Revisiting LineageOS (custom ROMs) on Republic Wireless


#7

I humbly suggest you are mistaken about Fi. Based on public information as well as user reports, which I won’t link to but you can likely find yourself through a few minutes of searching, the comparison is much more apples-to-apples than you claim. For now we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Again, I’m not here to advertise Fi, but rather understand why Republic decided to have the app deliberately bomb out during setup if it detects that I’m running a custom ROM when there are reports from happy Fi customers running custom ROMs will full features.

Being forced to obsolete three phones (or run unpatched official Android forever) over what looks like an unenlightened decision by Republic’s engineering team to forbid custom ROMs is pretty lame.

Even if we forget about Fi for the sake of argument, I don’t think I’m being unreasonable for asking why this seemingly valid use case is rejected.


#8

Hi @michael_b,

I think @louisdi capably answered that question.

Our service is quite different from Fi’s and we must approve every OS for compatibility with our app.

Thank you for your feedback and conviction, though. I won’t use words like “never” or “impossible” in reply to such a request, because our developers and product team do listen to these requests and look for possibilities that might allow us to break down these barriers one day.

For the sake of continuing the conversation, while we ask that you not link to our competitors, it is fine to link to third-party content on the topic. For example, if you’ve seen the confirmation you’re referencing on Android Police or Reddit, it’s fine to point to the posts.


#9

Thank you for the response.

Not quite. I think you’re both conflating what supported device means, which is confusing the issue.

There is the claim that Fi doesn’t support carrier flipping unless you run a “supported device”. Which means you’re using a device that has hardware that can support this

That is entirely different from the claim that on Fi your supported device stops being a supported device if you wipe official Android and flash a custom ROM.

I contend that the second claim is false. That on Fi supported device is only a hardware concern, and if someone were to take a phone that they’ve been using on Republic to Fi, and flash a custom ROM, on Fi there will be no loss of functionality, whereas if you stay on Republic the app aborts setup and you can’t use Republic’s service at all.

I’m asking why the difference?


#10

I haven’t been clear. I’m fully aware that there are varying levels of success using custom roms with Fi and still getting Network switching. I believe this is because Google has built much of the network switching intelligence directly into core pieces of Android including the core pieces that have been adopted by the AOSP that the custom roms are built on.

Two reasons. One, see my answer to the first question above. Two, it is still not apples to apples. Switching networks is a matter of reading multiple carrier data stored on the SIM, and much of the magic is actually in the SIM. There is no blending of these networks, sending packets over both Wi-Fi data and cellular data at the same time for quality purposes, or any of the other unique things that Republic does. The FI magic, is just simply switching networks not during an active call, but between calls, and when the cellular connection is inactive. Republic does a lot of active cellular switching including moving calls between Wi-Fi and cellular seamlessly, and not relying on VoLTE to do so. Yes they’re both things that happen on phones, but they’re very different things and not apples to apples comparison from a technology perspective, and therefore there is a difference.


#11

Thank you for clarifying, louisdi. That’s interesting information but still tangential.

Even if we accept your claim for the sake of argument that isn’t a compelling, non-loserly reason to have the Republic app reject my device because it’s running a custom ROM.

Talking about Fi is a distraction. The underlying question is and always has been why is Republic rejecting my seemingly valid use case?

Given that the only engagement I’ve received on this is from a community Expert with no access to company information who is left to conjecture, and a PR response from Republic that provided no information and misdirected the conversation, let me read between the lines.

In my experience companies attempt to minimize user fronted control (a custom ROM provides far more access to device information and more customizability) because they’re embarrassed about their backend technology and their security model. Perhaps they have fears of opening up an attack vector. Sometimes it’s overly puffed up concern about leaking “proprietary” data that actually has no value to anyone else. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it happens to be blowing up my use case. Being forced to go pound sand because of internal lameness leaves me with a not favorable impression of Republic.

Given that there’s no statement from engineering about this and probably won’t be, I’ll assume I’m close the mark; giving me a straight answer would expose internal Republic lameness, so the most I can expect from hereon out is another PR response with a token amount of useless information and then ghosting.

