Bits And Bytes (week of 11/6)

petershihpetershih ZTE FanaticUnited StatesPosts: 378 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
<body><p>Welcome to our weekly <a _jive_internal="true" href="">Bits And Bytes</a> poll and discussion! Give your honest opinion, debate ferociously, and respect each other at all times...</p><p></p><p><strong>Question</strong>: Why stock? Pick the top reason why you prefer to go pure stock or near-stock Android.</p><p></p><p><strong>Context</strong>: We've heard our community's voice loud and clear: <a _jive_internal="true" href="">stock or near-stock Android</a>! But everyone has different reasons for this preference. In this week's poll, please select the top reason from the list below. We would've allowed for the top two or even three selections, but our platform doesn't have this feature. However, you can elaborate in your comments. <em>Note</em>: this is an important poll for us to present findings to our R&D team. If this is a topic near and dear to your heart, please invite fellow like-minded Android enthusiasts to vote and comment!</p><p></p><p><strong>Action</strong>: 1. Select one of the options below and 2. reply to justify your reasoning. Although there is no correct answer, please provide sound reasoning to support your selection. After a week or so, your Mod Squad will soon identify and reward those with the most thoughtful responses!</p></body>

Bits And Bytes (week of 11/6) 490 votes

Quicker updates
17% 84 votes
Longer support (i.e., updates well past the average device)
11% 54 votes
Cleaner user interface and skin
36% 177 votes
Better overall performance
10% 52 votes
Less bloatware
5% 29 votes
Lower defects
3% 19 votes
Greater dev support for custom ROMs
15% 75 votes


  • runtohell121runtohell121 Analyst United StatesPosts: 2,262 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I voted for cleaner ui and skin, as stock Android to me seems to provide a clean and simple UI to use. The other choices I would think I would have chosen would have been less bloatware and better overall performance as a result of less bloatware and a cleaner UI. Clean and simple is one of the benefits I can think of for users to experience the way Android was designed by Google and having similar or stock UI would benefit more people getting used to one certain UI instead of having multiple UI when changing from phone to phone. Less bloatware would also be beneficial as that would free up storage and use less resource on the phone and could possibly lead to better overall performance.

  • Stock Android will appeal to the Android enthusiast community, but leaves very little impression on the average consumer.  From this, it's not hard to understand why ZTE would want to different themselves with their own skin, but this itself lends itself to the classic "if everyone is special then is anyone special" problem.  I think the best solution would to be to go with what Moto did, a near stock version with (actually useful) additions that could help to differentiate the brand.  I'd imagine that this could put less work on the dev team, leaving them time to iron out the bugs and improving general efficiency.  What ZTE has done with the Axon 7 skin is understable, but ultimately.  Features like Mi Pop are too laggy for serious use.  Hence I suggest that ZTE lighten the skin and focus more on everyday features like Moto has done. A feature I would personally love to see ZTE implement is a feature whereby the user can select the specific amount of battery percentage he/she want to charge to.  This could help improve battery longevity for some while not impeding others who wouldn't want to use this option.

  • samsamhasamsamha United StatesPosts: 2,363 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I feel overall, near stock, offers the best performance and more consistent UI across not just the phone's overall UI but also app UI. Near stock UI also makes it easier to transition between devices so there is less learning curve and not to mention that easier to offers supports. Near stock probably also means it would be easier to integrate Google's feature to the device.

    I do, however, understand why OEM makers want to actually use their UI skins and customization. Some custmization actually makes the phone better and honestly not really cause any performance and even actually make the phone runs faster if it really finetuned. I think the biggest problem with skins is because most makers cannot really support their device longer due to the need to crank out devices yearly since most makers get more money from selling devices than offer software support and updates. It makes no sense to spend money to continue offer support and updates to older device because it makes it harder both financial and technical perspective. Thus, having close to stock potentially can help makers to update their device faster and also bring new google features to their devices.

  • coldheat06coldheat06 United StatesPosts: 1,795 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I voted:  Better overall performance.   But I would also vote for: Quicker updates and Longer support.

    With having a stock ROM it would allow for a faster rollout from Google of patches and new releases.  It would also help with the overall performance of the device (not saying that the device does not already perform great).

    Now days people just enjoy a clean ROM and if they want to have a skin over the ROM they can always just download a Launcher of their choice.

  • chuckbortchuckbort Chuck United StatesPosts: 608 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    This was a tough choice for me. I went with Cleaner user interface and skin because so many people like to use launchers to make their phone their own. Without any additional tweaks, there is less chance of any conflicts between the manufacturer skin and the launcher.

    But I did also wanted to choose the options of Quicker updates or Longer Support. I couldn't though because it is still up to the manufacturer to push the updates out. Just because the phone has a stock or near stock ROM doesn't mean that either of these will actually occur. You just hope that they do.

