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We understand the advantages of pure Android – the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?


What does pure Android mean?

When they say that a naked Android is installed on a smartphone, they mean a device with an interface that was conceived by Google.

Pure Android is a version of the OS without firmware from the manufacturer.

For example, large and medium brands produce devices based on the “green robot” with a proprietary shell:

  • on Xiaomi and Redmi – MIUI;
  • Flyme is promoted at Meizu;
  • Samsung changed TouchWiz to Samsung Experience, and from there switched to OneUI.

A bit of history

You need to start with branded skins. They are now installed on many more or less expensive smartphones. For example, devices from Xiaomi are operated by MIUI. Many other manufacturers also have their own branded shells – up to DOOGEE. But why are they needed? After all, on a computer we use exclusively clean Windows or Mac OS – no one changes the interface of the operating system. Why not install stock firmware exclusively on smartphones?

We understand the advantages of pure Android - the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?


In fact, the first branded skins were developed out of desperation. Even smartphones based on the Symbian operating system came with a modified interface. Nokia had its own, and Sony Ericsson had its own. But ordinary users first learned about branded shells with the release of communicators based on Windows Mobile. By default, this operating system implied control of the stylus – the icons and menu items were too small. HTC decided to change the state of affairs by completely changing the interface, adapting it for finger control.

We understand the advantages of pure Android - the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?

TouchFLO 3D

Well, what happened to Android at the dawn of its development? Same. If you look at the interface of Android 1.6 and several subsequent versions, you will not find anything pretty in it. This is why HTC, LG and other companies began to develop their own interface skins that added different animations and effects, and icons and widgets resulted in a unified design. Also, smartphone makers needed to stand out. Many people remember well HTC Hero and subsequent devices of this company, which had a branded clock widget that caught the eye of the buyer.

We understand the advantages of pure Android - the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?

HTC Hero

It should also be remembered that initially Android was not very functional. The operating system settings were very poor. And branded shells almost always add some unique “chips” and settings to the firmware. For example, on Samsung tablets, you can enable an option that keeps the screen on while you are looking at it. And DOOGEE smartphones have detailed display settings – right down to color saturation.

Impact on performance

A smartphone on a clean system consumes less RAM, CPU and GPU resources.

This is due to the absence of the interface preinstalled from above, “loaded” with additional:

  • animations;
  • widgets;
  • processes.

In terms of performance, such devices may turn out to be faster than gadgets with similar characteristics, but the decisive factor will be adjusting the scheduler and optimizing a separate model.

Advantages and disadvantages

The pluses of Android-based devices without third-party shells include:

We understand the advantages of pure Android - the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?

Pure Android interface in the same style.

  • minimalistic design;
  • lack of advertising applications from partners;
  • there is no advertising inside the shell, unlike MIUI or Flyme;
  • receive monthly security patches, updates to new OS versions.


  • limited lineup;
  • fewer settings and functions compared to third-party skins;
  • Android One devices are not always the first to receive updates. On Xiaomi Mi A3, the release of the update to Android 10 was postponed 3 times.

First impression

Turning on, entering Gmail account data, a couple of manipulations and here it is – the main screen. It just looks somehow unusual. Where, for example, did the settings icon go from the desktop? But the first confusion passes – I begin to settle down. First, I change the wallpaper, because the pre-installed ones are rarely pleasing to the eye. Holding your finger on the display … So, so, but you can not choose the style of scrolling through desktops? They sailed. What’s next? Ban on changing the shape of icons? Although no, this opportunity is in place.

And yet you need to understand how I’m in trouble. We go into the settings. I need a third-party dialer – they give reassignment, it’s already not bad. And what if you fine-tune each application: give one a hand, and, on the contrary, provide the other with the necessary permissions? Done – it’s not so bad.

Why is pure Android better than other versions?

This is actually a very debatable issue, but there are some real tangible benefits that are hard to argue with. So let’s start in order. One of the biggest issues Android faces (especially from iOS fans) is security vulnerabilities and malware. Google pretty quickly develops fixes for all found “holes” and releases them to pure Android as soon as possible. While manufacturers of other versions need more time to adapt patches with their own branded versions of Android.

