Rooting and De-bloating an LG Optimus F6 MS500

This page is about my experiences with an LG Optimus F6 MS500 phone from Metro PCS, a no-contract subsidiary of T-Mobile. I spent some hours with the F6 learning how to make it "better than new" by rooting, de-bloating, and otherwise optimizing it.

TL;DR: It's a good little phone with storage-space limitations. Rooting it and removing factory-installed "trialware" improves the phone significantly. For the money (under $100 used in good condition) it's hard to beat.

(Skip to the root-and-debloat procedure.)

I discovered this particular phone because I know an "enthusiastic phone consumer" who got one and loves hers. She told me it's perfect for her -- even better than her former phones -- and there are some nice handsets on her former-phones list (Galaxy Note, iPhone 5, Galaxy S3, and others). Sometimes less is more.

LG Optimus F6
LG Optimus F6

My main purpose for this project was figuring out how to optimize and enhance the Optimus F6 by rooting it and removing some "trialware" and other unwanted factory-installed software. In the end the phone will be set up "clean, lean and mean", ready to be enjoyed by someone with little to no Android smartphone experience.

Some benefits of rooting and de-bloating:

  • Snappier performance
  • Better battery life
  • Minimal distracting "upsell" garbage
  • Ability to run apps that require root
  • Ability to do a full system backup
  • More space for your apps and data

Someday I'd perhaps also like to

  • turn an F6 into a "radioless media player" that could be filled with podcasts and tunes and enjoyed around town. [UPDATE: There's a Cell Radio ShutOff app you can use to do this.]
  • turn an F6 into a reasonably-priced "company phone". Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is not a wise information-protection strategy. A fleet of properly-prepared F6s could be a workable cost-effective alternative to BYOD. [UPDATE: Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) is too old to use for this purpose.]

I found a used F6 in good condition and bought it for $70. The owner called Metro PCS and got the unlock code. He said the call took a half-hour. The code arrived in his email after a day or two for processing the request.

About the F6 (mini review)

The LG Optimus F6 is a well-designed phone with some features that are above its middle-tier class. The 4.5" IPS display looks nice, with good color and wide viewing angles. It has a reasonably powerful (1200 MHz) dual-core CPU and a high-capacity (2460 mAh) battery. The phone is slim (0.40 inch thick) and comfortable to hold.

LG provides a good 1.2 amp travel charger with the phone. It charges the phone quickly. I liked the charger so much I ordered another one to use with my other devices when two amps is too much but one amp is not quite enough.

One weakness might be the camera, particularly in low light. Still, the camera could be an Instagrammer's delight. You can program the QuickButton to be a camera button so it turns on the camera, then acts as a shutter button(!). LG's camera app is pretty good too. I like the helpful "Time Catch Shot" and "Cheese Shutter" features in particular. If you're creative and willing to get familiar with it, the camera can produce some great shots.

The F6's primary limitation is storage space.

  • It doesn't have a large amount of storage space (4 gigs, 1.27GB of which is usable for apps and data).
  • Moving apps to SD is restricted.
  • It comes with a lot of "bloatware" that uses up internal storage space.

My phone-enthusiast friend had hers almost full without installing many apps. Rooting and de-bloating this phone will help make it a much more useful device to own. For even more storage space, an enthusiast can specially prepare an SD card and use an app called Link2SD and a App2External_SD mod to get around the storage space limitation.

Optimus F6 links

LG's Features and Specifications page for the Optimus F6
Essentially a web-brochure
LG's Support page for the Optimus F6
Manual PDF and USB Drivers
PhoneScoops's review of the Optimus F6
"a good buy for the budget-minded" (theirs had sketchy call quality)
PhoneArena's review of the Optimus F6
"the Optimus F6 is worth a look" (theirs had outstanding call quality)
LG Optimus F6 - user opinions and reviews at GSM Arena
Some feedback about the F6
LG Optimus F6 forum at Android Forums
Discussion board (XDA has no forum for the F6.)
LG Optimus F6 MS500 - Android Creations (GameTheory's site)
Helpful F6 resource


Note: This is an updated procedure using TWRP Recovery rather than CWM and F6Utilities. This new procedure is shorter than the original, too, without a Lightly-Debloated Baseline stop along the way. I archived the first procedure so you can read it if you're interested.

