Galaxy S4 not getting CyanogenMod support, according to some team members [Updated]

by: Chris SmithMarch 19, 2013


The Galaxy S4 will hit various markets starting with late April, but it looks like we have some bad news for those of you looking forward to buy the smartphone and customize it with appropriate CyanogenMod ROMs.

One developer part of the “Hacksung” team took to xda-developers Forums a few days ago to address development for the Galaxy S4. Here’s what XpLoDWilD said:

Nobody at team hacksung (the team behind galaxy s2, note, s3, note2, gtabs… official CM ports) plans to buy it, neither develop for it. There are two variants which will be a pain to maintain, the bugs we have on the s3 will probably be there on s4 too (camera), and we all know Samsung ability to release sources while staying in line with mainline. Yes qualcomm release sources, but exynos sources we had were far from actual galaxy products. I’m pretty sure the same will happen for this one.

That’s a uniform “no” from us.

You’d say that we’re talking about one developer’s view only, even if he does seem to speak in the team’s name, – and things could definitely change in the future – but when digging for more information it didn’t take us too long to find out that other important CM devs including Codeworks, Entropy512 and Gokhan Moral are more or less in agreement with XpLoDWilD when it comes to developing for Samsung devices.

Another xda-developers thread dated March 16 is titled “codeworkx will no longer make CM for the S4,” and was published a day before XpLoDWilD released his statement. One user wrote:

Generally there were 3 developers who maintained samsung devices
1. Codeworkx
2. Entropy512 and
3. Xplodwild
Of them the first 2 have vowed to never waste their time on exynos
Xplodwild is still there but how much time he will have I have no idea..
It will be very difficult to get competent and experienced developers so quickly ..
So initially S4 will definitely be behind in AOSP development IMO

Finally, Gokhan Moral wrote on his personal blog on March 15:

I am pretty busy lately and I haven’t visited xda-developers forum for some time. there were 17 unread PMs and several hundred posts last time I checked. I will not be back before April. I still have an s2 and xperia-t to play with and I am no way getting another Samsung any time soon (especially not S4).

Samsung Galaxy S4 1 aa 600

A November 2012 Google+ series of posts by Andrew Dodd (Entropy 512) are also available here. In them, the developer expresses his unpleasant experiences with developing for Samsung devices. At the time, he clearly expressed the fact that his views on Samsung development are his own and they don’t represent an official statement from the team.

While the Galaxy S4 is not specifically mentioned in that post – back then we only had sporadic rumors detailing the fourth-gen Galaxy S model – it’s clear from the length of that series of posts and his tone of voice that developing for Galaxy devices is harder and sometimes annoying. Here are some of his words from a November 28 lengthy update that best describe his frustration:

So, after all that has happened – I am mentally exhausted and pretty much burned out. Since BABBQ I’ve barely had the motivation to touch my CM source trees, because I’ve gotten tired of constantly bashing my head against the devices I own to make them more attractive to a given subset of users, when the manufacturer of said devices has done almost nothing to help answer technical questions or solve other issues. […]

I’m a volunteer. I do this in my spare time, and receive very little financial compensation (XDA donations are a pittance, and honestly, I don’t care. I do this because some of the work I do keeps my mind sharp and until I started getting heavily involved with Samsung devices, it was work I could take pride in.) At this point, I no longer enjoy the work I’m doing, and it’s gotten to the point where the distraction of all this bullshit is starting to impact my ability to concentrate properly at my day job, which is absolutely unacceptable. A major change is needed or I’m going to totally burn out and lose what little passion I have for what I’ve been doing the past year.

What does that mean for Galaxy S4 buyers? For most of them, absolutely nothing. But for those Android hardcore users that love to run custom OS versions on their devices, it may mean that custom CM ROMs may not be available for the Galaxy S4 initially, or even later down the road.

Naturally, things may change in the coming months, and Samsung should be interested in what developers have to say about its hardware and software, no matter how much it would prefer to have all Galaxy product buyers use the devices as they are out-of-the-box. After all, there could be plenty of users out there that actually love to run CM instead of the default OS, and considering Samsung’s share of the Android market, plenty of them must be running CM on Galaxy products.

What kind of OS will you be running on the Galaxy S4, stock Samsung firmware or custom ROM?

Update: The CyanogenMod team clarified the situation on its account on Google Plus:

Setting Device Expectations

Let’s start with the simplest form of this: CyanogenMod does not pre-announce support or lack of support for devices. Ever. Even for the Nexus 4, we did not announce support until a nightly build was available. Further, any announcement regarding the ‘dropping’ of device support will be communicated via this Google+ page, Twitter, Facebook, our blog, or a combination of those; it will not be something buried in a forum post.

This morning, a comment from a CM collaborator on XDA was taken to be as an ‘absolute’ in regards to support of the S4. He offered the opinion of four TeamHacksung maintainers, their frustrations and lack of interest in supporting the S4. What’s seemingly lost on those reading this is that his comments as an individual do not speak for CyanogenMod as an organization.

As for the team’s stance on the S4, there isn’t one at this time, and most definitely won’t be one before the device is sold at retail.

-The CyanogenMod Team

  • Fievel

    “Ha ha” – N. Muntz

  • Poop



    • cb

      kinda like the s4

  • CH

    Right timing to teach them a lesson. they deserved it from the dev

    • Bjajjull

      You stole my comment ;)

    • Abdullah Qaraeen

      teach who a lesson ? Samsung ? They will be more than happy because of this news !

      • MasterMuffin

        Uhmm no? CM is the most popular custom ROM and many custom ROMs are based on it. They always come fast with fixes and stuff, and if s4 does not have developer support, more people will not recommend it and it will hurt sales (only little but still) and REPUTATION, which is important. I leave other reasons for someone smarter than me, thanks :)

        PS. I couldn’t live without CM

        • Oh whatever. Samsung has learned a valuable lesson from Apple: Feel free to shit on your power users to favor the 99%+ of your users who are non-technical. It doesn’t matter. The power users will complain no matter what you do.

