Should you tinker with your phone?

A few days ago I saw this post over here:https://www.reddit.com/r/android/comments/6tx04v/_/ and it made me think. Since software is something that very few phones nail, it’s common to see someone recommend a custom rom when someone complains about lack of updates or how the stock rom has more issues than some custom roms and the XDA community is full of people that use this kind of software as their daily drivers. On top of that, when you take into account the amount of stuff rooting your device allows you to do (especially when android requires root access for something as basic as toggling mobile data), it’s hard to deny that this kind of tinkering has advantages.
But then posts like the one I linked show up, and it makes you realize that leaving a device alone can also be very valuable. With all of that said, it’s obvious there is no absolute answer to this. Every case is different, every piece of software is different, but I would like to know your thoughts on this subject. Do you tinker with your daily driver? Do you leave it alone? Are you happy tinkering /leaving it completely stock? Why do you use it the way you do?

Edit:fixed a typo



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33 Comments on “Should you tinker with your phone?”

  1. > Do tinker with your daily driver?

    Yes, but I usually carry a backup phone as well in case of emergencies.

    > Are you happy tinkering /leaving it completely stock?

    Yes, running LineageOS on my OnePlus 3, it’s been super stable, haven’t had any issues, tested 911 and it works fine as it well. Definitely worth the upgrade from stock.

    > Why do you use it the way you do?

    – So as to not be reliant on the manufacturer. I generally use LineageOS across all my devices so I like the consistent experience I get. Also, it makes me manufacturer agnostic – I can switch to a different brand of phone tomorrow without a second thought. I don’t care for OEM features, I hate to be tied down to a single manufacturer. I value my freedom of choice more than any set of fancy features single OEM claims their OS has.

    – OEMs often implement or change certain things in Android that I dislike, for example, on OnePlus 3/3T you can’t press the vol-dn button to lower your volume down to vibrate mode – something which is a bog standard features across all phones. OnePlus continues to ignore this bug. Thankfully, LineageOS doesn’t have this issue.

    – OEM ROMs are still lacking in some features that I consider critical, such as Privacy Guard.

    – I like to build my setup the way *I* want to, not how the manufacturer thinks I should be using my device. I like to be in control of what apps are pre-installed on the phone, what services are running in the background, what features are present in the OS. A common argument I see here for why they prefer a certain manufacturer is because they include all these features which aren’t present in stock Android. Good for them, but to me, a lot of those so called features is just bloat. I’d like to pick and choose the features I need and get them via third-party apps/mods/scripts. LineageOS, for me, has a good balance of base features without bloating up the OS, unlike some of other custom ROMs on XDA.

    – Better security and faster updates. Some OEMs (like OnePlus) are pretty slow on pushing out the monthly security patches. That’s not an issue on LineageOS however. Of course, LineageOS can’t do anything about bugs in the firmware, but at least kernel and OS level bugs and exploits are patched. I do update my firmware regularly however so it’s not an issue for me.

    – I like to participate in the development of the ROM. Even if I don’t contribute actual code, I have full visibility of what features are being added, I can test them, submit logs, comment on it, discuss about it in r/LineageOS and get actual replies from actual developers (when was the last time a dev from an OEM ROM replied to you?). Plus, LineageOS has a very professional approach to handling bug reports and they proactively engage with the community not just with bugs ([weekly bugbash](https://www.reddit.com/r/lineageos/comments/6t58fk/_/)) but also by means of providing detailed changelogs (and not just [automated logs](https://download.lineageos.org/oneplus3/changes/) but actual [human-readable logs](https://lineageos.org/Changelog-13/), written by humans) and non-invasive, optional [surveys](https://lineageos.org/Summer-Survey/). This makes it pretty clear that it’s a community effort – by the people, for the people. No selfish monetary reasons. No ulterior motives. No dark design patterns. Everyone working hard simply for the purpose of benefiting the community and making our lives better.

    This is why I tinker with my phone.

    *Edit: Appreciate the gold guys, but I wish you’d have [donated to LineageOS](https://paypal.me/LineageOS) instead. :)*

  2. Somewhat, I’m not as nuts as I was in my 6P or SGS2 days when going 2-3 days without a different ROM was an achievement. I still root, mostly for AdAway and I’m on a custom ROM for some more options. It’s minor stuff but it’s important to me, for example volume keys always change media volume (how is this not an option on stock?) and adjusting navbar height, since I think it’s far too large by default.

