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Android Hits a New Level of 'Open'

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Google certifies the first Android phone running the CyanogenMod ROM out of the box.

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Soon after its debut, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) mobile OS was championed by modders and tech heads as the more open alternative to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS.

Sure, many Android devices are still sold with locked bootloaders preventing an easy and full root access. Yes, carriers still dump bloatware on their phones and won't necessarily carry certain flagship devices. (Sorry, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) subscribers; you'll probably never have a Nexus 5.) And, of course, if no Google Play edition is available, Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) and HTC phones will sport an annoying TouchWiz or Sense skin over the stock OS, preventing speedy version updates.

But in the grand scheme of mobile platforms and their tendency to be closed and unmodifiable, it's pretty much the best we can hope for. And many users have taken advantage of this somewhat elevated level of control and customization to change the ROM on which their devices run -- one of which is the very popular CyanogenMod.

Heavily supported by a team of developers who constantly update and polish releases both nightly and stable, CyanogenMod has become the go-to firmware for users who want a ROM as close to stock Android as possible. Programmers have even been able to perform grand and charitable feats like putting Android 4.4 KitKat on the outdated, yet still beloved, Galaxy Nexus.

But the CyanogenMod team has just reached a new milestone for not only its work but also for the "openness" of the Android platform. Starting next week, the Oppo N1 phablet will be sold running the CyanogenMod firmware out of the box.

Breaking the good news on Google+, developer Koushik Dutta wrote that Google has approved the build for production, making it the first Google CTS-certified CyanogenMod phone that can run Google's app suite legitimately.

The Oppo N1 is a mammoth device with a display just under six inches and a weight just shy of half a pound. While its build quality has been commended by critics, the device unfortunately doesn't support 4G LTE speeds and is only compatible with GSM and HSPA+ networks. (Looks like you're out of luck again, Verizon customers.) Pricing hasn't been announced yet, but analysts suspect the off-contract price will be $599.

Despite the less-than-perfect specs, this release is a huge win for developers and customers who despise carrier skins and the delays they cause. An official CyanogenMod phone effectively eschews the carriers and offers greater control for the end user.

Make no mistake, the hacking community would love to see more devices of the same ilk supported on their networks.

Especially those on Verizon.

See also:

Android Phone Blatantly Rips Off Apple

Apple iPhone Subsidies: Mobile Companies Called Out on Bogus Complaints

Apple: I Bought an iPhone 5S and I Don't Care How Many Bits It Has
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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