Android smartphones are not always the best when it comes to updates. While some flagships from brands like Google and Samsung usually get update quickly, others don’t. However, there are many smartphones, whether low-end or mid-range which got custom development support. So, you can enjoy the latest flavour of Android much before others by flashing custom ROMs, whether official or unofficial. So, here we’ll be covering the differences in official vs unofficial custom ROMs in terms of security, privacy and reliability.
Some people don’t like their phone’s stock ROM due to user-interface or performance issues. And they prefer to use custom ROM as well.
So, if you’re one of those who prefer to use custom ROMs instead of their phone’s stock ROM then you might have come across official and unofficial custom ROMs. On first look, it’s obvious to prefer the official term. Isn’t it?
There could be several differences among them. However, the biggest concern for the users is usually security and privacy. You might prefer official custom ROMs because they are official, so they are supposed to be better in security and privacy. We’ll be covering all these in this article. So, hang on and read the article carefully.
Official vs unofficial custom ROMs – Differences:
Core developers of any custom ROM releases their ROM source code which is later synced by the ROM maintainers in their computer or server.
Official ROM maintainers are not supposed to make changes to the source. So, they are not likely to fix any bug which is related to the source. Meanwhile, unofficial ROM maintainers are not having any restrictions. They are free to make any changes to the source to suit their needs. So, the unofficial maintainers often fix source-related bugs before the official one.
Lineage OS unofficial builds are kind of better because by default, they don’t include any Safety Net fix. So, you will need to root your device to be able to use apps which check for Safety Net.
Official builds are usually updated as soon as the ROM source is updated. However, it is totally dependent on the official maintainer. However, mostly they release new builds with new fixes and/or features as soon as they are available.
Unofficial builds cannot be judged. They might even get more updates than official ROM, if the maintainer wants to make a lot of changes. Or the maintainer might just release one build and leave it as it is.
So, mostly, official builds are frequently updated. You can see the history of build releases of unofficial maintainer to judge if they release the update when needed or not.
You can’t judge official custom ROMs and unofficial custom ROMs for support either. It is totally dependent on the kind of maintainer your ROM is having. Besides that, usually, other users help people with their queries. So, there is not much difference between them.
Unofficial ROMs usually have more features, and you can often request for features to the maintainer. Meanwhile, official maintainer cannot add features which needs change in the source. They will simply ask you to contact the core developers for any kind of feature requests. And you cannot expect core developers to respond to your queries because they usually get spammed with feature requests.
Security & Privacy:
This is one of the main reasons why people prefer official builds. It’s normal to assume that official ROM is going to be safer compared to unofficial ROM. Isn’t that right? The name itself make things like that.
And you are correct to an extent. I am not saying unofficial ROMs are not safe to use. And neither I am telling you that official ROMs are pure angel.
It is entirely dependent on your ROM maintainer.
For the most part, neither official nor unofficial maintainer would do anything illegal. However, it’s not like they can’t do it.
Yes, even the official maintainer can add anything to steal your data and by the time officials are aware of it, the maintainer will have stolen enough data. Official ROMs don’t ask their maintainers for their ID proofs or anything. They look into their older works and according to that they decide whether to provide them with maintainership or not.
Meanwhile, there is not much for unofficial maintainers. However, you should know that they don’t really need to do that. Besides that, most of these maintainers do ROM building just for fun.
So, at the end, the level of trust for Safety & Privacy can’t be much difference for official or unofficial ROMs.
You can also read an article on whether custom ROMs are trustworthy or not for security.
So, I hope you’ve understood that there is not a big difference between the two. If you’re conscious about the ROMs, then you can look into the history of any ROM maintainer. The people on their support groups can be reliable to know how good the maintainer is with his works’ stability and updates.
At the end, just make sure that you’re downloading ROMs from trusted source. I mean, don’t download and flash random ROMs, kernels or anything from random sources. It is not wise to do anything like that. And this can surely put you in security and privacy risk.
Besides that, it can be said that official and unofficial ROM builds hold similar level of safety. You can’t blindly trust anything. 🙂
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