Features of Xiaomi on “pure” Android

We present to your attention a few interesting chips that are typical for Xiaomi smartphones running on this OS.

Responsive theme

Two new options for displaying the system have been added: black and white. If you choose a light wallpaper on the device, the theme will change to a white version in automatic mode. Accordingly, choosing a dark screen saver will change to a black theme.

Always on Display

With this function, the user receives data about the current time, date and application notifications even when the phone display is inactive. This allows you to always be aware of the latest events, without turning on the device once again, and also to save battery power. Xiaomi has made sure that this function is available in the process of replenishing the gadget’s charge.

How to enable Always on Display:

  1. Go to “Settings” and find the “Screen” menu;
  2. Click on “Advanced Settings”;
  3. Click on the “Screensaver” item;
  4. Select the sub-item “When to start” – “While charging or when connected to the docking station.”

Innovative Bluetooth protocol

Users can enjoy great sound when playing music over Bluetooth, as support for the state-of-the-art Bluetooth LDAC protocol is implemented. Now you can listen to music with bitrates up to 990 kbps. A prerequisite is the presence of headphones with support for the LDAC protocol.

You should also perform a number of actions:

  • Find the “System” item in the “Settings”;
  • Click “About phone”;
  • Hold the “Build number” for a few seconds while waiting for the appearance of the inscription “You have become a developer”;
  • Return to “Settings” – “System” – “For Developers”;
  • Select the sub-item “Audio codec for transmission via Bluetooth – LDAC”.

General changes

As arguments in favor of a “naked” Android, it is worth talking about the accelerated work with RAM, thanks to which applications load much faster and smoother. It also saves battery power, which extends the battery life of the gadget.

So which one to choose – “naked” Android or MIUI? The answer will depend on your OS requirements. If you want you to have a minimum of third-party programs, and the RAM is not clogged, then it is better to give preference to the first option. The possibility of creating an individual interface and the absence of the need to independently install many programs testifies in favor of the MIU.

Pros and cons of “naked” Android

There are many undoubted advantages. Let’s list the main ones:

  • the system works faster due to optimization
  • all functions from Google are in place – some vendors cut out the native settings, replacing them with their own (especially Chinese companies sin with this)
  • there are no extra applications in the shell that take up memory
  • “Naked” Android is more battery-efficient
  • the appearance of the interface has been brought to a single style in Material Design
  • faster update to the latest version of Android
  • there is no overpayment for development – manufacturers include the cost of the shell in the final price of the device.

There are also downsides. Many users do not like the poverty of the interface settings. For example, standard tools cannot be used to swap the “Back” and “Multitasking” buttons, or to remake the grid of the working screen. Even putting the exact battery indicator in the notification curtain is still a quest. Also, some owners are confused by the lack of a number of important applications “out of the box” – a file manager (in fact, it is, but buried deep in the system), a convenient gallery, a regular music player.

You can live on the drain

We started not without difficulties, but overall it was good. There are definitely advantages to stock Android. First of all, minimalism, thanks to which you don’t just grab a smartphone to flip through the menu or delve into the settings. Everything is clear and restrained, attention is not diffused. I set it up once and forgot.

And that’s great. After all, when you are pursued by a whole army of offline tasks, there is no time for tinsel. What’s on the case? More specifically, please. And pure Android is very specific. It is especially pleasant that during the initial setup, no one tries to sell anything.

Manufacturers often wave “unique” services like app stores and cloud sync in front of the user’s nose. As a rule, they repeat after Google, but implement projects worse. A confusion begins with a separate account. Maybe there is blackjack and free booze? But no! It is worth digging deeper – and all the Egyptian executions fall on you: themes and wallpapers for money, additional space in the cloud, too, an abundance of advertisements and banners.

We understand the advantages of pure Android - the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?

Pure Android does not have this junk. In addition, a bunch of incomprehensible processes do not hang in the background, slowly but surely eating up the battery charge. All notifications, without exception, arrive clearly and on time. Is this even legal? Lately, third-party shells are quick too. But it happens that a couple of notifications are still lost on the road – until you take the phone in your hand or, even worse, open the application you are looking for.