  • cavanaughtimcavanaughtim Wisconsin, USAPosts: 645 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I chose cleaner user interface and skin. It's funny, because (unlike, say, quicker updates) this is not an inherent benefit of stock vs. skinned android. If UI were your only concern, you could theoretically find/develop a skin with something better than the stock UI. It's just that nobody has done it. Sure, you find ROMs that improve upon the stock UI a little bit with tiny tweaks--CM or Moto for example--but the more drastic alterations have all been for the worse. So even though the UI is not an advantage that stock android enjoys just by virtue of being stock, it is still the most attractive thing about stock android.

  • louisdlouisd Arguer in Chief United StatesPosts: 1,192 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I selected lower defects, though that's not exactly it.  I find, that in many cases, the skins REMOVE functions from the stock OS, versus add value.  A few close-to-stock experiences, like Moto, have gotten it right, but MiFavor on the A7 is the perfect example.  On the A7, Android Pay doesn't work with the fingerprint scanner, the phone doesn't encrypt properly, the DND settings aren't accessible in quick settings, active display is gone, etc etc.  What does MiFavor add?  MiPop?  Different icons?  None of that has any value and the things we lost, DO have value.  So, reduced defects is what I chose because frankly, losing "core" Android functionality is a defect in my book.

  • frodriguez2010frodriguez2010 Enterprise Tech Support Engineer TexasPosts: 1,904 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I chose less bloatware. 

    I remember having a Phone that worked great but quickly ran out of room.  Also when trying to disable bloatware, wobbliness would occur.  Or my favorite was a feature was already part of stock experience why have a bloated app that does the same thing.  #Wasteofresources

  • fzrrichfzrrich United StatesPosts: 4,257 mod

    I would have chosen "all of the above" but selected  "better overall performance". I feel that a stock to near stock experience would be less buggy right out of the gate and also achieve "all of the above" as well. It's a win win. It definitely takes time for a customized version iron out all of the bugs and I would think it would be a lot easier to have it stock with maybe some separate .apk files to download and install/uninstall to suit your own needs. 

  • hollaphollap United StatesPosts: 8,377 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    With all the software issues experienced on the A7 i would think lower defects would be winning by a landslide.  Shows what i know

  • maulgandhimaulgandhi United StatesPosts: 519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have tested many smartphones including ones not from ZTE. I always emphasize manufacturers that they adopt vanilla android. Motorola is the closest to vanilla stock, ZTE comes in at second. HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, LG and Samsung is way over their head. Although, their skin is more streamlined and optimized, but the experience is no way near close. The reason I emphasize more on stock experience is quicker updates/upgrades. Second, less bloatware; although the bloatware has significantly decreased from carriers and manufacturers. For instance, HTC removed all the bloatware from their devices including their version of apps (Gallery, Browser, etc.), kudos to htc for stepping up and bringing users the experience they deserve.

    The latest devices from ZTE has two launchers, which in my opinion is unnecessary, creates more problems and it is half baked in terms of features. I rather have one launcher with all the features, which is requested by testers and users all across the forum. On the other hand, helping CM team with resources to create stock ROM is great too and I appreciate the effort. Why not provide resources for all ZTE phones?

    I got bit off the topic, I strongly believe ZTE should create vanilla stock android experience for all the devices. The reason is quicker updates, less bloatware, performance and vanilla experience for everyone, which is loved by all android users.

  • louisdlouisd Arguer in Chief United StatesPosts: 1,192 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Does the A7 really have two launchers?  It seems to me "stock android" is nothing but a MiFavor theme, and not actually a second launcher.   My other thought is although Touchwiz is a lot heavier of an interface change, it's done so much better.  My wife is a Samsung fan and I can't think of anything significant that her phone is missing compared to a stock phone.  That's a big difference from the lighter ZTE skinning.

  • hollaphollap United StatesPosts: 8,377 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    "launcher" or "theme" to me is the same thing ​. The 2 options that ZTE provides, as well as Nova, and Action Laucher, etc. do not change the fact that MiFavor is running behind the scenes, no matter which launcher or theme that you choose.

  • syaoransyaoran Manassas, VA/Toronto, CanadaPosts: 185 ✭✭

    I went with quicker updates.  Security patches help keep the platform secure, which I feel is important.  Clean user interface and skin as well as performance are also noteworthy seconds. 

  • Yes, Motorola did a great job of keeping the stock look and feel but added features that they thought were useful. The key to these "options" was they were all optional.

    Although I voted for cleaner UI, I also feel that faster updates also holds significant value. Being that Android is fighting the ever long battle to compete against apple's IOS in smartphone significance, it is important for a company's android phones to stay relevant and boast android's latest features when they come out instead of 6 - 8 months after they come out.

