A wild Android phone appears… Huawei Ideos X3

So, last week I was in the lab doing some computer vision programming when my PhD supervisor came in and dropped a Huawei U8510 Ideos X3/Blaze in my table. “I found this on the way. It was on the road being run over by cars. I think you can get some parts from this”, he said. At the first moment I thought that yes, I could get some stuff from it, but they would be fairly hard to interface. It had no battery, no back cover, and some scratches in the screen. However, I decided to plug it to the mini USB cable and see if it still worked. Voilá! Ideos logo showing up on the screen and Android booting up!
 
Huawei Ideos X3 android phone turned on

It turned on but then the android pattern lock showed up, leaving me locked out. I started searching for a way of bypassing the lock, but no luck. Had to go for a hard reset. Some more searching in Google and finally I found how to root it. When turning the phone on, pressing the power and volume up for a few seconds would bring the boot menu and then it was just a matter of choosing the factory reset option. After a few more seconds I was messing around with the clean Android 2.3.3.

I was happy just of thinking that I had a new phone to play around and to make some projects with it but after a few more tests I realised that the RF part of the phone is dead… no Wi-Fi, no Bluetooth, no GSM/3G and no FM radio 🙁 Only the GPS, the accelerometer, the compass, the screen, the camera, the sd card reader, the USB interface and the audio interface survived. It’s hard to find a way to use it almost without any means of interfacing with other devices, but I found some inspiration in Romo, the Smartphone Robot, from Kickstarter and thought about doing something like it, but without the remote connections. Some people spend lot’s of money in arduinos, PICs, communication modules and sensors to build small robots, so why not using it as a brain for a robot? It has a 600MHz processor, lots of memory, lots of storage space with the micro SD card, a camera, a GPS, an accelerometer, a magnetic compass, a screen and an audio interface, all accessible and programmable using the high level programming interface, Android SDK. Many hobbyists would kill to get their hands into it!
 
huawei_ideos_x3_on.jpghuawei_ideos_x3_off.jpghuawei_ideos_x3_back.jpg
Another thing that I found to be an option as a connectivity solution would be the Google Android Open Accessory or Google Android Development Kit (ADK). However, from what I’ve read, I would need to update the Android version of the phone to 2.3.4.
 
What do you think? What would you do with it? 😉
 
Update (09/01/12): I have updated the ROM of the phone from the original stock Vodafone ROM, which was Android 2.3.3 to the stock UK Tesco ROM, which is Android 2.3.5 with 2.6.35.7-perf kernel. To update I just unziped the file, extracted the dload folder to the root of the micro SD card and went to Settings>Storage>Software Upgrade>SD card Upgrade. After that, I tried to install the app ArduinoTerminalBeta.apk from Circuits@Home but I just got the message “Application not installed”. I’m starting to think that the Google Android Open Accessory is only available to Android versions 2.3.4 and equal or greater than 3.1. Maybe it’s not available to the versions between those two 🙁 . Who knows?
 
While I was searching for info about the Google ADK I found this excellent post which made everything a lot clearer to me: forget Google ADK and get a USB Host Board or a IOIO board and use the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) which is supported by all Android phones since version 1.5! It seems to me that MicroBridge is the way to go! 🙂

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