back to article Google risks everything if it doesn’t grab Android round the throat

Google is getting serious about building its own handsets after the failure of OEMs to update Android. So says former Nomura (now independent) analyst Richard Windsor, who thinks Google-as-an-OEM has already started. “I think that Google may start building handsets itself and my initial research indicates that a hardware team …

  1. Stuart 22

    So why did it sell Motorola?

    As above ...

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: So why did it sell Motorola?

      Because it made economic sense at the time. Nice juicy tax-write-off enabling purchase, gobble up the juicy IPR, and then flog off to someone else willing to wrestle the Moto-silos and give them money for the privilege.

      1. goldcd

        I thought the same at the time

        but then on reflection, couldn't actually think of what Motorola had that itself Google doesn't.

        Motorola had a name once - but Apple aside, I'm not actually sure anybody in an ecosystem buys their next phone based on vendor loyalty any more.

        The chips inside the Motorola phones are made by another company, licensing designs from another, running software from Google blah blah.

        Nexus phones used to be cheap and great value - Google backing allowing us to overlook the cycling of vendor to focus on what could be done.

        Current range are most certainly "not cheap" - pretty sure currently the most expensive android phone is now the 128G Huawei 6P. I ever so nearly bought it - simply because the Nexus brand meant I'd get updates until the hardware was obsolete.

        Bluntly, as it stands today, the Nexus brand is the one that gives you the longest lasting lifespan for your phone.

        Buy a non-nexus phone and you're entirely at the mercy of your manufacturer as to whether you get a critical core-update. None of them have showered themselves in glory here.

        I can see nothing stopping Google going out and making a Nexus by themselves.

        As a final thought, a couple of months ago I bought an Nvidia Shield TV and have been very impressed with it. Today my Shield tablet arrived - I am likewise very impressed.

        Good prices, ridiculously powered home-baked silicon and very very close to stock-Android with the accompanying quick updates that brings (turning it on I got the upgrade to Marshmallow, then a point release on that) - so felt very "Motorolary"

        1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

          Re: I thought the same at the time

          As a final thought, a couple of months ago I bought an Nvidia Shield TV and have been very impressed with it. Today my Shield tablet arrived - I am likewise very impressed.

          I haven't bought a Shield TV (yet, it's on my "options to consider" list), but I have a Shield Tablet and it's the second best tablet I have ever used, even ignoring the gaming features. Fast, responsive, timely updates and a useful stylus.

          When you combine this with console mode gaming and a controller, it becomes a pretty good games console. I could never justify buying a games console (I don't play enough games, and I have a decent gaming PC), but having it built into the tablet is great. Game streaming from your PC works well, too, for those latest and greatest games.

          The only better tablet I have used is the Surface Pro, but that's a completely different kettle of fish, and is also a vast amount more expensive than I am willing to pay for a tablet.

    2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

      Re: So why did it sell Motorola?

      Amusingly coincidental timing - my Motorola G (2nd gen, so at least one HW rev behind) got 6.0 update yesterday.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: So why did it sell Motorola?

        @ Ugotta B. Kiddingme,

        I also received an update last night, on my Samsung Galaxy S4, so 3 HW revs behind, (I think).

        370 odd MB download, 40 minutes or so to restart and update, still v5.01.

        Weird.

      2. deshepherd

        Re: So why did it sell Motorola?

        "Amusingly coincidental timing - my Motorola G (2nd gen, so at least one HW rev behind) got 6.0 update yesterday."

        The real test is if you also start getting the monthly security updates.

      3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: So why did it sell Motorola?

        "my Motorola G (2nd gen, so at least one HW rev behind) got 6.0 update yesterday."

        It only became available on my 3rd gen Moto G about a month ago.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So why did it sell Motorola?

      Because some people in Google have more brain than ANALysts and Pundits.

      Unifying the stack top to bottom and actively pushing moving to its own phones (instead of just having them as a mostly reference platform) will bring the mother of competition sledgehammers across its fingers. It has enough trouble with the Eu commission as it is. It does not need more casus belli to contribute 10% of its worldwide turnover to the Benevolent Greek Bailout Fund.

  2. Sean OConnor

    I guess if you only make hardware you've got a disincentive to ever bother allowing the software to be upgraded (rather than the punter flinging the device away and buying the latest)

    I haven't had an update on my LG TV or Humax PVR in years and I doubt there will ever be one now. Suppose I'll just have to go out and buy a new TV and PVR....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DIY

    Samsung wouldn't upgrade my Galaxy Note 2, so I found Resurrection Remix based on Cyanogen Mod 13, and upgraded to Android Marshmallow myself.

