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Bionic Blast: WiFi Tether Hack, Signal Issues, Cheap Batteries, and Bootloader Bounty

Rather than post these up individually (and stir up the trolls), we thought it was best to just hammer out one big post with all of the DROID Bionic news tips that hit our inbox over the weekend.  Some good stuff going on, including a WiFi Tether hack and a bounty that has been put out for anyone that can unlock the device’s bootloader.  We are also wondering if anyone has been struggling with signal and battery issues as much as Tim and I have?  

WiFi Tether Hack

Verizon and Motorola clearly put in some work to block unauthorized tethering on the Bionic, but that hasn’t stopped our dev community from making progress.  While the phone can be easily rooted, many of you found out that your favorite tethering app was not able to work properly.  Well, until now that is.  Folks over at XDA figured out a way to edit the settings.db file from inside the device to bypass whatever Moto attempted to block with:

I found way to enable Hotspot without Verizon Provisioning. I used SQLLite Editor to modify settings.db for “Settings Storage” application ( com.motorola.android.providers.settings ). Set entitlement_check to 0 and reboot the phone.

More info at this XDA thread.

Bounty for Unlocked Bootloader

As is customary these days for locked devices just after release, a bounty has been placed on the Bionic’s bootloader.  The total purse is up to $370 as of right now, but will surely grow once we get enough people talking about it.  All you have to do is figure out a way to unlock it, prove that you unlocked it, get another forum member to successfully unlock using your method, and the money is yours.

More info at this XDA thread.

Cheap Extended Batteries

We wrote this tip up yesterday, but wanted to point out that it appears to still be available.  If you own a Bionic and are feeling the 4G LTE battery wrath, then you may want to grab the extended battery from Verizon as soon as possible.  They will show up on VZW’s accessory page as $49.99, but once you add it to your cart, will see that you can checkout with one for just $24.99.

Signal Issues and Battery Life

Update:  After reading the comments, it’s pretty clear that I may be in the minority here.  Most of you are having above average battery life and no signal issues.  Maybe it’s time to get a new unit and restart all this testing.

This is more of a subject that I am curious about after having a weekend from hell with my Bionic than anything.  Either I have the ultimate dud device that can’t hold a signal for more than 10 minutes at a time or this device is struggling worse than the Thunderbolt ever thought of.  So what I’m wondering, is if anyone else is having signal issues with their Bionic?  I’m in a 4G LTE area, but can essentially watch the device drop and lose connection for good, every couple of minutes unless I toggle Airplane or another network setting to get it to pop back on.  I had heard that there are 4G to 3G hand-off issues and am wondering if that is what I am experiencing.

On a related note, my battery life issues could have to do with the signal issues that did not improve over the weekend.  Hearing reports of anywhere from 8-12 hours of life from some of you which is solid – I’m just having no such luck.  Anyone else having battery issues?

Cheers Lawrence and Jarrod!

  • Prozac4me

    I’ve been getting phenomenal battery life with my extended (15-22) hours on a single charge, using juice defender.

     However, i’m not too happy about my data never connecting, or having to reboot my phone coming out of sleep mode to access data. I’ll have a signal (2-3) bars, but NO data for up to two minutes (sometimes longer).  I’ve heard/read that i’m not alone.

    Back to the topic, the extended battery is great!  Just be prepared to only be able to use VZW’s case to fit your phone, because there aren’t any out there that I know of that’ll work with that monster plugged in.

  • I’m having connectivity issues. I’m in Orange County, great coverage here, but my phone drops 4g AND 3g connection for hours at a time, and the only way to get it back is to either reboot the phone or cycle through airplane mode.  Really frustrating when i’ll be driving and need to use the navigation and there’s no data connection, not exactly a safe scenario to start troubleshooting.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I’m still having signal problems too 🙁
    I have a new problem, I think my phone is deleting apps on its own. I know I have added apps, but when I go back, they are gone. Is someone messing with my mind?

  • guest

    i have had my droid for three days and am having problems with signal

  • Tw_clayton

    I have been having connection issues with my Bionic.  I live in Portland oregon and drive truck around the local area.  My 4g dropps all the time and my cell signal is usually around two bars even right in the middle of Portland. I have had to toggle airplain mode a few times to get it to come back, and once the airplain mode woundn’t even activate so I had to reboot the phone.

  • rey_rey_362001

    I have the driod bionic and live outside the city limits and the 3g service is absolutely HORRIBLE!!! I dont expect the 4g to work out here…but this 3g is pathetic!!! I thought Verizon is supposed to have good coverage. My wife has an HTC EVO through sprint and her phone puts mine to shame at home. All the hype about my phone and im sorry to say that my DROIDX worked better, once again in rural areas. Is there any way to boost my signal strength?

  • Genneviej

    can you give step by step instructions on the hotspot unlock for all us tech idiots?

  • Scott

    I too have had signal issues every couple minutes it drops and I have to either restart the phone or toggle the Airplane mode like you described. The battery is terrible with what I use it for with in 4 or so hours it’s fully drained. I agree that it is time to get a new unit and start form scratch.