          It doesn’t matter, because so long as you sell enough devices, you have a big enough install base to attract developer attention IN SPITE of your behavior to them. They’ll come for the paycheck those casual users represent.

          Apple has been nothing BUT hostile towards jailbreak/technical/powerusers, and yet they still represent arguably the core smartphone development platform for so many developers.

          CyanogenMod will NOT break Samsung and their tens of millions of Galaxy sales. Almost no technical users buy Samsung for AOSP/CM. They already know not to.

          • yea, i agree. most android power user always bitch about pure google experience when all they did was messing with something like CM … pure google experience is inferior in many ways … can’t even get a proper high resolution contact picture.

  • OWWW, what a hit for samsung for not supporting devs :D:D haha, they will feel this in their skin, daymm..

  • Remember, someone else can always step up and begin work on their own. A new maintainer or developer could arise. Plus, Andrew Dodd told me the Qualcomm versions will most likely be supported.

  • Remember, someone else can always step up and begin work on their own. A new maintainer or developer could arise. Plus, Andrew Dodd told me the Qualcomm versions will most likely be supported.

  • Good to know. Another reason why I do not buy the GS4.

    The first reason is that will be the second most expensive phone in my country. Very little behind the iPhone 5.

  • Pete

    Wait, I thought GS owners were all tech savvy developers who reveled in the openness of the OS and wrote their own code. Now you’re telling me that only a handful of coders actually develop stuff for the Galaxy series??

    • Filip Justin

      I have my Note 2 and I wouldn’t change a bit about the software part.. People who buy Samsung phones are usually normal users with normal needs..

      • GS^3

        I had to flash a lighter ROM on my GS3 in order to remove the lag and touchwiz rubbish. Hopefully Ubuntu will work for Galaxy phones.

  • Filip Justin

    I see no reason why you should alter the software on a GS4. It will have all of the Android updates for at least 2 years (major updates) and if you are not pleased with the UI then you shouldn’t buy a Samsung device, but a Nexus 4..

    • Leon Roberts

      Samsung Abandoned my Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 only 9 months after its release. If not for the efforts of the Cyanogenmod Team my device would be stuck at Ice Cream Sandwich 3.0. Now my Tab 7.7 is Vibrant and full of life running at Jelly Bean 4.2 it runs so well that I now have 2 Tab 7.7’s the other is the 4G model and it runs the Paranoid Android 3+ which is a variation of the Cyanogenmod 10.1 software.

      First, we must all understand that the Android Operating System is an open sourced application so that people can customize it to suite they’re personal style. The Developers such as those at XDA Developers are just creating new styles and making small improvements for you and I.

      Secondly, we must all understand that for the most part the normal day-to-day consumer doesn’t realize how import the developers & modders are to the overall Android ecosystem and that is no fault on them.

      In most cases the developers at XDA Developers are increasing the sales of Android devices. It is certainly is the case for me and many of my colleagues. We need more websites like Android Authority and XDA Developers to increase the level of understanding to the average consumer.

      Most importantly we need a better way to fund the Developers so great devices can stay around longer that the measly 2 years the manufacturers expect before we toss it.

  • Monji

    Samsung devices are already good out of the box no need for cm anyways if you want cm just buy a nexus or a sony

  • Marko Man

    stick it up yours samsung… and htc too.

  • Marko Man

    Samsung dont care about Android, the devs, or the modding community :( as well as htc

    • Bjajjull

      I don’t want to write it but, Sony is the best for Android. Even though they have slow updates their communication and cooperation with devs is superior to everything else.

      • MasterMuffin

        For now because they’re trying to become the next Samsung (in sales). Soon they might do the same that first happened to HTC (=leave developers). HTC lost their market and open Samsung came. They have said bye bye to devs, and now maybe it’s Sonys time. I think Sony will have the same destiny

        • Bjajjull

          No. I believe the community is one of the most important parts of Android and the community will soon leave Samsung. Sony have won “OEM of the year” two years in a row on XDA so why would they leave developers?

          Samsung aren’t open. They still haven’t released the source code for Exynos 4412 that’s in the Galaxy S3. I don’t prefer any manufaturer over another but I wouldn’t buy a Samsung due to the lack of open source.

          • MasterMuffin

            history will repeat itself

          • Bjajjull

            We’ll see ;)

  • Kakashi Hatake

    So what ? i am using unofficial CM from past one Year and only bug i am facing is I can’t use CM updater other than that there are zero bugs in it

  • Meringue

    So Samsung won’t open-source their Exynos code. Isn’t the Android philosophy all about open-sourced code? That’s not very nice, Samsung.

    • As far as I know, the terms open source is limited to the software, the drivers for the hardware however is not (at least the company not obligated to).

  • Guy De Vos

    Don’t care, all I need is a rooted kernel.

  • jt

    Who cares. Thats just one team. I don’t use CyanogenMod anyway. So it’s not a lost and it’s not a lost for people who don’t root. Which is more than the people who does root there phone.

  • markt9002

    If Samsung doesn’t release proper source for its Exynos 5 Octa, and drivers that actually work Cyanogenmod on the Exynos 5 Octa will be just like the i9300.

  • Start a petition, again. I can’t believe that we still with source/kernel/drivers issues with manufactures in early 2013.

  • brady

    With that particular phone, people i’m sure would prefer to use the onboard software features rather than use glitchy ass CyanogenMod .. I’ve been avoiding CM ROMs like the plague

  • Emma

    following the update, won’t it be best for you guys to retract the story?