Regardless, this is still a lame customer experience, actually even lamer than it first was. For completeness, I also had a mini version of this argument with support and they told me there’s nothing they could do and that I should register my displeasure here.

Anyway!

I’m now inspired to actually try Fi even if it’s not as sophisticated, as per louisdi’s assertion (I remain skeptical that it’s not a complete apple for apple replacement). Stand by for updates :joy:


#12

No need. I’ve tried Fi as I believe has @louisdi. I’m not overly concerned about which service is more sophisticated, I simply look at which service better meets my needs. For my use case, I’d be paying more for Fi than I do with Republic.

If Fi’s multi-cellular network switching, international calling and roaming and/or the ability to use a custom ROM were sufficiently important to me, I’d consider paying for them. They’re not, so I don’t.


#13

People here in the past have complained about this exact issue (see the thread I linked in OP), and presumably others will in the future, along with people who just try and give up without saying anything, so I feel a small duty to evaluate a solution and report back how it works for this use case, despite your sweeping assertion on their behalf that this isn’t needed, Ambassador.


#14

I don’t believe I made any such sweeping assertion nor was doing so my intent. I merely pointed out I and no doubt others here have also tried Fi (I’m always curious).

And, yes, others have raised the issue of wanting to use custom ROMs with Republic. I would have no personal objection to Republic choosing to look the other way on that, however, the reality is Republic has made a decision to whitelist specific Android builds (those provided by the manufacturer on supported North American factory unlocked phones) only. This doesn’t exclude merely custom ROMs such as LineageOS, it also excludes manufacturer supplied flavors of Android for carrier branded and international variants as well. Republic maintains this is necessary. One accepts that and uses the service as intended or one doesn’t.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with asking Republic to reconsider that position but, for now, it is what it is.


#15

Republic can’t possibly test the bazillions of custom OS builds available across all its supported hardware. While a phone may appear to work perfectly to the user, it may not be utilizing the Republic infrastructure as it should. When this happens, it costs Republic money. Because of this they have chosen to mitigate the risk by prohibiting use on non-manufacturer OS releases.

If you go to the Verizon community and post about not being able to activate a CDMA phone sold by Sprint, does Verizon management jump on and provide an explanation? Likely, you’ll get absolutely no response at all. Republic is a business. It owes its customers no more than the service the customers have purchased. It certainly doesn’t have to justify its policies to anyone.

In my family we have 4 phones on Cricket, one on Republic and one on Fi. I’m quite aware of how they work as my daily driver is on Fi (an LG G7).

Custom OSes remain an edge use case, no matter your assertion. Those that even know what an unlocked bootloader is are the smallest fraction of a fraction of users and those from there that actually run Lineage or Remix or Resurrection or whatever are an even smaller fraction. No cell phone company spends resources trying to address this community. None.


#16

You can debate this all day…won’t change the end result or answer.
Republic does not support Custom roms on their service at this time. Period.
As far as if RW’s plans or intentions in the future, that is not known unless they release such information. SouthPaw, an employee of RW, has clearly posted the most “official” statement you will get regarding you topic.

If your requirement is that you must use a custom ROM, then you are free to use a cell provider that supports it and thus, Republic is not for you.

RW is geared towards the average consumer and it is a safe assumption that the vast majority of these consumers have no idea what a custom ROM is or even have the knowledge, let alone desire to try and modify their phones.
You certainly have a valid point in that one can flash a custom rom to an older phone and possible breath new life into it, but the average consumer just buys a new phone every couple years, or when theirs breaks or is no longer usable.

As far a Fi goes…, I have tried them. (Incoming mini-rant) Terrible experience. Their customer service is an F–. They were completely useless in trying to help resolve a technical issue caused by them with my service when I first tried them out a few months ago. In the last couple weeks, Fi Customer Service does not exist at all. They have shut off their on-line chat option, when you try to call in, they state they are not talking calls now, and emails take 2-3 weeks to get a automated response back that is “we are too busy to help you…”. Fi Forums are full of mad customers who can’t contact anyone or get any help.

