Making the Samsung Galaxy Ring Stable

I’ve been with Virgin Mobile for almost 4 years now. They have decent coverage and nice data speeds, but what actually keeps me coming back is their $25/month plan: 300 minutes, unlimited texts and “unlimited” data (2.5GB) for the low, low price of $25/month.

What I don’t like about Virgin is the phones. My folks got me a Samsung Intercept for Christmas one year, and the phone locked up and required battery pulls several times a week. Virgin sent me a new Intercept, which locked up just as much. I kept a log of all my issues, and when I contacted them again a couple months later, they offered to replace the Intercept with the Motorola Triumph.

On paper, the Triumph was a nice phone for its time. It had a decent processor and nice large screen. But while it didn’t have major issues, like the Intercept, it had dozens of minor issues, most notably the GPS taking up to 10 minutes to get a lock. Time passed, and I got tired of all these issues. I also tired of having a phone with Gingerbread when the release of Kit Kat was imminent.

About that time, Virgin released a new phone, the Reef, which was a water-resistant version of the Triumph running a newer version of Jelly Bean. There were Internet rumors that this phone was made by Foxconn, not Huawei, and that several of the hardware issues had been fixed. It was (supposedly) everything great about the Triumph with none of the bad stuff!

So I went looking for one locally. But I couldn’t find one. What I did find was the Samsung Galaxy Ring. It looked just like an S3 or S4, only smaller. It ran Jelly Bean. And Walmart had it for $50 off: $129! I went to some other stores, but they didn’t have the Reef, and their Galaxy Rings were still $179. So I went back to WM and bought the Ring.

This is why impulse purchases can be a bad thing. When I got home, I went to Virgin’s site and read the reviews for the Ring, which talked about constant spontaneous reboots, and stock apps crashing. I ignored this at first, since my phone seemed to be OK. But within a few weeks… reboots happened. 3-4 a week. Sometimes I’d be in the middle of using the phone and it would reboot. But sometimes I’d wake up, check my email on it, then put it down on my desk and not touch it for two hours… and BOOM! Reboot out of the blue.

I sent my first Ring back to VM. But the second was as bad as the first. I sent the second back to VM, but the third was just as bad. VM really started pushing back on me sending it back again (just getting it swapped the third time was a chore). So I figured that – for now – I’m stuck with the phone.

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Android apparently has a bug (details here) where when you try to update your apps, you get an “Insufficient Storage Available” error, even though you appear to have plenty of free space. I don’t know if this is because Android is misrepresenting the amount of free space on the device (e.g. it says you have 500MB available but you actually only have 50MB) or if installers really need 400MB to install a 12MB Twitter update or what.

After getting this message 2-3 times, I finally decided to go through my apps and uninstall stuff I didn’t use. While doing this, I noticed that the Google+ app and various Google Play apps (Google Play Books, etc.) were taking up a bunch of space, and I had never once used them. So I went to their pages in App Manager and “uninstalled updates” for most of them, then disabled all but Google Play Music (which I actually use from time to time). This freed up a bunch of space on my phone.

More importantly, I did this in early June, and in the three months since then my phone has rebooted a grand total of once. Going from 3-4 times a week to once every three months is a huge win in my book. And Google apps also don’t crash any more: where I used to get random “Google+ has crashed” errors (even when not actively using the app!), app crashes are now very rare.

There are, however, a couple possible downside to this “fix”.

This first is that you (obviously) no longer have Google+ on your phone. This should only affect the 17 people in the United States who actually use Google+, though.

More worrying, my phone seems slower than it did before, as in, I open an app, and it appears to take longer to become responsive than it did before. I put those words in italics because I haven’t actually tested it using any kind of “scientific” method. It could be that the phone’s just old, and newer software is taxing the processor. Or it could be that the phone is just kludged down with junk and needs to be reset. Or it may well be that disabling all these Google apps makes the phone more stable, but less responsive.

If anyone’s interested, I’ll actually try some kind of “test” the next time I reset my phone to see if this is the case. All I can say is… this “fix” has worked for me, and made my Galaxy Ring significantly more stable.

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