    Has Samsung encouraged me to buy another one of their phone? Not a chance.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: DIY

      I'm still wondering when the official OTA update for my Galaxy Tab S2 is going to be available in the UK - the current version is still 5.0.2, let alone Marshmallow.

      Somewhat strange given most other regions have 5.1.1, and indeed an Odin sideload of it onto mine is working fine.

  4. Marcelo Rodrigues
    Unhappy

    That's what I have been saying for some time. I believe Google should make something like Windows is: an OS installer, wich can be put in any PC.

    Drivers (sorry, modules) could be loaded as any Distro does: after the boot, on a "need to use" basis. There would be need to a (very) small kernel to do the initial boot - and that's it. Just enough to use memory and read the internal storage. No one would need network, or sensors, at this stage.

    So. Minimal OS. All, or almost all, Google services installable as apps - just the core functions would go inside the OS BLOB.

    Everything an OEM would like to install should be an App. This way, Google upgrades the SO, OEMs upgrade their shell. And everyone is happy.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      That's a good idea Marcelo. And Google have already done it - On ChromeOS.

      The reason it isn't done already on Android is because it currently wouldn't work.

      Hence the interest in the possibly merged future of ChromeOS/Android.

      http://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2015/11/what-android-could-stand-to-learn-from-chrome-os/

  5. Cynical Observer
    Meh

    ElReg......

    I know I'm a cynical bugger but....

    Two articles in two weeks from two different journalists that take as their source the same one analyst.

    This one from two weeks ago Google to snatch control of Android updates from mobe makers – analyst and then today.

    Both articles in essence espousing the same theme - that Google has fallen out of love with the OEMs and is taking it upon itself to sort out the world of Android.

    Are there any other analysts out there making statements that align with/corroborate this? It would be good to get their input to the discussion reflected here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ElReg......

      Do recall that Mr. Windsor is an independent analyst now. Gotta get out there and promote whatever it is that Mr. Windsor is promoting.

  6. To Mars in Man Bras!
    Headmaster

    Double Marshmallow

    *"...Four months after its release, M had reached just 1.2 per cent of devices...."*

    Well, I've got two devices running Marshmallow, so I must be a significant chunk of that 1,2%

    * Nexus 7 tablet which gets OTAs direct from Google

    and

    * HTC One M8 which has been converted from HTC Sense to Google Play Edition, so that gets OTAs direct from Google too.

    Only problem is the hoops I have to jump through to apply each upgrade, as both devices are rooted and Marshmallow updates won't install if the system partition has been altered. So every OTA update requires re-flashing temporarily back to stock, before it can be applied, then re-rooting and applying all those terribly dangerous system modifications that Google [out of the goodness of its heart] is so desperate to save me from. Such as.... er.... using a custom hosts file, so I don't see any adverts from ad-slingers like Google.

    [That reminds me, both devices have the Feb OTA updates downloadeed and waiting to install. I should probably set aside an afternoon to do it, before the March one comes along.]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Double Marshmallow

      Yar, my LG GPad has an update hanging out now. Same processes here as a couple of pieces of software require root and updates aren't allowed on rooted equipment.

  7. Mikel

    The fragmentation story again? Really?

    It has been coming up quite frequently since before Android even launched. And it hasn't prevented Android from taking over the world. Any more it is just another way for an "analyst" to publicly announce his clue deficit.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The fragmentation story again? Really?

      >It has been coming up quite frequently since before Android even launched. And it hasn't prevented Android from taking over the world.

      @Mikel He didn't say it would damage adoption of Android. He said that Google will make efforts (as they have in the past, including the Nexus range, the Silver Edition programme, APIs being moved into Google Play Services etc) to make the situation more to their liking. A less fragmented Android would suit Google - whose revenue does not come from Android adoption in itself, but through services with ads - more than the multi-version Android world we have now.

      From other sources, it is reported that Google may be thinking of designing their own chips and SoCs.

  8. ZSn

    Rubbish

    This is rubbish, Google already won't update its own hardware why should it bother in the future. My nexus 7 (2012) is hung out to dry and has been for six months. The apple mac from the same year is still supported - as are my windows phones. Google *could* support it but obviously sees no financial benefit. So what's going to change in the future?

