For a majority of Indian users, specs do not matter as much as the cost. For those where specifications take center stage, a quad core is a quad core irrespective of a 5 year old Mediatek processor or a Snapdragon 810 LTE enabled chipset. Micromax and a few other low cost mobile phone manufacturers take advantage of this to build their products and propagate them in comparison with the latest flagships. Seems weird to compare a Micromax Canvas with a Galaxy Note, but who cares, the appeal is comparing specs and price, which Micromax and other such cheap phone manufacturers exploit. The prices seem unbelievable for a quad core or even an octa core phone and how on earth do these folks make that universal drug $$$$.
- Outdated Hardware.
Look beyond English when reading the specifications. More often than not, hardware used is atleast a couple of generations old. This along with latest software has disaster and performance problems written all over it. Every component is atleast 2-3 generations behind starting from the Chipset, RAM, GPU, lens, camera sensor, screen technology, battery and even the outer plastic or so called metallic finishes. You can get a 2 generation old chipset almost virtually free. It does provide value for money for the majority, but no one is out there for charity and the manufacturer makes a huge margin out there.
- No R&D Cost.
Majority of these manufacturers do not invest in R&D. Almost of the phone design and build is picked out from existing flagship manufacturers or rebranded from other devices. For example, Micromax Yureka is a rebranded CoolPad. A sheep in a lion’s skin (In this specific example, the skin is sheepish as well).
- Data Mining.
The next time you click on “I Agree” , spend some time before you do that in reading the entire agreement. For all you know, you may have just committed to sharing your contact details, their email addresses, your photos, your social login details, your phone call patterns, your GPS locations (Your friends as well if you use compatible apps), your food preferences, your videos, your fashion quotient, your underwear brands, your keystrokes, your dreams, your car, your financial details, your project on building a cheap thermonuclear device, your workplace, your spouse’s spending patterns and workplace, your kids’s schooling details and every single fantasy you could conceive of. The catch is this happens irrespective of whether you agree or not agree, all because of the benevolent nature of your manufacturer who wants to protect and safeguard you against you losing your data. Now that’s what I call charity !!!
- Hidden Backdoors.
This is exactly where these manufacturers place money. The link towards the end of this post is self explanatory. To cut it short, manufacturers provide backdoors to these devices, wherein they can push and install any application which can collect any data with absolute disregard for the user’s choices. For example, Micromax installs backdoor to a few of its devices, wherein OTA service of these devices can not only update your apps, but also has unlimited leeway in installing any other app. They had tied up with a Chinese Data Mining company , which has a “Feature List” . Lets look at it shall we ?
There you go, in its own words on what they do. The cherry is Micromax chose to go with this provider than their own for OTA services. Now you know why you get those annoying ads and how Micromax is maximizing its revenue. MICRO efforts and MAXimum profits
More Reading : Knowledge is power
I am supposed to be a techie and work for a techie company supposedly with a lot of techie folks doing a lot of techie things. I like to keep myself updated with latest gadgets and innovations in technology especially mobiles, cameras and lenses. My first mobile phone was a Samsung Galaxy S2, which has served me well and a great phone then. What got into Samsung after the runaway success of this phone is bizzare and demands a separate discussion altogether. Anyway, back on topic, it sure raised a lot of second glances from my colleages and even bosses, but a vast majority did not even know that it was an Android phone. Needless to say, I had to explain it to them and in the process, end up knowing a lot about Android myself. One of the very basic questions which my colleagues and friends ask me even now is “Should I root my phone” ?
Well, should you ? Most OEM manufacturers clearly indicate that the warranty is void if your root their phones (there is a reason for that) and this puts off majority of the users off and they DO NOT root their phones. Little do they know that if there is any issue at all with your phone, it can be brought back to the factory state and service center folks would never know that it was rooted earlier. Anyone who asks me this question, gets a no-brainer answer, YES and let me explain why. In a subsequent blog, I shall explain how certain low cost OEM manufacturers keep their costs really low by compromising user’s privacy and data
Why should you root your device ? (Silliest – Serious)
- 1. Install / Uninstall “ANY” apps.