Why do some Android smartphones slow down?

A noticeable disadvantage of “assemblies” is the inclusion of proprietary applications from the manufacturer. The problem is that these programs also have pre-installed counterparts from Google. Google gives you Chrome, while your manufacturer offers their own internet browser. And Google Play often goes alongside another branded app store (for example, the Galaxy Store for Samsung devices). Well, about the voice assistant Bixby, which goes to the trash can first of all, since there is a much more advanced Google Assistant, and there is no need to talk about it. What do you think? Are all of these third-party services useful?

Why don’t users with “naked” Android want to switch to smartphones with a third-party shell?

Everything is relative. Fast and glitch-free operation of the interface, neat and elegant appearance, as well as the absence of unnecessary software in the OS, captivates many. I don’t want to change this horse for another soap.

Many users, having tried smartphones with a third-party graphical interface, later return to devices with pure Android.

Why do some companies develop proprietary shells, while others put a clean system without add-ons?

Many years ago, when Android first appeared, Google did not pay enough attention to its interface and functionality. And smartphone manufacturers had to get out of it, creating their own software shells.

Someone would argue that the UI of third-party vendors is much more attractive? We do not advise, citizen, we do not. They will eat it.

In the early years, having a user-friendly shell was crucial, because the pure Android system remained dysfunctional, ugly and, frankly, not very user-oriented. However, time passed, and Google gradually brought its operating system to mind. Starting with Android 4.4, the native shell began to work much faster, and the fifth version of Lollipop brought great and terrible Material Design to the world of the “green robot”.

From that moment on, the development of Android in terms of comfort and aesthetics took off, the system became both beautiful and convenient in a couple of years. The proprietary shell has ceased to be vital for manufacturers – and many vendors have begun to abandon their own interfaces. Our investigative team sees this as a manifestation of the well-known principle of quid prodest (lat. “Who benefits”) – why make “improvements” if the source is already good?

We understand the advantages of pure Android - the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?

Where do updates and new Google chips appear faster?

To release an update, the manufacturer needs to sharpen its own interface for the new version of Android. It takes several months – which is why many smartphones have to wait so long for a new firmware. In addition, this is a rather costly event. Ask at your leisure how much the average programmer gets, for example, in Moscow. And these are not in Moscow, and not average. And there they still have that brigade. Plus testers, plus consultations from engineers, plus forty more barrels of prisoners. And everyone needs to be fed, and fed well. At some point it becomes expensive. Especially if the shell is fundamentally little different from the “robotic” one. Again qiud prodest – or rather, non prodest, is unprofitable. In any problem, first of all, look for an economic background – and it will almost always turn out that it is the main one there.

In the case of “bare” Android, there are no such problems. If only due to the fact that Google already employs thousands of the best programmers. In this sea, individual UI costs are simply not felt. Again, smartphones with a clean system take longer to support and get new firmware versions faster.

Legacy device support

Often, the only way to get the latest version of Android from specific manufacturers is to buy their latest device. Few manufacturers are willing to support their older devices for a long time. Because of this, Google with smartphones on a clean shell is a kind of Apple analogue with their very long support for devices in the Android world (for example, the iPhone 5S, released in 2013, received an update to iOS 12 – 5 years of device support). Until now, the older Pixel lines are getting OS updates.

Who uses third-party skins, and why does the owner need them?

Typically, branded skins offer more customization options. Add a third-party theme, replace icons, tweak something else …

However, not all of these features work well. For example, changing the theme can cause all icons on the desktop to be different sizes – sloppy!

Changing the theme often results in the icons of standard applications differing in size from third-party ones. The screenshot shows an illustrative example of such a situation.

It could be worse. For example, when a manufacturer changes energy saving algorithms, making them more aggressive. Again, we recall Chinese smartphones with MIUI and EMUI shells, which often do not receive notifications from instant messengers. The owner has to open up long instructions and tweak the device to make it work as it should.