    1. PaulR79

      Re: Rubbish

      You have to be kidding. I own the exact same Nexus and it struggles massively with Android 5.1.1 regularly. It has been supported with updates the whole time except now. Compared to all other brands (aside from Apple who have total control on hardware) that is a long life. My LG G2 is stuck on 5.0.2 despite being a lot more recent and having better hardware than the Nexus 7.

      I would have installed a custom ROM but I have tried many times and despite having done so with all other phones I own it seems that LG have made this extremely difficult. For some reason it just will not take a custom ROM and gets stuck in a boot loop if I try.

      1. MrXavia

        Re: Rubbish

        If its struggling with 5.1.1, then something is wrong with 5.1.1, we have reached a point in technology that an OS should be so sleek and well written any high-end device from the past 3-4 years should cope quite nicely with an update to the OS.

        Sure there will be apps that are more intensive, such as speech recognition etc that may need more processing that is available, but the OS, that should be minimal...

        But unfortunately they are all stuck in the 'build in more features' mindset for the OS, rather than just having everything an optional 'app' (when did we stop calling them programs and calling them apps?)

        1. Major N

          Re: Rubbish

          when the iPhone came out. App is also the first syllable of 'apple'. You can blame their marketdoids for that particular monstrosity.

        2. PaulR79

          Re: Rubbish

          @MrXavia I'd put the blame for the Nexus 7 (original) performance issues on the Tegra 3. It had massive market hype but the performance was pathetic. I have a phone and the Nexus 7 with that chip in and they both underperformed massively even when brand new.

  9. Joe Harrison

    what you really need is two phones

    One to experiment with, doing brickless (you hope) re-flash with later versions of Android and so on. The other which you do not mess with in any way, for actual daily use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: what you really need is two phones

      What you really need is one that works, and will stay updated for a least a year or two.

      Same for a personal computer or a tablet.

      Why waste money on a load of grief?

      1. Knewbie

        what you really need ...

        Is a Dumb phone with the following capacities :

        Long battery (think :Nokia)

        3/4g (think hotspot)

        Wifi or Bluetooth to bridge to your tablet, no idea about the bandwidth but Bluetooth is less power hungry i think ?

        And the capacity to take or give phone calls in addition to being a bridge to your cheaper than a smartphone tablet

        That's my plan to stop fidgeting on a too small phone, or a too expensive phablet (6s plus...), and not having a 7" phone ...

        So if any of you know of such a Dumb phone/bridge combo... ^^

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I think that Google may *start* building handsets itself"

    It seems the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 don't count for some reason.

    OK, they were built by LG or whoever, but presumably to Google's exact spec.

    Or are they saying that Google would bring *manufacturing* in-house as well??

  11. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Bad rep for new versions

    Lollipop & Marshmallow have gotten a reputation for killing the battery and causing wi-fi issues, plus they lost some notification functionality, so I (and friends) have specifically not upgraded.

    1. Patrician

      Re: Bad rep for new versions

      An unwarranted reputation none the less.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: Bad rep for new versions

        Possibly not down to the OS itself, but the Lollipop upgrade dramatically reduced all radio performance on my other half's s4 to the extent that it was unusable as a phone.

        Got fixed in a later update.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Bad rep for new versions

      Marshmallow app permissions change alone makes the update worthwhile.

  12. The Bam

    Make genuine Android a required user-selectable option

    A possible stopgap would be for Google to require all OEMs to allow vanilla Android (without jumping through hoops) as an alternative to their bling-infested versions. Then leave it up to the users to choose which one they want. I've only ever had Nexus devices because I want Android, not Samsungdroid or HTCdroid.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Make genuine Android a required user-selectable option

      Because there aren't enough SKUs in the Android world so you want to double them by requiring every OEM to offer two versions of each model?

      If Google pushes too hard in the direction of enforcing 'standard Android' or becomes a serious competitor to Android OEMs by selling tens of millions of phones directly, the OEMs will respond by forking Android and staying on version 6.x forever, and backporting features they think are worthwhile. What would be Google's next step, make it closed source so OEMs can't do that?

      Sure, Reg readers might say "well screw Samsung I'm not going to use their fork, I'll pick a phone with Google's version" but most people don't know and don't care so long as they can run their apps.

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: Make genuine Android a required user-selectable option

        If they fork android, two important things would happen.