  3. I no longer tinker with my Android phones. Back when I first started with smartphones, one of my hobbies was to constantly use different ROMs and play with themes, root apps, etc. Now I can get most features without root, and I no longer have to worry about bricking my phone because I foolishly installed something stupid.

  4. Yes, I do tinker with it, “tinker” as in flash a ROM with the latest Android version. The last update my phone got was Lollipop. With me liking new and updated stuff, no way was I staying there when 7.1.2 is already out.

  5. Yes. I use Xiaomi phones, and will always flash official LineageOS if it is available. Xiaomi phones have fantastic hardware for low price, but MIUI has some shall we say quirks that I’ve lately got tired with. I always root too, for the likes of AdAway and viper4android.

  6. > Do you tinker with your daily driver?

    Absolutely! At the minimum, I would root it.

    > Are you happy tinkering /leaving it completely stock?

    Very much so. I like the Android OS and I love it even more when I can further customize it how I want. I completely understand why people may be hesitant or just plain want to avoid custom ROMs. It is certainly not for everyone. I may not tinker with my homescreen setup or widgets, but I love tinkering with the OS itself and using a custom ROM. Taking a Saturday to wipe my phone, install a ROM, and get it setup is completely non-issue for me. Android is my hobby. Furthermore, I have my business phone as backup if necessary.

    > Why do you use it the way you do?

    Some people with Nexus phones might say it’s not worth running a custom ROM since you have no bloat, have vanilla Android, and get updates. For me, that is not enough. I run Dirty Unicorns (custom ROM) on my Nexus 6P because I like the additional features it has like the flingbar and support for Substratum theming. I feel custom ROMs are a nice balance between a barebones vanilla Android and the manufacturer-made skins.

  7. >Do you tinker with your daily driver?

    In terms of unlocking bootloader, roms root. Not any more.

    >Do you leave it alone? Are you happy tinkering /leaving it completely stock?

    Yes, no time to play catch-up with broken root, broken android pay, xposed not working, various semi cooked ROMs.

    > Why do you use it the way you do?

    Ad-blocking was the main reason I used root, rest like xposed/gravity box was bonus but non essential for me.

    Ad-blocking can now be done easily on stock and if you use a decent OEM ROM with little bloat, stock is good enough. I can now focus on my work/apps, rather than spend time fighting the OS/ROMs/modules

  8. I have had loads of phones over the years, have tried umpteen ROM’s, and every single one has always had a showstopper bug for me.

    These days I just stick to what the phone comes with, put on Nova Prime and live with it. I save myself a lot of time.

  9. > Do you tinker with your daily driver?

    Nope, not anymore. Not that I wouldn’t like to, but it’s a Nexus 5X and I fear it will bootloop so I’m staying on stock just to avoid any additional trouble.

    > Do you leave it alone?

    Yes 🙁

    > Are you happy tinkering /leaving it completely stock?

    Stock is fine, although I find it a bit boring and cheap on features. PureNexus, for example, has some pretty nice features that I heavily used, like holding volume buttons to change music or video stabilisation (if you flash a thing). Kinda missing it.

    > Why do you use it the way you do?

    Let’s say I use PureNexus and it bootloops. I don’t think I’ll be able to get it to stock in time before sending it for repairing. I bought it from an online shop, it’s not Google, it will be difficult to explain them that my phone died suddenly.

  10. first thing i do after buy phone ,destroy it waranties

    why??

    needed tibu for unlocked bootloader for that nandroid

    shame isnt?that backup of my own data would mean rekting it

  11. I used to, but now that I can afford flagship devices I no longer feel the need to.

    I exclusively buy phones with stock Android, so I am confident that I have a device running the latest and relatively stable version of Android that many people run on the same hardware.

    I don’t have the time or desire to run a custom Rom that’s not professionally tested and has a comparatively small user base, meaning more bugs are likely.

    The only tempting thing for me would be Root for an Adblocker, but I’m not sure this warrants unlocking my bootloader etc.

    Edit: And of course some kid already downvoted, because stock is apparently not cool enough. Man, I don’t want to make a rant, but I’ve really started to dislike this community.

