Bits And Bytes (week of 11/6)



  • mysticxsabmysticxsab Austin, TXPosts: 3

    By using stock android we get a cleaner UI and skin. Sometimes it is very difficult to understand whether an issue I am having is because it is like that in stock or because of the additional bloat layers or customization brought on by the phone developers. I'm all for innovative new additions that help us to achieve the interactions or experience we seek, but we need a more concise way to understand what you are attempting to show us or would like us to consider. Not everything is going to be a success, and that's expected and totally fine, but we need some sort of base line so that we can compare it as you add in personalized development features. I started with ZTE because of the extreme value to price ratio and because everything was very clean and unbloated. There isn't a much better baseline than stock.

    Would love to see a developer love list to all the cool things you enjoy beyond stock and why. Then we can comment on whether we feel the same or not and why.

  • I chose "better overall performance"...after doing a fair amount of research, it seems the lighter the skin/overlay on top of stock Android, the better the general performance of a given device is. Also, there is also the factor that a light, "moto-like" overlay is easier to manage for both the dev team, and the end users. Add to that, the factor that most apps (at least the ones that don't require root/unlocked bootloaders) work perfectly well with a stock interface, and with varying problems the heavier the skin/overlay is.

  •[email protected] Atlanta, GAPosts: 11

    A clean, standardized UI is a key component to a positive software experience. Unfortunately Android is fractured, and even the phones that are technically running the same version often have heavy skins that leave them almost unrecognizable.

    One of the facets of IOS I've often been slightly jealous of is how any two people with an iPhone can discuss their phones in ways Android users simply can't. The differences between a Samsung Galaxy phone and a LG phone, for example, are just too great. Even various phones from the same manufacture will have different Android versions and skins from model to model and year to year. It makes for a confusing and intimidating ecosystem, especially for new users, and could easily be avoided by using stock Android.

    As an owner of an Axon 7, I'm encouraged by the recent changes ZTE had made towards stock. I'm hopeful future updates will continue to push the phone's OS in that direction.

  • In my opinion a phone that takes the route of Motorola's phones was ideal where you have basically stock Android with a very few enhancements which stayed out of the way and genuinely served to improve stock Android (twist to launch camera, chop chop for flashlight, etc)

  • I personally am in the market for affordable devices, but care about security, so I would like to buy a device that for one actually receives Android updates (it's a sad thing this is not common for midrange devices), and does so for a long enough time - say for a minimum of 2 years, preferably with another year of security updates thereafter, like Googles policy has been with their Nexus line.

    I also strongly dislike the look and feel of eastern Android skins and the way their reimplementations break certain things, like proper notification handling in EMUI (I can't talk for the ZTE skin as I have no experience with it).

  • I went with "Cleaner UI and Skin"

    I can't really think oh why OEMs would skin over Stock android at this point. The android team had done a great job with UI design and implementing a fairly consistent design philosophy across their many services. It seems as though OEMs make skins for the sake of making skins at this point. Maybe it's something that's been around the Android ecosystem so long that it's just operating on its own inertia and past precedent now.

    I understand that ZTE had features and functions that do not come with stock, and they should by all means promote and develop those. It is important to have software aspects that set the ZTE experience apart. However, it makes sense to have these additional features augment the existing android UI, as opposed to trying to incorporate them into a skin that attempts to "replace" it in a sense. Skinning just adds more overhead and yields a result that isn't necessarily demanded or appreciated by the consumer. I don't think that a skin is a big selling point on a phone, when was the last time someone bought the latest Samsung device because it came with TouchWiz 6.whatever?

    That energy could be better focused into developing ZTE's own unique software offerings, enhancing the way they operate with Stock android, and optimizing firmware performance where they can (camera improvements for example). As many have advocated above, Motorola did essentially this, and we can see from the feedback here just how well received that is.

    It is also true that the people who post here probably represent the vocal minority, and most consumers won't even realize that a device is stock Android or not.

    TL;DR - Do what Motorola did. Stock Android is less work for ZTE, freeing up resources to make unique enhancements to it. Most people don't even know what an Android skin is, and those who do are usually in favour of a stock one anyway.

