I think I’m done hacking my smartphones

Daniel Bader

May 27, 2013 5:01pm

20130527_164800

This was going to be a short post on Google+, but I decided to post it here to gauge what the community thinks.

Before I installed my first Android custom ROM, I was jailbreaking my iPhone 3G, loading various unauthorized apps like BiteSMS and SBSettings. These apps were useful, improving on the extremely limited native iOS experience. As the quality of apps improved, as did the feature list of iOS itself, the yearning to jailbreak lessened. And I always regretted doing it, too: weeks or even days after I pushed the button on limera1n or JailbreakMe, I would find myself with an unstable phone and a mess of half-working plugins that never fully delivered on their promises.

Reinstalling iOS was even worse. Apple did everything it could to prevent users from loading unauthorized software, but once it was on the phone they made it even more difficult to reload the original. I’d often have to enter DFU mode to return to factory settings, and that process took many frustrating hours. Each time, after the anguish regret subsided, I promised myself that it would be the last time. When the Evasi0n jailbreak was released for iOS 6, I didn’t even look at it. Never again, I said.

My experience with hacking Android has been a bit different. In the past, I endeavoured to root every device I owned and, if possible, unlock the bootloader, load a custom recovery and flash, flash flash. I would flash everything: kernels, ROMs, themes, mods, whatever was available. I was what the nerds refer to as a crackflasher, someone who installs every nightly version of the new CyanogenMOD or Paranoid Android or AOKP, every beta kernel from faux123, franco or whomever was the hacker de rigueur.

It’s been a lot more difficult restraining myself from hacking every Android phone I buy (and I buy quite a few) but I have done quite well in recent months. I still follow all the major community happenings — Halo is awesome — but when CM10.1 was released for the Galaxy S4 and HTC One I held back, aware that at the end of the day, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits — at least for me.

See, back in the day, CyanogenMOD was just so much faster, cleaner and better than the various OEM skins released by Samsung, HTC and the like. Today, that’s not quite true. I like Sense 5.o; I tolerate TouchWIZ. I also understand that there are so many moving parts to these manufacturer builds, removing them for a vanilla Android experience also removes many of the extras they work so hard to implement. Without TouchWIZ there is no Air View, no S Health, no Air Gesture or S Pen support; removing Sense obviates Zoe, Zoe Share, BlinkFeed and more.

And while vanilla Android may appear smoother, OEMs optimize their GPU drivers, their WiFi and Bluetooth stacks, for the specific hardware. There’s a reason that the HTC One benchmarks lower on CM10.1, despite running Android 4.2.2, than it does on Sense 5.0, which runs Android 4.1.2.

“OK,” you say. “What about merely rooted versions of the stock ROM? Those are easy enough to install.” Yes, they are. But getting there, namely unlocking the bootloader, installing a custom recovery, flashing a custom ROM or even a flashable Zip file containing root, renders your phone “tampered” as the parlance goes. It’s often difficult to return a phone to the way it was out of the box, either because the manufacturer hasn’t provided the original carrier-branded ROM (as for the Canadian HTC One) or there are remnants of the hack remaining on the device. Samsung doesn’t lock the bootloader on its phones, but each time a ROM or kernel is flashed the bootloader counter iterates. Samsung can choose not to honour its warranty if it sees that the phone has been altered.

The returns on flashing or even rooting my phones have diminished in recent years. Being able to back up my app data to Titanium has remained the one sustained use case; I no longer care for altering the OS itself. Call me old fashioned, but I want to be able to receive OTA updates when they’re released, and I just want things to work.

Call me old fashioned, but the thrill of the chase — that perfect Android experience — through a custom ROM is just no longer there.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

  • Renaud Lepage

    My simple opinion: either you choose the OEM’s experience, or the Standard/AOSP experience. On OEM-branded, non-Google-Edition/Nexus devices, getting the complete AOSP usually is through CM and its derivatives.

    It’s a choice, and I don’t do it for the thrill, I do it because *I prefer the AOSP experience*. And, usually, the hardware drivers _can_ work well with CM adaptations.

  • hellfenix

    My HTC One is the 7th Android device I own and the first one I didn’t root or even unlock the bootloader. I just don’t need to do it anymore, Android is so open that I’d rather keep the vendor optimized drivers and decide my experience through apps now.

    Sense 5.0 is great!

    • Mitch Ogaard

      My wife just got the One. It’s pretty awesome. I love the full HD screen. It’s really beautiful.

    • Xbrotha

      I just install a launcher, currently Holo Launcher HD.

      There isnt that much need to root / rom.

      Overall i find that within 2-3 weeks there is just some annoyance i discover and its such a pain to redo my entire phone every time.

  • MoustafaChamli

    There’s one reason I’d keep hacking/rooting my phones, and it’s for the occasional application that would require “root”.

    Most specifically: SetCPU, since it allows me to under volt my phone’s CPU and extend the battery’s life in the process.

    As for custom ROMs/Kernels, I basically verify that they can provide me everything I need without sacrificing the phone’s main functions. Otherwise, a Home app will usually do just fine.

  • Chrome262

    with the available packages now its so easy to hack your device, takes only a few minutes. Sure rooting takes a bit longer, but gone are the days of putting your phone in DFU mode for the iPhone, its just click and wait.

  • brandon johnson

    I to have decided to get out of the hacking game for the exact same reasons you have described. I have been “stock” on my gs3 for 4 months now. I think you send it best when you said I just want it to work.

  • Matt

    I have to say I do agree. I’ve hacked and rooted every device I’ve owned, and even refrained from buying Motorola because of their bootloaders, but the HTC One is honestly a fantastic device that functions wonderfully without rooting or any custom ROM. To be fair, my device is rooted and running ARHD right now, but right after I bought the device I went away on holiday before I had the chance to root/unlock bootloader. I used it for 2 weeks on the stock ROM, and now having used it rooted for 2 weeks, I feel like it wasn’t worth the effort. Sure, I have the battery % mod and no more carrier bloat, but a stock device ran just as well – if not better.

  • Bodmon

    Ahah, welcome to the club! I said something along those lines about 2 months ago :P

  • Contrasted

    Rooting and installing new ROMs can be tiring especially when I keep telling my friends “ohh I couldn’t use this feature because it wasn’t stable” etc. However with each new OS release and the huge wait that OTA updates brings, installing an unsable ROM is tempting.

  • Pacoup

    I think Android has also gotten better at allowing deeper customizations without even having to root the device. Heck, it used to be difficult to have just more than one browser on Android without the OS becoming befuddled at your attempts.

    Manufacturer ROMs have also gotten much better. Samsung still doesn’t have the programmers I wish they did, but their ROM certainly no longer makes me scream _I want to flash right now_.

  • Maxwell M

    I think it varies on whether you have a newer phone or an older one. I was quite content with my Galaxy S1 (yes the first) – people with old phones need 3rd parties like CM to bring their phones up to speed and sometimes faster. I was on CM7 for the longest time, found it very stable till I just decided to jump up to CM10 on it recently. The communities are great for people that like to stick with hardware for longer than few months.

    Now, ototh, I recently upgraded to a S3, and I’ve tried various ROMs including AOSP/CM derivatives, and I’ve found myself looking for a TW based ROM, possibly even going back to stock. As you’ve pointed out, the drivers/OS are a lot more polished than they used to be.

    I think there’s that initial fun of being able to have full control over your phone, and half the fun is seeing what it’s capable of but you eventually want to settle with what works.

  • Adam

    I hear you Daniel. I stopped buying manufacturer/carrier phones and switched to the nexus lines so I wouldn’t have to undo and fix things done to stock Android. But the newer batches of phones are so fast and feature rich that it’s getting harder to justify the unlock/root. I’m not ready yet to leave Asop yet but I’m getting there.

    • fandroid98

      I think this is what will eventually happen.- (People will ditch AOSP for Samsung, LG ETC and ASOP will be for devs) AOSP is nice and all, but it is very lacking in features and polish compared to some overlays. Plus nexus hardware is usually kind of behind the ball.

  • Zed

    I rooted my HTC One to add some basic missing features IMO, such as the toggle bar in notifications window for wifi, hotspot, gps, etc, and others. The ROM is 90% identical with the original. I also root my devices to get the updated versions faster. That will all.

    I tried using CM a few times, but, like you mentioned, I also like many features of Sense that I realize I wanna keep.

    Thus to answer your question, I mostly agree with you.

  • mjolnirxz

    While I agree that Sense 5.0 is quite likeable, I still decided to root and flash custom recovery anyway, because why not? I just simply like the option. Furthermore, I would like to see what the ARHD team can come up with, after all it is supposedly a more efficient ‘stock’ rom.

