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

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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receiving the newest version of Android for probably another year or however long it takes for the hardware to become outdated.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?

  • Rickerbilly

    Yes. oooooh

  • http://twitter.com/8BitLegendz Ehsan Elahi

    Depends. If it’s something like the HTC One, I’d be pefectly fine with it; phone’s great on stock Sense 5 anyways. But if the UI’s cluttered or ugly looking (to me, this applies to stock touchwiz) I would only be able to use it if I could install a developers custom skinned version of the UI or replace it with AOSP.

  • Bryan

    I have never put on a custom ROM and have no interest in doing so. My only interest in Nexus devices is lack of bloat and ease of rooting. I only want root to be able to do things like app backup and tethering.

  • dandar

    I would. Heck I have. OG droid was awesome, fascinate not so much but it was way better than what I have with Razr HD. Having said that, the stock rom is so clean that with root and nova it feels like a custom rom anyways.

  • Dylan Patel

    Yes, if the phone gets updated within 4 months of the newest Android release.

  • Sqube

    If the bootloader is unlocked and unencrypted, then I don’t really care.

  • Detonation

    Nope…I barely even need root anymore

    • KleenDroid

      What kind of phone? Some phones root doesn’t matter much.

  • droidftw

    The only phones developers don’t support are low end phones with little to no follower base. I wouldn’t buy a low end phone so by default I won’t buy a phone developers don’t support.

  • nightscout13

    Android has matured to the point that you can pick it up, and it will do exactly what you need it to. So my answer is YES, I would.

  • http://twitter.com/Chasemanhattan3 Chase Chick

    I’ve ran every major Google update FAR before VZW FINALLY decided to update the VZW Gnex. So no, custom ROM’s are far from dead.

  • Trevor

    I don’t think I could ever use a phone without stock Android (plus some extras). So my answer is no.

  • All Of Us

    Nope

  • fluxhappens

    No

  • AlphaNoble

    The only time I don’t care about developer support is when it’s a non-Verizon Nexus. I consider dev support as a major selling point

  • John Burke

    I change phones almost as often as I change jeans so rooting doesn’t really matter to me.

  • paul_cus

    Already did when I bought a Nokia N9 running MeeGo.

  • baconslayer09

    Nope.

  • http://twitter.com/kirilv Kiril

    Why is there no poll on this?

    Anyway, the short answer is no.

    As far as “custom” ROMs go, I also no longer use them, but I do use stock ROMs, which also require developers, and I use a ton of root features.

  • Neomastermind

    For iOS devices, sure. For Android devices, no.

  • EvanTheGamer

    A resounding…NO!

  • JMonkeYJ

    developer support isn’t hugely important to me anymore, altho it can still be very nice at times. my device being a Nexus *is* hugely important to me (guaranteed root, quick updates, potentially disrupting the carrier business), and Nexus so far have very good support, so that’s just a bonus :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/raikkoni27 Akshay Sharma

    of course not!

  • Wahmuk

    I’ve already fallen into this trap with my Droid 3. Some development continues (shout to Hashcode!), but it’s slow going with no help from Moto on issues with the camera. I know for sure I’ll never buy another phone the week it comes out, I’ll wait until I see what the ROM developers are doing with it. And I’ll probably never again buy one with a locked bootloader if I can help it. If Verizon wants the OEMs to lock them down, then I guess I don’t need a phone anymore. I might not even replace this phone when my contract’s up in June, I’m seriously considering switching to a tablet with just WiFi and VoIP. Waiting to see the Nexus 7 replacement rumored for May.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rsuri2 Raj Suri

    I know I’m in the minority here but I could care less about developer support. I don’t root or custom ROM or anything. And, I’m a software engineer. I like the Google experience so I get Nexus devices. I like the experience. But, I understand the need to want to try something else. Just not for me and I would not consider development support in purchasing my new phone.

  • RGiskard

    Nope. I won’t buy any Android phone that I can’t rom…

  • NYAvsFan

    Total deal breaker for me. Dev support is a must.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kris.kane.161 Kris Kane

    LOL.. this is not ios.. Android NEEDS developers so that users can have a phone that is moderately less buggy and able to do 70% of the tasks they are supposed to do.

    Of course, there are buyers of dirt cheap android phones that are inundated in the market.. those buyers obviously don’t have a clue. I can’t imagine ONE android user who is aware of XDA forums who will buy an android phone that is completely locked out.

  • N8shon

    I would, yes. The last phone I felt the need to root was my OG Droid. I don’t have the need anymore, and believe it or not, I like both the stock Android OS on my Nexus 7, as well as Touchwiz on my Note 2. They both have their strengths and I like having both in the marketplace.