Pure Android smartphones

Now an increasing number of manufacturers are abandoning branded casings. Although this is a very difficult step, because a huge amount of time and money was spent on their development. And even now, some shells provide wider functionality than the standard “green robot”. In particular, this is why for a very long time you will not see the stock version of the operating system on smartphones from Samsung, LG and many other large companies with a large staff of developers. But budget devices will receive “naked” Android more and more often – here it is already a necessity, since a proprietary shell with a weak processor and a minimum amount of memory would cause noticeable slowdowns.

Stock Android is received by absolutely all gadgets from the Nexus and Pixel series. For example, the functionality of the Google Pixel is provided by the purest Android 7.1 – of the pre-installed applications, only Google products are present here, and the interface is completely unmodified. And the absence of any shells allows programmers to adapt a new version of the operating system to the device as soon as possible. Practice shows that “nexus” and “pixels” receive a firmware update six months earlier than competitors.

We understand the advantages of pure Android - the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?

Google Pixel

Google launched Android One a few years ago. Within its framework, any manufacturer can release a relatively inexpensive smartphone with a stock version of the operating system. Initially, only three Indian companies entered the program. But for some time now, its popularity has grown significantly. In 2017, the Xiaomi A1 was even released – a device devoid of the MIUI branded shell, which will give odds to any “nexus”.

We understand the advantages of pure Android - the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?

Xiaomi A1

Finally, for the reasons stated above, ordinary budget smartphones also have pure Android. For example, Micromax almost never changes the operating system interface – it only pre-installs some third-party applications and adds some types of settings. And there are many such examples. Many small vendors simply do not have the required number of developers to create their own shell.

Is it true that shells are unsafe, and the “naked” android only reports to Google?

Most likely, all shells from well-known brands are safe, despite the fact that they send data to their servers. Most of the popular applications also collect information about the user. In the worst case scenario, it will please advertisers, who will then overwhelm you with endless unique offers.

Google also collects information about the owner of the device – it directly warns about this when you activate your smartphone. It turns out that on a device with a third-party shell, both Google and the shell collect data. On a gadget with a clean system, only one company will handle the collection. This will have a positive impact on both traffic and battery life. And in general – the fewer informers, the better, isn’t it?

How to install pure Android on your phone

Many phones allow you to install any other version of Android on them. Including installation of the stock option is possible. But we will not write in such a short article about all the intricacies of this process. And for each smartphone, its own method of flashing is used. We will only mention that to install another version of Android, you will need a high-quality USB cable and a powerful enough computer, preferably running a 64-bit operating system.

For flashing, you will use a special computer program. In the case of Xiaomi, XiaoMi Flash can act as its capacity, but if the device was created by Sony, you will need Flashtool, and for Samsung products, Odin is usually used. A universal tool for flashing is TWRP.

We understand the advantages of pure Android - the pros and cons in comparison with proprietary shells. Pure Android: what does it mean and why is it needed?


Specific recommendations for installing alternative firmware should be found on specialized sites. For example, on the forum you can find topics dedicated to almost any smartphone.

Is pure Android faster than One UI and EMUI?

Google has recently taken the first (and hopefully not the last) steps to improve Android performance, including in the area of ​​optimizing battery consumption. One of the most annoying consequences of a “branded” version of Android is that the operating system will take up additional storage space and consume more resources. Indeed, in addition to, in fact, the Green Robot, the smartphone will also need to run the shell from the manufacturer of the device with a number of programs and services hanging in memory.


The investigation showed that 41% of readers choose pure Android, because the “bare” interface is better optimized, works faster and requires fewer resources. It looks no worse, it uses up the battery more accurately, as we saw in the detailed test of the Moto E4 Plus autonomy, receives updates faster and lacks ballast software that eats up the device’s RAM. Thanks to the stock version of Android 7.1.1, the test Moto E4 Plus is faster than its competitors with similar hardware.

Sources used and useful links on the topic: https: // https: // chistyi-android-i-pochemu-ego-stoit-ispolzovat-5ddc152e710eb34d51c34ce1

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