Fi used to be good( so I have been told) and my preferred carrier to switch to if i ever left RW.
I was going to switch to Fi when I got my Pixel 3 on Black Friday…however I found that impossible since i could not get in contact with Fi at all and they refuse to honor the promotion of account credit for buying the phone once i finally was able to contact them.
After all of that…no way.

The Customer Service here at RW far exceeds anyone else, in my experience.
And that is very hard to give up.


#17

Hi @michael_b,

Actually, our Experts and Ambassadors are provided a great deal of company information.

I’m not in PR. If my answer wasn’t helpful to you, please just let me know what additional information you need. I’m not certain why this has to feel quite so much like an argument when it seems a conversation is what’s needed. I’m not into ghosting. I may not always to be available on your schedule and if I need to find the answers to your questions, it may take me longer to reply. Many of our staff who would have the kinds of answers you want are on vacation now. Given a little patience I might be able to answer your question. The answer isn’t going to change the fact that the phones can’t be activated on a custom ROM, though.

That would be a bad assumption. Our engineers do not monitor Community and spend their days replying here, or they would have no time left for their engineering.

Support’s role is to solve issues related to our phones, and our service. Your use case is not an issue to be solved by a support agent.

There’s been a lot discussed here, and you led the conversation with a comparison to Fi, replied to me with three paragraphs about Fi, then later said that talking about Fi is a distraction. So I’m a bit confused. Please give me, without assuming I’m going to PR you, ghost you, or do anything other than answer you, the questions you’d like answered that don’t involve Fi.


#18

I’m a little late to the party, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in.

I’ve been running LineageOS 14 (Android 7) for a long time on a Nexus 6 with Republic Wireless. I didn’t experience a single problem. Wifi calling, voice mail, Anywhere app, etc., all worked fine.

Yesterday I finally decided to reset my phone and update to the latest version of LineageOS, version 15 (Android 8). Same phone, same sim card, etc. Everything went great until I tried to activate the phone using the Republic app. No matter what I’ve tried it insists that I need to update Android. My guess is that the RW app is checking what version I’m on, and flips out because it’s not a version that the phone originally had support for from the manufacture.

I completely understand and don’t expect RW to support “custom” ROMs in anyway, but why limit the activation to only certain versions, regardless of whether they work or not? Now I basically have three bad choices due to an artificial limit:

  1. Get a new phone (total waste of money, resources, etc.) and run into the same issue a year or two from now since ALL Android makers are terrible with updates.

  2. Go back to the previous version of LineageOS, which defeats a lot of the reason to use it. I don’t root, or do anything weird with Lineage, I use it because unlike the stock ROMs, my phone actually gets security updates.

  3. Leave RW after over 5 years for a regular carrier.

I like RW, and I’ve stuck through a lot of stuff to use their services because it’s budget friendly, cutting edge, etc., but this feels like the opposite now. My phone is being artificially limited be a simple version check that may or may not actually mean the phone will work. Security is a big deal to me, and using older hardware with Lineage allows me to have the latest security updates while not being wasteful and needlessly spending money on a new phone.

I honestly don’t expect anything to come of this, and I understand where RW is coming from (I’m a software developer who deals with this type of stuff as well). I just wanted to throw it out there that it would be nice if the check was removed so people like me could at least try it. RW has always been very community driven, so why not give the community a shot?


#19

That is just not true.

The Google Pixel phones gets monthly security updates straight from Google the moment it is released, (which is often before any custom rom devs can take the time to update their own roms.) Pixels get Security updates for 3 yrs, major OS updates for 2yrs. RW supports Pixel phones as BYOP. This is the “stock” device to have if your main concern is keeping up to date.

Nokia, also gets updates just as fast as Google phones, several users ahve told me, my co-woker included. Nokia uses Stock Android. Sadly, RW does not support these phones…as of yet. (really hope they do sometime in the future).

Moto phones get frequent updates. More so and more often than Samsung and LG phones do, from what I have seen. Republic supports many Moto Phones.

You are a brave soul, to be using an “unsupported OS” with Republic for so long.

So…then…why are you wanting to update then?