  • jroc

    I am going to go against what’s been said so far and disagree. I don’t root/flash for the thrill of it, I do it because I prefer vanilla android as well as superior hardware. One of the first things I did with my S4 was root and install CM10.1 nightlies. My N4 was a great device, but when I can have the same experience (more or less) on a nicer device, why not?
    Personally I think all the “features” that Samsung includes in TW are gimmicky, and I don’t care for them. I also think TW looks awful. Obviously this is just my personal opinion, and no hate to anyone that prefers stock. The good thing about android is that you have the option to switch it up every once in a while should you wish.

    • Doug M

      I agree with everything you said but how STABLE is CM on your S4?

  • Vito R.

    Daniel, I’m surprised it took you this long to come to this conclusion.

    Back in the day, you needed to flash a ROM to make your phone faster and improve battery life. I think the Desire Z was the last phone I used with a custom ROM since the CM gave me the latest version of Android at the time. Once the Nexus devices appeared, there really was no need to use a custom ROM as you always got the latest and greatest from Google – that eliminated one reason to hack.

    With the GS3, as much as I hated TouchWiz, I realized that while the community ROMs while sometimes faster than stock were never as stable and never worked as well so I remained on the stock ROM. It’s definitely helps that you can remove the most annoying parts of TouchWiz by loading a 3rd party launcher.

    Even though I have a dev edition of the HTC One I haven’t even bothered installing a custom ROM since Sense doesn’t annoy me enough to sacrifice the pretty cool camera features you mentioned.

    I think we’re just getting older and have better things to do than fight with our phones to get them working properly. In the past I’d have preferred bleeding edge to stability ;)

  • Rich

    I’m on the same boat, I’m absolutely tired of hacking my smartphones sort of speak. Usually there are various bugs here and there, even on stock Android which has a tendency to come across as permanently in beta.

    My next device will likely be a Blackberry 10, although it’s hard to compete with the price/value ratio on the Nexus 4.

  • Daniel Girouard

    I use CM10.1 on my GS3 just because it doubles battery life. And yes, I tried every tweak possible to improve battery life on Touchwiz (4.1.2).

    • dkr88

      Ahhhh no. A properly debloated stock TouchWiz will beat CM10.1 on battery life any day.

    • Daniel Girouard

      Looked for one, but gave up… Any suggestion?

    • dkr88

      If you have a North American GS3 (I747(M)), you might want to try the I747z ROM. But the same can be achieved on the stock ROM using Titanium Backup to freeze all the system apps you don’t use.

  • rd0t

    All the more reason to move to BlackBerry 10 :)

  • David Margolin

    Hi, I’m David and I’m a flashaholic…

  • Rob Reid

    I mostly agree. However, if you get stuck on an older phone towards the end of a contract, it’s frustrating being on an old OS. I’m stuck on 2.3. And gave up a long time ago waiting for Motorola. Rooting and CM were the only way to get updated OS. In future, I’m only going Nexus root. At least you’re getting untampered software directly from the source. And Google will let you update until your hardware can’t handle it anymore.

  • Michael Ochs

    Rooting is not the same as flashing roms, mods or anything else that can be done, at least on the android side of things. Rooting and unrooting takes a matter of minutes, (and usually seconds to undo) and returning a stock rooted phone to an “out of the box” state is no more difficult than sending a text message.
    Not trying to sound like a dick but for an opinon piece by a “crackflasher”, I am kind of disappointed that you would even include stock rooting among your list of phone hacking annoyances.

    • David Margolin

      have you owned a jellybean device yet? the ol’ gingerbread phones had simple one click root… ics phones were easy to root as well… the only way to get root on the new phones is with flashable zip… which requires unlocking and flashing cwm… both take up a crap load of time…

    • jroc

      I rooted my S4 and had TWRP on it in about 5 minutes with motochopper. Hardly a crap load of time.

    • woofa

      I think you need to catch up

  • Bruce Israel

    I still do it because the up-to-date version of Android has some nicer features, and the version I’d be running otherwise by default is too old. The problem is that if I run the “approved” version, I’m 9 months+ behind, since it takes Samsung a bit of time to port over their stuff and validate it, and then it takes AT&T forever to add their bloatware to the mix.

  • Patrick Polish

    I have to agree. I used to be exactly like you, jailbreak all my iphones to a point it would before almost a hassle to use and i’d have to restore it almost every 2 months. Then i moved to android because all that i was looking in a jailbroken iphone was available in the playstore without any gimmicky process. I was an apple fanboy, now i’m a samsung fanboy. i’ve own every device since the S2 and i’ve been more than happy. Yes, the touchwiz argument is sort of true, but not anymore. Since the S3, i’ve started to actually like touchwiz, not because of the interface, but the features. I’m actually happy of having all those features samsung have pushed so hard to market. Yes, i do use an alternate launcher, and i’m rooted only so i can use pandora in canada and helium sync, but besides that, i dont have a custom recovery, no kernels or roms, and im happy that way!

  • HoomanB

    I don’t want Sense or TouchWiz. In fact today I went to buy a Galaxy Note 8 (because I want the stylus) and ended up waiting for a tablet with stock Android and a stylus.

    But I do agree that CyanogenMod or other custom ROMs are not needed, unless, you have no choice but to use them to have the latest Android on your non-Nexus device.

    Also, I root the phone because I need it for certain apps, but I root the stock ROM instead of changing it.

    • ElvisMarmaduke

      Yeah I think OEM support is a huge factor as far as people feeling the need to ROM I just put a stock rooted rom on my S4. Deodexed of course so I can customize the heck out of it :-)

  • ronnnyraygun1

    Adblocker. The very reason I root. Love it.

  • geokilla

    Disagree. First of all, benchmarks mean nothing when it comes to a phone’s performance. What matters is the end user experience. I find that custom ROMs to always be smoother and faster than stock ROMs, whether they are based on AOSP/AOKP/CM or if they’re based on stock ROMs.

    Second, a lot of custom ROMs contain those optimized drivers that you are talking about, and sometimes even more optimized. However this is only possible if manufacturers release their source code. Some of them like Samsung and LG release on parts of their source code, so there’s not much we can do about that. Having said that though, I still feel that the custom ROMs are faster than stock ROM.

    Third, the flash counters you mentioned for Samsung phones can be reset, thus no “warranty is voided”.

    • ElvisMarmaduke

      Linux….it’s a wonderful thing isnt it?

  • Shane Sparky

    I could never live without a jailbreak on my iPhone.
    It’s what makes me want the iPhone. The tweaks are amazing and on my android tablet nothing comes close to what you can do with a jailbroken iPhone.

    As for laggin or anything people say happens. Yes it happens IF you are installing garbage tweaks. I have at least 15 running on my iPhone 5 and still have 600 mb of free most of the time. No lag.

    It’s called google. It’s your friend. It tells all about what’s good and bad.
    I’ve also jailbroken most of my friends phones (most not as savvy as me) and they love it. Just don’t have two of the same tweaks or you could have a bug (no brainer what’s going to happen).

    • Turbojugend

      Exactly, this article makes it seem like Dan did no research and just tried to jailbreak iOS, or root Android. I have jailbroken every iPhone and it is so easy, and have did the jailbreak on my iPhone5 the day it came out. You can always uninstall garbage or problematic tweaks, it isn’t very hard. The only time it is a pain to restore iOS is if you forget to edit your hosts file again.

      It isn’t rocket science for either OS to get into the root of it. For Android, a rooted stock rom always seems to work out the best for me, fun to try other baked roms, but as far as stability etc, stock always seems to be best.

  • demon5

    I’m in a similar position but all with the same phone over the course of a little less than a year. I started with Gingerbread which I rooted and flashed with ICS before the carrier released ICS. Then I installed a near stock ICS as the special one was just a bit unstable for me. Finally, I flashed it back to stock JB released by the carrier a few weeks ago. It’s smooth and being unrooted allows me to run Good for Enterprise (a mixed bag for sure but helps more than it hurts right now).

  • skullan

    I think it’s pretty natural to outgrow the desire to use custom ROM when there is no need. If the base phone system works the way you want it to, is fast and has the core functionality (or able to download the functionality), then why go through the hassle?

    Suddenly, it becomes a make-work project for yourself and those, after the 100th time, are just no fun.

  • DavidP

    I’ll be the first to admit there’s a lot of diminishing returns , especially involving the time spent researching and troubleshooting, and especially if you lose some features, and when it comes time to reflash for new upgrades.

    Having said that, there’s still enough reason for me to do it, especially if I religiously only purchase devices that have very stable AOSP roms (ex. CM10 Nexus 4). If I don’t there’s always Sense/TouchWiz roms that have crapware removed or other mods, while preserving most of the functionality, (CoolEXE roms on Evo3d GSM).

    It’s true that you can tolerate a phone a lot better by just replacing the stock launcher. I try to take a middle of the road approach; I mess with my phone for about a week, then usually stick to the same ROM for 3-4 months at a time. The key here is choosing a device that has more or less know-stable roms. Evo3D GSM was a mistake, as it took many iterations to get nice roms for that phone.

