back to article Xiaomi Mi 9 owners furious after dodgy Vodafone software patch bricked their mobes

A software update issued by Vodafone for the Xiaomi Mi 9 phone has left some users unable to connect to the cellular network, preventing them from making calls, sending texts, and accessing mobile data. The issue was brought to our attention by regular Reg reader Tim Allen, who accused Vodafone of "spannering" his phone and …

  1. Jess--

    "this has only impacted a small number of customers"

    In other words this has impacted every single one of our customers with this model of phone

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Identified Root Cause

    aka, you didn't fecking well test it properly.

    I'm not sure about anyone else, but I am sick of this level of technology, when, basically, a supplier, who could be halfway round the world, decide when and where to update software on your device/pc/car/kettle/fridge. Often it mucks up the UI, adds features that are not needed (I bought the device without the feature - I was happy with that), not infrequently buggers up some functionality that you use, and as we know, in the case of some Apple phones, slows them down to the point of unusability.

    IT IS MY DEVICE. I BOUGHT IT WITH THE FUNCTIONALITY AT THE POINT OF SALE. STOP FECKING FIDDLING WITH IT.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Identified Root Cause

      " in the case of some Apple phones, slows them down to the point of unusability"

      No it didn't. Processor throttling reduced performance to avoid a shutdown due to declining battery output, but it never came close to the 'point of unusability' unless your battery was completely fscked, in which case you wouldn't notice the slowdown - because your phone wouldn't turn on.

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Identified Root Cause

      The flip side though is that without automated updates, users don't voluntarily keep things up to date, meaning they miss out on security fixes.

      But, I share your frustration, I don't want my UI fucked with *again* just for the sake of it.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Identified Root Cause

        Users don't voluntarily keep things up to date? Heck, I'm still on Firefox 43, because 44 removed fine-grain cookie control and a bunch of other stuff.

    3. HarryBl

      Re: Identified Root Cause

      It wasn't a supplier half way round the world. It was Vodafone.

    4. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Identified Root Cause

      Yes. When google update gms on android (backgrounded, no user control) it takes down many apps with it.

      I suppose it mat be possible to make the apk immutable (you'd need to be rooted) , but I haven't tried that.

  3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    And this is why South African telcos are loath to push out updates to their customers as they will be left with the proverbial hot potato should things Bork.

    And it seems as if somebody did not do a thorough testing of said update etc before peddling it off to the masses...

  4. sclg

    Presumably the Vodafone version is"special"?? My Mi9 - bought SIM-free - had this update some weeks ago with no problems.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Possibly. The missus bought a note 8 a couple of weeks ago which was immediately updated to MIUI 11, don't seem to have any issues beyond the usual keruffle of changing phones.

      Coincidentally (or not?) Virgin just flagged that they're sending her a new sim for 'compatibility' reasons (though I've received nothing) - I suspect that may be something to do with the merging with whoever it is that Virgin are merging with.

  5. Ben1892

    This is why I stopped buying Vodafone branded phones and use unlocked factory versions - they are really unreliable at pushing patches (you'll probably get one or two, about a year after the manufacturer releases their version if you're lucky) and when they do they are full of bloatware. Vodafone, take the coloured pencils away from the marketing team and tell them we don't need a special Vodafone SMS or phone call app - guess what, the phone already comes with one!

  6. boltar Silver badge

    To be fair

    If you buy a phone built by some never-heard-of-them chinese manufacturer you should expect things not to always go smoothly. No doubt this was an android update that works with all common brands but they forgot to check on the cheap-as-chips unlocked rooted brands from down the market. Too bad. Caveat Emptor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To be fair

      >>>never-heard-of-them chinese manufacturer

      LOL Oh, you're serious. My bad.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To be fair

      Yeah, Xiaomi - the 4th largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world, only have about 10% of the market - (Samsung have 20%, Apple about 13%, Huawei 15%) must be so easy to'forget' about them. It's like cars - everyone knows about Toyota, Volksvagen and Renault - but who the hell has heard of 'General Motors' at No 4 - let alone weird niche companies like Ford (6) and Honda (7)?

