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My Samsung Galaxy S3 contract ends in few months. I'd like to get rid of unwanted stuffs like touchwiz, flipboard, allsharecast, etc. and pull latest updates directly from 'google play', just like the rest of nexus phones.

Is rooting the only option available for me? Shouldn't Samsung allow me just point my phone update link (?) to whatever I want, as my contract expires?

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Is rooting the only option available for me?

Yes.

Shouldn't Samsung allow me just point my phone update link (?) to whatever I want, as my contract expires?

No.

The manufacturers do not have a legal or moral obligation to do so. They can provide the sources to the kernel on their site, that is about how far they can go.

This is where the community comes in, have a look at this titled "Where can I find stock or custom ROMs for my Android device?"

Google Nexus line of devices are free from carrier related slow-downs in rolling out updates and fixes to Android, which is why you pay the odds over for a Google Nexus device.

Not all devices are deprived of the pure Google experience, i.e. no carrier bloatware, touchwiz, etc. It can be done by selected few talented developers, depending on the community and popularity of device in question.

You are free once the contract expires and do whatever you want without violating terms and conditions.

You can:

  • SIM unlock/Network Unlock
  • root the device
  • modify it
  • flash a custom ROM on it (refer to the linky above)
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A contract is tied to a service provider / network. If the phone was packaged together with their plan / contract, chances are the phone contains a ROM that is bundled with network-specifc apps. Also, it's possible that the phone is locked to that network only.

For you to get around this, you need to unlock the phone so it can be used woth other networks. Plus, you will also be able to flash network-neutral ROMs or custom ROMs.

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The question of "should they" is more a moral than a legal or technical one. They won't do this because there's no logical business related reason to do so. They'd be confronted with a support burden when people want their problems sorted so now they'd have in effect two phones worth of problems instead of just one. There won't be a stock version anyway; they'd take the Android source and customise it onto their hardware/firmware etc, plus all the extra stuff they put on. They'd need to do this twice, too.

This is the reason Nexus and pure Google versions of phones such as the S4 exist. I'm afraid you've no choice but to buy one of those up front and find your own network.

Rooting your phone isn't so hard; I've done this to an S3, only to revert to stock because of all the problems I had (cyanogenmod isn't very well supported on the version of the S3 available in my area). Samsung is still supporting the S3 with updates, albeit very slowly (they've not yet released the 4.2 update for the S3 - the source of which was released almost a year ago - which was promised for various months this year and there are rumours they'll now skip this and go straight onto 4.3).

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