Spending money is not wasteful, if it is for newer hardware that supports newer software.
Older hardware is also going to have security vulnerabilities than can not and will never be patched.
I guess it is all just relative, on how much monetary value one puts into “Security” .

Edit: It is also worth nothing, that the average user has no real active forethought into device updates or Security patches. Infact, the typical user would just be annoyed and tap the Update Notification to just go way…putting it off until much later, or never actually installing it until it forces it self upon them (like Windows updates…lol). They just “want it to work”.


#20

I’ve provided the answer to your question in my response a few answers up:


#21

Hi @emiljt,

Thanks for your feedback and for adding to the conversation.

This is key, and I think @louisdi has done a good job of answering it. There is no “artificial” limit. We work closely with the phone manufacturers and our carrier partners to be certain that the builds we allow on our network will work correctly with our service. Our plan pricing isn’t arbitrary; it is still based on a certain amount of Wi-Fi offload - calling and texting on Wi-Fi. When you introduce a build that bypasses this part of our service, calling and texting cost more than our price structure can support.

This conversation is an excellent one; it’s important for us to understand what the demand is for alternate operating systems, because we do want to find ways to grow our membership, and clearly being able to accept a wider variety of phones is one way of doing so. I’m also completely in agreement with you about having to buy new phones every couple of years, as that cost eats as me as well. (Still driving the 2008 mom van, just replaced my 2009 computer, and would gladly use my phone just as long, if it would last!)

Have you looked into which carriers will accept your phone and what their plans would cost you? I’d be interested to know how they’d compare.


#22

I appreciate the feedback from everyone.

@SpeedingCheetah
I wasn’t trying to say that new phones don’t get security updates. I’m well aware that pretty much all phones get them for some amount of time. That’s also not the only reason though to use something like Lineage; privacy is a huge selling point as well. I can have as little or as much involvement with Google as I want. My point was that for my phone in particular, I don’t get security updates despite the fact that it is entirely capable of running the latest version of android. So my options are to buy a new phone every three years at best, or use alternate ROMs that are actually maintained, unlike the stock ones, and breath new life into an “old” phone. LineageOS gets Google’s monthly security updates out to users as soon as they’re out. I agree the Pixel series isn’t a bad option, but even then you’re paying $800 for a phone that will only be kept up to date for 3 years. I value security a lot, and I’m more than happy to pay for it when justified, but in this case I have a phone that works perfectly well, even runs the latest software without a hitch, but I can’t use it simply because it can’t be activated. Not the end of the world for me, but still kind of a bummer.

@louisdi
I saw your answer above and completely agree with you. No argument there.
To be fair though, Lineage is more stock Android than most manufactures builds, and I’ve already proven that Lineage runs RW just fine when allowed to be activated. Plus, let’s be honest, how many of RW’s users would actually be interested? Like I said, I don’t ever expect RW to support something like Lineage, but if we wanted to, I’m sure there are ways to make it happen (the cellular industry is no stranger to rate limiting, etc., we could even have a “beta” version much like we do for RW Anywhere and Linux, or even have those users pay more).

At the end of the day I get that these are all just first world problems, nothing major or horrible, just a bummer. As I said above, I honestly don’t expect RW to do anything about it, I just wanted to add some differing view points and show that there are other users out there interested in the problem. RW has a great thing going, but one of it’s weaknesses has always been options. If you want to use the Apple ecosystem, or want more control over your privacy/security, you basically have to look elsewhere. But, obviously I wouldn’t be here after so long if RW didn’t have something that made those shortcomings worth it to me :wink:


#23

For the record, flashing custom roms to phones is not as popular as it used to be. OEMs have made their phones much harder and very risky to root and flash, with much more strict proprietary security tech that will brick the phone if one should try and mess up. It is a thing only done by real techys these days, that understand how and also are willing to risk bricking their expensive device.

As the major OEM phone models continue to advance, they are becoming less and less the target of custom roms. Less and less devs take up the initiative to develop. When it does happen, it often takes a very long time before anything stable and fairly easy is available to flash, even back years ago(i think I waited just over 1.5 years before any root and 1 rom became available for the LG flagship model I had, by then, the thing was old and outdated tech and no oneone stepped up to continue work on it because everyone had moved on to newer devices).

