Why is skinned vs. stock Android such a big deal?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| March 30, 2014


For the majority of my smartphone life I’ve been using Android. I started off with Android for several years before switching to the iPhone 4s for about two years, and just last summer I switched back to Android, changed to Windows Phone for a few months, and am now using the Moto X as my daily driver. I like different things about each platform (including BlackBerry, just not so much these days), but I do find Android to be the most interesting out of the bunch, perhaps because there’s never nothing to talk about when it comes to it.


Android users are a peculiar bunch, perhaps because similar to the iOS/Android banters that you’ll come across, Android has its own civil war going on between its users. If you use Android, or perhaps even if not, you might have come across them once or twice: the stock Android users vs. the skinned Android users.


I’ve used both, and both have their advantages. Similar to why I just don’t understand sometimes why we can’t all get along and respect each other’s personal choices for platforms (why do people have to question other’s intelligence just because they use a different platform - really, it’s not that serious) I also don’t understand what the big deal is when it comes to skinned Android versus stock. It’s not like it’s that hard to bounce back and forth between the two if you know how to root and do all of that fancy stuff anyway.


There are pros and cons to both. With skinned Android, you’re going to get all of the features that a manufacturer intended for a user to have. Take Samsung for instance - the phone is loaded with extra features. You might not use some, but sometimes you might use some of the features without realizing it. Like, compare the camera software used in TouchWiz to the camera on the same piece of hardware running on vanilla Android. You’re probably not going to get the same results each time. The same goes for the popular HTC One devices - probably not going to get the same results. And sometimes you might just find that you end up using more of the stock features than you anticipated. I’m like that with my Moto X right now. I haven’t touched it because I actually really like Motorol Assist and Motorola Connect.


But stock Android has its perks, too. For example, if you find that you really don’t use any of those extra features that OEMs put on the phone, you don’t have to worry about rooting the phone to get rid of them. They’re just not there; it’s all strictly Google stuff and standard apps that are necessary for the phone to function properly. You also don’t have to worry about extra carrier apps, which a lot of carriers like to add on your phone for you before you get it. Not a problem with stock Android.


There are times that I like skinned and there are times that I like stock. I find it hard to believe that there are people in the world that legitimately get that upset because somebody prefers something different than they do. Then again, the Internet is a big, scary placed full of trolls and people who just had to pull a double shift and feel like they need to yell at somebody. But seriously, can’t we just agree that both are kind of cool in their own special ways without getting offended?


Readers, what are your thoughts about the two faces of Android? Are you a fan of stock or skinned? Does it upset you when people use the other? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Images via Android Pit, Cult of Android