        1. Trademarks mean they can't call it android or have a cute green robot icon.

        2. They can't hook it up to the play store. Whilst Samsung have their own cess store, it is hardly an inspiring place.

        In the words of a knighted man, thanks a very brave move.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Make genuine Android a required user-selectable option

          Trademarks don't matter, and do you really think the average person is not looking for a green robot icon when buying a phone? I wouldn't be surprised if half of Android owners don't know they own an "Android" phone - they think they own a Samsung or whatever. Though I have to say it sure would be funny if Google pulled an Intel and started requiring stickers on Android phones to try to imitate the "Intel Inside" campaign!

          The play store access is more of a problem, but it might not be that hard to convince Android devs to submit their apps to an alternate store (if the OEMs could get together on a single store, so there isn't a Samsung store, LG store, Sony store etc.) If they got together and announced it in advance they could get most of the apps anyone cares about in place by the time they had their first forked phones ready. Maybe they can license Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street if people want to see a dorky green mascot?

        2. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Make genuine Android a required user-selectable option

          "1. Trademarks mean they can't call it android or have a cute green robot icon."

          Customer: So, what operating system does it run?

          Shop assistant: Robot version 6.1

          Customer: Robot? Is that Android?

          Shop assistant: Basically, yes.

          1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            Re: Make genuine Android a required user-selectable option

            Customer: So it will run my apps?

            Shop assistant: Err, no. Not unless they've been specifically ported to Robot.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: Make genuine Android a required user-selectable option

              Maintaining app compatibility with Android is a doddle. Microsoft is doing it for their phones running Windows, and you think a fork of Android won't be able to run Android apps? There will be no porting required, the only minor difficulty will be accessing the Google Play store but even that may be possible to work around.

              Google doesn't allow access to the play store for Android forks, but I don't see how they can enforce it. Does it use certificates so 'fake Android' phones can't access their app store? That would be very Apple like....

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Make genuine Android a required user-selectable option

                Probably, starting with Marshmallow. There's also the matter of Google Play Services, which is part and parcel with the store with the same requirements. A lot of the Android core functionality is there now, not in the core.

  13. Neil 44

    Poor layout of Android

    I can't understand why the ROM doesn't have 2 partitions:

    One that is "generic Google" and can be kept up to date easily direct from Google

    If the OEMs (and carriers) want their own "customisations" etc, then they could be in a ../local/sbin still in ROM but that doesn't get wiped when the Google partition is updated...

    If the local/sbin was in ROM, it would be more persistent than if the OEM/Carrier just loaded their "customisations" from a play store - i.e. harder to delete...

    The big challenge would be for the OEMs to keep their stuff maintained so that it worked with all versions of the base OS!

  14. Jpkelly05

    BS article

    I have seen a lot of articles like this over years. They are purely opinion. Google could care less about % install base. This is something they knew would happen and they have prooved over the years that they are not interested in worrying about having everyone on the most up to date software. That is why it is free. If you want Marshmallow, then go purchase a new phone or whatever means it takes. OR shut up and deal with it.

    They updated from Google Market to Google Play so they could operate "most" App updates with any version. Of course some OS update bring, some features we all want. But do we need them like water or food. Nope.

    Enjoy your device. It is better than what we had 10 years ago.

  15. gshaw

    HTC did good

    If the Marshmallow deployment stats are correct I count myself lucky that HTC provided the update on my One M8.

    Installed it recently and fixed many issues I was having with Android Auto that was flaky as hell on 5.0. Just hope they survive long enough to do a few more generations of phones as I've been a big fan of Sense UI since the Windows Mobile days.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: HTC did good

      For a short while the HTC ONE M8 was actually sold by Google as a Play Edition phone. Since Google can't release their promised updates on a Play Edition phone until the hardware vendor has supplied them with some binary blobs, HTC had to get do the work quickly.

    2. DaddyHoggy

      Re: HTC did good

      My wife and eldest daughter have Three branded HTC Ones (M8 and M7 respectively) and I have an older but SIM-Free unbranded S3 mini also on the Three network.

      Both the HTCs have OTA'd to Marshmellow but my S3 mini has never ever had an upgrade from Samsung (or Three) and is still on 4.1.2. There are several unofficial Lollipop variants available for the S3 mini but clearly Samsung (and/or Three) aren't that bothered. (Clearly neither am I, but I will do it eventually).

      As an aside - before my daughter moved to the M7 she had a SIM-Free Nokia Lumia 635 on the Three network running Windows Phone 8, when 8.1 came out I contacted Three to see when it would be available - they replied that they were benchmarking it and if they deemed it a sensible upgrade to the 635 they'd roll it out - which they did a few weeks later.

