Presenting… Our Inaugural Bloaty Awards!

Bloaties Trpphy

Webster’s defines bloatware as… well actually, they’ve no definition for it — but we all know what it is, right? Those carrier-mandated apps on locked phones can be a real nuisance sometimes. On devices with low-res screens and meager on-board memory they can eat up valuable real estate and generally get in the way.

They can be a problem on higher-end hardware as well — Samsung’s Galaxy S4 in particular. When this flagship super phone first went on sale last spring users complained that the 16GB version had less than half of that available out of the box. I think I may have found the reason why; Howard let me in on a little secret that may just blow your mind…

If you’ve a SGS4 of your own, here’s a little trick:

  1. On the dialer, enter *#06# to see your IMEI. Copy the results.
  2. Enter *#272*[IMEI]#, using the IMEI from step 1.

It should take you to a screen that, on Canadian models, will look like this:

Galaxy S4 ROMs

What we’re looking at here is an installer with custom firmware for every major Canadian carrier, including Bell, Fido, Koodo, Rogers, TELUS and Virgin Mobile — plus a few I don’t even recognize. Mobilicity and WIND seem to be absent; I had thought that the SGS4 was at least pentaband HSPA+… I guess it’s not?

At any rate, now you know why your Samsung has less available storage space than it should.

And since all these ROMs are available on this one device, it makes for a perfect canvas on which to view the dubious “perks” from each of the Big Three. I deliberately left the flanker brands — Fido, Koodo and Virgin — out of the race because honestly, my thumbs got tired after entering and re-entering the IMEI so many times.

So without any further ado, the nominees are…

TELUS

Telus ROM

TELUS has but two custom apps on their version of the Galaxy S4:  (1) My Account, an admin app where you can check your balance, usage, etc. and (2) “Tethering and portable hotspot” — which is actually just a shortcut to the appropriate Android settings.

Not a particularly strong showing by TELUS here. They’re going to have to up their game quite a bit if they want to win — and conversely, want their customers to lose.

Bell

Bell ROM

Now we’re talking…

In addition to the expected account admin app there’s a hook in to Bells TV Anywhere (of which I’m not a fan) and what appears to be a branded shortcut to Google Maps.

It was Bell’s game to lose, but they threw it all away with the thoughtful addition of an app that lets you download free HD games directly from Gameloft, no account required. Bell clearly added this to their firmware with the user in mind; such things have no place here.

Sorry Bell, the tribal council has spoken; please pack your knives and go. I’m mixing up my reality shows a bit here but you get the idea…

And the winner is… Rogers!

Rogers ROM 1

Look at that magnificent bloat!

Rogers knocks it out of the park with their own TV app, their own branded-voicemail and an entire folder of additional apps:

Rogers ROM 2

Carrier ringtones and ringbacks — where do I sign up?!!

A heartfelt congratulations to Rogers on this big win. We’d send you a trophy if we could find it for sale somewhere, and ruin it with HowardForums branding before putting it in the mail…

Should anyone wish to contest these results or add a nominee for future consideration please do so below!