OK folks, I got a fabulous HTC Hero mobile / smartphone last August.  There were a few niggles with slowness and lag after a few days but a HTC upgrade on their website sorted that out, as well as the addition of a task manager / killer (free in the App Market) to free up memory, which is the usual cause of lag is low memory due to too many programs being open).

Newer phones have started to come with Google Android 2.1 as the operating system (Hero has 1.5) which includes some new features and a better market.  HTC has been promising an upgrade to 2.1 for the Hero for quite some time but so far it has been delayed several times but there are other options out there if you are willing to `root` your phone.  This basically means granting yourself complete access to the phones OS and system files, just like Android developers and App developers use.  If you are not technically minded then you should probably continue to wait for the official HTC update which will apparently be delivered automatically OTA `Over The Air` to your phone and is currently scheduled for release at the start of June 2010.

Now my HTC Hero work on the Orange UK network but was bought via Car Phone Warehouse.  I found when in stalling the initial update mentioned above when I first got my phone that I couldn`t download the update for `Orange` on the HTC website but rather the generic update.  The phone does not have any Orange branding or software on it.

There are alot of different Android `mods` and ROM`s available including several for the HTC Hero.  After looking around I decided on Sense Hero 2.2.

What we are about to do will wipe your phone but not your SD card so remember to backup your phone numbers / contacts using apps from the Market. I used Pleex, downloaded it, backed up my data and then went to the Pleex website and exported my contacts to my Google contacts (you can download Pleex again once you have 2.1 installed and pay to get your contacts back that way but if you export to Google from the Pleex website your phone will sync to your Google contacts when you are setting it up again after the new ROM is installed.  Just remember to tell it to only show Google contacts with phone numbers)

Basically we are going to do this:-

ROOT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS:

To `root` your phone go here and follow the instructions. Note I am on Orange but I did not downgrade my ROM (although phone / contract was through Carphone Warehouse which may mean I have a stock HTC Hero rather than an `Orange` one) as it talks about at the link.  Neither did I format my SD card – basically I skipped instructions 2, 3 and 4 but followed everything else and the procedure worked fine for me.

ROM UPDATE 123 INSTRUCTIONS:

To update the ROM we basically do this although I have added a couple of stages which worked for me:-

1. Run a Nandroid backup (so you can backup / restore your phone to the way it is now (Android 1.5) before we install Sense Hero)
2. FULL WIPE
3. Flash new Radio ROM
4. Flash Sense HERO ROM
5. Flash other optional updates

First we want to download our files.
For the latest Radio ROM please go here and download.
Then download Sense Hero and optional updates from here or here (I downloaded Friendstream and AOSP keyboard as optional extras FS is for Facebook / Twitter / Flickr and AOSP is an improved keyboard).  Apps2SD is something I intend to try but haven`t as of yet.  It allows you to install apps to the SD card instead of the internal memory. Now copy all those files to the SD card.  Just poot them in the main directory not in any folders.

To wipe and install the new ROM turn off the phone and turn it on into Recovery mode by holding down Home and Power to turn it on (keep holding until the recovery screen comes up has a bunch of text on a black background). Now you basically can follow this set of instructions / video.  But it is fairly straight forward – from the recovery screen I selected backup which did a nandroid backup which copied my phones data to a folder called nandroid on the SD card.  Then I chose to wipe.  Then I chose to flash first the Radio ROM, then the Sense Hero ROM (or anyother ROM you download) and then the optional updates (I didn`t have to rename any of the files to update like it mentions in the instructions).

And that was it.  Apparently you can format the SD card to give the system extra space to allow the likes Apps2SD to install Apps to the SD card if you intend to install alot of programs but I haven`t tried it yet.

It takes a little while the first time you boot for it to sort itself out and you have to set the phone up again but once done I had Android 2.1 with HTC Sense UI on my Hero running fast and smooth.

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