I was running into the mm-qcamera-daemon bug and was frustrated by no Android updates because I had rooted my Chinese phone to intall Google apps.

I already had CWM installed. These are the pages that came in handy:

I tried Lollipop but too many things were broken (no cell data? Switchr broken? codec problem in Facebook/Youtube/etc?) so I went two steps back, one step forward and flashed Kitkat 4.4.4. After one failed soft-brick, this worked:

But then video started failing, seemed to be triggered by Facebook video but then affecting Youtube. So I tried to upgrade again but with a stock ROM Lollipop:

  • Found compatible firmware on SamMobile (generic Samsung, no branding) and flashed with Odin on my XP netbook

  • Rooted with CF-Auto-Root using these instructions

  • Flashed TWRP with Odin

  • Used TWRP to install Open GApps ARM, Android 5.0, Pico version (wasn't enough room in the system partition for anything larger, ugh!)

  • Tried to restore apps with App List Backup, but it couldn't find my backup file! :( Next time, confirm after making the backup.

  • Installed a few Google stock apps by APK from APK Mirror

  • Although App List Backup failed, I found a bunch of my old apps on "My Apps" on Google Play website

Failed steps:

  • Installed CWM (doing it with RomManager is failing to install CWM and breaking the system, find another way) (flashing with Odin is also failing, but at least doesn't break stuff)

  • Removed a bunch of default apps

  • Restored all my previous apps with that one app...

  • Need to install stock Android apps? Or did they come back with that previous step...

I'm running into the problem that my process manager is killing the services for my widgets (and possibly Facebook/Pushbullet as well). Had this problem before, can't remember how I solved it. Will record results of research here.

Ugh, managed to fix it, then it came back one day randomly and I realized I didn't record the fix. I think it was killing a certain service, but I don't remember! Still dealing with this, and...

(2016-03-14: OK, I figured it out. In Settings > General > Security > Application Permissions, touch the app, and turn on "Auto run")

I got an S-view cover, which is cool but somehow my phone can't find the S-view app, so it just goes blank (black with the title bar up top) when I close the cover, and then when I open the cover it wakes and "Unfortunately, System UI has stopped.

Also, the old problem of the phone crashing on incoming phone calls under certain, as-of-yet-unclear conditions, has returned. The message is "???" (record when it happens again).

I decided to give up on the S-cover, I probably wouldn't use the features anyways, so I've covered up the contacts in the case with a piece of paper. Still need to work on the crashing Phone problem, and the killing apps/services/widgets problem.

Figured out how to make apps persist. See note above.

I figured out the "as-of-yet-unclear conditions" for causing Phone to quit on an incoming call. If the phone screen is unlocked when the call is received, Phone dies.

Still haven't figured out the S-cover issue.

Never figured out the S-cover issue. Sometimes turning off the screen, clicking "OK" on the "Phone has stopped working" box, unlocking, and pushing "OK" quickly allows the phone to quit. Works about 20% of the time. Someone else is having the same problem, with no solution in site. Trying to replace the Dialer, as suggested, is a no go because all patched Google dialers are for 6.0 Marshmallow and above, I'm still running 5.0 Lollipop.

Going to try a reinstall of the system using the steps given above. Trying the latest firmware on SamMobile.

At this point the OS is updated with all of my apps and data intact, it seems. Videos play fine, will test the phone in the morning.