Our starting point is a factory-fresh installation of "12b" firmware. Find your phone's firmware version with

 Menu - System settings - About phone - Software information  

Under "Software Version" it should say "MS50012b".

Note: In my case got to this "reference" starting point by flashing a .kdz file I downloaded from LG's site. You'll find directions at GameTheory's site. If you do flash the .kdz, remember to remove your SD card first, otherwise it will be reformatted. Also, have some patience because it takes some time to move that much data through a USB cable.

Next set up Wi-Fi using the Setup Wizard, which is the app with a magicians-hat icon and labeled "Setup".

 Welcome to Setup Wizard:  Next
 Set internet connection
   Uncheck mobile network (for now)
   Check Wi-Fi and join network.
   Skip learning about Wi-Fi calling and messaging.
 Got Google?:  No
 Make it Google:  Not now
 Google & Location:  Uncheck both
 Welcome: Go to Home screen

Now prepare for the root.

 Menu - System settings - Security
   Check Unknown sources
 Menu - System settings - Developer options
   Check USB debugging

While we're at it, let's see how much space is free with all of the bloatware installed (but not updated).

 Menu -> System settings -> Storage
   It says we have
     1.27GB of space
     213MB of apps
     1.09GB available

Rooting and Installing Recovery

Now we'll root the phone and install SuperSU, BusyBox, and TWRP recovery.

Note: I have the .apk Android package files on the SD. Sideloading makes it easier and faster. It also allows me to avoid attaching my Google account to the phone over and over while I experiment. I used the Towel Root .apk linked here and TWRP Recovery .apk linked here.

My 16GB class-6 microSD had these files on it to start with:

 ├── @flashable_zips/
 │   ├──
 │   ├──
 │   └──
 └── @installable_apks/
     ├── BusyBox-165-v15.apk
     ├── LG-F6-TWRP-V3.apk
     ├── QuickBoot-12-v4.2.apk RecoveryReboot-v2.2.apk
     ├── SuperSU-201-v2.01.apk
     ├── TitaniumBackup-337-v6.1.5.6.apk
     └── TowelRoot_v1.apk

Install the .apk apps using File Manager. Navigate to its location on "external_SD", choose the app, then choose "Package Installer".

 AppDrawer - File Manager
   Install and run Towel Root
 AppDrawer - File Manager
   Install and run SuperSU
    Update binary, Normal
   Install and run BusyBox
    Grant root permissions
    Wait for Smart Install to gather information
   Install and run LG-F6-TWRP-V3
    Install Recovery, grant root permissions
    Reboot Recovery

It works! Cool.

The system reboots into TWRP Recovery. Now's a good time to do a nandroid backup.

  Storage (switch to External SDcard)
  Swipe the slider to back up
  Reboot to System

Bloated Base System Backup with Titanium Backup

Titanium Backup ("TB") is a powerful backup program that can safely uninstall apps. Any uninstalled app can be easily restored if necessary.

Install TB on the Bloated Base system and do a Full backup.

 AppDrawer - File Manager
   Install and run Titanium Backup

Titanium Backup is not extraordinarily user friendly until you get accustomed to it. First move the backup location to the SD card because otherwise TB will put its backup folder in /storage/sdcard0/ (on the phones' built-in storage space) by default.

 Menu -> Preferences -> Backup folder location

Now hit "back" twice and select external_SD, then use <<Create a new folder>> to create a new folder so now your backup directory will be in /sotrage/external_SD/TitaniumBackup/ .

Next do a full backup using a "batch action".

 Menu -> Batch actions ... -> Backup all user apps and system data

Hit the green checkmark. It takes a while for the backup to complete. Note: You may want to un-check "Wi-Fi Access Points" to keep SSID credentials from being archived.

De-bloat & Settle In

What we'd like to achieve now is a configured baseline nandroid backup that can be restored and used to "start over".

Using AppDrawer - Edit you can see which bundled apps can be uninstalled even without root. Uninstall those and a few more that aren't normally able to be uninstalled.

 Application Manager
 FileShare (for sharing between LG devices)
 LG Backup
 Metro Block-It
 LG MLT (trackware)
 MetroPCS Screen-it
 Visual Voicemail
 World Clock Widget

There are some Google apps we don't need in the baseline taking up lots of valuable space. They can be downloaded from the play store if someone wants one of them.