      I have several friends who have stuck with each revision of the Nexus - as it seems to get the fastest updates to the next iteration of Android (where appropriate).

  16. W Donelson

    Honestly...

    It's about time.

  17. Andrew Jones 2

    Yeah - never going to happen, for a multitude of reasons - the biggest being - Android does not work this way - and as soon as it is no longer possible to have a bootable image based on pulling the code from the AOSP repository and making it - people will start looking elsewhere for the next mobile OS. As for the hardware team that has been "spotted" - Brillo uses the core of Android as it's base - so yup, can quite believe there is a hardware team comprising members of the Android team - Google will after all be wanting to push Brillo this year - and Google IO is only a few months away - looks like some developer kits will be getting gifted this year then.

  18. Jimbo in Thailand

    Android: Declining compelling reasons to upgrade?

    I think Android has reached an inflection point, much like M$ hit with Windows 7, where the benefits of upgrading are less and less compelling, except maybe for bragging rights. Last year I upgraded my trusty old (rooted) Samsung Galaxy Note 2 from Jellybean to Kitkat . I did this in spite of Samsung's blocking of official updates to rooted phones (more on this in a second). The only reason I upgraded was to get Mirrorcast, screen-mirroring functionality. Other than that single feature, Kitkat, for me, just seems to only add some minor improvements - nothing earth shattering. I've also looked at Lollipop. While it has some cute eye-candy type improvements over Kitkat, again, nothing really compelling, from my perspective. That said, I still would have upgraded to Samsung's official version of Lollipop... except that it doesn't exist for Note 2 - Samsung killed the update at some point. Therein lies the problem.

    Because Samsung not only refuses to support older smartphone models that are still viable, from a hardware perspective, but also blocks rooted phones, it's doubtful I will buy another Samsung phone. And like I ranted about last year, Chinese phone manufacturers have definitely upped their game and are now selling equivalent premium models at half the premium prices Samsung demands.

    Regarding Android, Google had better get off its ass/arse and come up with some new unique compelling features AND fix/improve some substandard existing 'features'. FFS, typing anything substantial on Android is still frustrating and a pain in the ass. A decent browser would also be appreciated. And Go_ogle should indeed force phone manufacturers to support older models as a condition of licensing. Apple supports its older devices so no reason why Samsung, with it's premium pricing can't copy Apple. The other top Android phone manufacturers should also be forced to follow suit and support their customers.

    1. Oodles of Noodles

      Re: Android: Declining compelling reasons to upgrade?

      I largely agree. I have got so fed-up with the bloatware and the lack of Android updates available that I have abandoned Samsung despite them making lovely devices. In fact, the only way to make sure you get a decent release is to buy google hardware, but unfortunately I am not all that keen on their offerings.

      So, this week I have done something that I never thought I would do, and gone down the Apple iStuff route. Shame really.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One Ring Ring...

    ... to Bind them All.

  20. Shonko Kid
    Facepalm

    "Google continues to develop Android at a breakneck speed.."

    Might that be the actual problem? They're putting an awful lot of dev time into Android, but to very little advantage to the end user, and with very little clear direction. A lot of the changes seem to be change for change's sake, worse still from the OEM's point of view. often there are changes to system APIs or behaviour that means adaptation becomes an incredible PITA - and I say that as someone who has spent plenty of time digging through the AOSP to track down reasons why something works on one version of Android, but fails completely on a subsequent version.

    Smartphone features have largely stagnated, from an OS point of view. You can either add new bells and whistles, or you can try to improve performance. Take a look at the difference between Lollipop and Marshmallow and you can see where the Oompa Loompas have spent their dev-dollars.

    If Google seriously want OEMs to keep up with their update cycle, they need to make adaptationsimpler between version transitions, and each new version needs to deliver actual value to the OEMs

    If Google did ramp up their own OEM efforts, then they'll need to offer more than their current Nexus efforts do, as they've so far not been anywhere near as successful the Galaxy series.

    1. goldcd

      Re: "Google continues to develop Android at a breakneck speed.."

      The Nexus 6P is a great phone - but I'll grant you as I look around I would prefer the (hobbled) SD of S7, the slightly better camera and the water-proofing.

      We all want different phones - after a couple of HTC ones, I'm seriously predisposed against those without front-facing stereo speakers for example (not that most people seem to care).

      As a tablet I just picked up an nVidia K1 (with lovely speakers and an SD card that works) - but then got very annoyed I couldn't 'double-tap' the screen to wake it etc etc.