  • Clay S.

    why do you ask us questions and not give us a poll?

  • AMPthe13th

    I actually purchased a used GNex to FINALLY get rid of my Droid Charge specifically because of the Dev support. I could survive without a custom ROM on a rooted device with a stock or near-stock Android experience, but I’d rather not.

  • http://androidforums.com/members/kwest12.html kwest12

    Where art the poll?

  • http://twitter.com/Larsened David

    Nope. First Android was the Droid 2, which had middling support. Next phone: Galaxy Nexus. Never buying a non-Nexus phone again.

  • justapotato

    yes as long as there’s nexus devices

  • http://twitter.com/ITGuy11 Shawn Villaire

    Nope, never. That would be like asking me to buy a computer without having administrator privileges.

  • SUPREME4LIFE

    I would . Rooting is not important to me anymore.

  • Aleksandar Stefanović

    Neva!

    I have been offered some of the phones which brands are basically unknown to the modding community (on XDA at least) such as Huawei and Prestigio. I’d never buy such device because I’m stuck with whichever version of Android is in it (I couldn’t even handle ICS after getting used expandable notifications and other awesome features of Jelly Bean)

  • wtherrell

    Absolutely not! Rooting, romming a major source of enjoyment. Lets me set up the the way I like it, not the way Verizon or Samsung tells me. If no developer support, I might as well become an iPhool!

  • chris125

    I would, because I am not really into rooting and roming anymore anyway so developer support doesn’t really matter to me

  • regkilla

    Nope

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Schmucker/1498547350 Chris Schmucker

    Serious question: does anyone think the HTC One will have a good developer community behind it?

  • RT

    No

  • Brandon Buckley

    I still don’t understand why there are questions of the day. Make them polls for goodness sake. People want to see what everyone’s opinion is, not the one at the top with 500 replies.

  • Jose Garcia

    All I need is root, but it will defenetely make me think twice, specially with the case of Galaxy S4 Vs HTC ONE

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548497404 Hans Dirk Kwazneski

    Nope. Never. Not Even Once. I like being able to have the latest and greatest on my phone. I like being able to control my phone. I like not having the carriers telling me what I can and can’t do with my phone :) Shout out to the devs! WE <3 YOU :D

    -signed,
    Not as smart as devs :)

  • breadable

    It depends on the phone. I would not rule it out but with the delay on Jelly bean getting out to many devices I started looking at rooting a ROMs again a few months ago and it was clear that it’s easy to get ROMS for some like the Galaxy Nexus or S3 and harder for the Droid 4 or One X. So while today it seems the major reasons we needed to root the OG Droid are gone, some extra personalization and more control over UI and updating and is good to have.

    Something like the S4 with Touch Wiz or the One X I have (man is that sense awful) I would definitely want to know developers are working on ROMs for these before I purchased one in the future. Though really, when the demand is there… you know some manufacturer puts out an amazing piece of hardware with crappy overlay software, then I bet the developers will do thier developing magics

  • bqluong

    If a phone out of the box supports USB thumbdrives ([root]Stickmount) and full capability file explorer (Root Explorer) then yes I don’t really care.

  • Tyson Atwood

    Hell no! As long as I’m on Verizon, developers are the only ones that keep my phone up to date.

  • Brick5

    For me personally, no. Not a chance. The most fun I have with my Android devices is rooting, flashing ROMs and tweaking the hell out of them.

    A big thing for me is being able to put a CM/AOSP-based ROM on any device that I want. If I buy a Samsung device (I’ve had an S2, a Note and I now have a Note II) I want to be able to flash PARANOID, Carbon, Slim Bean etc. and obviously if the developers aren’t backing the device, there’s no ROM support. That renders the device locked down to stock and therefore it’s nowhere near as much to have (to me, at least.)

    I could buy a Nexus device, of course I could. But until I see a Nexus with an SD card slot, a removable battery and top notch specs (yes, I am aware that’s not going to happen any time soon) I’ll stick with using devices that have the hardware I want with support from some of the best developers around the world.

    The thing I’m most gutted about with the news that some of the top Samsung devs aren’t going to be supporting the S4 is where do I go next? When I want to move on from my Note II, do I go to Sony (the Xperia Z is lovely, but that screen isn’t great – we’ll see where they go later on in the year), HTC (the One is also lovely, but the drop in screen size is significant from the 5.5″ I’m used to – hopefully they’ll release a phablet later on this year) or LG, Motorola etc.?

  • http://profiles.google.com/unzicker.daniel Daniel U.

    No. That’s stupid.

  • Pedro

    Nope. My phones for as far as I can see will need to respond to
    fastboot oem unlock

    Makes that ‘oops’ decision recovery a piece of cake.
    fastboot flash system (et al)