Droid Bionic Bugs Squashed with OTA .893! (Well most of them)

At the beginning of this month, I wrote about all of the bugs I had encountered with my Motorola Droid Bionic in the first week of use.  Some of them were minor and only slightly annoying, others were reported by nearly every Bionic owner and were extremely frustrating… for example the data loss issue.  My Bionic could barely hold on to a 3G data signal, much less a 4G one – and I had to constantly toggle Airplane Mode to get 3G back after a phone call or the phone went to sleep.  It was reported earlier this month that Motorola would have a fix available for most of these issues in November, but the reality is more likely that it will be pushed out another month… that’s just the way it always has been with Motorola and Verizon.

Fast forward to last night.  I was reading an article about Liberty ROM for the Bionic on Droid Life, and as I always do, I read through the comments.  It was there that I saw a lot of chatter about “.893″.  Over and over again I saw “OTA .893 fixed my data issues” or “since .893 I don’t have X problem anymore”.  I was wondering how I missed an official OTA (Over-The-Air update) and hadn’t heard anything about it until now.  Well, none of the comments really divulged where these folks were getting this magical OTA update, so I did some Googling and found it at XDAdevelopers in a thread titled “Bootloader Unlock Research” and with some bizarre “Cheesecake” application, people were searching out Motorola test servers for OTA updates that had been leaked… and they were finding them!

I read through the entire thread and found a direct link to the .893 OTA (which is a dropbox link and may not be alive forever), so I didn’t have to install the “Cheesecake” application and look for it.  In reading through the comments, I found that people were losing root with this OTA update, and couldn’t regain root with Pete’s Motorola Root Tools, or any other method for that matter.  At this point I thought, “Do I really want to update and lose root?”… which is what I think every time I find a new update in the wild.

Then there was a post about something called “For3v3r Root”.  Sounded promising… what is it?  I found this thread at RootzWiki that had a solution.  The title even included “(Get ROOT after 893 OTA OOPS)” so I knew I was in the right place!  

When I first read through it, I was a bit confused and apprehensive about attempting this method.  I always get that way when people throw out “if you aren’t careful, you’ll brick your phone and there is no recovery method”.  I read through all the comments and concerns – my thanks to all of those that went through this process before me – and found people having success with this procedure.  There is a Linux version and a Windows version.  Since I have Windows 7, I obviously took that route; and it was surprisingly easy.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN:  BACKUP YOUR DATA

Download the Windows file, unzip it to a folder (and if the OP has not been updated yet, then download this fixed script and drop it in the folder over the original R3L3AS3DRoot.bat).  Connect your Bionic to your computer via USB and select “Charge Mode” on your phone.  Run “R3L3AS3DRoot.bat” and follow the instructions as they appear.   This process WILL wipe your data (not your sdcard or sdcard-ext) so I was able to restore a backup I had made earlier in the day with Clockwork Mod Recovery.  When its finished, you are apparently “Forever Rooted”…  well, at least until Motorola or Verizon finds a way to break this method.

When my phone loaded back up (rooted), I dropped the .893 OTA onto my sdcard (it was named “Blur_Version.5.5.893.XT875.Verizon.en.US.zip“) and my Bionic almost instantly told me there was an update ready to be installed.  So, I let it do it.  After a few minutes, my phone rebooted and was on .893 and still had root and all of my apps, data, etc.



My findings so far, after 24 hours with this update:
My phone has been retaining 3G/4G signals through phone calls, switches to WiFi, waking up from sleep mode and honestly is faster than it was before.  It might be that the data issue was so bad that it wasn’t delivering the best quality data stream before, and now it’s fixed and running 100% capacity.  No buffering on YouTube videos in HQ, websites load almost instantly, overall it’s just great so far.

The issue with apps disappearing from the phone when moved to the “Media Area” (app2sd) is fixed.  I moved about 20 games out of the phone’s internal memory and they’ve remained there after a couple of reboots.  Great!

I’ve already listened to music through earbuds for a couple of hours since the update and there is no noise, and I haven’t had an issue with the phone’s external speaker becoming distorted.

The camera focuses a whole lot faster now!  I took some pictures and timed how long it took to open the camera app, hit the shutter, obtain focus, and take the picture (indoors).  Start to finish was about 5 seconds. After the Camera app was open, it would focus and shoot in about 1-2 seconds.  This is not perfect, but MUCH improved if you saw how long it was taking to focus before the update!

I had already figured out how to get Facebook contacts to sync to the Bionic’s contact list, and with this OTA update fixing the data issue, I no longer get the Visual Voicemail error message telling me it couldn’t connect to the server when the phone woke up from sleep or was rebooted.  I would have to say that Motorola fixed every single one of the issues I was having – and they did it FAST!  I’ll just have to see what happens when they push out the “final” version of this OTA update… will I be able to install it?  Will it include other fixes or enhancements?  Will Verizon somehow sneak more annoying bloatware or fun-blocking code in it?

A lot of people have already claimed better battery life on their Bionic since the .893 update.  I can’t really say that I notice anything yet.  Before the update, I was getting between 8-12 hours battery life (depending on usage of course), and this first day of use I managed to get 10 hours… but I was using it quite a bit.   I’m going to charge it back up to 100% and clear the battery stats and see how it does tomorrow.

I’m extremely happy with the Bionic now.  It does everything I want and need – and does it fast.  I just wonder how I’ll feel when the RAZR hits the stores.

UPDATE (10/28):
And today Droid Life adds an article about an easier way to retain root through an OTA!  Wish their article came out 2 days earlier.

UPDATE (10/29):
So far I’ve been averaging 10-12 hours of battery life since this update, so I don’t think there was a real improvement, but then I was forcing my phone to stay in CDMA (3G) mode before the update because of the 4G LTE  > 3G hand-off issues… and since the update I’ve been letting it switch back and forth.  Not a very fair comparison to be honest.  12 hours is about all I expected and got with my DroidX, so I’m okay with this.

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