Apr 17 AT 10:56 AM Taylor Wimberly 28 Comments

Motorola and BLU to adopt stock Android for new devices


If you’re a fan of pure Android, then you might want to consider Motorola or BLU for your next mobile device. Both companies announced this week that they will be sticking with stock Android, instead of creating custom overlays like Samsung’s Touchwiz or HTC’s Sense.

Jim Wicks, Motorola’s design chief, told PCMag, “From a software and UI perspective, our strategy is to embrace Android and to make it the best expression of Android and Google in the market. It will be the unadulterated version of Android, and I feel really good about our embracing Android and being the best Android experience.”

BLU Products (based in Florida) also announced in a press release that they “replaced the previous BLU launcher and have decided to go with stock Android software on all new products and firmware updates.”

We love stock Android, so it’s great to see these hardware OEMs embrace this strategy. There’s nothing wrong with custom UIs, but we think they should be distributed through the Google Play Store as an optional overlay (see Facebook Home), instead of baked into the firmware.

Keep in mind that just because future devices might ship with stock Android, they could still be subject to slow software updates if they are locked-down, carrier-branded devices. If you’re in the market for speedy software updates, then buy a Nexus device or explore the world of unlocked smartphones.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • surethom

    Nice, I much prefer stock android, apart for stock Calendar, prefer the look of LG & sony’s calendars, you can see month view click on a day (it stays in month view) but shows the tests/events for that day.

    Stock also means quicker updates, well it is supposed to ?

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

      I like stock Android, too. Except for the area that it’s lacking far far behind the non-stock, like the missing of a native BLE driver.

    • BXDIN

      It won’t be any faster those of us who remember the G2 “vanilla android” that took over two years to get to ginger bread know that only Nexus gets fast updates!

    • Sean

      I don’t think being stock or custom skin will have a significant impact on the updating of the Android version. Motorola and BLU will still have to get their stock Android built for the device (device drivers and such) working. Then the carriers will have their testing and adding of ‘their’ pre-loaded software.

      I think the benefit comes from having a standard UI w/out the additional stuff thrown on top of it; meaning users moving between phones will have a familiar interface they don’t need to re-learn.

    • masterpfa

      If you’re in the market for speedy software updates, then buy a Nexus device or explore the world of unlocked smartphones.

      Best way of putting it, next step is to remove Carrier control on updates as no doubt around the world some perform worse than others, in the UK unfortunately the biggest culprits always seems to be T-Mobile.

  • redraider133

    This is awesome. Good to see google influencing moto devices, always liked their devices and now with google and some better specs they could really make a great device.

  • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

    This is huge. If Moto comes out with a nice phone by the end of the year with a less boxy design, I’m sold.

    Give me the highest quality 1080p screen, a monster battery, and something that’s not too squarish, then I will say the tired phrase, “shut up and take my money.”

  • http://phaseburn.net PhaseBurn

    While I wholeheartedly disagree with “custom skins” such as SenseUI and TouchWiz, I have to admit that a lot of their functionality isn’t available if they were downloads from the Play store. For example, it’s not possible to change the icons in the “Settings” app with out altering the actual Settings.apk file located in the system partition. You can download a *replacement* for Settings.apk (in theory, I don’t know if one actually exists), but any time an app opens a settings panel, it will default to the stock version. Any time Android itself prompts you to make a change, it will do so in the stock version. There is no way to replace the default “Settings” app with a Play download. So to get the colored icons found in Sense, it just isn’t feasible. Adding other options, moving options to different groupings, etc, isn’t possible with out altering the actual Settings app itself. As such, it isn’t feasible to load Sense into the Play store, at least not in its current form. This limitation also applies to a number of other core pieces of the Android framework, which Sense and TouchWiz (and others) alter.

    Now, if Android were to incorporate T-Mobile’s theming engine, like the Cyanogenmod project has done, this all becomes possible, along with many other different things. But I can’t comment on why/when/if Google might or might not do that.

  • PhyzX

    Great news!

    Nice to see more competition in this market.
    Hopefully soon, having a large battery will be standard for all high-end phones

  • Co1e

    This is a step in the right direction. Customizing software is something that should be optional for each person. I would like to see more companies take this approach.

  • Somebody

    What the hell is a “BLU”???

    As for Motorola, they ARE Google, so it only makes sense that they use unmolested Android, it just takes time for Google to push it through since they acquired Motorola. Effectively, ALL motorola devices will become “nexus” devices once the process is completed.

    • VS

      BLU is to cell phones as Vizio is to LCD TVs (from what I’ve been able to gleam). They acquire the components for cell phones (LCD, storage, etc) and assemble them for resell.

      I havent seen BLU available by any carrier, so would the locked status even apply to them? I’ve seen mixed reviews for their handsets, so still waiting for an official A&M review to see if they’re worth merit.

      • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

        The sad thing is, with carriers like Verizon, which only approves certain phones to be used in its network, a small company like BLU will have a hard time breaking into the market.

  • madsalad

    So long MOTOBLUR! That was one of my main sticking points when thinking about waiting for the X-Phone vs. HTC One vs. SG4 vs. Nexus 4. Now that I know the XPHONE will be stock Android, things are looking better! Granted, it was anticipated this would happen when Google took over Motorola, but the change is still very welcomed news!

  • Fenudel

    This is good news, I agree.
    However, the amount of customer resentment that Motorola has built up leading up to this point (by dropping support for their devices and lying about boot loader unlocks), would give me pause.
    I’ll be willing to give them a chance after they release a couple of products that they will follow up with decent and timely support.

    • David

      I’ve bought two Droids from Motorola, the OG and the Bionic.

      After my experience I will never buy or recommend ANYONE to buy a Motorola device unless it has an unlocked bootloader.

      And no, paying $$$ for a dev edition is not an acceptable way to fulfill that requirement.

      • madsalad

        Good to know. I definitely have some decisions to make over my next phone…though I do enjoy changing aroundROMas on my Sensation.

  • Slith

    Next phone = Moto

  • breckdroid

    This is indeed, IMO, great news! I was beginning to wonder if we would even see the rumored Moto X phone. Granted this article dose not reference any specific phone, but if there is a chance the upcoming Motoroogle phone with be stock android, I’m once again swayed towards it. 2013 is turning out to be quite the year for smartphone technology. As consumers, we have some great choices ahead.

  • jamal adam

    Finally!! Someone is doing it right.

  • gresham

    What makes Samsung the best selling mobile selling company is not there hardware only but its the fact that they refined Android with Touchwiz which blends well with their hardware. Therefore, touch wiz is better than stock Android and the fact that people love Samsung for that is there for all to see.

  • Nathan D.

    Please mean faster updates, I know it not their fault but the carriers fault, so hopefully this mean the process will be done sooner rather then later.

  • aranea

    Very good news. I was waiting for it since Google bought Motorola.

  • robert lyon

    I’ve only used stock (except on my wife’s Samsung running gingerbread) so I don’t have much comparison. I switched from iOS to android and chose stock as the appeal to android is stock and then if I so choose I can always find a ROM. So far I’m totally happy with stock and the which updates on my N4 & N10.

  • donger

    Always prefer Stock/ vanilla Android.

  • Javier A

    I’ll wait to see if they ever stop releasing their best phones exclusively on Verizon. Then we’ll talk.

  • Josiah

    Oh goody, that means I don’t have to custom rom it to remove horrible UIs, with the exception of the Galaxy S devices, as those have a really nice UI.

  • da9el

    that’s the right direction. keep it up!