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Uncertified Android devices bricked by latest Google edicts

Manny Pham
May 8, 2018

Uncertified Android devices are commonly found in China

Dealers and distributors need to be weary of taking deliveries of Android handsets from unauthorised sources. This is because Google has blocked uncertified Android devices from running official Google apps.

The move was revealed to representatives of manufacturers operating in the EMEA including Vestel, Harman and Sirin Labs at a Google London summit in March as Google’s attempt to clampdown on unlicensed manufacturers who have bypassed Google’s authorisation procedures.

Uncertified Android devices are commonly found in China – such devices ship Google software without permission from the technology giant, a process also known as ‘side-loading’. This refers to people installing the Android operating system from an unofficial source such as illicit web sites and sharing torrents.

An Android phone only becomes fully functional when the user logs into their Google account, the uncertified devices will now not allow this process to be completed, thus none of the apps can be accessed. Uncertified devices sold before the new edit will still work as long as a factory reset is not actioned. However they will not receive updates and access to Google’s own apps will be impossible.

For the last two months Google has been checking build dates of all Android devices when its apps are running. Uncertified devices running Android pre-installed after March 19 will no longer run Google apps. But uncertified Android devices can still be used provided they did not face a factory reset. ‘Device certification’ status can be viewed in the ‘settings’ option in the Play Store app. Certified devices are guaranteed regular security updates and contain no spamware.

Vonino UK sales director Nigel Pooley said: “There will be less manufacturers in the next three to five years because of this ruling particularly Chinese brands. But Android will benefit through quality hardware. Google is right to do this, Customers deserve better devices.

“To avoid being stung by uncertified devices still floating around the market, distributors need to be diligent in quality control to ensure customers don’t fall victim to potential security hacks from these uncertified devices.”

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