Sunday, May 1, 2016

Marshmallows are no good!

So, no, exchanging phones with my wife DID NOT fix the GPS issue.

Today I had to drive to a shop to get some furniture about 25km away from my apartment, and the GPS acted up again. This was on the Nexus 5 my wife was using earlier. The phone was running Marshmallow 6.0.1. It was freshly installed couple of days ago.

The GPS problem persisted with Google Maps as well as Nokia Here maps. The issue occurred several times throughout the 50km or so total distance.

Thankfully I did not have to do a U-turn and correct the route. If I had to do that, I would have been super pissed because we had to make it to the shop before 5pm. And it was 3:40pm when we started heading for the shop.

Guess I have two options.

  • Switch back to Kitkat and enjoy a properly working phone, but look like a caveman.
  • Buy a new phone, making a hole bigger than AUD700.

Whether or not I go for the 2nd option needs very careful consideration. For the time being, I am back with Kitkat. *sigh*

Friday, April 29, 2016

What if I switch phones with my wife?

After writing that last post, I got a great idea.

What if my wife's phone doesn't have the GPS problem my phone has/had? If her phone functions properly, I can simply switch the phones because she doesn't drive the car yet. We both have the same phone so she won't miss a thing.

Ideally, I should have tested her phone a few days to see if it was working properly, but I was impatient. I wanted to switch first and then test. Then at least I would be able to use Marshmallow again. The feeling of being able to use the latest OS makes me happy, even if it is slow.

I factory reset both phones and flashed the latest version of Marshmallow available on Google to both phones. I swapped the SIM cards and the phone cases.

I restored the applications from the corresponding latest backups to both phones. That meant installing a lot of applications than what Marshmallow was used to running on my phone, because my final backup was from KitKat and I had installed a lot of app on it because it never slowed down like its successors.

This immediately brought back the sluggishness I was so used to on my phone. I used the phone the whole day yesterday and it eventually became somewhat usable. Either the indexes/caches we constructed to make things faster or my body got used to the sluggishness. Or it can be both.

What about the GPS issue? Is it better on this phone?

Yesterday I had to drive for about 30 minutes (I had to visit a house in Mulgrave to check some furniture which was advertised on Gumtree) and I found the location to update without a hiccup on Google Maps. Does this mean the problem is fixed? No, because it is definitely too early to draw any conclusions just yet but the initial results are at least positive. I think it needs at least a whole week of testing but I don't drive much, so a week of good performance is still not a good indicator. We shall see. I'm sure you'll hear more about this topic soon.

Was it a coincidence that the GPS issue was fixed by downgrading to KitKat?

In the previous post, I mentioned that I downgraded the version of Android OS running in my Nexus 5 to KitKat from Marshmallow to fix GPS signal issue that I had been experiencing heavily in  the last few days. It seemed to fix the problem, but was it the software downgrading that really fixed the issue?

I researched more about this topic and people were claiming that the real reason behind this phenomena is not a software problem, but a bad connection between the terminals of the GPS antenna and the receiver circuit. If you open up the phone and slid a piece of paper underneath the antenna module to make the terminals protrude a little bit more than usual, they claim this issue goes away. Opening the Nexus 5 sounds like an adventurous thing to do but as per ifixtit's teardown manual of the Nexus 5, it looks like a straightforward thing if you have a plastic opener, which I sadly do not have.

But if this is the real cause of the issue, why did downgrading to KitKat seemed to have fixed the problem? There still could be a deficiency with newer firmware. Or, by chance, the contact between the antenna terminals and the circuitry improved, which means that it will go bad again. We will never know.

Unless of course, I switch back to Marshmallow, make it behave as erroneously as it used to and apply the GPS antenna fix and observe the results. If it goes back to functioning like a proper phone after applying the GPS antenna fix, then I can switch back to I Marshmallow and probably hold off buying a new phone. I can do this test, but since I don't have a plastic phone opening tool, it will have to wait a bit longer.

Time to order a plastic phone opening tool I suppose.

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