Stripping a UK O2 Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini down to the bare essentials

The company I work for have recently issued all On Call engineers in my team a Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini to give us access to company e-mail and resources out of hours. Rather than shipping a customized image, we have received a stock O2 imaged mobile, and so this is my limited guide to bringing this to as close to “Stock” Android as I can manage (or want).

Most of what we need is provided to us using a commercial solution called Touchdown, so I won’t be covering that here, as whatever you get shipped to you will not include that. I’ve elected not to use the device for my personal systems, barring my Google calendar, which means I’ll stand a fighting chance of not booking overtime and other work things for personal appointments.

So, on power-on, I completed the post-install steps, including setting up my Google account. I decided not to keep the device in sync with my Google account, as I already have a few other Android devices, and I don’t want to get my work infrastructure mixed up with my home kit.

Next, I went into Settings, and from there into the Google Account. I clicked on my e-mail address and unselected the following options:

  • Sync App Data
  • Sync Contacts
  • Sync Gmail
  • Sync Internet
  • Sync People details

After that, I went into Application Manager (again, in Settings), and swapped to the “All” tab. Firstly, I needed to clear out the downloaded contacts, which I did by selecting Contacts Storage, and then pressing the “Clear Data” button.

Next, I disabled all the applications that I either don’t need, or don’t want on my work phone. I did this by selecting each in turn, and then selecting the option to disable them. Here’s the list:

  • Amazon MP3
  • eBay
  • Flipboard
  • Gallery
  • Game Hub
  • Gmail
  • Google Play Books
  • Google Play Magazines
  • Google Play Music
  • Google+
  • Music
  • O2 Space
  • S Planner
  • S Planner Widget
  • S Suggest
  • S Voice
  • Samsung Account
  • Samsung Apps
  • Samsung Backup Provider
  • Samsung Browser SyncAdapter
  • Samsung Calendar SyncAdapter
  • Samsung Cloud Data Relay
  • Samsung Contact SyncAdapter
  • Samsung Push Service
  • Samsung Syncadapters
  • Tags
  • Talk
  • Talkback
  • Video Hub
  • Yahoo! Finance
  • Yahoo! News
  • YouTube

Wow, isn’t that a list!

My next step was to hide some of the applications I don’t need. To do this, I went into the applications page, pressed the menu button, and selected “Hide applications”. This puts selection boxes next to all the applications on the page, and once you’ve done selecting options, press “Done” in the top right corner to hide them. Here’s my list:

  • Contacts
  • Downloads
  • E-Mail
  • FM Radio
  • Google Settings
  • Help
  • Memo
  • Music Player
  • My Files
  • Video Player
  • Voice Recorder
  • Voice Search

Lastly, installed a couple of applications from the Play Store:

Once I’d got Agenda Widget Plus, and Google Keyboard configured, I hid those applications in the applications pane too.

After all of that, I set up Touchdown… which you’ll need to follow up though your own instructions!

One final thing before I wrap this all up… even though I’m on-call, this doesn’t include being engaged via e-mail. As such, my e-mail doesn’t need to disturb me, and so I’ve disabled the touchdown application’s notifications for e-mail. To do this, go into Touchdown, make sure you’re at the “main” screen (not the default e-mail screen, but the one which also includes all your tasks and calendar options), and then press the menu button, press “Settings”, and select the “Advanced” tab. Scroll right to the bottom of the list, and press the “Email Alerts” button. Select “Customize settings” and then select appropriate options. If you leave nothing ticked, all you’ll get is a flag in the notifications tray showing an e-mail has appeared. Personally, I’ve turned on “Enable lights” and picked a colour, so I can quickly see whether I’ve had a mail just by checking the screen.


He/Him. Husband and father. Linux advocating geek. Co-Host on the AdminAdmin Podcast, occasional conference speaker.

5 thoughts to “Stripping a UK O2 Samsung Galaxy SIII Mini down to the bare essentials”

  1. What about using NoRootVPN too. Fantastic control over what should and shouldnt be using your internet connection :)

      1. So, for my first pass, it reminds me a bit of Zone Alarm… the log file shows me all these applications connecting to the Internet, and I’m not sure whether I should be nervous or not.

        Putting on a “Naive user’s” head for a moment, it’s a pretty complex setup process – I know what many of these applications are, but that’s because I’m a hardened Android Junkie.

        Now, that said, I will be installing the app on my work and personal phones, because the connection log by itself just rocks :D

  2. Hi Jon,
    Great blog for the S3 Mini,
    an update for apps on the S4 mini that you haven’t listed that could be disabled

    Adapt Sound
    Chrome – is there a need for two internet access points?
    Face unlock
    Google play games
    Google Play Movies
    Group Play
    S Memo
    S Translator
    Samsung Watch On
    Samsung Cloud Quota
    Trip Advisor

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