1

    MarmiteX1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Thanks, I've just flashed radio.

    Seems OK at the moment. I made a nandroid backup before flashing the radio zip file.

    I will see how the battery life is and post back.
  7. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Just FYI, flashing a radio is actually an exception to the normal rule of "nandroid before flashing anything". It won't do any harm to have made the backup, but it won't help if there is a problem, because nandroid doesn't back up the radio.
  8. handy5876

    handy5876 Guest

    Check signal level in settings. I think -113dBm is the minimum level. If phone keeps hovering close to that level then you will get bad performance and it is linked to network and not phone. At home signal hovers from-105 to -113 and keeps dropping. At work it is around-90 and ok.
  9. MarmiteX1

    MarmiteX1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    @Hadron - Thanks for the clarification. If it didn't work or something went terribly wrong what options would I have?

    @handy5876 - i checked the signal strength and it says -95dBm 8asu at the moment.
  10. SUroot

    SUroot Extreme Android User

    Well you can try an RUU or flashing another Radio but 95% of the time, you have exactly 0 options.

    Understanding of what you are doing and what not to do are your only safeguards.

    Most importantly:

    1) Download a radio witgh an MD5 file and use an MD5 check tool to make sure the MD5 matches on the radio zip (if it does not, file is corrupt).

    2) Do not interupt the process by removing power / pressing buttons etc (if fastboot flashing, also do not break USB connections).
  11. MarmiteX1

    MarmiteX1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Thanks, your right. I had to make sure the MD5 hash was correct on the file I had downloaded.

    Regarding RUU, say if I unroot my phone will that rollback the radio driver to the version that exists in the RUU file?

    My phone is is sim free, unbranded out of the box.
  12. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Yes, the RUU will replace the radio as well.
  13. madhatter1689

    madhatter1689 Android Enthusiast

    I must admit I am a little confused about radio and signal strength etc. Am I right in thinking there are 3 areas to this;

    1. a signal to receive calls and texts.
    2. 3g to get on the net anywhere [you know what I mean]
    3. wifi to get on the net whilst in a building.

    I find if I choose to use 2g and not 3g the signal strength is much better for the first point. It can go from 1 bar to full house.

    3g is hit and miss depending what network operator you are with, the coverage and other issues.

    wifi is generally good.

    Does the radio make all that much difference and to which options? All three I assume.

    Also I am not sure about MD5. Is there a walk-through thread on this anywhere?
  14. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    2G signal strength, especially inside buildings, is generally better, at the cost of much slower data connections. The phone therefore tends to switch to 3G when it can, unless you tell it 2G only. Subjectively I have the impression that some radio firmware versions have slightly different settings for how quickly they settle for 2G vs how long they keep trying for 3G in weak coverage (just from observing my phone through 3G blackspots along my normal daily journey), but it's very hard to be definite about these things.

    In principle the radio could make a difference to any of those things, and also to bluetooth and GPS. In practice I've generally found the differences to be not so large (though GPS fix seems faster with more recent radios than some of the older ones).

    MD5 checking is very simple - you just use a command to generate an md5 code for the file, then compare it against what it's supposed to be (i.e. the code provided by the source). For linux and mac users the command comes with the OS - "md5" for a Mac, "md5sum" on linux. I believe there's a Windows md5 utility in the root tools thread (link in your sig :)). Or if you are flashing a zip you can check the md5 of the file on your sd card using an Android app - AFV or ManD5 will do this.
  15. madhatter1689

    madhatter1689 Android Enthusiast

    Hi Hadron

    Thanks for the reply. The first two paragraphs are fine and helpful but the last one completely loses me. I am aware of the link in my sig :) but I haven't a clue what to do with the md5 thing.

    Obviously I install it to my PC? Yes?

    Generate a command? How and which one?

    Compare with what? A file in the zip?

    I will look into the apps you mentioned.

    As you can probably see I haven't a baldy notion about this. I think Dan may have explained a while ago but I obviously have forgotten [age!!] and I don't want to pester him again. He helps me out so much.
  16. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    OK, let's try an example. The desire radios thread at xda has a link in its first post to a mirror site. If you follow that link you'll see that next to the download link to each radio there is a long hexadecimal number. That is the md5 code - a hash code generated by applying an algorithm to the file itself. So, what you would do is download one of the radios, use a command or app to compute an md5 code for the zip you downloaded, and compare it to the value on the download site.

    So, supposing I download from that site. On my Macbook I type the command:


    which returns the following:

    MD5 ( = 8f8a27febb22dac3477770411545be83

    On the download site it lists: (8f8a27febb22dac3477770411545be83)

    so the md5 code generated on my computer matches the one listed on the download site, which means I am confident that the file downloaded OK. If it had been corrupted the codes would not match, in which case flashing it would be an exceptionally bad idea.

    I don't know the Windows utility, but I imagine you'd run it, select a file, and it would tell you the code for that file. That's also how the Android apps I mentioned work.

    This does rely on the source you download the file from providing an md5 code for the file, but for things that can do terminal damage to your phone (e.g. radios) it's a good idea to insist on this.

    Note that the md5 is for the whole zip, including the scripts, any credits that are printed when you flash them, etc. So if the same radio has been packaged by 2 different people it's likely to give different codes. So the test is whether the code matches the one provided by the site you downloaded from, not whether it's the same as the code for another file of the same name from a different source, because that one may be perfecty valid and just have been packaged slightly differently. The code doesn't tell you whether the file is intrinsically OK, just that the copy you have has the same content as the file at the download site.
    madhatter1689 likes this.
  17. madhatter1689

    madhatter1689 Android Enthusiast

    Hi Hadron

    Sorry for not responding earlier. Thanks for the time and effort for that last post. Managed to do it. On the Windows app you simply browse for the file and then press a button to 'calculate md5 checksum'.

    I used mand5 and when I choose a zip file it asks if I want to open it. I choose yes, right? And then the number is displayed on screen?

    What are the important things I need to check with md5?

    Thanks again
  18. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Yes, that's how it works (and with ManD5 you do say "yes" to "open" - a little disconcerting, since "open" can mean many things).

    The most important thing to check is a radio download - a bad ROM flash is easy to undo, but a bad radio flash is not, so it's important to ensure that you have a good copy of the file (i.e. your calculated md5 sum looks like the source site says it should). Alpharev downloads are worth checking as well, particularly the S-Off tool (you don't want to flash corrupt data during that process!) but also the custom hboots.

    Most other downloads don't provide md5s, and I'm not sure I could be bothered for a ROM update - as long as you take a nandroid it's easy to recover.

    If you ever need to use an RUU it would be worth checking you have a good copy of that though - that is also flashing the entire phone, and could do serious damage if corrupt. shipped-roms provide md5 codes for their RUUs these days.
  19. madhatter1689

    madhatter1689 Android Enthusiast

    Thanks again. Just checked the latest radio and flashed it.
  20. MarmiteX1

    MarmiteX1 Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    I use WinMD5 program(freeware) which calculates the md5 hash.

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