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OK I'm about to buy an Android phone for development, but I will try to keep this question from becoming a shopping recommendation.

I want to have vanilla Android on my phone (i.e. not Sense or TouchWiz or something similar). Can I just buy a random phone and somehow revert it back to vanilla Android? Is there any risk of compatibility problems or hardware problems when doing that?

An easier option is to buy a phone that comes with vanilla Android, but the options are limited. As far as I know (i.e. not much), the only phones with pure Android are Nexus One, Nexus S, ADP and ADP2. Is that really it?

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I saw vanilla as an existing tag but cannot tag my question as such. Bug? –  phunehehe Apr 17 '11 at 13:40
    
Vanilla android comes in: HTC G1 (Cupcake/1.5), HTC Nexus One (Eclair/2.2), Samsung Nexus S (Gingerbread/2.3), and Motorola Xoom (Honeycomb/3.0). Vanilla 3rd party ROMs exists for most phones with unlocked bootloaders. –  Lie Ryan Apr 17 '11 at 14:50
    
@Lie Ryan: Nexus One was originally sold with Eclair/2.1, but now it has Gingerbread/2.3.3. –  Jonas Apr 17 '11 at 15:01
    
@Lie How do I find phone with unlocked bootloaders? Or should that be in another question? –  phunehehe Apr 17 '11 at 15:02
    
If you buy a vanilla phone make sure the supported frequency bands match the provider you want to use it on. These are usually defined by the hardware and can not be changed. –  user4188 Apr 19 '11 at 0:45
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes, you should buy a Nexus One or a Nexus S. If you buy another phone like e.g. HTC Wildfire, you can't easily get the "vanilla" Android.

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As @Joanas said, if you buy a phone with some customized software, like the ones from HTC or Samsung you will end with a phone with extra software and libraries (not included in vanilla Android), so if what you are looking for is a "clean" phone for development purposes, I'll recommend you to buy a Nexus. There is also the fact that being Nexus the “official” Google phone, is always the first to receive the new android versions, so if you are a developer this is a plus to consider. –  Doliveras Apr 18 '11 at 15:01
    
@Doliveras Thanks! I'm actually buying a Nexus S today! –  phunehehe Apr 19 '11 at 1:47
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You can get whatever phone you want, but since you're a developer you might not have any problems with flashing custom ROMs, and there are awesome custom ROMs for all the devices out there that will not come with any customization, just pure Vanilla.

If you want a good place to publish/promote your development work and also find the custom ROMs for the device that you need is XDA Developers

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If you're on a budget, I believe many of the older Samsung phones (pre-Galaxy S) are vanilla since Samsung introduced TouchWiz with its Galaxy S line of phones. You can get some of these older phones (not really that old, like a year) for very cheap on eBay if you're just looking for a device to develop on and don't want to pay for phone service with a data plan.

You can look at the list of phones that have TouchWiz at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TouchWiz and cross-reference it with a list of Samsung Android phones (you could use this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Android_devices#Smartphones).

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