We love our smartphones – those powerful mini-computers that do everything except wash the kitchen sink. We love to be able to install our favourite third party applications to make our devices fit our needs.
There are times that in order to enhance the user interface or functionality of the final product, mobile manufacturers customise the these devices by adding their own layer of interface and/or services. For example, HTC continues to release devices that have their own custom user interface imposed both for their Windows Mobile and Android line-ups.
HTC are not alone in doing this. Samsung, Sony Ericsson and others do the same thing. Often, the results are excellent. Motorola’s MotoBlur, HTC’s Sense, and Sony Ericsson’s Timescape/Mediascape UI are ready examples.
Usually, developers of the firmware (the operating system that these smartphones run on) release updates to either improve performance, add features or fix existing problems on the original release.
If you are particular about enjoying the benefits of firmware updates, you may need to think twise before spending on a manufacturer-customised device. You might be better off with a vanilla smartphone. A “vanilla” device is one that runs an OS that has not been customised.
When firmware updates are released by the developers, owners of vanilla devices are able to update immediately to get the benefits of those updates. For customised devices to be updated, the manufacturers have to spend more time and resources customising the new update with their custom interfaces.
As such, owners of manufacturer-customised devices are left to the mercy of the manufacturer. The manufacturer may decide that it is not profitable for them to put in the resources to provide an update, or it may take forever for them to provide it.
It is up to you. You can choose a customised device that gives you a better interface or some extra features and hope for the best. Or you can opt for a vanilla device and get to update your device without hassles.
Both sides have their pros and cons and ultimately the choice belongs to you, the end-user.