  • Carl Hall

    thats why I have a blackberry…..it works great as a phone and messaging device, thats all I need it for

  • kirilmatt

    I’m starting to agree with you more and more! I would never have rooted my nexus 4 if they had not broken LTE support, so I rooted and flashed the radio. Otherwise, no need to root, my galaxy note 10.1 is the first android device I haven’t rooted and I don’t plan on it!

    • Carl Hall

      the nexus 4 doesnt have the certifications to use LTE, the FCC made it clear to LG and google they needed to either remove it or certify it

    • kirilmatt

      Oh I completely understand why they did, but I just found it was worth rooting my phone to keep it.

  • Richard Morrison

    Funny that the pictured device for this article is an HTC One, I have said on a couple threads now that (as an HTC One Owner) this is the first device I may not root. I like it that much. ANd like the author, I was a bonafide crackflasher prior to owning the ONE.

  • lusky3

    AOSP With timely updates > OEM. I don’t care how “optimized” the drivers are if it takes 6 months plus delays to get updates.

  • Allan Hansom

    I’ve also left rooting/ROMs behind (with the exception of my HP Touchpad). I played with ROMS quite a bit for the first few years of Android (Moto Milestone/HTC Desire/HTC Desire HD/Samsung Galaxy Vibrant), but these were always devices that I felt were missing something, especially when none of them were updated past 2.3. With the current generation, I feel that the feature set that comes with the device finally meets or exceeds my expectations, especially with the HTC One, and I prefer not to mess with it. The device is stable, fast, and power efficient. For the most part, if there’s a feature I hope for that isn’t baked in (such as notification quick settings), I can find them in an app (such as Power Toggles), and home launchers such as Nova give you a very Nexus-like experience without much of the headache. Worried about “bloatware” (which is pretty minimal, at least on Telus devices, compared to some of the US devices I’ve seen)? Just disable the app in settings and move on with your life.

    Android is also reaching a nice plateau in the sense that newer versions don’t add much that I miss (such as the difference between 4.1 and 4.2). Sure, the updates are slow, but I don’t feel that I’m missing much. If Google surprises us with some big developments down the road, I still have a Nexus 4 to play with (and the N4’s widespread availability and sub-$500 pricetag in Canada means that those looking for a stock experience no longer have to look far).

  • big_al77

    Couldn’t agree more. I regretted not rooting my s1, and bought a nexus for that. Love android apps more and more recently, not planning to root my next phone. Hopefully, Google play services fund a way to backup more data, but most important apps just need sign in and you get all your settings restored, example tune in radio

  • TomsDisqusted

    I’ve only done it in cases where the manufacturer wasn’t supplying the updates, and the warranty period (1 year) was complete. Otherwise I just haven’t felt the need.

    It’s nice to know that its an option, but its not something I really want to do.

    Ideally, there would be meetups, or stores, where people were very practices and efficient and could install CM stable for people for a small fee. Doing it the first time or two is slow, but I’m sure it would be really fast for someone who has everything setup and is experience.

  • alamarco

    The only reason that compels me to want to install custom ROM’s is how slow manufacturers are at getting out updates. If there’s a security issue it takes ages to reach the customers device because not only do the manufacturers have to touch it, but so do the carriers.

    The chain that updates have to go through is ridiculous. Apple has it right in that they don’t allow modifications. While some may see it as heavy handed, I see it as I get my update the minute that Apple releases it.

    I love my Note 2 and sometimes I find it hard to put it down. I just wish I could get updates without having to jump through hoops. Samsung still haven’t released 4.1.2 so we aren’t even close to receiving it as carriers still have to add their junk to it.

    This ruins the experience hands down.

    • Aiden

      My Note2 has 4.1.2 on it. Maybe you meant 4.2.1?

    • alamarco

      Yeah, I meant 4.2, good catch. I must have been without my coffee writing that. :P

  • big_al77

    I think you forgot to mention that carbon backup at 6$ can save your data with no root. Haven’t tried it yet, was planning to before my next phone

  • Ted_kazynski

    I only really need root for my Ps3 controller to work with my tablet or phone. I do love custom Roms but have been lost in the jungle of Android so many times. Mostly botched flashes or forgetting that I deleted the original Rom zip, then when s**t hits the fan and I think to reflash with clean wipe. Yeah I have painted myself into every corner there is with android. One time i got caught without an OG zip and backup, all I was doing was changing the font. I had dealt with the random crash from font changing before but this time i was caught with my pants down. Had a complete brick of a nexus 7 till i could Adb it back to life.

    Enter the HTC One X: a complete gauntlet to hack and unlock. HTCdev was a complete letdown took over a week to hack the phone due to server issues and never receiving the token needed. Basically hacking a phone had become a corporations responsibility, not the best tech support for not the best reasons. When a hobbie meets big companies its always going to be rough to deal with. Now my HOX is hacked but has the tampered moniker, the bootloader is still s-on due to Team venom ROM not being able to perform a chown command. So eventually ill have to flash back to stock and turn s-off. But I don’t really want to. I also would like a phone that just works.

  • Z Hudson

    TouchWiz and HTC Sense are bloatware that don’t need to be on the phone. I cannot wait for the day when those features are stored in a repository and it is an OPTION to utilize them. Some may want Zoe or S Voice and others may not. It should not be a voidable offence to remove them for the consumer.

  • EvanKrosney

    If it appears smoother, then why does it matter what the benchmarks say? I personally love to hack, root, customize, etc. For me it’s all part of the beauty of Android, that ability to do whatever you want with it and modify everything to your heart’s content.

  • Dariusz Stochmal

    I don’t understand why are we not allowed to install apps on sdcard from get go. Many devices in North America only come with 16GB versions and there are no alternatives and when you get the phone 16GB is not really for you to have due to pre-installed OS, apps etc. 16GB runs out very quickly when you start installing numerous apps without, unless phone is rooted, ability to install or move them to sdcard. So Samsung or Apple or Google or HTC or Nokia, next device your release in North America make sure it has at least 32GB internal storage, 64GB would be batter, or enable ability to install apps to sdcards.

  • Mark

    To me there are two reasons to mod your phone with a custom rom. First, to get your OEM device up to date. I agree completely that much of the reason to do this now has been eliminated by the advancement of OEM devices. Also, if getting up to date is all someone wants then they can grab a Nexus – Then you’re weeks or months ahead of the custom roms.

    The second reason is that it is a hobby. I think this is where most of the hardcore hackers reside. It can be a lot of fun. I think that ‘thrill of the chase’ as you say in the article is diminished now because of how far the OEM’s and Android itself has advanced. Any high end device now is buttery smooth and feature filled compared to a Froyo device of 2010. Custom roms are largely for those who like to tinker and can tolerate lots of bugs. If you want something that just works then it is impossible to beat something off the shelf or plain old stock from a Nexus.

    This article was a great read, Thanks!

  • Christopher Spook Mullett

    When I first started using smartphones, I liked the idea of being able to modify them to function better than what the manufacturer provides, but it’s a throw of the dice whether if that custom rom is stable or not, throughout 2012 I was an avid user of custom Roms on android phones and some phones which have device specific features such as the fingerprint reader on the Motorola Atrix or the 3D camera on the HTC Evo 3D, developers have to make Roms that implement those gimmicks, no CyanogenMod or Paranoid Android on these devices, back in 2011-2012 there was a reason why people have flashed Roms to their android phones because that OS was still young and OEM Roms were a little glitchy, but through the years, android has become more mature and I don’t think there is a reason anymore, and I have had some hitches with custom Roms myself, such as the device freezing or the address book not working properly, I am now an iPhone user right now and I have had my device for six months now and it still amazes me, heck I have even bought an Apple TV unit to go with it and I am making plans to buy a Mac computer and an iPad.

  • Dave Evans

    I’ve been flashing custom ROMs since the original Windows Mobile XDA. I have flashed dozens of phones, hundreds, if not thousands of times and never had an issue till just recently with my absolute all time favorite phone ever, the HTC One S. I flashed something or other on it and went to boot it up, over the next few minutes it became more and more corrupt to the point where the screen wouldn’t even show anything. No bootloader. When connected to my PC Flashboot wouldn’t even pick it up. Nothing. I now have the third in my string of Nexus devices the Nexus 4. With a Nexus phone I have little desire to flash anymore. Being a Nexus, it is going to get the next updates quickly and I find I don’t need all the latest tricks available when you root a phone.

  • r00t4rd3d

    I just pour cold milk on my droids and that cools everything off.

  • Emil Simunovic

    Thats why I love Nexus line. No need to hack anything, just do what ever you like…

  • Stuntman06

    Most of you guys are way beyond me. I just rooted my phone for the first time last week. The only reason I did that was so I could get my phone to automatically switch between SwiftKey and Swype when my phone changes orientations.

  • Emil Simunovic

    So iPhone just works and Android you have “hacked” douse not work properly? Interesting.

    • Frettfreak

      Maybe read the article BEFORE commenting. Just try it. Then you won’t look like a moron.

    • Ataul Munim

      Guest was responding to Ryan’s comment, not the article. A misunderstanding like this is one of the reasons it’s best not to resort to labelling people as morons.