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: To be fair

        "only have about 10% of the market "

        In which country? I've never seen them for sale in the UK.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: To be fair

          Globally - admittedly a small player in the UK market - but last I looked we hadn't got a UK specific version of Android, so it doesn't really excuse Vodafone borking them.

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: To be fair

            Newsflash: This is a UK website. HTH.

        2. HarryBl

          Re: To be fair

          They've got a shop in Westfield in London and they're sold online by all the usual suspects.

          1. lybad

            Re: To be fair

            They had a shop. It's now closed I believe. But 3 amongst others have sold Xiaomi devices, and I'm sure places like Argos and Amazon sell them.

          2. boltar Silver badge

            Re: To be fair

            Wow! They're sold in one whole shop!! Obviously they must be the market leader here! As for online - so what? Most people still buy their phones in a physical shop especially if they're taking out a new contract.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: To be fair

              I'm fairly confident 3 and Argos have more than one shop between them. And going by the story, Vodafone presumably do too.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: To be fair

              Boltar mate, you got caught making a fuck up and now you're doubling down to offend your way out of it.

              Go back go bed mate.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: To be fair

              @boltar

              Do yourself a cheesy-quaver and have a butcher's at their online UK store: https://mobile.mi.com/uk/

              Plenty of good models on there at very reasonable prices. Redmi 8 is only £139.

            4. aqk
              Coat

              Re: To be fair

              Keep your physical shop.

              I bought my Xiami Note7-Pro a few months ago from Ali-Express.

              Still works great!

              Of course I researched it first, and didn't ignorantly fall for the verbal diarrhea of some white-shirted punk with a smile.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: To be fair

                The only thing to be careful of buying directly from China is that the Chinese versions don't have the same radio side (supported RF bands) as global versions. So your 4G coverage can seem a bit flakey in Europe and the US with grey imports.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: To be fair

                  Don't know why the downvote. This was exactly the reason I moved from a Chinese model/English ROMed Redmi 3 Pro to a global version Redmi 4X.

                  For the more recent Redmi 7:

                  Global version LTE bands: 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 20 38 40

                  China version LTE bands: 1 3 5 7 8 34 38 39 40 41

                  Just need to be aware of what you are ordering/buying.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: To be fair

          They are a fortune 500 company, valued at US$46 billion.

        4. eionmac

          Re: To be fair

          Downvote , as main brand in internet search other than Samsung.

        5. aqk
          Facepalm

          Re: To be fair

          In which country? I've never heard of the UK.

          There- fixed that for ya...

        6. Stuart 34

          "I've read the indictment"

          I have one (in the UK) with no problem with the update, presumably as it is not a Vodaphone one

    3. Siimot

      Re: To be fair

      Lol it was Vodafone that killed the phones not xiaomi I bought this phone back in December and the update Vodafone users have only just got came out months ago and guess what..... The worked fine.

      Vodafone need to stop messing around with the software to add their bloatware.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To be fair

      You've never heard of them? There are at least 40 articles on El Reg from 2020 alone mentioning Xiaomi, You can't even use the excuse that you're new around here, so we'll chalk it up to not paying attention.

    5. Sebi

      Re: To be fair

      Sebastian

      I've bought my Xiaomi Mi 9 one year ago ,sim free from AliExpress,probably in a few day after launching.

      I just want to tell the Mi 9 owners.that is an amazing phone,I've never had any problems with it in more than one year.

      It must be the supid Vodafone patch,they released it without enough testing.

      I am using the phone with a cheap prepay sim,and until today 21 May,I don't have the Miui 11 therefore Xiaomi didn't release it yet

      Why Vodafone did???

