The Karbonn A9+ and Karbonn A21 are part of Karbonn’s Duple series mobile phones. Hardware and Software configuration-wise, they are nearly identical as they both sport a Qualcomm 1.2GHz Dual Core CPU, Adreno 203 GPU, 384MB RAM, 512MB ROM (to store apps), 2GB Internal Memory and Micro-SD Slot for expandable memory up-to 32GB. Both phones run on stock Android 4.0.4 OS and Karbonn’s contribution to customisation has been limited to adding a few apps.
The 3rd party apps that come pre-installed with the phones are:
- Yahoo Messenger
- Times of India
- Kingsoft Office
These apps are listed as ‘System Apps’ and it is not possible to disable/uninstall these apps. The apps are updatable but continue to remain in System Memory.
Since Apps like WeChat, Yahoo Messenger & WhatsApp are automatically started at boot, they occupy precious RAM and result in dramatic slowdown of the user interface. After a few hours of phone use, the Contacts list is terribly slow to display.
It’s a marvel of Android OS’s memory management techniques that the phone even continues to work with such low RAM.
It is possible to uninstall these ‘system’ apps if the user has access to ‘Root’ mode on the phone. These apps can also be ‘frozen’, thus disabling them without un-installing them. While there is no dedicated rooting software for Karbonn mobiles, many generic rooting software that can root Android 4.0 phones, also work on the Karbonn phones too.
To root my phone, I used “Root MANY ANDROID! [Upd: 18.12.2012]” by “Bin4Ry”. The software is available at XDA-Developers forum. The developer is constantly updating the software to handle more and more phones and you should grab the latest version from the links present in the first post of the thread. Of all the rooting tools for Android OS available on the net, I found this one to be least demanding and straight-forward.
For the uninitiated, the software is really simple to use and I strongly encourage that you view the video tutorial on Youtube before proceeding.
This article is not about “How-to” root your Karbonn phone. The discussion thread at XDA-Developers forum provides instructions for an already easy-to-user software. This article however illustrates the performance gains that can be had from rooting your Android Phone.
The first difficulty I faced was with USB Drivers for the phone. Karbonn does not give drivers for the phone either via CD or Internet Downloads. Support-wise, Karbonn scores a big zero with thousands of users complaining about non-functioning support numbers and Service Centers that are actually closed.
Karbonn sources these phones from generic manufacturers in China and brands them for sale in India. As such, when connected to the computer, the phone shows up as ‘Tianyu HS-USB Android Modem 9025’. There are drivers available on the Internet titled as ‘Qualcomm USB Network Driver Package’. The problem I faced was that these drivers refused to install on my Windows 7 Home Basic x64 with ‘incorrect platform’ message. Clearly, I needed 64-bit drivers.
One solution is to use ‘Moborobo’. It is an application developed in China that can manage a wide range of Android mobile phones. The application can backup Contacts, SMS messages, Media and you can even control the phone from your PC (very useful for sending SMS messages). It does it by connecting the phone to the Computer over USB Debugging facility of Android. The software automatically downloads the appropriate drivers for your phone from the Internet, thus saving you the hassle for looking for them all over the Internet.
While I did download and install the software, I uninstalled it soon after because I had three major issues with it:
- The software installs unsigned drivers for the phone on your computer.
- The software also installs applications on your phone without express permission.
- The developers of the software are anonymous. The website does not feature a contact address or any proof that the company is trust-worthy.
To my surprise, the Karbonn A9+ came with a file called ‘pcdrivers.zip’ pre-loaded on the phone’s 2GB internal memory. This file yielded unsigned drivers for the phone and fortunately, it also contained drivers for Windows x64. I chose to install these drivers to the computer. Windows 7 accepts these drivers but complains about them being unsigned. The drivers may have come with the Karbonn A9+, but they also worked with the Karbonn A21.
Download the drivers titled ‘Qualcomm USB Network Driver Package 188.8.131.52 for Windows XP/Vista/Win 7’ here.
With the USB drivers installed, the ‘Tianyu Composite ADB Interface-MI01’ is activated in Device Manager along with ‘Tianu HS-USB Diagnostics 9025’ and ‘Tianyu HS-USB NMEA 9025’ devices.
Now Bin4ry’s tool is able to detect the Karbonn phones and it is able to root both the phones in under 5 minutes. The actual rooting process only takes a few seconds.
The first thing I did after rebooting the phone was to install ‘Titanium Backup’ from the Google Play Store and Grant it ‘Super User’ access. I also granted access ‘ClockSync’ app so that it can keep the time on the phone synchronized to an Atomic Clock on the Internet. For some reason, the Karbonn phones lose/gain time and are rarely accurate after a day.
Using Titanium Backup, I uninstalled the following (keeping only Kingsoft Office and WhatsApp):
- Yahoo Messenger
- Times of India
There was a distinct improvement in the amount of RAM that became available. Note that readings were taken by closing all apps and running ‘Fast Reboot’ app to maximize available RAM.[table “” not found /]
The RAM saved alone is probably worth it and should result in performance improvement, though the usability impact of such performance gain may be hard to quantize.