    • Xbrotha

      the car he replaced the engine in himself doesn’t run so well so he got a brand new one.

      it works better.

    • Adolfo

      Because changing the engine of a car is as simple as flashing a rom. It isn´t exactly the best comparison

    • hyperhyper

      Try jailbreaking your iPhone and then try equating the stability. That would make a much better argument for what you are trying to say but if you did that, your argument would fall apart.

  • asdfjasklfj

    i agree! when i first got my s3, i didnt even think about rooting it. it had all the features i wanted and quite frankly i liked touchwiz features. (i previously had a nexus s which i rooted and even made my own themes for).

    after a few months with the s3 though, i did eventually root it, and enjoyed it for a few months. however, problems with camera quality, bugs, and features i missed on stock made me switch back after a few months on cm10.1/aokp/liquidsmooth. i dont think im gonna be rooting again (im actually on a rooted version of the stock rom however due to adaway and titanium backup).

  • park kyokeun

    Honestly, if you are fine with os that the phone comes with, then don’t flash custom Rom. Nobody is forcing you to flash anything. I personally have paranoid android with Franco kernel on my Nexus 4 because I like features of paranoid android and I like the performance of Franco kernel, but that doesn’t mean that combo (or any flashing in general) is for everyone

  • Mathieu

    +1 … mostly because [stock] Android has gotten so good and I see no reasons to find the time to root, unlock, flash…

    Rooting/unlocking/flashing make more sense on an old device to give it a 2nd life …

    • Mark

      Agreed. Also, if you have a Nexus still being supported then stock is 3-6 months ahead of the custom roms. Some of them might have alpha/beta released as soon as the newest source code drops, but those are extremely buggy.

  • phuzzykiller

    I do agree with you in part, since I’ve been doing the same thing ever since I bought my first N1. I have grown tired of rooting & flashing phones as soon as I get them, BUT I absolutely hate Touchwiz, which is why I rooted my S3 as soon as I got it and threw Cyanogenmod 10.1 on it. I never have any problems with Cyanogenmod, and it does exactly what I want it to do.

  • DK

    I resonate a lot with this article. However I realized the reason I hack is not only because I’m constantly trying to eek out every inch of performance out of my phone, but it’s also to get a sense of empowerment. I can recount my latest experience with the LG optimus G. I loved the hardware but I definitely felt the LG skin was holding it back from it’s true potential. There was really nothing wrong with the performance or the battery life, but it irked me to know that I wasn’t using (and possibly never getting) the latest and greatest from Mountain View. So when I finally managed convert the phone to completely stock AOSP, it felt like I truly possessed the phone that I owned. It’s that feeling of liberation, not the performance enhancements or improved battery life that drive me to hack. I believe this feeling of wanting to have full control of your phone is also what drives many people, including me to android.

    • Ajanu

      This is exactly why I stick with Android, and why I rooted and installed a custom recovery right away on my N4. I ran the stock ROM for a while, but I like the tweaks CM and AOKP offer. You can install apps to do a lot of what I like about custom ROMs, but then you’re using extra resources to achive the same result.
      I remeber having an LG keybo phone I got for free from a friend. It didn’t charge well, but I was more frustrated that I could not set my ringtone to whatever I wanted, and was stuck with the default limit on text messages (something stupid like 50 or 100 total, no auto delete.) Once I got my HTC desire, it was the first time I actually enjoyed using a phone. Once I removed Sense, the ohone looked and behaved exactly as I wanted, and to it’s full capabilities.

  • Mitch Ogaard

    This is one of a few reasons why I went Windows Phone 8 with the HTC 8X. I have no urge to modify the phone at all. My first smartphone was the G1 (HTC Dream) as well. I had what I consider to be just a string of bad luck with Android. I had the Cliq XT, MyTouch 4G (HTC Glacier), and LG G2x after the G1, and as far as I can remember, none of them got major Android version upgrades. Also all of them seemed fairly sluggish after a while (the Glacier had a 1GHz scorpion w/768MB of RAM and the G2x had a dual core 1GHz Tegra 2 w/512MB of RAM). I love Android and definitely will go back at some point, but for now I’m putting my eggs in the M$ basket. So far WP8 has been treating me very well and works awesomely with Gmail, Google Contacts, and Google Calendar.

    • Edward

      G2x has only 512MB ram if my memory is correct.

    • Mitch Ogaard

      You are correct, sir. I wonder what phone I was thinking about. Maybe the Optimus 2X? Now I’m not sure. At any rate, I’ve edited the original comment. Thanks for the catch.

  • Dan Navarro

    I’m in complete agreement. I have found the same to be true for me, too.

  • Spencer Roberts

    I flash builds that I BUILD from source, i have always liked computers and android has provided me a way to learn computer programming and actually directly benifit from what i learn. i run PAC, it uses every big roms fetueres and has it all nice together and fairly stable, sure compiling takes time but having the knoledge that you just built something on your computer and made it work on your phone is fantastic. i like being able to add fetueres and remove them asi wish. yes, i miss touchwiz, but if it was open source id run it everyday. i think the oems should open source their work, since samsung alreaddy does alot of open source anyways. pardon my spelling

  • Tuan Nguyen

    this article has valid points. but i also have some points to make about rooting / modding on most phones. i use an htc one from at&t and found it very useful in its sense 5.0 platform. however the bloat ware is crazy hard to tolerate. HTC did gave me an option to disable it, but then again it is still taking up valuable space on my device. another thing is that the AT&T mobile sharing. i don’t use another carrier, but the at&t units have a lock on mobile sharing that would require a plan to tether. i personally don’t use tether, but using the HD media link (came with the pre-order) requires me to set up by opening up mobile network sharing via tether. in otherwords i couldnt use my HD media link.

    then i came to root the phone, flashed a clean custom rom with no bloat, and removed that at&t lock to enable my HD media unit. in a way, its a flaw in software. however it is very inconvenient. there are still reason to hack your phone, after all.

  • a9876876

    You so-called hackers make me laugh. No need to justify that you got tired of your sad little stamp-collecting hobby.

  • William Worlde

    I am in the same boat right now. I’ve been using JBSourcery for the last couple months and for the most part it works well. BUT, my LightFlow no longer works and getting back to the Home Screen takes way too long on my GNex – not that it’s that great on RAM to begin with allowing only 693MB availability of its 1024MB. What???!!! That’s a whole lot of “missing” RAM; but that’s not what we’re discussing here.

    To be quite frank, the *main* reason I’m using a custom ROM is so that I can have a custom Navigation Bar; that’s it. But it seems my beautiful JB 4.2.2-based ROM is taking way too long to get stuff done. I too am tiring of my beautiful, feature-rich ROM. ONE more update from JBS and if it doesn’t work, that’s it…I think.

  • Johnny S.

    So this guy is offering his own, honest opinion based on experience, yet there are still angry fandroids down voting him. Some people on this site need to get a life. It’s just a phone ffs.

    • LeafsFanGirl

      Totally agree! I was on XDA and one guy bashed me because I didn’t root my S3. Others came to my defense. Just because I owne an Android doesn’t mean I have to root it. It’s my phone I can do whatever I want with it. If Daniel doesn’t want to mess with his phones anymore, that’s his choice. No need to bash him.

    • Jonathan Alfonso

      I agree 100%. I have a T-Mobile Prism, and it’s crap. It is an entry-level phone with literally 5 MB space left once T-Mobile added their crapware. I rooted it and flashed a custom firmware because in this case it was -necessary-. For phones like the SIII/S4, there really isn’t a need. The thing is, everyone has an opinion to their phone. If you like what the phone comes with and it works fine, then there is no need to root it. I only rooted & modded mine because it was necessary in my opinion.

    • hyperhyper

      He is comparing the stability of a hacked phone vs. a non hacked phone. Where I come from, if are you comparing things, you make sure they are on even playing fields.

  • Dave Courtemanche

    I had an LG optimus that was suppose to get ICS update, but never did. That’s the only time I’ve flashed custom Roms.
    I’ve had Samsung phones since, and just root and change the launcher. There’s a lot of software features that I like in Touchwiz, I just like to be able to alter the grid pattern and sometimes change the icons.

  • JK

    I own the Note 2. Before that, I owned the HTC Hero, and the Nexus S. I rooted both of those. The phones were sluggish and needed overclocking. Also, I was able to get the vanilla android experience with added features which was great. Now with my Note 2, I get tempted to root it just to get the stock experience.The only thing is, it’s not necessary any more to me because the phone is fast enough and I just use Nova Launcher anyway. Still though, as I write this it makes me want to root my phone just for fun.