  • I consider those bullet point reasons.  I can't pick one.  The only one I don't mind is the UI because it has no bearing on the underlying system.

    From a marketing perspective, keeping updated with both security patches and major releases is something that can be a major differentiator (versus all other non-Pixel brands.)

    Keeping old devices relevant (as long as the hardware is viable) extends your product line when things like Daydream come out.  I mean, what if one of your older phone models could technically run Daydream?  Why not get it Daydream compatible and sell your own accessory?  When Bluetooth low energy gained adoption- you could've sold BLE accessories.  Staying modern with the software can benefit your product catalog.

    And for us, we appreciate the updates, regardless.  It would make a lot of customers long-term which hasn't happened in the Android market.

  • razor512razor512 United StatesPosts: 2,683 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I picked better dev support, though for the survey, many choices are not mutually exclusive.

    For example many people who want better dev support, also want longer support for the device, and both serve to extend that support.

    There are some tablets and smartphones which started on android 4.0, and are now running android 7.0. Good dev support, means that a device can live on for a longer time, thus even if you get a new phone after 2 years, you can be confident that your old phone will still be up to date on the software side, thus it is less likely to become part of someone's bot network, or get compromised in some other way. Furthermore, it becomes more practical to pass a device down to another family member who is fine with not having the absolute latest and greatest.

    When this upgrade path becomes more viable, it because more practical to spend more on smartphones. For example, I would not be willing to pay a price premium for a phone if it will become a security risk after 18-24 months due to lack of support for even the most basic security updates, but I would spend the money if I know it will be supported for a long time.

    This form of business is nothing new, it has been done to great success for many video card makers. For example, I am more willing to spend more on a higher end video card because I know that it will be supported for many years, thus when I upgrade, I can pass it down to a friend of family member, and we both get an upgrade, and some companies averaging 8 years of support for their videocards (both entry level and top of the line), it is easier to justify a  larger purchase, because the user is no longer thinking about it as something that they buy for $400 one year, and in 2 years, is worthless because there are no new driver updates, thus no resale or even passing down to an older system.

    With the GPU support cycles, users can be reasonably sure that by the time a video card loses support, the hardware will be obsolete for most tasks.

    Beyond that, good performance is something that is never not a focus. Not optimizing the software for a smartphone is like building a top of the line gaming PC, and installing Windows vista 32 bit on it. It will run, but no one will be happy with it.

    In the case of better dev support, many 3rd party ROM developers, will put a considerable amount of time into optimizing the ROM, as well as the kernel in order to get the most performance out of a device.

    For many older smartphones which have had great 4rd party firmware support, even with updates to newer versions of android, many of then ended up benchmarking higher, and offering a smoother user experience through a strong effort of optimizing everything

    For manufacturer updates, everyone wants them to come in fast when they are security or bug related. (Would you be happy with Microsoft if a new major zero day exploit was discovered being used in the wild, and was a remote code execution, and Microsoft told users "We hope to have an update addressing this within the next 3-6 months"?

    Keep in mind that the majority of android devices in use today, still have not received a single update addressing the stage fright vulnerability, since the vast majority of smartphones stop getting updates after 12-18 months, and through efforts by those companies to make unlocking the bootloader as hard as possible, has left many people with devices that are no longer secure, in addition to preventing the user from being able to secure their device.

  • rlynnsiirlynnsii Ms. United StatesPosts: 4

    Bare with me,  some of my reasons are not in order.

    I chose Cleaner UI & Skin as my #1 reason for wanting to have pure stock Android.

    Vanilla Android has #5 less "bloatware" (I'm stating this as a fact more than a reason,  b/c only a few of ZTE apps are beneficial & should be optional instead at the min) & due to clean design and no / minimal conflicting apps; #4 there's less defects. Freeing your device up for #3 Getting Faster Updates / Security Patches; we definitely want to keep our device secure.

    Therefore, creating a much more: #2 Increased Overall User Experience. Vanilla Android function ***as it was meant to.*** For example - I.) how do I move apps to my SD Card? II.) Can I use my SD Card to function as Portable Storage? I thought that was a highlight in Android 6.0. I see no options for either of these.

    Keeping all of these things in mind; leads me to #6 longer support for devices through updates, etc.  and it would make it easier to be able to then #7 Greater Dev support for custom mods.