The real market for custom rom lay in off brand or less known here in the USA brands, OnePlus, and other Chinese phones seem to have the main openness for custom rom. In fact, most of the custom rom devs are not in USA, but are in other countries. The rest of the world may have openly embraced Custom roms…but the USA market…I doubt they will ever will.

Personally, having been a custom rom wizard(and part time dev), and not being able to live with out the perks that came with them…back in the day…I have found that current android, 8 and 9, I have no need for root or custom roms. The OS, (Google’s Stock experience anyway) is excellent. I have seen how features that were invented by community XDA devs and only available in their own custom roms, now are built right into the core OS. And I no longer have to have the random headache that are bugs or odd quirks that come with any custom rom.

Since, it seems, that RW is interested in hearing about why folks like us are attracted to custom roms, aside from things you already mention, like more control over privacy and security, and possibly getting security and os updates past the OEMs lifecycle of the device, here are my main reasons I used to swear by to use a custom rom:

  1. Ad block. System wide. (no longer needed for me since all my apps are ad free paid versions, or open source no ads included version/Opera web browser have very effective ad blocker)

  2. Viper4Android (or other system wide sound mod/enhancement) this was a big one. I am a very picky audio guy with very particular audio/EQ requirements. I switched to Poweramp V3 which has the best EQ there is, no root or mod needed. Sounds better than even when a system sound mod was enabled. I also invested in a good USB DAC, so now I can take my preferred audio experience to any Android phone.

  3. Black theme. I do not understand the more modern trend in deleting the 16 million color palette and shadowing/shading design elements, to just all flat white and lots more whitespace. It is bad on the eyes, eats battery, and puts very talented graphic designers/artists out of work. (a “Dark” theme is now built into Android. Most OEMs also have their own stock theming settings, dark theme included)

  4. More advanced power and hardware controls. A necessary thing, for a rom that is mass produced for many phone models. Google, as akin to Apple, is the only true OEM that is able to exclusively optimize their OS ROM for their own exact devices…and boy, does it show. My 3 yr old Pixel XL is still faster, and buttery smooth with little to no “jank” than my coworkers 1.3yr old Samsung phone. I have no need to fuss with a cpu governor or tweak frequencies or hunt down software timers, triggers, and wakelocks…the phone and its OS just works buttery smooth, and gets me days of battery life…and has yet to slow down or degrade after 1.5 yrs, as every single other phone has on me.

  5. Customization. Here is where things are a bit poor. Many custom roms have a HUGE amount of customization available to the user, some, too much so. Part of me is glad that I don’t have to spend days trying to tweak every single of the million things to make it just perfect to my liking. But, there are things I wish that I could tweak or customize about the UI on my Pixel that do kinda bug me and would make my life a tiny bit easier if I could. But, the amount of stock customization is just sufficient, with the basics I need are there.


#24

Thanks for your very reasonable and reasoned response. I agree that Republic would benefit from more flexibility in the hardware that they’re able to deliver their services on and the software it runs. I also know that Republic would love to expand the customer base it can serve, if it can figure out how to do that without significant risk. This leads me to believe that the mode they hear from customers interested in such things, the more they will consider them, so thanks for raising the questions here. Just a few years ago, with 1 phone available to use, the number of phones they have available now would have seemed a pipedream. I personally am really looking forward to what Republic has up its sleeve for all of us in the coming year!


#25

Since Security and Privacy was a big thing mentioned here…about wanting to have update software patches on smartphone…well…I just came across this video of a security flaw that has been known for years, and never patched. So even a custom ROM is not going to help you with some security things. Would love to know of said custom rom makers even know of this security issue?


#26

Hi there. This pops up for me as well. Try opening your phone app, refresh the phone activation by dialing *#*#8647#*#*. (that’s star pound start pound 8647 pound star pound star) Then go back to the activation. It has worked on my Nexus 6p multiple times on ABC ROM (Oreo 8.1) Resurrection Remix (Oreo 8.1) and Statixos which I’m currently running (Pie 9.0). Everything is working fine. Hope this helps