Android Q could be a massive step backwards for smartphone users

Google’s forthcoming Android Q mobile operating system could give networks more power to lock down users’ smartphones.

The company has added four new commits to the Android Gerrit source code management under the title “Carrier restriction enhancements for Android Q.”

If implicated within Android Q, carriers would be given the power to exclude rivals on a whitelist/blacklist basis. 9to5Google reports this can be achieved in fine detail, even allowing for MVNOs that run off the infrastructure provided by your own carrier to be blocked.

Naturally, that’s bad news for Android users. As a result they would experience less freedom to choose which networks they can sign up for in future, after purchasing a device from their carrier.

These additional restrictions even stretch to dual-SIM phones. Under the new conditions, carriers will be able to block the second SIM slot unless an approved SIM sits in the primary slot. That setting will even endure following a full factory reset, the report says.

If Google goes through with this change in Android Q it’s unlikely to be met favourably by consumers. It would surely convince Android fans to buy unlocked smartphones, rather than accept a carrier-locked handset. However, Google is likely acting at the behest of mobile networks here.

Related: Best Android phones 2019

Late last week we got the first real insight into some Android Q features, courtesy of a developer build leak. The company is planning a system-wide Dark Mode, as well as the possibility of a Desktop Mode and a permissions revamp.

We’re expecting an Android Q reveal this spring with a release on Pixel devices (old and new) in the autumn of 2019.

Would you buy a smartphone locked to your carrier? Or would you immediately seek an unlocked device? Is Google making a mistake here? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.