  • With stock Android, there is quicker updates, and the device will be supported for a longer period of time. I do not purchase phones very often because I pay full price. A phone will last me at least 4-5 years. I want to have the most current OS for security and bug fixes, and stock OS is the best way to assure this.

  • teutonjon78teutonjon78 USAPosts: 326 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Honestly, I would vote for all of them. (Although having a stock rom has nothing to do with actually have dev support -- that relies entirely upon having unlockable bootloaders, factory images, kernel souces, and binary blobs).

    Google spends a TON of time working on Android and all of their apps. It's a colossal waste of time, money, and dev effort for ZTE to rework all of that to just to have a skin. Most of the stock included apps are just skinned AOSP versions. That means each release ZTE has to update, reskin, test, etc. all of those apps. And it will only become worse over time as Google abandons more of the AOSP apps. If there's a Playstore version of the app, use that instead. It takes a lot of the pressure out of wanting system updates if more of the base functionality is updating automatically all the time, and also eliminates the need for duplicate apps once people download the more functional Google versions.

    It's the same story for things like reorganizing settings and altering stock functionality like Do Not Disturb. So much wasted time and opportunity to add bugs (and slower to market and update).

    ZTE should just spend that effort where it's truly important -- the hardware and their software added features (MiPop, Gestures, Voice control, etc). Spend the engineering effort ADDING to the AOSP base, not reworking it. If you want a MiFavor look to it -- fine, turn on support for RRO/AOSP Theme Engine (so apps like Substratum work). Then you can develop that system wide skin to maintain whatever look you want, but people that don't like it can easily make it look however. Want a dark, AMOLED friendly theme system wide? Just download the theme from the app store. So many customer issues could be fixed fairly easily. The OEMs that get praise for their Android versions are the ones that take this approach -- leave AOSP alone as much as possible and add in your own features on top of that.

    Basically, tracking AOSP/Play Store versions would end up saving ZTE money in the long run and give customers a better experience and solutions to the issues they clamor about.

    (Caveat: the Chinese ROMs may be a problem depending on the availability of the Google Play store, which I don't know if it's available there fully or not.)

  • I voted the same. Couldn't have explained it better. Thanks for the write up!

  • Voted for better  developers support because the device has enough good hardware for years of use. With rom support the device will be updated for years.  I also like clean android look, but I need additional features like CM rom has or Resurrection remix.

  • Faster updates!  Really, all of these reasons are good, but look at the quick response time for the recent Linux kernel vulnerability. 

    Here is my promise: If you put Stock Nougat on the Axon 7, it will be an instant purchase for me.  I'll order it immediately.

    The opportunity is there.  The excitement is there!  It's free money!

  • Voted Greater dev support for custom ROMs: I agree with the fact that eventually manufacturers drop the support on phones leaving those devices prone to security risks and malfunctions from the software side.  When the community takes over it gives devices greater life and it's easier to pass down the devices to a family member or a friend who's just looking for a device that works.

    I have a tablet released on 2012, I keep using it thanks to the CM roms that kept it up to date running decent and smooth.  I can use it still to take my notes in meetings and conferences.  I can still use to watch netflix, browse the web and so on.  Being able to have a clean android means the tablet runs several updated apps without any trouble.  Is not the same to run games or heavy apps like fb on JellyBean than on Marshmellow and this is what makes a difference, it makes the whole difference in the world.

    As many people said in the comments too, all are very good reasons to go vanilla  or near stock.  All are just as important and valid.  Is nice to see ZTE seriously considering this and willing to take this leap of faith. I know a company wants to keep selling phones and keep business running.  The axon 7 is my first ZTE phone, and I hope to keep it for at least 2 years but be sure of, having a good support from ZTE and showing that they care for their customers I would be recommending the brand to whomever comes asking me for advice.  Additionally, I'd be looking forward to renew my axon later in time for the new alternative ZTE has to offer.  Giving the option to users to keep their phones alive for longer is not killing your business, is securing your clients for the long run.

  • User experience is a very important thing.

    Axon 7 has a great set of hardware. Maybe not the best but still great. It is not so simple to put everything into a phone.

    So only remaining way to make it better is to provide a good user experience. Which is why i voted for cleaner UI.

