Follow GeniusHabit on Twitter
Subscribe for free: Email | RSS
Download our Apps
How to upgrade a T-Mobile G1 from Android 1.6 to 2.2

How to upgrade a T-Mobile G1 from Android 1.6 to 2.2

By Dan M. Medina, 2010.09.06. Main photo by Genius Habit.

UPDATE: (2011.01.22) Updated to include the video transcript and troubleshooting information.

With an abundance of new smartphones announced or released recently, I am very tempted to upgrade to a new phone. However, in my opinion, each of the new phones has at least one significant flaw. How long should I wait for the perfect phone, or at least one that does not have a significant flaw, especially if I am to be stuck with a 2-year contract? With 4G rollouts and Android 3.0 coming relatively soon, I decide to keep my trusty G1 for a bit longer, infusing a little more life into the old trailblazer with a major operating system upgrade.

Although the Motorola Droid pushed Android into the mainstream, the T-Mobile G1 is the first ever Android smartphone, released almost two years ago. T-Mobile discontinued this model this past summer, and stopped releasing Android operating system updates at version 1.6 ("Donut") due to limited hardware specifications. Thanks to the Android community and people like CyanogenMod, upgrades for the G1 continue, including the latest version, 2.2 ("Froyo"). UPDATE: Due to limited hardware specifications, CyanogenMod has chosen not to support the G1 with the upgrade to Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread").

There are many reasons to upgrade from the stock 1.6 firmware, including, but not limited to:

  • Performance upgrade
  • Multi-touch web browser (pinch-to-zoom)
  • 3G tethering, either through USB or WiFi
  • Upgraded features (better widgets, photos in Contacts)
  • Installing apps that require newer versions of Android, including Google Voice Search
  • Ability to install or move apps to the MicroSD memory card instead of the limited internal storage

This video shows how to upgrade a stock USA version of the T-Mobile G1 (HTC Dream) from Android 1.6 ("Donut") to 2.2 ("Froyo") using CyanogenMod 6.

Video Transcript

How to upgrade a T-Mobile G1 from Android 1.6 to 2.2

Welcome to Today, I will show you how to upgrade a stock T-Mobile G1 from Android 1.6 to version 2.2. As you can see, I have here a T-Mobile G1 with Android 1.6, build number DMD64.

Data backup
Gmail, Calendar, Contacts

Before you begin, make sure data is backed up. If your phone is set to Auto-sync, then all of your Gmail, your Calendar, and your Contacts should automatically be backed up to Google's servers.

Data backup
SMS messages

If you want to back up your SMS messages, you can use a program like SMS Backup & Restore, which you can download from the Android Market for free. All you have to do is press Backup SMS Messages and Ok, and it will backup your SMS messages to your memory card on your phone.

Data backup

If you want to backup your apps, you can use an app like Astro, which you can download for free from the Android Market. To backup your apps,

  • Press Menu
  • Press Tools
  • Select Application Manager/Backup
  • Press the top checkbox to select all apps
  • Press Backup

Astro will then backup your apps to your phone's memory card.

Data backup

If you want to backup your browser bookmarks,

  • Press Home to go to the SD card
  • Press Up
  • Select the etc directory
  • Press and hold on bookmarks
  • Select Edit
  • Select Copy
  • Press Home to go back to the SD card
  • Press Paste
OS downgrade to get root access
RC29 firmware installation

Before you can upgrade to Android 2.2, you'll need root access. To do this, first downgrade to the RC29 firmware. After downloading the firmware, check the md5 hash value to make sure it downloaded correctly. There are many ways to do this. On a Mac, you can use the md5 command in Terminal. Just type md5 and the filename to make sure the values match.

After copying the firmware file to the root of the phone's memory card,

  • power off the phone by pressing and holding the red End key.
  • Select Power off.
  • Press OK.
  • Put the phone into bootloader mode by pressing and holding the camera button and pressing the power button until the phone is in bootloader mode.
  • Press the power button to start the update.
  • When the installation completes, press the action key, which is the trackball.
  • Reboot by pressing the red power button while pressing the green call button and the Menu button.
  • After rebooting, sign into your Google account.
  • At the Home screen, use the keyboard to press Enter twice.
  • Type telnetd and then Enter.
  • Now go to the Android Market.
  • Install telnet.
  • Launch telnet.
  • Press Connect to Server.
  • With the recovery image in the root of the SD card, use telnet to install it (type flash_image recovery /sdcard/recovery.img).
Install radio update
  • Place the update in the root of the memory card,
  • power off the phone,
  • and then reboot by pressing the red power button while holding down the Home button.
  • Using the trackball, scroll down to Flash zip from sdcard,
  • and press the trackball to select it.
  • Select the file with the trackball.
  • Press Home.
  • Reboot when prompted.
Install SPL update

With the SPL update copied to the root of the phone's memory card,

  • boot into recovery mode by turning on the phone while pressing the Home button.
  • Scroll with the trackball to Flash zip from sdcard,
  • and press the trackball to select it.
  • Again, use the trackball and select the SPL update.
  • Press Home to continue.
  • Select Reboot.
  • After rebooting from installing the SPL update, select Wipe.
  • Select Wipe data/factory reset.
  • Press Home.
Install Android 2.2
CyanogenMod 6 installation
  • Press Back.
  • Select Flash zip from sdcard.
  • Select the CyanogenMod update.
  • Press Home.
Install Google apps
  • Select Flash zip from sdcard.
  • Select Google Apps.
  • Press Home.
  • Select Reboot.

Full upgrade instructions

For full upgrade instructions and download links, read the Full Update Guide - HTC Dream on the CyanogenMod Wiki.


If you have any problems upgrading your T-Mobile G1, please visit the CyanogenMod Forum for the HTC Dream. Try to be as specific as possible with your upgrade scenario. If there is something you do not understand, state that you do not understand, and politely ask for an explanation.

What are your favorite reasons to upgrade a G1 to Android 2.2? Let us know in the comments below.