- I ever labour to confine my ROMs/firmware collection to low-end or entry level models/brands – which are generally consumed by customers with tight budgets and often have basic to no usage background. I believe most high-end device user are highly unlikely to be unaware of existing security measures and their reset options in cases where they forget them and get locked out.
- I have for a season kept a semi-skilled mobile phone service shop and have often had customers who would set screen-lock patterns so complex only to forget them shortly after. I have also had a great many who needed me to create Google email address accounts just so they can activate the Google Play app to access basic applications like the Whatsapp messenger. With no intentions use the email address any further. The password for which would therefore often be neglected and soon lost/forgotten. I tried to use the customer’s cell number for the password where I could but some would be found to have forgotten the email address itself the next it would be needed – often to reset overly drawn incorrect pattern locks.
- Also, until Android v5.0, a hard reset through the recovery mode (booted into through key combinations while the device is off) was normally all it took to clear a lost or forgotten screen locks. On later versions to that, a security feature tied to a Google account called Factory Reset Protection (FRP) was introduced. Making it impossible to simply reset a device via recovery and again set it up for reuse without logging in with the Google account that was associated with the device prior to the reset on devices where this was activated. While this has wisdom in it, it became a woe to those users who would ever have Google accounts created for them only to activate the Play Store. With my few years of web publishing background, I still do not find Google’s password reset system friendlier though that more than likely means stronger accounts security on the other hand.
- Now with a triggered FRP and lost Gmail credentials, one will either need to take the device in for service either via the device’s retailer (the turnaround for which is normally a week or so – could be months) or take it to local independent service centers who may reset it within an hour to a day or two provided there is a ROM availability or certain special equipment.
- My days of being actively involved at www.satechhelp.co.za introduced me to yet another lock type (called Privacy Protection Password) that would only be triggered on occasions that SIM cards would be changed. Now with users who almost never change SIM cards, on the day they are forced to and this PPP gets to be requested. They are often found to have long forgotten it or made to believe they just never set it up in the first place – alleging that it is a factory fault.
- I mainly offer these reset services to independent phone technicians who normally are the ones presented with these security-locked devices with no practical way to find out if the device was stolen or lost or rightfully owned. Users do not often contact directly either because the use a computer (which they perhaps do not own) is necessary or that the ROM-based reset process is simply so far above their heads that they cannot even consider attempting a DIY. I believe blacklisting a device’s IMEI makes more sense and no I do not condone IMEI changing as you almost will never find one with a need to change the IMEI with a valid or ethical reason.
Legality or lawfulness of the trade
Unlike with Microsoft’s Windows OS that is proprietary (and sadly tailored in a hardware adaptive nature which ushered a platform to unlicensed/fraudulent usage) the Android OS is essentially free/open platform and highly model specific to begin with. Meaning that if there ever be at all a right ceasing at any stage, then it should exist between the device’s manufacturer and the end-user. Now as it is with virtually all other electronics that depends on firmware/ROMs, the Android smartphone OS code is prone to breaking and malware and virus attach – giving rise to the need for a firmware reload. At which stage one will either seek help at a service center (official or otherwise) or DIY (provided they have access to the particular model’s firmware/ROM). My intervention in this web is that of a third party with no rights ceasing necessary at any stage of my involvement (directly or implied). My service’s role is to link the device owner with their device’s backup ROM or firmware for which they have any rights. The donation I receive is for the effort and labour employed to make available their backup ROM and not a price for the ROM itself.
An good example would be if notices should be put around a certain village stating that the government is issuing free chair printed in bold letters “Free use. Not for sale” about 3 miles (over 5km) from the village. Should I not be compensated if I for certain villagers with no means of transportation drive my own truck/bakkie to the location and transport their share of the chairs to their home? Am I charging for the chair – and not for my time, labour, fuel, and other vehicle consumables and mechanical wear and tear? I am not pioneer to this service type, publishers offering this service type often sell ads (which I personally have failed to keep up with) and hence they often have no need to ask for donations like I do. It is therefore on the above notes that I am convinced that I am not at all walking in violation or infringement of rights – neither that of the manufacturers nor of Google who develops Android.
The firmware packs for devices caters are either not made available to device owners or they are posted in a way that is not beginner friendly.
Dear God point out in his mercies if I am at any area deceived. In Christ Jesus’ name. Diary entry not fully edited or proof read.