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receiving the newest version of Android for probably another year or however long it takes for the hardware to become outdated.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

  • the_real_patrick_bateman

    I load custom ROMs (CyanogenMod) for two reasons: 1. Better update support than I can expect from Verizon. 2. I like the aesthetic of AOSP more than any manufacturer skin.

    If those two needs could be met without resorting to flashing custom ROMs, I’d have no problem leaving my phone un-rooted and bootloader locked.

  • Droid4LifeDawg

    No, because you can’t count on carriers for nothing but higher data prices & late Updates.

  • zurginator

    The answer to the following question is the same answer to if I’m going to buy it:
    Is it a Nexus?

    S1->S2->N4, and never going back to non-Nexus. Unless PA supports it and it doesn’t have physical buttons, but even then probably Nexus.

  • The point is that even if the currently largest developer refuses to support the S4, the device would automatically attract other developers simply because of its market presence. No harm, no foul.

  • As big as the galaxy S4 is going to be it will have plenty of dev support. There are WAY more dev teams other than CM.

  • Nir Galon


  • Gary

    Yes… My average life expectancy with a device is 6-9 months then I move on. I rooted EVERY single one of my many Android devices, however it wouldn’t be a deal breaker if the stock ROM on the new device was good enough. Take my Note 2 for example. I have absolutely zero need to “Root” this device and flash a custom ROM as its already got tons of features built into the software. I hear all of you screaming “but its not stock android”. Well, I have my Nexus 7 and 10 to turn to when I want that experience, however its quite nice to have a daily driver that’s different. So on this basis, I wouldn’t care in the slightest if the development community doesn’t support my next phone, so long as the features in the software are suitable for my needs.

  • Knlegend1


  • Trent1990

    yes i would with phone like the s3 and note 2 i no longer root my phones i have no need

  • Chad

    I did with the Incredible and Rezound, but not anymore. bye bye HTC

  • kane

    Begins and ends with ‘no’ Especially if its runs TouchWiz

  • There should have just been a real poll with two radio buttons, each saying “No.”

  • C-Law

    Only if it’s a nexus getting updates straight from Google

  • oh helllll no

  • SeanBello

    absolutely no chance. if it weren’t for the dev comunity I probably wouldn’t have been fully happy with any phone I’ve had. instead, I got almost 2 yrs out of my OG and a yr and a half out of my gNex.

  • steven sullivan

    Not even worth debating.The developer support for the Gnex is incredible and keeps me quite satisfied with my decision to purchase it some time ago..What more could you possibly ask for? Keep supporting developers they make the Android world go around.

  • Michael Quinlan

    I think the real support a device will receive from third party developers is rarely known early in the life cycle of the device, so third party support can’t really be a factor for early adopters. Also, rooting still serves a purpose, even for people planning on sticking with a stock ROM.

  • Fadzil Mohd Ashari

    i will nvr buy non-nexus device. because the OS update sometimes can be frustrating. and even left behind.

  • Bruce

    so only 164 people out of millions said no.

  • shooter50

    Of course I would. I could care less about developer support. If others do fine, but its not for me. I still find stock Android plain and boring, but I’m more than satisfied with the Note II and actually enjoy touchwiz.

  • Bob Allen

    As long as I can root and de-bloat to my satisfaction, I don’t have a problem not having custom ROMs anymore. I have a N4 and a N7 when I need my AOSP fix, but I’m now looking at an OPPO Find 5 which I doubt will ever get any custom ROMs in the west. These days with Jellybean, it’s not as much of a big deal as it used o be.

  • What white case is that on the Second GNex? Really interested in it.

  • I’monnnthatttgoood

    The way I see it is all of our phones are little babies brought into the world and then quickly forgotten by their parents(verizon)… developers are here to get them going them again, helping them to make a life for themselves selling a little crack her popping a molly here yeah stuff like that..

  • Eker


  • LjHe80

    NO. But the first thing I consider when getting a new phone is, does it have an led on the back of the phone that i can turn on for a flashlight.

  • T_Dizzle

    Not intentionally 🙂

  • Doug Wing

    As long as a phone can be rooted, I am happy. That will at least allow me to remove bloatware and disable software / services I do not need. My RAZR is still using rooted stock with moto services disabled and Verizon’s bloat removed.

    My old XOOM on the other hand rocks CM10 as it has breathed new life into the old device.

  • Fathom Unseen

    No. No sir, nope, nah……..no

  • john


  • Honestly since its running a very current version of Android and it has all the great Samsung software extras, I really don’t see the need to ROM. Now you can be sure as heck it will be rooted (free wifi tether, adblocker, etc) but the need for custom ROMs is starting to dwindle…FAST!

  • No, I wcouldn’t.

    Also Tim, I disagree that we are beyond custom roms. As long as Google keeps messing up stuff like quick settings, there will be a need for custom roms.

