While many Android phone makers are locking their devices down in the name of security, there are a few vendors courting enthusiasts who want to install their own firmware -- and ASUS is one of them. The company has teamed up with XDA to help seed ROM development teams with ZenFone 6 units, including LineageOS, CarbonROM, OmniROM and TWRP. They're also reaching out to individuals developers behind projects like the unofficial Google Camera port.
This isn't a formal development program, noted. Rather, it's a "trial" that will gauge the impact of supporting the custom ROM community this way. OnePlus and Xiaomi's Poco brand have tried similar things in the past.
The effort reflects ASUS' newfound focus on power users as part of its leadership upheaval. It wants to cater to the kind of people who insist on maximum control over their devices, and that means ensuring a healthy ROM community. There's no guarantee it will help ASUS' bottom line. People sometimes install ROMs like LineageOS precisely to delay buying new phones (as they can get Android updates beyond official support). However, it could foster a loyalty that isn't very common in the Android world, enticing tinkerers to come back when they'd otherwise drift to whatever phone is trendy and reasonably open.