Flashing means to update the firmware on your mobile phone (and not the obvious). In simpler terms it means changing the OS (operating system), theme and just about everything else on the mobile phone. Only changing the theme or appearance however does not count as flashing. In computer lingo changing the OS from Windows XP to Windows Vista to Windows 7 is considered flashing. Changing the appearance like themes, wallpapers, etc. from Windows XP, Windows Classic, or even getting a Mac OS look with say FlyakiteOSX would not be termed as upgrading or changing the OS. The same can be done with your mobile phone too, but a lot will depend on the make and model of the mobile phone and also the OS of the mobile phone itself. Fortunately I made the right switch from Nokia Smartphones (yes I was an early adopter of Symbian) to Motorola with the Motorola E398, Motorola RAZR V3i, and then the Pièce de résistance Motorola MOTOROKR E6 which I presently continue to enjoy because of the many pleasures of modding and flashing it to my heart’s content. The Motorola MOTOROKR E6 does accord me (and every user) this luxury because it runs on the Linux OS not to mention a great modding community behind it.
Now coming to the modding part you will need a data cable to connect your Motorola mobile phone to the PC, an updated firmware file (akin to an installation DVD or image file of the new OS for the PC), and RSD Lite which is the primary software which will flash your mobile phone. Depending on the model and make of your mobile phone but paramount to it being a Motorola you will be best served by heading over to http://www.modmymoto.com/ and/or http://www.motorolafans.com/ for guides on how to mod your Motorola and also for a list of the latest firmware that is available.
In case you are wondering why bother with flashing or modding and to what purpose, well it’s the same as for your PC or laptop or even your car i.e. to keep it updated with the latest software. For instance the latest firmware has converted my mobile phone to a talking phone where all I do is say “wife” and it calls my wife. Similarly “open browser” will open the Opera mobile browser not to mention many other commands to control the mobile phone. Apart from that I also get to have the latest version of Opera mobile browser, RealPlayer, barcode reader, business card reader, and many more not to mention the latest in themes, wallpapers and ringtones. The mobile phone itself becomes faster and more responsive and less of a memory hog. You will get an updated list of all the improvements at the abovementioned modding communities and many others on Google.
Of note, please do take care and read up on everything concerned before you take the step of modding your mobile phone especially so that you will not end up with a brick.