 Google Play Books
 Google Play Games
 Google Play Magazines
 Google Play Movies & TV

And some installers can go.

 LG F6 TWRP Recovery

Use Titanium Backup to uninstall the apps.

 Backup/Restore - [select App] -  Un-install!

I clear the data before uninstalling each app, but that's not necessary.

After that we can get a "settled-in".

 Slide the notification bar down
   Turn of NFC
   Clear the notifications
   Lower display brightness to about 50%
   Edit the quick settings bar
     Move the QSlide icon past the GPS so you get
     | QuickMemo | Sound | Wi-Fi | Bluetooth | GPS | ...
     on the main quick settings bar
 Menu -> System settings -> Developer options
   Don't show warning again
   USB Debugging (already on)
   Performance Tweaks:
     Transition animation scale: .5x
     Animator duration scale: .5x
 Menu -> System settings -> QuickButton
   Shortcut: Camera
 Menu -> System settings -> Home screen
   Theme: Biz
   Screen swipe effect: Panorama
 Menu -> System settings -> Lock screen
   Wallpaper - Wallpaper gallery - Set wallpaper
   Screen effect - Basic
 Menu -> System settings -> Battery
   check Battery percentage

Some tweaks

 Move QuickRemote to the main Home screen
 Add Calculator where the QuickRemote was
 Move the Time&Weather widget to the main screen
 Move the Gallery icon over onto the main Home screen
 Move the Camera icon over onto the main Home screen
 Add GMail and Setup to the main Home screen
 Remove the MetroWEB launcher and replace it with Gallery
 Browser tweaks
   Delete all deletable MetroPCS bookmarks
   Add a "Web Search" bookmark -> https//
   Put the Web Search bookmark on the main Home page & change icon
   Settings - Privacy & Security
     Un-check Enable Location / allow sites to request access...

Add widgets and an app to the screen to the right of the main Home screen.

 Favorite contacts 3x3 widget, expanded to 4x3
 Task Manager 2x1 widget (for clearing RAM)
 Voice Recorder launcher icon

Remove the Mobile Hotspot "upsell" icon and add Calendar (Month) widget to the screen to the left of the main Home screen.

 Menu -> System settings -> Wi-Fi -> Menu -> Advanced
   Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep: Only when plugged in

See how much space is free now with some apps removed.

 Menu -> System settings -> Storage
   It says we have
     1.27GB of space
     83.45MB of apps
     1.12GB available

Block OTA Updates

Chances are now that you've done all this work to get your phone optimized you don't want an over-the-air System Update to come along and overwrite your work.

One way to ensure that doesn't happen is to disable the System Update Service.

 Install and run Disable Service app
  System Apps - Google Services Framework
   uncheck SystemUpdateService, grant permissions (ask again, 15min)

Now run Titanium Backup to uninstall the Disable Service app.

  Scroll down to Disable Service
   Backup, then Uninstall the app

Back Up the De-bloated Baseline

Note: Before doing this nandroid backup, you may want to forget the Wi-Fi SSID first so it won't be part of the baseline backup. You may also want to disable Unknown sources and USB debugging.

We need a way to get into Recovery, so install Quick Boot.

 AppDrawer - File Manager
   Install and run Quick Boot

Test it by booting into recovery. Grant root permissions when prompted.

From recovery, do a nandroid backup of the baseline system with TB installed and configured.

 Backup - confirm location is External SDcard
 Swipe to Back Up
 Reboot System

From Anywhere to Baseline

If the phone gets twisted up and you want to get back to the rock-solid debloated baseline, here are the steps:

  1. Restore factory 12b .kdz (with SD card removed) (guide)
  2. Factory reset
  3. Minimal prep (Setup Wizard, Unknown sources, USB debugging)
  4. Root (Towel Root, SuperSU, and Busybox)
  5. Install TWRP Recovery and boot to recovery
  6. Factory reset (optionally format data too)
  7. Restore baseline from backup. Enable MD5 verification

Play Store Updates

Our 1.12GB of available Internal Storage space shrinks when we visit the Play Store for the first time and let updates be applied. This effect will be greatly reduced on our de-bloated phone, but we still have some fat juicy Google apps that will take up some Internal Storage space when they update.

