Custom ROMs, Manufacturers, and Consumers

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

Source

Custom ROMs, Manufacturers, and Consumers 1

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.

Manufacturers
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?

Also read:  Facebook gets it; makes Android app less resource intensive

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.

Consumers
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:

  1. custom ROMs invalidates your warranty (but what good is the warranty offered by a manufacturer if they can’t even deliver on their promise?)
  2. the risk of bricking your phone (rendering it unusable) is always there. If it happens, you are on your own
  3. 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

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

5 thoughts on “Custom ROMs, Manufacturers, and Consumers

  • March 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm
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    You got it wrong when u said some manufacturers will ask phone users to install PC Suite on computer and connect their phones by data cable before firmware updates can be done. From the mention of PC Suite, I know you are refering to Nokia.

    I ve done quite a large number of updates on my Nokia phones & they were all done over the air (no PC Suite, no tethering of my phone to the computer with data cable). I want to also point out that I dont usually do BACKUP before starting those OTA firmware updates.

  • March 20, 2010 at 2:24 am
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    From the mention of PC Suite, I know you are refering to Nokia

    Azeez, your adventure into mind-reading failed badly. Honestly, attempting to read meanings into what others say is bad practice. It almost always backfires, one way or the other.

    Sorry, but we had no manufacturer in mind when we wrote about updates via PC Suite. Do you really think that the people behind MobilityNigeria would not know that some of the most recent Nokia smartphones offer over-the-air firmware updates and with User Data Preservation (UDP)?

    If you really think we are that ignorant, this site is not worth your time or that of any serious-minded person.

    Why would our statement about PC Suite be a definite reference to Nokia when every other smartphone manufacturer has PC Suite in one form or the other? To be sure, LG, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson are examples and all these manufacturers have handsets that require PC Suite for their firmware updates.

    Please abstain from reading hidden meanings into any statements we make. If we want to rant at Nokia or Samsung or Apple, we have no problems with mentioning their names and we will provide specific examples of the issues we have with them. If we don’t mention names, we have none in mind.

    Thanks.

  • March 21, 2010 at 9:27 pm
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    I got a motorola l6 some days back and have been learning how to install custom firmware, as this was my first time doing this i had to take my time to ensure i didn’t brick the phone, anyway i finally installed a patch firmware and the result was amazing for a phone of its time. What i got was the ability to transfer all files vai blue tooth, acces to all system files, editing of txt docs, play mp4 videos, record videos of any length, ability to change skins and redesign the interface, an additional interface with media viewer corelet and the ability to back up my back up my contact list with out the phone cd.

  • March 27, 2010 at 11:12 pm
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    Hello Yomi. i finally i get to meet a nigerian who has successfully installed custom rom on the x1. i have an x1 as well and really interested in making it run on the touch x u suggested. Can you help give a step by step detail on how to do this?

    My x1 came with manufacturer software and not a carrier’s (orange, t-mobile, vodafone e.t.c). i am tired of just installing 3rd party apps on my fones.. i want to join the bleeding users as u grouped them). i have had so much fun with my x1. though looking at moving to the HTC HD2 later in the year when it becomes less expensive. But b4 then, i want to have the custom rom touch x running on my x1.

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