  12. Seems like I always tinker with my DD. Not so much when it is new, but when it starts to get stale and something sounds tempting. Have done it with every type of phone still around, just can’t resist.

  13. Yes, I tinker with it. I consider it pretty much as PC and I won’t buy a PC I can’t tinker with (that’s why I love Linux). In particular, I dislike GApps, being so invasive and bloated, so I root and use custom ROMs with no GApps.

  14. >Do you tinker with your daily driver?

    Yes, just to install LineageOS and boom Stock Android, no more.

    If people don’t have proper knowledge about what kind of phone will likely be stable on custom roms (generally Qualcomm chip, availability of kernel source, and popularity), just leave it alone because they are asking for trouble otherwise.

  15. Z Play: would never touch a thing on this, 7.1.1 is running super smooth. Stock Android with some of the Moto features is the deal for me. Not sure how much better this device would be with tinkering, probably worse.

  16. I generally don’t bother because I change phones often. I usually reduce down to the minimum I have to do to a phone to get it to work the way I want it: I don’t spend a ton of time especially on visual upgrades.

    I do however sit down for (and usually buy a new handset for) extended, exclusive use of a particular new version of an OS when it comes out to see what new stuff I can do with it, and then maybe change the way I set up new phones with that OS after.

    e.g. Last time I did that on Android was with the Pixel which also became my main handset until the S8+, and last time I did it with anything was Windows 10 Mobile Creator’s Edition when I spent two weeks with the Lumia 950 as my main handset, which was a total waste of time lol – and the next time I do it will presumably be with iOS11 and an iPhone 8 Plus.

  17. Well I’m sad I don’t have Samsung pay on my phone though I’m not sure if international model supports it in U.S or not. I flashed a custom rom as soon as I got it. With a custom kernel my battery life has improved drastically. Also I got android pay to work. I like being able to mess with little things.

  18. I have my main daily driver, Zenfone 3 Zoom. It is stock, and no alteration has been made, since my company requires my phone to be stock to be on its network, and I need that.

    I purchased leeco pro 3 used for $175 only because I had missed tinkering with my phones. I download and try a few different ROM and trying out different profiles or clock speeds or root only apps, etc.

  19. I used to root my phones. I did it just because I could, and because there were features that didn’t come included at the time. Nowadays I don’t root for two main reasons. 1. 99% of my features I rooted for are now integrated and 2. With safety net and all the other checks now being implemented into applications it became a pain to fight to keep some of my regularly used apps working. I know there’s always some kind of workaround but then it turns into an arms race and just wasn’t worth it anymore

  20. Yes, because my Nexus 6 would get laggy when the battery would drop below 50% due to throttling and it got incredibly annoying. A Nexus device of all phones was causing my issues on stock.

    I put Pure Nexus and ElementalX kernel on it, and the day to day usage has been much better.

  21. I used to switch up roms a lot back in my SGS3 days. The phone was unbearable with it being on the stock rom after a year so I rooted it and loaded Cyanogenmod on it. I also tried different roms and finally got stuck with a debloated touchwiz rom since I wanted the camera quality to remain good.

    With my S8+ however I’m perfectly fine with the software. Samsung Experience is well refined nowadays and I don’t have any issues with it. It’s fast, smooth and has lots of features but you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to.

  22. I didn’t intend to tinker as much with my Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 as I have, but I started off by installing RR. RR worked perfectly fine, but it peaked my interest in further customizing the phone and I installed Faust Kernel to see if I could get even better battery life.

    Nothing *really* changed that much I’d say, maybe I had a more stable battery performance experience but I can’t say for sure.

    Even so, I decided to go for another kernel as the Faust Kernel isn’t updated frequently and I figured I need up-to-date stuff, right?

    Well, it worked very well for a while. I got 3 days of normal usage all the time and I was happy. Then an update came for RR and the kernel, so I flashed them both and I started to experience stuttering.

    Last night I decided to do something about it, so I figured I’d begin with dirty flashing RR again and flash the kernel again. Just as a starter.

    Well, my phone started to bootloop.

    So I figured: eh, no worries, I have a backup on my computer.

