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Question of the Day: Would You Buy a Phone That Developers Won’t Support?

android devices

With a recent story about one of, if not the largest custom ROM development teams for Android, possibly not having major support for the upcoming Galaxy S4 smartphone from Samsung, does this affect potential device buyers? For example, only a few months ago I would have still recommended the Galaxy Nexus, for the sole reason that developer support is amazing for that device. It will remain alive and well in the forum threads well after it’s “End of Life” announcement from carriers, receiving the newest version of Android for probably another year or however long it takes for the hardware to become outdated. 

As for me, if anyone pays attention, I make a point somewhat regularly that the time of custom ROMs is behind us and Android as a whole. I mean this in the sense that the reason I started rooting and tweaking was because Android was bland, ugly, and the processors were slow. Once you would boot up a custom ROM, you could make a device run faster, look better, and experience the device in a whole new light. Again, this is back when the notification bar was white and having a single core processor clocked at 1GHz was considered “dangerous.”

I say these times are behind us because frankly, Android has become an extremely sexy OS since those days, with OEMs adding equally good-looking hardware and powerful processors  For me, the reasons I rooted are no longer there, making the task pointless.

With that said, there are still many people who buy phones these days and immediately unlock, root, and flash ROMs to get rid of OEM skins such at HTC’s Sense and Samsung’s TouchWiz. I have heard countless times already that many more people would be interested in the HTC One if it came with vanilla Android instead of Sense 5. So, what if that was never a possibility?

Imagine a device you have your eye on is not receiving custom ROM support – would you still be purchasing?

  • Nope! One reason would be to remove skins like TouchWiz, But I also like the added features that ROM’s offer and to keep my phone up to date with android. I run CM10.1 on my G-Nex obviously not for stock android, but because I like some of the features (like notification power widget, WiFi hotspot, home screen customizations like grid size, icon size, etc.) but also I’m not waiting on Verizon to update my phone. I was thinking that my next upgrade would be the SGS4 and I’d put CM back on it as soon as I got it. Now I’m not so sure.

  • Bigwavedave25

    NOPE! If no Rom Dev support then that phone would be off my list.

  • Mark Mann

    also, i guess the question is, why would developers support a phone that no one is buying?

  • eckdawg5

    Look at the Droid Charge…wasn’t that bad of a phone except for the fact that there was NO developer support.

  • Andrew Bissel

    Never. My entire experience with any of my electronics actually almost 100% revolves around development capabilities.

  • like the razr hd?

  • It depends. It’s a device well supported by OS developer (like Nexus or iOS devices), then yes. If it’s a Samsung or HTC device – heck, no.

  • If carriers continue to release updates like Verizon does…..then yes, its a huge consideration. However I have never noticed them to be any better than the stock, its just a means of getting the new OS early

  • mgamerz

    My LG mach isn’t pictured, why is that?

  • rich

    Negative… if a phone is not supported then why have it, means no new features, no help to get something fixed that could or couldn’t be major… But I think Google, had their hand in it when they said if you want android you MUST support phones, 18 months…

  • David


  • CyDetrakD

    Not just no but hell no. In my last round of upgrades i got my ex fiancee a Samsung Stratosphere and I got myself a GNexus plus a Moto Xoom. Both of my GED devices have always stayed ahead of the curve rocking features that stock couldn’t provide but the Stratosphere is still on Gingerbread. Enough said!!!

  • I feel the same way the author who wrote this feels. Seems like a lot of the ROMs nowadays are just garbage anyways and aren’t worth all the hassle. I still try them out still but always find myself going back to stock because I just get sick of all the bugs in these ROMs and reading through 50 pages of posts about the ROM to see how I can fix those bugs.It’s way too involved for me.

    Ain’t nobody got time for that!

  • 2easilyamused

    Nope! I may never buy another non-Nexus device again.

  • Michael McHale

    No. For me installing a custom ROM is more about having the most up to date version of Android. And when Verizon doesn’t allow the Galaxy nexus I use to be updated I take it upon myself, thanks to the devs.

  • Why not?

  • Depends on the phone, but for most models no.

  • DanWazz

    No pretty much sums it up. I like to have different OM options. I love stock android, but I needs by tablet UI, or PIE, or Navigation key customizations.

  • Connor


  • Alain Lafond

    That’s why I only buy Nexus phones. I HATE to be late of upgrade! A definitive NO!

    • Alain Lafond

      But I do understand that the plain Jo doesn’t care. That’s why the carriers are mor eager to sell new phone than upgrade the ones they’re supposed to support… That my friend, is named CAPITALISM!

  • the only way i would even consider this is if it was a nexus device. Stock 4.2.2 is as close as ever to being a daily driver for me. but as of right now, if i had to run Sense or Touchwiz, i would not be a happy camper.

  • Joe


  • Jacob Svonavec

    Umm…no thanks!

  • It really is a critical point. I was all excited to trade in my S3 for the S4 but after the announcement that developers weren’t going to support it, I started looking at the HTC One. I agree modern handsets have improved dramatically, but the skins and customizations from manufacturers make updates far to slow. It shouldn’t take 12 months to get the newest software from Google.

  • Lucky Armpit

    Yes absolutely. I think the developer community for Android is great but I have no desire for custom ROMs. Mostly because of the fear factor to be honest. But I have been happy for the most part with my stock Android devices.

  • gtg465x

    Yes, because I am a developer. Muhahaha! But seriously, you should buy a phone that you will be happy with as it comes. If you won’t be happy with a phone until it has CyanogenMod or something, then show the manufacturer that you’re not happy with their software and don’t buy it!

  • triumphtriple

    I would love for the android phone industry to get to where the PC industry is. Where roming is unnecessary, BUT simply buy/downloading an app for each customization you want. Where each app (customization) works on most devices.

    Also, Google provides OS updates, but the manufacturers update drivers if necessary.

  • chaz armijo


  • JoshGroff

    I certainly won’t, but then again basically every phone has at least some dev support.