Custom ROMS abound on a variety of mobile platforms. They usually spring from attempts by users to address one or more core and unresolved failings in a device’s firmware.
Take the modding scene for the Samsung i8910 HD, for example: Samsung promised a device that offered 720p video recording at 24fps, but that came out delivering much less on both audio and video formats. Samsung later released a fix for the audio, but that only messed up the video some more, leaving users with a bitter taste in the mouth. In addition, a powerful multimedia device such as the i8910 should not come with the 18mb free space on drive :C, as it does (latest firmware).
Thanks to the modding scene, Samsung’s failings with that device have now been addressed.
- Faster operation, more free space on disk C: (around 80MB! The official latest Samsung firmware has only about 18MB free)
- Full 24fps 720p video recording with higher quality audio capture; using the same settings as Vivaz
- Pre-autofocus in video recorder; re-enabling what Samsung couldn’t make work in the prototype firmwares
- Full kinetic scrolling across whole interface
- Better theme transitions
This scenario of a lone individual or a group of individuals so improving on a device that the results produce a much better device can be replicated across other mobile platforms. For example, a great deal of such work goes on at XDA Developers.
The subject of the necesitty of custom ROMs naturally raise a few issues, which we present below.
Why is it so hard for manufacturers to deliver devices with optimised firmware and that deliver what was promised? For example, is it so hard for Samsung to produce the same results as obtains with the HX-V3-17 custom ROM? Or Nokia with its litany of crippled devices?
Why sell crippled devices in the first place? Are there no testing procedures or is it that commercial interests override these? What of consumer protection? Any channels for legal redress?
Where a manufacturer has pushed out a crippled device, they should push out firmwares to resolve any issues as fast as possible as a matter of integrity and best business practice. A situation in which firmware issues remain unresolved a year after a device’s release is simply unacceptable.
Lastly, we love the way that Android handles firmare updates – even the most technology-ignorant users can get their devices updated with the latest firmware. Its all done over-the-air and in the background, though the option to do it manually is available as well.
Asking users to go through complex procedures of updating firmware by installing PC suite and connecting phones by data cable, backing up user data et al is simply ice-age and so not user-friendly. We would love to see the day that all manufacturers implement background OTA updates.
If you have had the bitter pill of buying a device that does not deliver on its promises forced down your throat and you really want to get the best of your device via custom ROMs, do note the following:
- custom ROMs invalidates your warranty (but what good is the warranty offered by a manufacturer if they can’t even deliver on their promise?)
- the risk of bricking your phone (rendering it unusable) is always there. If it happens, you are on your own
- lastly, the search for improvements to a device can be time-consuming and addictive. Depending on how busy you are with real life, it may turn out to be a tremendous consumer of your precious time flashing and trying out one ROM after the other
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.