    Problem is that my device is no longer recognized by my computer with USB either. It *might* be a hardware issue with the micro USB connector due to a bit of water being spilled on the phone earlier that day when washing the dishes, but I’ve had similar incidents before with no issues. We’re talking nothing more than the equivalent of a few rain drops. However, I noticed that the connector was a bit wet when removing the micro USB cable, so … yeah, sucks.

    I started to push the backup via ADB over Wi-Fi and it took ages of course. However, in the middle of the night when I went to pee, I decided to try the USB port again and magically it worked. So in no time I transferred the backup, restored it and then flashed the latest RR but not the kernel.

    Now all is fine again, however the USB doesn’t work still. It charges but is not recognized by the computer (tried several cables and two computers). It’s probably not a software issue after all.

    In hindsight I wish I would’ve just stuck to RR and not tinker so damn much. I got very little sleep because I was so desperate to fix the phone and stressing out regarding the USB connector.

    So lesson for me personally is: a custom ROM and that’s it. No messing around with kernels, dirty flashing one over another etc. etc. Just keep it simple, stupid.

  23. Short answer: if you *have* to ask this question, you’re unfit for tinkering.

    Long answer: As long as you understand that NOBODY will take credit or blame for any mishaps that happen if you tinker with your device, it is okay. But I mean this literally – ANYTHING can happen to your phone when you mod it. It might be just a slight annoyance like camera shooting slightly worse photos, or as severe as you being unable to call 911 (which cannot be easily tested, since it isn’t an often used “feature” – it’s just expected to work).

    So, as long as you know the risks, and the pros-cons, and want to do it, go on. But don’t blame your manufacturer or Android itself if something breaks.

  24. *Do you tinker with your daily driver?*

    Yes. My Pixel XL is rooted for the following reasons:

    – ad-blocking
    – Titanium Backup
    – I like using the fingerprint scanner to both unlock AND LOCK my phone
    – a few other minor tweaks that aren’t essential but nice to have

    *Do you leave it alone?*

    – Rarely!

    *Are you happy tinkering /leaving it completely stock?*

    – I’m a tinkerer and easily bored. Back in the day it was DOS and the struggle to optimize upper memory usage, then Windows, then Linux, then back to Windows. Chrome vs Firefox, this add-on vs that add-on. Android fits nicely into my world and tinkering with it is something I enjoy.

    *Why do you use it the way you do?*

    Because it’s essentially a computer in my pocket.

  25. No, you shouldn’t feel obligated to tinker with your device, but you should be able to do if you want to. In this day and age of $700 flagships with 8 month update delays and then no updates after 2 years, who in their right mind wouldn’t? It’s practically a financial obligation to oneself at this point.

  26. No. Phones are already unreliable stock, why would I want to make the situation worse? Plus, the stock ROM has some lower level optimisation to the hardware you don’t see in customs.

  27. tinkering is absolutely worth it and the linked post should not go against that. as we’ve seen stock ROMs can also fail 911 calls. just read the buglist and test your device to make sure it works

    right now i’m just using a debloated ROM to keep my S3’s battery life acceptable

  28. If the manufacturer gets the software right, I would consider that part of the appeal of a phone. It’s crazy to me that people pay so much for a phone where the manufacturer invested so much time making it work well…then they just plaster some shoehorned buggy software onto it. Flagships have been getting software right for the past several years.

    Like, if you buy a Honda Civic, why try to make it a race car? If you want a race car, buy a race car. It was designed with a purpose in mind.

    To each their own though, I get ‘resurrecting’ an old phone with unupdated software, but don’t slap a giant spoiler on a Honda…or do, I don’t care.

  29. Used to use CyanogenMod a lot back in the day, but only stock for the past few years now. There is so much custom hardware with proprietary drivers that only the vendor can really implement successfully (cameras etc.), I get app updates disregarding the ROM anyway, and today you can install the official Google versions of most apps (contacts, messages, launcher, clock, photos etc.) through the Play Store. My Samsung Galaxy S7e running the official stock rom looks pretty much like a Google phone except for the notification bar/system settings and camera and the few OEM bits are not too bad.

    I know how much fun tinkering with this shit can be, but there comes a point where there are barely any benefits anymore and it’s all just a waste of time. I am looking at you, “I flash a new kernel each day!” freaks.

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