  • Absolutely not. I have a Droid x2, and the only reason that I haven’t bought a new phone yet is because the sole developer managed to keep it running well into the Jelly Bean android stages. Is it a bit laggy and some things don’t work? Sure, but the simple fact that developer support kept it alive is truly a testament to what can be accomplished with proper support.

  • Dean Milord

    NO way!! Only reason I have 4.2.2 is because of the dev community (Verizon Galaxy Nexus – Toro). I will not wait for any carrier to get me the updates my device should have. Plus my Touchpad is on 4.1.2 again – dev community. S4? Samsung can keep it.

  • Yeah I would. I have had plenty of Android devices that were rooted, and when I acquired the GS3, I rooted it, and actually seemed to like the stock, unrooted experience better. So, I got a Note 2, never rooted it, and LOVED it. Had no reason to root it. Didn’t enjoy the screen size so I am temporarily on a Droid RAZR, unrooted, with no desire to root. I am due for an upgrade in April and plan to get the GS4. I have no intention to root it. Samsung has included so many features in Touchwiz that AOSP can’t touch. I am on a tiered plan so don’t have the option to Tether safely, and that seems to be the only reason to root. So yah, I have no problem buying a phone with no DEV support…am I the only one???

  • I do my research on the development communities before I buy a phone. I wanted a Note II but held off until unlock was achieved. If I am going to spend that much money on a phone (full retail), then I want it to last as long as the dev community will support it.

    I’ve gotten quite a few devices with crap support from the manufacturer and seen what the dev community can do with it. Most notably: the ViewSonic gTablet. I dropped 4 Ben’s on that thing in 2010 and what did ViewSonic do? They stopped supporting it after 3 months and left everyone to fend for themselves. Their last update was still on 2.2. Whats the newest ROM for it? 4.2.2.

    After that experience, I will NEVER go back to a device without a dev community to keep supporting it.

  • onDroid

    No, but within reason. If a phone is far and away better than any other phone on the market or has some killer feature that I can’t live without I would consider it. If Motorola ends up going with the customer phone route that was discussed earlier and this made it impossible for devs to keep up I would still consider it as long as it is stock Android with updates straight from google.

  • Randy Nelson

    Maybe because the average user doesn’t know any better?

    Sent from Nexus 4.

  • Carlos

    I own a htc 4G LTE, so I guess the answer is yes…

  • Simon Belmont

    Short answer: No.

    I’ve looked for phones that I knew would likely have good developer support. Why buy a dead end, right?

  • NemaCystX

    No, especially if you only have two choices on purchasing it (Off Contract or 2 year agreement)

    If you choose either one, you either want your moneys worth (off contract expensive price) or Hardwares life worth if your stuck on a 2 year contract. The ability to get updates from the AOKP/CM and other Devs is what gets you either of those. If the devs aren’t going to support the S4, it just isn’t worth it for the Android enthusiast who wants the latest and greatest that Android has to offer.

    I personally want the HTC One

  • Bobby Cornwell

    I don’t always buy Android devices, but when I do, they’re Nexus devices. Stay updated my friends!

  • Captain_Doug

    Nope. I don’t now, I probably never will.

  • thesaber2000

    No way i could buy a phone Without dev support, that’s why i love android!

  • Sunday Lacrymosa

    damn, I remember the 2008 days when I first got my iphone 3G and found out i can root it, I thought i was the man laughing at people with this new type of phone call android…..4yrs later, ive become a Android crack-head

  • DJyoSNOW

    I’m waiting for the note3 (since I have the DNA) though I’m honestly happy hearing this news being an omnia and droid charge owner. WTF worst phones stated by Samsung and had to have multiple replacements. So happy for this post hope they get their $hit together some day?

  • wm snyder

    updates is the only reason i have, and it urks me to no end when they put out a new phone with the update and im still waiting. because if they did that they could of given me my update, there just seeding their pocket…..they could of put their customers first ggggrrrrr okay i’m fine now back to Tim

  • Hep

    That’s a “no” for me personally. Friends and family are a different story.

  • Justin Howard

    Yeah I would, I don’t ever flash custom ROM’s anymore. Back when I had my Droid X I used to flash custom ROM’s but now everything seems to be good enough for me with all the new features they are coming out with now with the newest phones these days.

  • Rodeojones000

    Not a chance. Even if said phone came with top-of-the-line, out-of-this-world specs that blew away the competition and was also free.

    There are a few must-haves for me regarding phones – absolutely no god-awful physical home button, unlockable bootloader, and good developer support. Without these I won’t be purchasing the phone.

  • whatsbeefy

    Depends, if the phone is for either one of my parents then yes, but if its for me then I highly doubt that I will buy the phone.
    I bought a SG3 and not even a week went by and i had already rooted and flashed a custom rom.