  • Ziggy (PcK)

    I agree with you but I have the latest root box rom on my s3 not for speed because I don’t get that I like vanilla android for its ui and the extra features in a vast anti theft and just added security to my phone but once I go back to driving I think I’ll stick to stock for I won’t have to worry as much about getting robbed for my phone btw I live in north Winnipeg

  • Audrey Burne

    I agree. Gone are the days when we have to flash droids, dream, desire, s1 and s2 because of such terrible software from the manufacturer. we’re past that now so sometimes its better just to leave it instead of going through the hassle of rooting, then flashing. The fruits of our labour for flashing aren’t as juicy as they used to be…

  • andy c

    The only reason my nexus 4 is rooted is to get LTE. I would be on factory stock otherwise.

    • Mike A

      you dont need to root your N4 to get LTE, its a default of the phone unless you updated to 4.2.2 then you would need a custom recovery to reinstall the radio fmw

  • Martin

    The reason I love android is i can make it how I like it. Sense seems ok but there are always a few limitations that I would like to make. I’ve calmed down my flashing maybe once a week and use stable versions more often. My friend got an s4 and it seems so gimmicky, fill of flashy features that you likely never use and Imo get in the way of using the phone quickly and efficiently. But vanilla android is so great and hardware has hit a kind of plateau so there features are all they have to offer over vanilla Imo.

  • Mike A

    I find your post valid, back when I had an iPhone(3G then 4) I used to jailbreak it whenever possible then one day after updating I just decided not to. It ran great and never had any problems but I yearned for the features I had lost (mostly bite and SBsettings).

    That’s when I switched into the android game, I had always loved android but I found their original os to be extremely flawed. I had originally bought a Galaxy S Captivate which was great but at the time the iPhone 4 I was using just felt more polished. When I finally bought my Galaxy Nexus I finally saw why android was better(at least IMO), it had all the features I wanted from my jailbroken iPhone.

    But as with life I couldn’t help messing with it. First thing I did was unlock the bootloader and root it, then I installed custom recovery, and eventually gave in to a custom rom and kernel. Over the top and hard to keep track of the updates but it felt worth it to me, the phone ran smoother, and it had fun features that not a lot of phones offered. After purchasing the Nexus 4 it lasted about 2 months before the modding began.

    All I can say is different people prefer different things, I mod my car, my laptop, my room, my desktop, and my phone. Its my lifestyle.

  • kr_metal

    I agree. I used to jailbreak my iPod quite a lot, but then I lost interest in it after a while when stock just felt… designed better. Everything felt nicer.
    I didn’t bother to mess around with my Nexus S, 4.0 was around the corner, and when I got that, the incentive to mod mod mod completely died within me. It no longer felt like Android was a incohesive, ugly platform, it actually felt unified and decent as a regular OS. But still, there was a lot of stuff I wanted to install. Like widgets, more widgets, apps, etc. just to make it look better, but that was about it. It lagged my phone down a bit, it required a lot of customization, and it took up a lot of my time. I just didn’t want to do that; it’s a phone not a computer after all.
    It’s partly why I went to Windows Phone – it’s stable, it’s fast, it’s smooth, it’s unique, it looks good and it doesn’t require as much modding as Android did. Stability and performance wise, it was very much on par with iOS, unlike Android which still lags, in some cases, today on high end phones. I found that a well designed OS can really trump in UX over modding your phone.

  • J. Chan

    Keep in mind, many Canadians cannot afford a new HTC One, or a Galaxy S4 instantly (meaning I have to wait for several years until my current contract is up, then get an s4), meaning I don’t have sense 5 or all those touchwiz features, like how many of us are stuck with an aging three year handset, like the HTC Sensation which HTC has abandoned, older Xperia phones with no JB, or even entry level smartphones with limited features. This is why we would want to root and/or modify our devices. HTC has completely abandoned the old users, leaving us out in the cold in the jelly bean party, unlike the “one” series. Which means I have no Project Butter, Sense 5, Beats Audio, and whatnot. So, whatever HTC will not provide for me, I must provide for myself, rooting and getting all the new android features.
    Mobilicity or Wind is better, since they have no contract, but switching now is too late, and I have to bear the consequences of doing business with Bell
    I can understand that from your prospective, you probably just finished your contract or had enough money to upgrade, and can afford a new S4 with touchwiz air features or a HTC one with an ultrapixel whatnot. You would find no need to root it, since it comes with a load of cool stuff that we would never get.

    However, the rest of us are stuck with older models, with no updates because HTC doesn’t care about their aging DHD / Sensation customers, with NO JELLY BEAN UPDATE, NO PROJECT BUTTER, NO BEATS AUDIO (like the raider/vivid), etc. So we root our phones. We can flash our own roms and mods, which can provide us all the stuff HTC never gave us.

    The HTC Sensation never had Zoe or Blinkfeed or whatnot to even start off with, so what do we need the Stock Rom for? It doesn’t offer what Android Rev HD or what Viper Rom has.
    Maybe if HTC updated us (the older models) to Sense 5 or whatever, and gave us all those cool features, we could learn to love stock Rom, and not feel the need to root.

    The perfect android experience is through the stock unrooted ROM for you, but not for everyone who cannot afford a S4 or HTC One

    Just my own opinion, not everyone may agree with me, but I just wanted to get this out to everyone. Don’t mind me :p

    • Mark

      Valid points. The problem is that HTC/Samsung wouldn’t have been able to get the One/S4 to the great state they are in now if they diverted resources to updating their entire line of ageing devices. So the same mechanism that has made custom roms nearly obsolete for newer devices has made them essential for older devices. That’s how my HTC Desire met Gingerbread era Cyanogenmod. Older devices are the biggest beneficiaries of the custom rom communities.

  • Josh Reebel

    Number 1 reason I rooted my Note 10.1 is simply so I can read/write to my external 1TB hard drive. That’s all I really needed or wanted that it doesn’t already provide to me.

  • Brian

    I agree. I go with Nexus devices because they’re easy to root for app restores and leave it at that. I like to customize, not hack anymore.

  • Stephanie

    I feel the same way. I rooted and hacked to my hearts content with My Galaxy Nexus, and even did so for many of my friends who were less tech savvy than I. The only reason I did was to remove carrier bloat and install carrier blocked apps, mainly Google Wallet. For a while, I was updating my CM Mod ROM daily, or at the very least weekly. Over time I updated less and less, and by the end of my phones life, I was actually back to stock. It just wasn’t worth it anymore. I upgraded to the Galaxy S4 last week on Verizon, and while there is carrier bloat that I would LOVE to get rid of, and I would love to run Google Wallet, the phone just works so well out of the box that I don’t see any need to fiddle with it. I bought the phone for 2 main reasons, battery life and the Samsung installed apps, like air view, smart pause, and all the features the camera provides. While I understand why others still do it, and respect their desire to, hacking just isn’t worth it anymore, for me that is.

  • Shawn Zhang

    I reached pretty much exactly same idea a while ago, and it was when I found my Samsung S2X unable to run Viber and a few other apps after switching from stock to CM9. I did some research and tried to get a fix, but only found that the problem had existed for a long time on a lot of devices, and a fix was never in place after so many updates. What I have to point out is, I’m not even running nightly, it was an official version!

    Wow, and the CM developers said “you’d let your mom use it”, can you believe that?

    And then I did more research, and found that 99% of the custom ROMs aren’t working perfectly. Either you lose bluetooth, or it doesn’t shut down properly etc. There are always some glitches. In comparison, you can’t even say CM is bad at all. This is really annoying. Also, all custom ROM developers would tell you “it’s your own risk to use this stuff”. Basically that means, things can go wrong.

    So for that Samsung S2X phone I stayed on a custom ROM called darkside, it didn’t really give me any problem and it’s because it was modded based on stock Touchwiz of the T-mobile version of this phone. I just used a 3rd party launcher instead of Touchwiz to get comfortable.

    When I got my Note 2 a couple of months ago, I was very clear about what I was going to do–install the stock ROM with simply a root injection. I can’t really live without the root privilege because of the ability to freely backup and restore a lot of important app data.

    And I think here’s the bottom line: the device has to work properly. My phone is an essential everyday tool to me and I can’t afford to make it unstable. It seems foolish to me that you risk the functionality and stability of a device that you use to call 911 for emergency, in order to get some cool and different features that’s not available on your phone yet. After all, I haven’t personally seen any custom ROM developer saying, that any of their build is more stable than the stock version.

  • Manish Bhoola

    While the arguments hold good for non aosp phones and I endorse your views on advanced development going in to sense and touch, I would also like to state that thanks to the vendor apathy many android phones get stuck in time with no new releases when new models arrive.

    Also the features are available for elite flagship models. Budget androids get a raw deal and none of the frills mentioned here.

    It comes as no surprise that both Samsung and HtC have released aosp based models of their current flagship models.

  • Evil DevNull

    I’m going to chime in here and say a few things.
    1.) Ryan Draga – Your phone is only as stable as you make it. Fake is you rooted it with someone else’s exploit which is why for every post ever made about rooting and unlocking we make a disclaimer saying that we ARE NOT responsible if you mess your phone up. As for going to a closed OS like IOS well, that just means you want to be like every other Sheep in the heard. so BAHHH to you. Have fun with that. Android does “Just work” just sounds more like an “ID10-T” in Android for your device.

