Popular forum for independent Android ROM development, XDA has announced support for devices made by Indian manufacturers Micromax, Karbonn and Xolo. It also announced support for devices made by Lenovo for the Indian market.
Devices that will be supported as of now are: Micromax Canvas 4 A210, Micromax Canvas Turbo A250, Micromax Canvas Magnus A117, Micromax Canvas Doodle A111, Doodle 2 A240, Micromax Canvas 2 Plus A110Q, Lenovo K900, Lenovo A850, Lenovo A3000, Lenovo P780, Samsung Galaxy Grand 2, Lava Xolo Q1000 and Karbonn A21.
The website announced that India was the second highest source of traffic to its website after US, which pretty much reflects Gartner’s stats on India being the world’s fastest growing smartphone market, with smartphone sales increasing at a rate of 166.8% in Q4 2013. Now on, XDA says it will do a better job of monitoring upcoming device releases. It has also implemented a back-end tagging system for forums that lets it “label” a forum as popular in India. Users who only want to see these devices can visit a new filtered version of the XDA homepage at xda.in.
That said, the list created by XDA is very small and does not include several popular devices made by Indian manufacturers in the past. We hope that they will add sections for such devices very soon as activity picks up.
Why is this important
It is a shot in the arm for consumers in India who have bought these affordable devices, as XDA guarantees support for these devices in the long run, even after manufacturers have discontinued support. For example, my old Nexus S was able to get Jelly Bean update via XDA. Similarly, customers with devices made by Micromax could end up with a KitKat update for their device which they may not get from the company.
The other thing XDA offers for customers is variety. At XDA developers work in groups and bring out different flavours of ROMs to suit your needs. The primary focus in most cases is for pushing vanilla Android experience without any bloatware, but there are several ROMs that add features as gesture support which the phone did not have to begin with.
Developers on the forum also create detailed guides on how to root the phone and flash ROMs on to it. Such information is generally not easily available online for devices sold by Indian manufacturers. When it is available, there is no way to verify the authenticity and quality of the steps provided. At XDA, there are several people who try out these methods and post their results, giving phone users a heads-up.
It also needs to be kept in mind that most of these Indian companies manufacture their phones in Shenzhen, China and import them in bulk. Long-term support is often shoddy and updates have been rare. Except for Micromax which has said it will focus on software, there hasn’t been much of a promise to support these devices till now. So In a way, it makes the job a little easier for Indian manufacturers and they will received a little less flak for not pushing out Android updates. Those who really care about having the latest version now have an option apart from over-the-air updates from OEMs.
What about GPL violations?
Indian manufacturers have not released their kernel source code under GPL till now, which goes against the strict anti-piracy policy XDA follows. Several forum members have written to the manufacturers asking them to release the information, failing which they might be sued for violating the license.
I’s not clear what XDA plans to do if the issue is taken to court, will they still keep the forums up to cater to the growing number of Indian smartphone users or will it stick to the rules and remove these devices? With the kind of external support Indian manufacturers will receive from these forums we think there is no reason why these companies shouldn’t release kernel info.