Does OEM provided NEWS update “feature” consume too much of your data ? (It did atleast for me with my S2 intially). Does certain OEM applications ensure your phone never rests peacefully, running unwanted background processes ? Does your carrier restrict certain applications to be installed on YOUR phone ? Does Playstore let you know in no uncertain terms that certain applications are incompatible with your phone (What do they know ?). Rooting gives you complete control on all of this. It is your phone and it should be your responsibility to make it or break it. Who are the OEM’s to dictate terms. Android is an open source OS and rooting lets you unleash the beast within.
- 2. Make it lightweight.
Well, physically impossible, but there are some fantastic apps available which can optimize your CPU and battery life giving you that extra 2 hours of screen time or 2 hours of call time. There are dedicated communities like XDA to provide you all the support you need make your Maruti Suzuki feel like a Ferrari
- 3. Automate anything you want.
You must have heard about an application called Tasker. If you haven’t, well look it up. It can automate a lot of tasks customized to your needs. It works great with unrooted phones. With a rooted phone, it scales a completely different level. Just imagine WiFi turning off automatically once you leave home and turning on the moment you are back in. This is just a very basic tip of the iceberg feature. Check THIS beginners guide for more information on this awesome app and how rooting really brings out the best with Tasker.
- 4. Improve performance and battery life.
You can do lots with an unrooted phone, but rooting gives you that extra control. There are fantastic apps available (SetCPU) for rooted phones in PlayStore for underclocking and overclocking the CPU on a need basis. Greenify can hibernate apps not needed. BetterBatteryStats works wonders for improving and diagnosing battery life issues. Almost all flagship’s hardware is more or less same, but the performance and battery life is dictated mainly by the skin and apps installed and configured by these OEM’s and a rooted phone gives you complete control of these applications and configuration.
- 5. Remove ads and bloatware.
Do you get irritated with those annoying “Please Click Me” type ads when playing your favorite supposedly free version with hidden ingame bombs. Do you really find it difficult to locate that small x of a mark to close these ads. You can always switch to Airplane mode or turn data off on unrooted phones 🙂 or root your phone and install adblock applications and good riddance to these ads forever.
- 6. Complete image backups.
I like to experiment with my phone. I just need a complete point in time state image of my phone where I can go back to when I need. If I mess up my phone, all I need is a magic touch or a swipe and my phone should be back to the state in which I want it to be. Rooting with custom recovery enables you to do that with powerful complete state Nandroid backups
- 7. Get a custom kernel / ROM.
Be warned, with great power comes great responsibility. You can install a custom kernel, but do not tweak it if you have no idea what it does. Most of the under the hood tweaks need a custom kernel. In addition to providing a much better performance and battery life, Kernels are the interface between your device and the OS. Ok, lets assume you know what you are doing, you can do a lot of system level tweaks and even enable features which is claimed unsupported by the manufacturer. A perfect example would be WiFi tethering and hotspot. Custom ROM are in plenty for you to explore and find that perfect OS which will suit your needs.
- 8. Get support for out of support handsets.
No explanation needed. OEM’s ditch their old ones in their pursuit for more .. $$.. err… cough…well, recent models. Head over to XDA and you can run your S2 on Lollipop
- 9. Customization reloaded.
If you are the inquisitive and the experimental type, you can change almost anything except the physical dimensions of your device. Customized keyboard ? Split screen ? Faster Scrolling ? name it. You need the rooted power
- 10. Deliver a knock out punch for unethical OEM’s (Next Blog)
This deserves a separate blog.
- 11. Have you heard of Cerberus or other such apps ?
It is easy to lose a mobile phone and more often than not, it will fall in the hands of someone who will be attracted by this little “extra” income. How many anti-theft solutions have we encountered, just to realize that by the time you discovered your loss, the phone is clean and untraceable. Maybe you can get the last known location. Cerberus and other such apps, enable you to install their anti-theft mobile tracking application as a system application and gets installed in the system partition. No matter what the thief does, these applications cannot be uninstalled. They also reside in the system partition with simple non-suspicious names. Even a factory reset and wipe all data will not uninstall this application. You guessed it right. You need a rooted phone for this. However, if the thief is tech savvy and he decides to flash a fresh ROM, bid your phone goodbye as no one is interested anymore in trying to help you get your phone back.
Do these reasons convince you ? No ? What ? Well, just get your iPhone then