  • Gsc_lifeins

    I am having the signal issues, returned one phone and the same issues are recurring with the second phone

  • Something is definitely wonky with my battery life! Zaps immediately. I was on the phone for 10-15 mins & when I hung up, I lost 40% life! The Temp jacked way up as well. Can’t figure it out. Nothing appears to be running & I uninstalled my anti-virus app.

  • LeJester

    I am having battery life issues with my Bionic.  I fully condition charged it before bed.  This morning I got up to find that in Stand By for 5 hours 20% of the battery life was drained.  The day before yesterday, I had used the phone through the day off and on while charging part of that time.  In the afternoon, with good usage, the battery was at 40%.  I have an 30 minute drive home from work.  I checked the phone for messages a couple of hours after getting home and the phone battery was flat dead.  Perhaps, some program was sucking down battery power, but, the phone was in standby when I left for home.  Yesterday, before leaving for home, I killed all apps, turned all radios except primary radio off and made sure that auto updates were minimzed.  I checked the phone an hour and a half later, the charge on the battery dropped 20%.
    This is all too bad.  Otherwise, the phone is great.  I love the things that it does.  But coming from an iPhone 3G which with aggressive usage would run for almost two days without a recharge, this is frustrating at best.

    • Joey301

      Something has to be draining yours because mine is no where nearly that bad. I have noticed that Juice Defender is turning data off from time to time, I don’t know if that has anything to do with it or not.

      • LeJester

        Thank you for the input.  Yes, I think that you are on the mark.  I feel that something is not or was not allowing the device to truely go into ‘stand by’.

        All the best!

    • Anonymous

      Take it back for new one.  If you want to avoid it, you may want to try and run the battery all the way down, in case it’s battery’s memory is messed up.  Not likely this soon.  Are you having data connection issues i.e. do you periodically look at your screen and see neither 3G nor 4G as available? If so, you may have a more frequent problem than I am having.

      I have consistently gone to bed with 80% and turned off the screen, while not connected to power.  My phone is my alarm clock.  I wake up, and still have 70-80%.  Yes, I have it connected to WiFi, while in the house.  I don’t know if that matters.  I have done this the past 5 nights, with no issues.

      • LeJester

        Thank you for the reply.  The 4G has been rock solid.  There is no back and forth switching between 3G and 4G.  No obvious connection losses.
        I have done some work on my phone since yesterday and their might be some improvement.  I had a heavily configured desktop, some Widgets (CNN, Facebook, BBC News and the like), Go Launcher Ex and and Look Out Security.  The desktop is now very minimal, removed Go Launcher EX and removed that Lookout Security.  In days prior, I had been removing other applications to try and improve the battery performance.
        I unplugged the phone from the wall at 6:30 AM.  It is now 11:30 AM.  I have been checking email and doing facebook here and there.  I have 90% battery power showing!  It is like a miracle! 
        If I had to guess, I would suppose a problem with the anti-virus software tanking the battery.
        I love what the Go Launcher Ex does.  So, I will try installing the Go Launcher EX and see if the battery tanks.  Then if everything is OK, in coming days I will ramp up the load on the home screens.
        I am now hopeful that I might have a handle on some of the issues with the battery performance.  I will try and update this post in the near future.
        Has anyone ever run into any battery performance issues with any of the above mentioned applications?
        All the best!

        • LeJester

          Update 2: Went on a road trip on Saturday.  I unplugged the phone from wall power at 9:00AM.  I drove for three hours in and out of areas with weak coverage.  Then spent the day and evening out with friends.  I used the phone off and on all day and into the evening.  Facebook, web browsing and some HD 1080 video recording.  The battery life continues to improve.  I arrived home at 4:00AM and plugged in my phone.  It still had 30% battery life remaining. 
          It really does seem that the battery life has improved a great deal.  I am wondering if the suggestion in another post about the battery performance increasing over time is on the mark.  Perhaps several charges and discharges could be conditioning the battery. 
          As for those who have reported problems with uploading data and with connections.  My phone has been a real champ in that regards.  It is very stable.  You may want to contact Verizon if you are having issues with the network performance and the battery as well.
          I am still running the Go Launcher EX and this has not caused any problems with the battery life.  I also have severl feed widgets going as well.  The WiFi radio was turned on the entire time as well.

  • I live in Maryland but I get to the DC and VA area a few times a week. I keep 4G most of the time I seen 3G once. I’m having no problems with the battery life either but I have a charger in the car and at work so I haven’t when without some kind of charge yet. I might try that tomorrow to see what happens,

  • Jamalot71

    They also took down the extended battery and cover from their website.  it was there as of midnight last night.

  • Dshudson

    I woke up this morning taking my Bionic off the charger. 100% 5:30am. Didn’t touch the phone until I got on the train where I used Kindle app and played music to cut out background noise on the train 50min of use. I am at work and at my desk now 9:24. 29% Screen brightness is almost all the way down and I have app killer running on crazy killing apps. Besides the dreadful useless camera, the battery is a joke. However, I did get an extra, but should I have too for this type of use. NO.. miss my tbolt and it’s kickstand. 🙁

    • Anonymous

      Dang, that is not such a good report. I read you post so I checked my phone. I got up at the same time with 100%. I have read my email twice, downloaded an app, and searched for apps. I am not sure how I have set the power, but I have reduced at least GPS and BT. I have received numerous notifications. I still have 90%. I think that 50 min of use must be a killer.