    As for the rest of the comments, I really do not care to read through them all. Android is a product of Linux, Linux is an OS designed for smart people (not my words) So in fact, if you all have a problem with it, maybe you should walk away from Android and go with something a 2 year old can master like IOS. I have heard so many complain about how android is so unstable when rooted. If that’s the case, I would really hate to see what your home computer runs with your “Admin permissions”

    As a developer, we think of it like this. “Like “GOD” we give you the choice of free will. We free you from the restraints. Am i saying developer are gods? Ho hell no. Just making a point.

    We give you the option and tools to do what you want. What you mess up, well that falls on you.

  • moedin1

    I agree until my phone is left behind on features and running with the Nexus pack for updated software, stability and features. The problem is the carrier and OEM are in cahoots to delay upgraded OS. If I release the upgraded firmware for every phone then no one will want to buy the newer phones that come with the latest 4.3.3.2.4 blah blah.. they use it a marketing tool on the place card in front of the device at the store. It always says what version of droid it has running and when the numbers are higher, stats show people will want the “latest” stuff whether they know the difference or not. I know it takes time to release it and test it, but somewhere in the chain, it is held back from the consumers. Not to mention stacked full of bloated crap apps with background processes that eat battery once activated. I’d much rather stick with a supported device that received updates regularly, but the only way is with Nexus and so far none of them have hit the mark for me, except for my stock Nexus 7 – love it!! I know people like/love/rave the Nexus 4, but I had a terrible experience with an LG product once and will never support them again. I’d like a Nexus device, but it needs to get a new OEM first and I’ll dive right in. For now, my SG3 runs anything but rogers firmware.

  • deltatux

    Nope, my Nexus 4 is so much better with Franco Kernel + XenonHD ROM. Battery life has increased (through further tweaking myself too) and the performance is about the same (I don’t game on my phone, so raw performance isn’t important, I rather have longer battery life instead). I also get extra features out of the ROM which is very good.

    The only major downside I see from modding my phone is that there’s no guarantee that there are no malware that has seeped into my phone and that in order to ensure that no one’s stealing my data, I have to employ forensics tool from my toolkit to ensure that there isn’t any funny traffic, doing all this takes a lot of time, so I ensure there’s no super sensitive data (like I wouldn’t use this device for work).

  • Tirso Mena

    I agree I got tired of it myself every so often I would receive updates that didn’t work or parts of the phone didn’t work properly. Now I run the original jellybean 4.1.2 all is well no dropped calls or issues making them.

  • blueadept1

    I flashed the hell out of my SGS2 starting about 4 months after I got it. CM 9->10->10.1 were far better than TouchWiz, but the HTC One is just so fast and clean, I don’t currently see any benefit in flashing to another ROM. Now, the initial reason that I flashed CM9 is to get ICS, so if there is a massive leap in Android versions, I would likely have to consider flashing again, just to get past the silly OEM/Carrier OS delays.

  • Jonathan G.

    I know what you mean, when I had my first android phone (Samsung Captivate) I was flashing once a day when I saw a new rom that I thought looked great. However once I got the Galaxy Nexus I stopped flashing because like you I wanted the timely updates (since the samsung captivate got the updates like 3-4 months later after they were released by google) and I just know that when they were going to get released, I would be flashing back to stock to wait for the update to get onto my phone anyways.

    So now I just left it and have it only rooted so I have the benifits of the apps that require root access to be better.

  • slappywhite

    good read, also a bit discouraging lol, i recently got into the hacking game, my htc sensation was horribly unstable, with a clunky and clumsy interface, constantly crashing even with my ICS update. So i became brave and chose to install a rom called virtuous inquisition. I am still blown away by the difference, my phone is so much cleaner, faster and maybe its just me but the stock android, while admittedly lacking in customization and features, is thing of elegant beauty. hopefully it doesnt all fall apart and become a pain, but i have ran it for about nearly a month and it has been ok.

    i was kinda shocked to see so many people also getting out of hacking their phones.

    • Valentin Kravtchenko

      Hacking is still good for an old phone, but not as interesting for a new one

  • Rex

    The day my HTC One X’s one year warranty expired,I installed the Sense based Venom ROM. I’ve note got a phone with the exact stock HTC experience, but with added tweaks, such as a whole load of toggles in the notification screen, that Sense 4 and above lack. I wouldn’t trade in Sense for Cyanogen or anything else

  • Tony McAfee

    I would never want to leave my phone as open to the carrier as they come stock.

    I worked for AT&T. When I dealt with a person whose phone was rooted with an AOSP ROM the tools said that they were using a non-AT&T device and I couldn’t push software of updates to their device.

    When they were of stock firmware, however, I could tell whether their device was connected to the 4G network or a WiFi access point. I could change certain settings, add access points, even remote into their device.

    I would never leave my phone open that way.

  • barrylaw

    I’m 100/cent with you!

  • jason

    Imo, flashing roms is not as important when you have the latest firmware( 4.1.2 is close enough to 4.2.2) and top of the line hardware. But when your phone is a year old and you have been totally abandoned by your manufacturer. Flashing rom is the only way to go. Or even when manufacturers make updates available to other markets and you get screwed by your carriers. Its just so much easier to flash the latest and greatest than having to wait on carriers to get all their bloatware in.

  • Rem

    I hacked my Nexus 4 for one main reason: battery life. I flashed recovery, installed the Kernel I wanted, undervolted, tweaked the colors and contrast a bit and, kept the stock rom and done.

  • S2556

    I love custom roms. I compare my GS3 running 4.2.2 AOKP to my sisters stock 4.1.1 and it is night and day. Her phone is so laggy and bloated, every animation is strained and this is after 9 months of use. I rooted and put a modified touchwiz rom that is debloated and a lot lighter. Problem solved. I will not buy a phone that does not have easy root access and a developer community behind it. CM7 saved my motorola milestone from the mess moto left it in.
    I am not a fan of iOS at all and haven’t given WP8 a chance because I haven’t seen one in the wild yet. My buddy had a Z10 which has been the only one I saw. I messed around with it and it was nice and all but IMHO the flagship androids are just so nice right now it is hard to go with another phone. Of course this is just me so don’t get me wrong here, not bashing. I just love the rooted android experience.

  • Runn Vermel

    I’m almost in exactly the same place, with one difference – I own an Sii, and at this point, unless i want the early 2000s look that touchwiz has on the sii, putting 4.2 on my phone seems like a better idea…

  • David Van Cleef

    3 words: Native SIP Stack.

    No carrier will let the makers leave it in because it is a threat of voice revenue cannibalization. Only real way to get it is through an AOSP-derived ROM.

    (I eat my words, Docomo is allowing it on the recently-released Xperia A, but none of their other subsidy phones have ever had it that I know of except maybe their GN)

  • THΣ ΣΠTΣRTΔIΠΣR

    I’ve decided to stop flashing ROMs on my Galaxy Nexus, but I’ll still root. CM 10.1 was bugging in the first 40 seconds.. then I switched to AOKP lagged i the first 3 mins, then try Paranoid lagged in the first 10 mins… I HATE LAG ON MY PHONE. 4.2.2 stock is lag free.. and Franco kernel is useless…

    But I’m still rooted.. the Coolest apps needs Root Acces Super Su sooo.. I will still root but no flashing

  • Prestaeus

    Can’t agree more, with VM I find myself happy with a stable, functional rom. I used to worry about getting the most updated android, but my Nexus 7 handles that for me. Glad to avoid the drama of bricking.

  • Adam Outler

    This is what happens when you become bored. You stop caring about things.

  • Warren Sklar

    Good debate. Ive Jailbroke and rooted every device I had (and there have been many). I now agree that the benefit to headache issue has slowed me down. Strangely I just decided to re-root my Nexus 7 the other day, and as soon as I did a few of my apps started to crash. My Iphone 5 was Jailbroken and had some Cydia apps on, it got to the point where it would hang here and there, so I just restored it back and its good again. The only cydia app I miss is called Wifipass which saves a list of all the access points wep keys I connected to, which is handy as an IT pro (people forget their WEP key, I can look it up).

  • WhappySap

    I approve of your decision, I hate bricking my phone

  • ccurran985

    Haven’t been on android for just as long as some. I started rooting and installing custom ROMs on my SGSII after a couple of months of putting up with touchwiz. And for the first number of weeks I loved the thrill of rooting and installing every ROM in the go but after a while I found myself missing the stability of touchwiz and eventually went back to the stock ROM. Since then I have bought the nexus 4 and 7. Have been very happy with the vanilla android experience as it was the beautiful modern UI that made me root in the first place. When the paranoid android team put halo out on alpha I just had to try it and have since rooted and installed it on my N4. Have to say that, even with this early alpha build I have never tried a better custom ROM. Not one error message or force close to frustrate me and make me regret the decision to root.
    Personally I think it depends on experience. If you have a good experience with rooting and like it then go on ahead, who am I to judge? I do it and love it (for the most part) myself. But I completely understand where he is coming from with the frustratingly unstable phone that is often the end result of installing custom ROMs!