      Android today is a mess. Hardware is (rightly) splintering all over the place - but when choosing hardware, we have to consider sword of damocles that's never getting an update ever again.

      Microsoft. They get bashed a lot. But they nailed the above problem years ago.

      Nobody ever got denied an update as they had an HP logo on their box, or an nVidia card installed - it was all about the OS.

      I'm somewhat bemused why a slightly more formal structure couldn't be imposed.

      Hardware makers of screens, CPUs, modems, whatever create physical items and provide driver support. Manufacturers assemble the hardware they want (linking to drivers). They then slap on custom software (we all are crying our for Touchwiz, aren't we) and out pop custom ROMs for the phone in your pocket.

      Can't happen overnight, but maybe a handy stick in this process would be google rankings of their manufacturers.

      One axis the Android critical patches and OS bumps, the other the date of when this was made available on your phone. Name and shame.

      Nexus used to be budget and it's now premium solely for the software support we know we'll get, rather than any unique cutting edge hardware.

      Other alternative would be more "Google Play editions" - you don't like the support you're gettign from Samsung on your new phone - click a button and cede ownership of maintenance to Google.

  21. David Roberts Silver badge

    Update route?

    If I understand correctly, there are three steps in a software build.

    (1) Google build base software

    (2) Manufacturer (e.g. Samsung) spanners it onto their hardware

    (3) Carrier (e.g 3) adds their prettys.

    The user then views the result with shock and awe.

    Now with contract phones I assume the upgrade path follows the same route. Or does it?

    Many phones are now bought SIM free.

    Many more phones are unlocked post contract and now with another carrier.

    Do all these phones have a link to stage (2) in the process regardless of which carrier (and even which country) they are currently with?

    Serious question; another view of it is "can your carrier block or delay an update?".

    If so, the problem is a lot larger than just Google and OEMs having different priorities.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Update route?

      >(2) Manufacturer (e.g. Samsung) spanners it onto their hardware

      That is actually several steps. If you will allow me, just for clarity, to change your example from Samsung to an ODM who doesn't make their own chips:

      Google distributes the new version to an ODM, lets say HTC. Google also distributes source code to chip makers like Qualcomm (and yes, Samsung). They decide if they can be bothered to support the chip in question. If they do, they send a Board Support Package to the ODM in question, HTC, Sony, Samsung etc. Then there is lots of testing. Then it is sent to:

      (3) The carriers, for approval. Then sent back to ODM for changes to be implemented. (Repeat)

      (4)Then it is sent to the relevant regulatory authorities for approval. (Repeat)

      (5)Then it is distributed to end users.

      Note that there is plenty of scope for foot-dragging by various parties.

  22. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Bring it on ...

    Up until a few weeks ago, I had a box with all the old phones family Page had ever had - 12 of the buggers. They all worked, in that they powered up.

    And I could not get single one working. All due to network locking.

    The one which made me see red was a £5 Alcatel originally from Orange that refused to work with an EE SIM (remind me again, where EE came from ?). EE wanted £35 to unlock it.

    So a network-free, telco-free phone sounds grand. Having had 3 months use of my Wileyfox Swift, it's the way to go.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Bring it on ...

      [Note to non-Uk readers: the network 'Orange' changed it's name to EE a little while back, after a merger with 'O2']

      I had a similar issue the other day. Normal phone broken, so wanted to put my EE SIM into a Samsung 'feature phone' that had been on the same Orange contract - even the telephone number was the same!

      Orange waived the (less than £10) network unlock fee without argument, since it was clearly ridiculous that a phone acquired on the same contract wouldn't for merely rebranded SIM. It is possible that the quoted fee was less for me than JimmyPage, since the unlocking could be done with a code on this Samsung.

      However, I was told it would take around five days for the code to be sent to me, so I went out and bought a bargain basement (£25 from Sainsburys) Android phone unlocked to any network. As a phone for voicecalls, text email etc, it works pretty well.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        £5/£35 unlocking fee ...

        I can't say why they quoted that figure. And once they had taken the position that they should charge, I immediately lost any and all interest in EE/the-artist-formerly-known-as-Orange providing me with anything more than junk mail I can use as fuel. I'm sure if I had challenged/escalated they would have "waived" it (don't forget, the phone - bought outright - cost £5).

        So I'm a *big* fan of unlocked handsets being sold new. And Wileyfox is worth a big-up (although their customer service isn't. Where's my free case ????).

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