    • Question 1: What music are you playing? Music on SD card? GMusic? Pandora? etc.
      Question 2: Does your train have good signal strength? any tunnels, blind areas etc?
      Question 3: Do you use apps like Juice Defender?

      It also might be the app killer, try the phone without it, still speedy enough. I used to use it on my OG droid, but that’s a different kinda problem. THe Bionic has enough power to run everything in the background, and JD should keep your data usage down when screen off.

  • Spc Hicks09

    Wasn’t everyone so psyched about this phone coming with an un-locked bootloader? Hmmmmm…..

  • Mike

    Battery lifes been good for me i had about 13 hours today. Havent had a 4g test yet though. And my datas been good ive had great signal. Compared to a droid x which has one or no bars the bionic had at least 3 of four.

  • Even not-rooted, the battery, the ui, the LTE speed/signal is perfectly fine. I’m coming form an OG Droid hacked to hell, and the Bionic is basically what I’ve been dreaming 2 years for. I use Juice Defender on Balanced, and I have no issues with signal and battery life. There is a slight pause when data turns back on after waking it, but only for a few seconds, then it’s solid 4G. The phone itself is speedy with absolutely no lag. The camera works fine, even in low light, and the camcorder does seem to auto-focus alot, but only for motion subjects. 

    And a sidenote for peeps who say “it’s not worth it, you should wait”, etc etc etc, I don’t care what you think, it’s also pretty damn annoying when I see your “non-concrete” opinions on every droid bionic news post. People will get phones they want, they don’t care that there’s a new phone right around the corner (unless you’re an iphone user). I’ve been waiting 2 years for a new phone, and back in January, I was excited for the Bionic when I saw it at CES, but I knew if I wanted that phone, I’d have to pay $600 for it. Jump now 9 months later, my contract is up, I need an upgrade, and the phone I was excited about just released, so of course, I’m gonna buy it. Do I want to wait 3-4 months for the next phone? not really. It’s like buying a car, it’s the end of 2011, are you gonna buy a 2012 model? or wait for a 2013 model cause you “think” it’s gonna be so much better. Noone knows if it’s “definitely” better, that’s what rumor speculation was made for. If I was you, I’d buy the phone that I want, not the one I think I need, whether it be the Bionic, Prime, or whatever.

  • Anonymous

    I’m having *serious* connection issues.  I was wondering at first if it was due to my location being on the ragged edge of a 4G signal and possible handoff issues.  Same thing when I turn 4G off, though…very often, when I turn my phone on, I have no data signal and have to toggle airplane mode or, sometimes, do a hard reboot.  Has anyone else experienced this?  Does it sound like I just got a bad unit and need to return it? 

    No issues with battery life, though…it easily lasts me for an entire day with fairly regular use.

  • Had no problems with signal but battery life isn’t great. Just ordered the extended battery as backup.

  • Str8rippinem

    Been up since 8..played a round of 18 holes using Skydroid, facebook and texting all day, numerous calls, Third blade for an hour, Louis Ck standup on netflix and a movie through Moboplayer….its now 10pm and i have enough juice to write this and get back to some gaming. Fing love the Bionic (with extended battery) keep hating on it haters, nothing could get me to dislike this beast…

    • Yeah I”m just loving this phone coming from an OG Droid, but today I got snagged by the no signal part. No 3G or 4G all day.

    • Yeah I”m just loving this phone coming from an OG Droid, but today I got snagged by the no signal part. No 3G or 4G all day.

  • Dmackandnfje

    The bionic is sick…ur life is a piece of garbage

  • xwera43

    I’m in Oregon too (no LTE down here in the Roseburg area) but 3G signal strength has been on par if not better than my Incredible, Charge & DX2 sticking close to -85 as opposed to -89 to -92. Battery is pretty good since my Incredible has a 2150mAh in it, this seems almost on par with that… Almost. Thanks to your Twitter tip, an extended battery is on the way though. 😉


  • letsmotor

    I have extended battery and with fair amt of use has lasted easily thru day..but…today when at 80% I go to check email and the phone is off, so off I had to pop the battery to get it to go back on. I’ve also had alot of signal drops where the only cure is to turn the whole unit off/on. Despite all this I’m enjoying the phone.

  • JadesBlood

    How has the GPS been working on everyone’s Bionics? I’m dying to know cause still to this day that is a very painful topic with my TBolt. *sigh 50m of my target location after 5-15mins is ridiculous.

    • LionStone

      Have you tried to reset with GPS Status? Once I did that my TB is fast to lock on like my Incredible! It’s very reliable now. 

  • Whcoleman37

    Im in a 4g area and my biinic is having major signal issues. 4g to 3g to nothing at all and sometimes i have to restart my phone to get the 4g signal back. Other than the signal the phone has been great!