    I do not mean a complete stock UI like AOSP. Sony's UI or HTC Sense can be taken as example for what I mean by cleaner UI in my opinion.

  • If the Axon 7 had a software experience that was mostly stock, I'd own one already. As it is, I've been waiting to see if CyanogenMod support materializes. I'm rocking a broke **** LG G3 at this point because I want to not regret my purchase with my next phone and it seems like the Axon 7 is 90% there, it just needs the software cleaned up a bit to get me over the purchase line.

  • weswes Eskişehir, TurkeyPosts: 38 ✭✭✭✭✭

    if there are more devs or roms all option will be okey already.

  • A clean thought out UI provides overall better user experience than half baked skins trying to reinvent the wheel, it also helps keep the consistency across system/apps, provides smother/richer performance and feel. Add on features like ability to crops screenshots, double tap/twist etc will definitely improve user experience but shouldn't try fix what is not broken.

    All the following things stock provide much better experience which ZTE shouldn't have messed with and clearly shows lack of attention to detail degrading overall experience

    1. Half baked implementation of quick toggles
    2. Notifications - adding those do not show/clear buttons killed the smooth transition animations on pulling notification shade down
    3. Lock screen - the bell is gone for good but still why there is no option to just use system wallpaper
    4. Killing stock 'Do not disturb' and hiding half baked one in settings
    5. That huge clear all button in recent apps, countless times i cleared all apps trying to switch apps
    6. Mi pop - Unnecessary inspiration from iOS, could have been just regular android software buttons at bottom of screen
    7. Phone and dialer - There is no excuse, stock version is miles ahead

    ZTE Axon 7 is an amazing phone with great hardware, lags behind OnePlus 3 or even google pixels only in terms of software experience, being a long time nexus user had it not been for above software quirks I would recommend this phone to anyone.

    Really appreciate ZTE looking for inputs from its customers.

  • frozenstufffrozenstuff Posts: 58 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Although I like some of the features ZTE adds, having stock android makes everything look so much cleaner and better. Skin customization results in some bizarre decisions (notification bell, removing or rearranging stock android functions) and it can get frustrating. Custom roms are also a HUGE factor whether or not I buy a phone since it extends the life of the device if manufacturers decide to not update phones. I'm taking a gamble with the Axon 7, but I hope custom roms come out in the future.

  • I voted for quicker updates. Updates are extremely important to me, especially in light of recent exploits Android has seen. I also like to have the latest OS version and take advantage of its new features early on, such as multi-windows in Nougat. Stock Android means that these updates will come to me faster - the lesser the chances made to the AOSP code, the quicker and easier it is to build a working ROM and push the update out. Look at the OnePlus 3 and the Nextbit Robin - both devices have stock(ish) Android and are doing well. I'd like to see ZTE give them some serious competition by offering stock Android with fast updates.

  • blurayagentblurayagent the OCPosts: 107 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I just want "better" performance - fast and easy UI. I don't have time for custom ROM and not too interested in 3rd party apps for skin.

    The first question I ask before buying mobile is "how is the quality and lifetime support of the hardware." Surprisingly, Axon 7 looks and feels premium with its excellent Passport 2.0 warranty. ZTE Passport warranty is great - I just had mine replaced within 3 business days!

    ZTE android updates have been getting better and better. I voted for better performance because it means that it should be more reliable and efficient for daily use - reception, text, music, camera, phone calls.

  • Nearly all of the voting options represent why I would want near stock Android.  I like the interface, allows for quicker updates, etc.

    But the number 1 issue is being provided updates for a reasonable amount of time.  I don't need an infinite length amount of support but....I have a very hard time justifying spending $400 or more on a phone that might be off standard OS/less secure within a year. 

    P.S. I'm a very very satisfied Axon7 owner.  Awesome phone.  And I appreciate the timely updates and your engagement with Android community.  Keep it up!

  • All of these are good suggestion. Better performance is important. As much as I like stock android, if every OEM has it, it would be just as boring as ios, which is something I don't want android to become. Make the UI cleaner, but don't dissolve OEMs' identity. Look at Motorola. It's stock enough that it runs smooth(even with the SD 808 and SD 810, though I hope Moto adapts Kirin, not Mediatek). While I haven't had any issues with Call reception, it is a problem I hope they solve with the next update before Nougat.

