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.
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.
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
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".
.kdzfile 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. Next 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
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.
My 16GB class-6 microSD had these files on it to start with:
├── @flashable_zips/ │ ├── Freedom_f612b_9-18-2014.zip │ ├── Stock_12b_Kernel_8-8-2014.zip │ └── Xperion_12bf6_9-17-2014.zip └── @installable_apks/ ├── BusyBox-165-v15.apk ├── LG-F6-TWRP-V3.apk ├──
QuickBoot-12-v4.2.apkRecoveryReboot-v2.2.apk ├── SuperSU-201-v2.01.apk ├── TitaniumBackup-337-v22.214.171.124.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 <reboots> 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 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.
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".
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 AppStore Dictionary FileShare (for sharing between LG devices) LG Backup Metro Block-It Metro411 LG MLT (trackware) MetroMUSIC MetroPCS Screen-it metroZONE myMetro QuickTranslator Rhapsody Tasks Visual Voicemail VuTalk 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.
Chrome Google Play Books Google Play Games Google Play Magazines Google Play Movies & TV
And some installers can go.
BusyBox towelroot 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
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//www.startpage.com/m/ 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.
Backup/Restore Scroll down to Disable Service Backup, then Uninstall the app
Back Up the De-bloated Baseline
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:
- Restore factory 12b .kdz (with SD card removed) (guide)
- Factory reset
- Minimal prep (Setup Wizard, Unknown sources, USB debugging)
- Root (Towel Root, SuperSU, and Busybox)
- Install TWRP Recovery and boot to recovery
- Factory reset (optionally format data too)
- 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
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 Reboot 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
- Google Drive
- Google Search
- Google Talkback
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:
- Face Unlock
- File Browser
- Google Play Music
- Google Search
- 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
- Google Talkback
- Google Text-to-Speech
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
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:
- Gear Wheel Wallpaper · Desktop wallpapers · Vladstudio
- Christmas Lights · Desktop wallpapers · Vladstudio
- Punched Metal Wallpaper · Desktop wallpapers · Vladstudio
- Leaf · Desktop wallpapers · Vladstudio
- Eos · Desktop wallpapers · Vladstudio
- Graphite River · Desktop wallpapers · Vladstudio
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.