Google launched the first Nexus smartphone in the first half of 2010. The HTC Nexus One was well built, had one of the fastest mobile processors available at the time, and showed Google’s vision for what an Android smartphone should be at the time.
More than three years later, the Google Nexus One hardware looks a bit dated and Google stopped offering official software updates ages ago. But hasn’t stopped independent developers from keeping Google’s first Nexus phone up to date.
Developer texasice has released a custom ROM for the Nexus One based on Android 4.4 KitKat.
Evervolv KitKat 4.4 for the Nexus One is a customized version of Google’s open source Android 4.4 software. It includes most of Google’s basic features, plus a few extra tweaks including a theme manager, the ability to control music playback with the volume buttons, lock screen modifications, and a toolbox that lets you enable and disable features.
As of late November, 2013 the Evervolv KiKat software for the Nexus One is a bit buggy — 3G data is sometime unstable, there’s no support for video recording, the camera preview function doesn’t work, and neither does USB tethering. But most basic feature do work.
There’s a catch though: The Nexus One has just 512MB of internal storage and if you’re still using the default bootloader and partition scheme there’s not enough room for Android 4.4. You’ll need to replace the bootloader with BlackRose before you can install Evervolv KitKat.
Even after you do that, there’s not really enough room for everything so the developers have removed some non-essential apps including the video editor, calendar, email app, and even the boot animation. You can download most of the missing apps from the Google Play Store after you’ve installed the operating system, and load them on a microSD card if there’s not enough room on your device’s internal storage.
The Nexus One has a 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 single core processor, 512MB of RAM, a 1400mAh battery, and a 3.7 inch, 800 x 480 pixel AMOLED display. Since one of Google’s goals with Android 4.4 was to improve support for cheap phones, those specs should be good enough to offer a pretty decent experience with KitKat.
It’s the lack of internal storage that presents the biggest challenge — and it’s pretty amazing to see that independent developers continue to succeed at something Google hasn’t even bothered to try: keeping the Nexus One alive and kicking long after its official expiration date.