  • Justin F

    Agreed. I’ve now realized ROMS these days are actually allowing down the OS.

  • Josh Brown

    I have a Note 2 and it is so eady to go back to stock if I want, but I use a modded tw rom just to give me a few different features. I totally agree about cm, it is taking way to long to have a stable release, that most people have gotten turned off of it. But just wait until your phone is not running the latest android version, or some feature that is on the note 3 and you only have an s4, you will be back to flashing.

  • Hugo

    Root yes, flash no more (did too much of that with very mixed results on my HTC Desire and Galaxy S2).
    And only Nexus phones/tablets from now on, it is the only way to go, I hate bloat, if there is something I want done I’ll install the app for it, the manufacturer doesn’t have to decide for me that I need a game hub or hubby hub.

  • Sylvain

    Agree. The pure Goole experience with 4.2.2 is good enough for me. I have unlock the bootloader, root my phone and install cutom recovery so I can flash as soon as a new firmware is release on the web (before the OTA) but that’s it. It might change when google wil no longer support my phone and CM or anyother ROM will…

    Cheers!

  • Frederick Edwards

    You sound ripe for the Google Edition of S4 and One. Interesting read, thanks.

  • outburst

    I agree. There was a time when CM was leaps and bounds better than what was preloaded on your phone. It was faster, more customizable and featured some pretty slick add-ons.
    i don’t really feel like that’s the case anymore. There are a lot of things I hate about TouchWiz, but I don’t want to lose my dual screen on my Note2, so I think I’ll stick with it.

  • Dt Bell

    Yes, once I installed a custom ROM I rarely use it, but having an app when you need it is just as gratifying to me.

  • Sumeet

    I just unlocked the bootloader on my Xperia Pro a few days ago and installed a custom kernel and ROM (LuPus v14 and Xperia Ultimate HD 3.0.2 respectively). The performance is much better than Sony’s ICS update and UI is much smoother. Plus, less buggy than Sony’s ICS. And now my launcher looks like the one in Xperia Z, and lot of features are much better. Took a day to fix all the issues and now the phone just feels great. Hardly any lags! Very happy to have done this, and will do it again in future if required!

  • Samuel Hart

    I feel similarly, but my newest devices have been nexuses (nexi?) from google direct…. with those running 4.2 I’ve felt no need at all to root/flash it. I really like that android experience, so I didn’t really bother.

    I think I would still root phones though, just to remove bloatware from them, and uninstall facebook (which comes so tightly integrated into ALL of them these days)…. but I’m also finding less and less desire to flash anything….

  • Beth Koenig

    I choose my devices specifically so I don’t have to hack them. This is why I will never buy an iPhone. I use android phones and tablets. Yes, I am capable of hacking any device I just don’t believe in spending money and then having to do so. I want a device I can customize right out of the box. Also since I work with the disabled it’s important that I be able to pick up any device and load whatever the client needs on the spot. I might not have access to my laptop (I use a Chromebook in the field and remote into my laptop, 2010 ThinkPads are heavy when using a backpack for everything) to root and reflash a phone.

    I am one of those people that go to technology expos and then end up showing the exhibitor how their device works. I mean I can pick up and start using pretty much any piece of technology without the help of Google. And I am the type of person where my life runs on Google. I found this article on G+.

  • Kush

    Agree. I was in the same boat before I bought my HTC One . And I swear not to tinker with it.

  • Donny

    I think my last Android I rooted was my GS3 which was my last 1GB RAM. Since the release of Note 2 and all the other 2GB RAM devices, Android’s have been running as smooth as ever. Right now, I haven’t been tempted to root my HTC One. You gotta admit though, sometimes these developers make their ROMS so interesting it gives me the flash-addiction itch.

  • gnote

    I have a Galaxy Note, and here are my reasons for unlocking/rooting/flashing:
    – I want full access to the hardware I own (like on a computer) – smartphones are mobile computers, which is why (along with tablets) the computer industry is slowing down
    – Ad block app – I hate advertisements! I need root access to block ads.
    – OS updates – it took 8 months from announcement to release to get a JB update for my phone. By the time it came out I had 4.2.2, instead of the older 4.1.2 that was released officially.
    – After being a flashoholic, I unrooted my phone and tried the stock experience -> boring, bloated, slow and I missed many features
    – I could get a “Vanilla Android” experience with ROMs like SuperNexus – which I tried, but it’s so boring. Again, no extra features that I miss – almost no point in flashing a custom ROM for that.
    I am currently on Xylon custom ROM and it’s great. Sure, I get a random reboot, but there’s no win-win for anything, but this is as close as it gets for me.

  • Ataul Munim

    I used to root and stick CM/VillainRom on all the time – with my Galaxy Nexus, I’d stuck to the stock firmware for a while. The _only_ reason I rooted was so I could use HierarchyViewer directly (it’s only enabled on developer phones, and it seems, Cyanogen/AOKP).

    I think it’s a testament to how far Android has come that there’s really little _need_ to root and flash a custom ROM; but the option is still there for (most of) those who would like to.

    Contrary to the tendencies and experience of the author, I usually stuck with milestone releases of CM and AOKP – so never really experienced any adverse issues with flashing a custom rom, over the out-of-box experience.

    • kroms

      Agreed.

  • Jason Murray

    Agree 100%. Loading up a custom rom that only half worked was frustrating at best.
    Gaining utility was only good for a while until you realize wifi doesnt work on your phone anymore. Or needing your camera to work without some random reboot. I think the software inovation is needed for the future of android but I no longer want to be a tester.

  • Laer

    How exactly does rooting have diminishing returns? There is no way I could live without root. Good ad blockers, sixaxis, titanium, bloatware removal, presistent avast support, root level file browsing… this is just a very small slice of the root world I live in.

    As far as ROMs go… again no way. I think CM is flat and boring but something like AOKP is refined and comes with the feature set that gives me control over the day to day feel of my phone. Never am I frustrated because I can’t do something and no longer do I spend all day setting it up after a fresh wipe. This stuff is served hot and ready in minutes!

    I am not you of course and we probably have different needs. But you are clearly uniformed when it comes to the level of proprietary features ROMs are supporting. S-Pen has been around since shortly after day one. Air gestures is available, other features are present, extended, or exclusive to a good ROM/Mod. There just is no contest, if you want it, it’s there. Sometimes you have to wait a month or two after a new device release, which isn’t a big deal anyway… buying an early production device is a dangerous waste of time anyway.

    The real problem is lack of commitment from the manufacturers. Let’s get more devices releasing drivers, more devices on AOSP, and more accessibility of unlocked devices on google play store or similar. This has been changing recently, but more effect is required. Hardware shouldn’t be vertically integrated with software like it is, very bad for the consumer.

    With Goo manager, TWRP 2, incremental ROMs coming, push updates, more and more AOSP/driver support daily it’s never been so quick and easy to run custom software WITH all the features originally intended for the phone, a la carte.

  • Erik Barcelo

    you can return your rooted phones back as long as you unroot the phone! this article is very misleading!

    • kroms

      More education and patience is needed . The problem is everyone wants things RIGHT AWAY and they get mad if they don’t. When you custom ROM you should be prepared to wait a bit a let the pros try things out first then wait for there feed back. Problem is people just don’t or they do not follow proper instructions.

  • pete

    100% agree

  • kroms

    @ Daniel B

    That is why you BUY a GOOGLE NEXUS branded smartphone ! :)

    Never have had any issues with my Nexus Devices.

    Although most people like your self have this issues because you either did not take enough time to educate your self on problems with the Customs Rom biuld for your Device and what it might due, or your at the leading edge of the ROM build.

    XDADEVELOPERS….. you should be there reading and READING before you ever Flash a Custom ROM.

  • Philosoraptor

    @Daniel B: What case is on that HTC One?

  • hyperhyper

    I got the chance to play with the S4 this weekend (my dad bought it) and I have to say that the number of features is a bit overwhelming. My wife got the HTC One and I would have to say that it would be my choice if I had to pick one. The double front facing speakers, the camera OIS and a few other features are the features that won me over.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when Apple stops suing everyone and starts to try and innovate again. While Samsung has definitely been at the forefront of phone features for the past 2 years and it will be interesting to see how Apple implements all the features. They copied the notification system pretty good and they finally admitted they are changing the colour scheme to reflect Androids finally. I suspect that they will make all the options that Samsung offers as mandatory and will teach people over time instead of giving the user the choice of turning things on and off.