  • I voted for Longer Support, but Quicker Updates is almost as important to me. Come to think of it, with a non-removable battery, Quicker Updates might be more important! The other things are all important to me as well, but those two are the biggies.

  • I voted for the cleaner UI. My reason pretty much touches all the other choices as it would entail less bloat, better battery as less running in the background, quicker to update more from support without having to deal with a proprietary UI.

  • Three important to turn this in a non explosives note 7 replacement

    DPI Scaling

    Why 650dpi? High DPI are low end phone terriority. The user market are flagship tech savvy user. Not old granny whom can't see it.

    condense it for better more userbility.

    Multi Tasking split screen.

    Two apps is better than one. At least the essential ones. YouTube WhatsApp etc...

    Auto WiFi switching.

    Keep having to manually switch WiFi as I move across extender zone. and it's not toggling to a better one.

    Finally DPI scaling for apps ...yes again. It's DPI that kills the userbility for me. I'm considering trading this phone in for something else(maybe pixel) if axon 7 doesn't receive nougat native DPI scaling.

  • I voted for better performance: I'd really like to see more display setting options, something like the sRGB settings that the OnePlus 3 got in an update. I'd love to have less black crush, to be able to get more detail in blacks rather than blacks washing out to solid dark black.


  • I chose longer support because I've never had the money to buy flagship phones. Because of this I'm constantly plagued with having a phone maybe a year before it's no longer supported and therefore out of date. Then I'm stuck with an outdated phone till I crack and get a new one. Phones I buy just aren't high enough priory for continuous updating. So if stock Android will get me longer support for mid tier phones I'm all in. I just don't see myself ever posting 400+ dollars for a phone or slaving myself away to a 2 year contract. 

  • I voted for a cleaner user interface and skin. I really enjoy the stock experience of Android. I don't think that much needs to be added to the stock experience as it is already excellent. Also, that should help with updating to the latest version in a more timely fashion.

  • I voted for overall performance. I'm a sucker for smooth performance, which is why i've been on iphones for so long. The axon 7 is fine on that aspect atm, but who knows  in a year or 2. The issue is the custom stuff added on axon 7 is actually pretty unsubstantial, unlike the heavier themes from huawei or samsung. Basically every change feels more like a hassle or an annoyance than a legit improvement over stock android.

    It's a lot of 'change for the sake of change' instead of 'meaningful change'.

  • filipecachidefilipecachide Coimbra, PortugalPosts: 2

    As the other commenters said, it was difficult to choose one option, as I think many of those presented all play a role in the desirability of having a near-stock Nougat.

    I ended up voting on the greater dev support for custom ROMs, because I think it is the advantage for keeping long-term support on this device.

    As such, the other options, mainly longer support and better overall performance, all play a part and contribute to turning this device into one which can be relied upon for some time.

    I think the bloatware option is not as relevant in the specific case of the Axon 7; in my opinion, ZTE has done a nice job in that department.

    To clarify:

    I think a good ROM, especially when it is based on another one (Nougat), should try to be as functional as possible, not different than other competitors. If the development is focused on functionality instead of differentiating itself, it will try to add to the ROM things that the team thinks that are sensibly helping to ease the various uses their users might ask of it. That means adding options to different kinds of users/usage scenarios, and that is the farthest a stretch a development team should go in changing what was in the stock ROM in the first place. If it isn't broken, don't fix it.

    If this principle is followed, I think we can all end with a sensible ROM which potentially has better performance and is easier to update, but is also easier for various independent developers to get the info and resources they need in order to tinker with it a little further. Those are the people who will keep supporting the device when the team who created it inevitably goes to different projects. That is why it is so important to "keep the house clean" for the future, for the people who will be the de facto sustainers of the device throughout its life.

    But, as I said, this question must be seen from a systemic perspective; and that's why all those reasons are valid, and all take part in the reasoning of desiring a near-stock ROM.

    It is IMPORTANT to note, though, that near-stock doesn't mean nothing should be changed; on the contrary; as long as it is reasonable and empowers the user, instead of restraining his/her use.

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