    If ZTE unlocks a bootloader - must a warranty be voided? Could there be a way to support your (ZTE) products only, not anything additional or beyond your hardware? [I am not expressing myself all that well, IDK all that much about "flashing" a phone, but on another thread someone made a GREAT point & I'm trying to convey their thoughts, very poorly.. *Only on the warranty topic, I mean]

  • nthall350nthall350 Kansas City, MissouriPosts: 505 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I voted for quicker updates. I've had my Zmax Pro since August, and it has never received an update. The security update installed is from June. Stock Android allows the updates to be pushed faster increasing security, and removing bugs.

  • I'm fine with infrequent updates as long as vendors read the changelogs and at least updates as frequently as to keep us protected from the easily exploitable vulnerabilities.  I mean, Dirty C0w is getting a lot of press lately.

  • ... and there's already proof of concept code on github with a lot of activity.

  • jasonejasone United StatesPosts: 2,118 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I wish there was a choice for all of the above. Yes please give me all of that. I'm always in favor of a near stock rom. I preface that with "near" because I enjoy useful tweaks and added options but not a change in the UI.

    A more full featured camera app, double tap to wake, swipe down for notification tray on home screen, shake twice for flashlight, one handed mode, etc. I love seeing enhancements like this, and none require you to redesign the UI or change the skin on Android. Although I'll give credit where credit is due. I do enjoy the Nougat quick toggles in  Marshmallow, and how it changes colors to match our wallpaper. Also using a lit up home button as a notification light is really slick looking.

  • architeuthisarchiteuthis Posts: 226 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I selected "Better overall performanace" not because the A7 perfoms badly (at least, not mine) but having stock Android gives reduces the amount of bloat that comes with a phone to it's bare minimum. I don't mind a couple of OEM apps, but they have to perform better or at least, on par with stock apps. If they don't achieve this, then there's really no point in having them.

  • dnewman007dnewman007 United StatesPosts: 3,667 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I picked Cleaner user interface and skin, but all of the above is what you get with stock/pure android. I would like the faster updates and less buggy Ui that the Pure Android offers. Really, all of the above on the survey is why I want pure android. Please give us stock/pure android!!

  • gryphticongryphticon Quebec, CanadaPosts: 315 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Selected quicker updates since having stock Android would most likely allow for way quicker development. The Axon 7 has alot of competitors, being able to release updates faster will probably bring many people to choose the Axon 7 over the competition. Speed is of the essence. I certainly do agree with the other points, I also think that a better overall performance is also extremely important, I'd personally take a very fast phone over a good looking phone OS, not saying that stock Android is ugly quite there contrary but that's how much I value performance. Speed is what people want from a phone because it allows them to do every day tasks faster and seamlessly.

  • I really want a fast update because i want the android N for the daydream features. Which is the main reason why I brought this phone in the first place. So pls!!!!

  • vzwcdmavzwcdma Posts: 173 ✭✭✭

    I voted for "Better Overall Performance", because it encompasses the other options like Quicker Updates, Longer Support, Cleaner Interface, Less Bloat, Lower Defects. Having a very slightly modified stock experience is better for both the consumer and for ZTE.

    For the consumer:

    It presents a more standardized, clean interface seen on other devices, so a user would be more accustomed to the interface.

    Since it's only slightly modified from what Google puts out, there shouldn't be as many potential bugs and defects.

    Having another layer of modifications on top of traditional android lowers performance and has a high risk of introducing bugs/defects.

    For ZTE:

    Just speculating here, but wouldn't it be easier on the software development side of things to just go very slightly modified stock? Less work having to design, code, test, debug, test again, etc. a customized layer on top of Android (MiFavor).  Having less code to modify would help speed up updates, as less work would need to be done, which would help keep support going longer.  Not having a modified layer would cut down the risk of incompatibilities and will be less likely to introduce additional bugs.

    Additionally, due to the death of the Nexus line and the absurdly high price of the lackluster Pixel lineup, ZTE can use this opportunity to draw in stock-loving Android enthusiasts and make the Axon 7 the "new Nexus".

    Regarding bloatware: my option, but as long as the app in question is a 1st party app (Google's standard apps & apps developed by ZTE for use on ZTE devies) and serves a useful purpose (like the sub-apps found in the Axon 7's Toolkit), then I'm fine with it being pre-installed as long as it can be disabled.  I do not want 3rd party apps (Touchpal Keyboard and its dozen language packs, Dropbox, WeShare) present at all.

    As for the greater dev support, I'd say it has more to do with what (device-specific) code ZTE makes publicly available for the device.

  • kidnovakidnova Posts: 435 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I voted for cleaner UI and skin, but in reality it's all of the above with the exception of custom ROM. 

  • all of the above would have been my answer, but since it's not available I chose custom ROM support - it doesn't need as much commitment from the OEM compared to the other reasons so it's easiest to deliver. stock android doesn't guarantee always better performance, fast updates nor long-term support. custom firmware support, on the other hand, catches those three issues

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