  • Steven J

    I prefer AOSP myself. Motorola is the only company I’d stick with stock with, but that’s just because they’re practically AOSP. Then again, I’m a flashaholic, so my opinion is probably slightly weighted…

  • kfath1978

    Hello my name is Kerry and I have been a rooter now for 3 years……
    And then there is a Nexus devise that requires no rooting if all you want is a pure android OS and updates directly from Google I have a Galaxy Nexus on Verizon that i rooted day 1…. I also have a Nexus 7 that is running stock and i see no reason to root. Point being the next phone I get will be a nexus direct from Google and i will go to whatever cell company supports it…not going to wait 6 months for Verizon to approve a updates.

  • ant_ooo

    so do I, sometime I feel to stop hacking my HH. but when my favourite ROM came to an update i can’t restraint myself to try it :D LOL

  • themike

    I ran a nightly on CM 10 for a while and it was such a lackluster experience with bugs and things that made me realize what I passed up by rooting it. I just got an S4 and after adjusting Touchwiz internally I am in love with it. Best part of all – everything works without question. I may root in the near future, but it will only be to remove bloatware.

  • TWIZLA ROOTZ

    I agree fully I have been selling mobile phones for 10 years now and after all the fiddling crashing and fun I just want my phone to function properly

  • David Oliverio

    I started rooting my android when I was using the HTC Hero (Sprint). The phone just didn’t have the juice to run much so a slimmed down Sense was the way to go to have a less-than-frustrating experience. I’ve been using the OG Evo now for two years and, while I may deviate to MIUI (gingerbread) from time to time, I always go back to Sense.

    You’re right, the drivers are specific and stuff just doesn’t work correctly. Features even down to the camera don’t seem to work as well.

    I will be upgrading to the HTC ONE and don’t plan on unlocking the bootloader unless HTC dropped support too soon before my next upgrade (two years from now).

  • RIP Steve J

    Everyone, you seem to have forgotten why we are all here. Apple introduced the revolutionary user interface called multi-touch back in 2007. It works like magic! It’s an iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator in one device. *audience applauses
    This is the mid-life crisis of a phone geek. Agree or disagree really depends on where you are in your phone hacking life-cycle. Return to the iPhone because it is the most purest, most zen approach to what a smartphone should be. Also, buy a Porsche and leave this all behind you.

  • Esteban Avilez

    I agree yet I can’t stop, when I had my iPhone 4, I would jailbreak it everytime there was a new update, I got tired of the apple experience, and the hype of owning an iPhone wore off, so I traded it for a HTC Inspire, and for the time I used that phone I did not root it, technically it was already rooted by the previous person who owned it, but I did not do anything with it, then I upgraded to the Samsung Infuse, and boy that phone is boring, so I rooted it, and installed custom roms, tried various roms, then for christmas my wife bought me the Galaxy Nexus, I rooted it, but didn’t try any different rom because its already a “vanilla” android phone, but soon enough I flashed Paranoid Android, and I fell in love, but I noticed that it was diminishing my data speeds, download were at 0.01, and upload was at 0.34, so I switched to CarbonRom, and it gave me my data speeds back, but now I’m really contemplating going back to the stock rom without all these extra features, but still can’t get myself to go through with it.

  • udazavlanje

    I would agree with everything said, but I feel like I have no choice but to mess with Custom Roms and these are my reasons:
    I’m constantly on the road and in need for “Mobile Hotspot” so I can share my data with other devices (one may say “why not over USB” but that doesn’t apply for my eBook kindle and Galaxy Tab) and Verizon that I’m stuck with (grandpa plan :-)) charges for using that feature on my GS3 30$. In 2 years that’s 720$ + tax saved! I know that GSM version of Nexus always had that feature unlocked but Verizon didn’t on Galaxy Nexus.
    The other is lack of Flash on all new Android devices from last year and since I’m still looking PC browsing on my phone that is still necessary to have for me.
    So I was testing all of them and was unsatisfied with either performance (crashing , shutting off) or signal (data issues) and finally found peace with CleanRom. It comes with everything that Stock ROM has(camera and all Samsung features) but it’s cleaner( as statedl and has Flash included with unlocked Mobile Hotspot. It also has unlocked SIM for GSM carriers.
    As the amount above showed it was well worh it.

  • gommer strike

    Excellent article and sums up EXACTLY how I feel.

    I’ve jailbroken, rooted, flash flash flash every single day for several months. Every time a new version of this ROM came out, bam flash. Oh gotta have that bug fix. Oh look! He finally fixed the Bluetooth stack yay!

    But you know something? Many custom ROMS just aren’t as stable as the manufacturer’s stock release. XDA devs don’t have armies of QA testers poring through every little function and trying every little feature of the phone, purposefully trying to break it or induce a force close. These guys are in many cases, one-man shows and just don’t have the time to QA everything.

    And I got burned out from flashing flashing flashing. I just wanted to have a phone that WORKED and was stable. Stable is the number one keyword.

    Plus the community can be elitist, arrogant and a huge turn off at times. It’s exactly the same situation where the prized few are completely free to troll the users, and yet the users are treated like dirt for the slightest stupid question.

  • KoalaMeatPie

    I compleatly agree, Although I flashed the heck out of my SII, I will abstain from doing so on the S4 because the camera features are just too sexy.

  • SL Carrtel

    My thoughts exactly.

  • jhonovision

    I have the HTC One. For me I like the sense based roms. You do not lose any functionality and the performance has increased.

    I consistently had problems with the capacitive back and home key. With Trickdroid being on the latest base those issues are now fixed.

    I can’t wait for HTC or my carrier to push the ota updates. Having an unlocked bootloader ensures I am using the latest build.

  • mytharak

    As an old school Android modder/themer/hacker I tend to agree. My phone isn’t even rooted anymore. The stock experience is pretty good these days. Aside from trying to learn about the OS itself or working on things at the framework level or below there’s little reason to mess with it anymore. Unless you want to do something different with the hardware a stable experience on your daily driver is much more desirable than screwing around and risking your hardware and your warranty. It used to be you had to just to get a decent experience, but much has changed since the old days. With the G1 you simply had to root it to have enough space to install some apps. Since I bought the S3 when it was released a year ago I haven’t rooted my daily driver. The Android ecosystem has matured quite a bit I think. Power users shouldn’t feel the need to roll their own solutions so much anymore. What’s out in the hacker community sometimes isn’t quite as good as what is on the OEM devices these days. It used to be quite the opposite. Whatever mobile user experience you choose, I recommend trying things out on your own and figuring out for yourself what works for you the best.

  • Tom Di Tota

    You’ve been lucky to have devices that worked on their own. Ever bought a Sony? You HAVE to flash that thing unless you want to be stuck with the absolutely garbage software sony has loaded the phone with. Their versions of android are full of bugs that no company would reasonably release into the wild. Both my Arc and Ion were huge mistakes on my part, the latter even more so with its locked down bootloader. My phone won’t even call a contact when I tap their name in my contacts list. Never again Sony. Never again.

  • 2WYCE

    Saw you on All About Android. Good episode. I have a GNex. The stock rom these days has lots of the features I used custom roms for in the past. However, Paranoid Android still has LOTS of features that are not in the stock rom and makes using the phone even more natural and convenient to use. It also works great; no problems 90% of the time. However, I’m not addicted to updating EVERY time one is available. I only update Paranoid Android about once a month. I backup before I do. If the update has any issues that affect me, I go back to my backup and wait another month or so. I’ve actually tried a few times to go back to stock and every time, there is something that I do regularly that is VERY inconvenient to do without Paranoid Android, or that needs an app to do, or just plain can’t do, and I get frustrated. Each time, I went back to PA. One of my favorites is the ability to change the size of everything to use my screen’s real estate better. Before PA, I was using Cyanogenmod for almost a year and I had the same issue. I guess I’m addicted to convenience because I can do everything I need/want to do very conveniently using PA (and mostly with CM, also) but not with stock. Rooting is a no-brainer since I use at least 10 apps regularly that need or work better with root. The stability is pretty much the same as with stock in my experience, nowadays; maybe it just has to do with the reasons you root & rom.

  • Angelo

    Agreed. Done the same things you done with Android, never had an IPhone. After several ROMs Ia m back to reseting to orignal Firmaware with rogers at 4.1.1 and wait until they decide to give us a 4.2.2 update.

  • Radha Santadharma

    Agreed. Nuff said. I never got beyond some bootloader for the Rugby. However, my brother’s using it as a PDA.

    4.2.2 is in my Nexus 4 but have upgraded the i757m to ICS as well as the Xperia Pro.

    Doubtful the 757 or Xperia Pro will get the call for Jellybean though.

  • LocutusEstBorg

    I too reached the point where the only thing I cared about was backing up my phone using Titanium Backup. Then I realised I was only doing even that because the useless Google backup doesn’t work and you most likely will not be able to restore your apps and data on a new phone without Titanium Backup. This realisation was the breaking point. Every single thing on Android was non-functional.

    I abandoned this junk segment OS and went back to iPhone. After a long break, a new 5S with iOS 7 was an order of magnitude faster and more reliable than every Android piece of junk I used over the past few years. It automatically backs up the entire phone and app data to iCloud and every app is clearly superior to the substandard Android version.