The reason this happens is because apps that come with the system are installed by LG in the /system/ directory. When these apps are updated by Google Play, the updated version doesn't install in /system/, it installs onto our precious 1.27GB of Internal Storage space (in /data/).

Visit the Play Store for the first time and let updates be applied. When asked, I choose not to keep this device backed up with my Google account.

 Open Google Play
 Let the phone sit for a while
 Open Google Play
 Let the phone sit will apps update
 Close Google Play
 Open Google Play (now newer version)
 Update apps that require approval

After Play Store updates are done our 1.12GB of storage space has become smaller because available space is occupied taken by these now-updated Google apps:

After Play Store updates are done our 1.12GB of storage space has become 855MB. Google apps are taking 265MB of space -- *much* less than they would have without the de-bloat.

  • The Play Store apps itself
  • GMail
  • Google Drive
  • Google Search
  • Google Talkback
  • Google+
  • Maps
  • YouTube

Some Google apps aren't updated yet. If and when they update they'll use some Internal Storage space too.

  • Google Text-to-Speech
  • Street View on Google Maps
  • Voice Search

Another benefit of de-bloating is improved RAM usage. The phone now boots with 444MB of RAM used (362MB after a clear with the widget). Pretty good!

Beyond the Baseline

I briefly tried removing some more apps with an eye toward privacy and a potential . The phone worked fine for the short time I had it this way. Here are the apps I removed using Titanium Backup:

  • Drive
  • Email
  • Face Unlock
  • File Browser
  • Google Play Music
  • Google Search
  • Google+
  • Hangouts
  • NFC Service
  • Smart Screen

This time after Play Store updates are done our 1.12GB of storage space has become 956MB. 134MB appears to have been taken by these Google apps:

  • The Play Store apps itself
  • GMail
  • Google Talkback
  • Google Text-to-Speech
  • Maps
  • YouTube

These two Google apps aren't updated yet so they'll use some Internal Storage if they update.

  • Street View on Google Maps
  • Voice Search

The phone now boots with 434MB of RAM used, 345MB after a clear with the Task Manager widget.

If we replace Email with K9 Mail and File Browser with B1 Archiver there's still plenty of space left (936GB).

Useful Add-On Apps

Here are a few recommended apps you might want to install on your freshly-deployed LG Optimus F6. If you use and enjoy these free apps, consider giving them 5-star ratings in the Play Store to encourage more apps like these.

Everybody needs a flashlight widget, and there's a good one with reasonable permissions: Flashlight Widget by Nikolas von Randow.

The built-in file manager is useful but has way more permissions than a file manager needs. Remove it with Titanium Backup and replace it with B1 Free Archiver by Catalina Group Ltd..

I recommend replacing the built-in mail app with this outstanding email app: K-9 Mail by K-9 Dog Walkers

It helps to have an alternative browser. This one works on limited resources and can put its cache files on the SD card: Dolphin Browser® Mini by Dolphin Browser

The LG Tasks app was an easy pick for removal. If you want a minimalist app to help you Get Things Done, give this one a try: Simpletask Cloudless by Mark Janssen

An outstanding keyboard app with lots of features (too many, actually): Hacker's Keyboard by Klaus Weidner
You'll also need the English word list: English completion dictionary by Klaus Weidner

If you like to stay up on the news and know how to find RSS feeds put them in this simple-and-effective RSS-reader app: SimpleNews RSS Reader by Daniel Langerenken


Everybody likes good wallpaper. For years my go-to site for wallpaper has been Vladstudio.

The F6 has QHD resolution that's 960 pixels tall, so download 1280x960 wallpaper images (the default is 1024x768).

Here are some good ones to get you started:

Unlocking the F6

Unlocking is pretty easy. If the phone has been used for three months or more, Metro PCS will give you the unlock code. It's a "service provider" unlock code, meaning the phone is restricted to using Metro PCS as a service provider until it's unlocked. Once unlocked, it will work for T-Mobile, AT&T or MVNO providers who use their GSM networks.

I put my AT&T SIM into the phone a turned it on, then used the phone dialer to enter 2945#*500#. From the menu I selected service provider unlock and entered the code that Metro PCS provided.

Page last modified on September 09, 2016
Powered by PmWiki