      If you don't know Xiaomi is the 3rd and sometimes the 4th mobile phones producer in the world right now.Depends where you check.But the best quality for the money

  7. James Anderson Silver badge

    Android One

    Next time you buy a phone make sure its in the "Android One" program.

    You will then get timely updates direct from google and keep the phone company out of the loop.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android One

      Not knocking Android 1 - but it only promises os updates for two years and security for 3, so its not like it's a panacea. And, ironically, Xiaomi are probably the largest company that have actually participated in Android One. The fact that the market in the UK has incentivised the mobile providers to offer discounted handsets with branding and locks to encourage users to keep paying subscriptions is hardly the companies fault (nor necessarily the consumers).

    2. short a sandwich

      Re: Android One

      Two years of guaranteed updates? For the cost of one of these phones in unlocked form I would expect a bit longer.

      1. David Pearce

        Worse than that

        Its two years from the model launch, not when you bought it. It is very easy to end up buying a phone that is already approaching end of updates

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Worse than that

          I've a Mi A2 Lite: Launched 2/18 Purchased 9/18 Out of Production ~7/19 Last updated 3/20

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Worse than that

            That's great. But that's because Xiaomi has decided to be nice. The point being that neither Google nor the carrier (I'm assuming this was not associated with a carrier) care at all about providing you updates. Any credit there is for maintaining the phone this far goes to Xiaomi. There is such credit to go out, but not because this is a very long time. Just because most of the competition is lamentably bad at it.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Android One

        > For the cost of one of these phones in unlocked form I would expect a bit longer

        True, but still not bad, given you're supposed to buy a new one each year...

        Some (mostly older) people are still biased by the ancient system of devices which lasted for years and could even be repaired (!): Home appliances that lasted 20+ years, cars that lasted a quarter of a century, and so on. Nowadays everything is meant to be disposable, use it for a week and throw it away, it's not fashionable anymore.

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: Android One

          You're talking about those antiquated phone-like things where you just popped an aging battery out and replaced it yourself? How quaint. Gone the way of the quill pen and TVs that turn on nearly instantaneously when you press the power button.

          1. eionmac

            Re: Android One

            Just (6 weeks ago) replaced battery in 6 or 7 year old phone.

        2. eionmac

          Re: Android One

          Our second car (For SWMBO) is only 23 years old. Mine is 12 years old. I bought this to replace my 27 year old car. Mother's house is only about 220 years old still works, walls 4 foot thick stone plus rubble, cold in winter but works.

      3. HarryBl

        Re: Android One

        A Mi A2 Lite is £179 - and a fine phone it is too!

        1. Stuart Moore
          Thumb Up

          Re: Android One

          I'll second that. Just killed one with water, and bought another. Does all I want, SD card and headphone socket. Highly recommended.

          1. aqk
            Facepalm

            Re: Android One

            Wow! A headphone socket? And an SD port?

            Truly amazing! Has the rest of the Android and iPhone industry heard yet?

    3. lybad

      Re: Android One

      I thought with Android One it was still the device manufacturer that built the OS - as different devices will have different components. So updates will be quicker than a non-Android One device, but not guaranteed.

    4. HarryBl

      Re: Android One

      The updates come from the manufacturer not Google.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android One

      Don't you mean "Project treble"?

      "Android one" specifies a phone where google specifies the hardware and software.

      "Project treble" seperates the software into drivers/OS/UI. The manufacturers provide the drivers for their hardware, and then the core OS can be updated centrally, as it's the same. - Just like with the PC market (although unlike Windows, the UI is also seperate, so a phone company can have their own hardware, their own user interface, but still have a common OS that will get common updates)

      If you have an andorid phone that's compatible with project treble (any phone that comes with orio or later) you can get the latest version of android 10 here : https://www.xda-developers.com/android-q-gsi-project-treble/

      Even my "cheap unknown chinese tablet" will run it.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Android One

        > If you have an andorid phone that's compatible with project treble (any phone that comes with orio or later) you can get the latest version of android 10 here

        With two huge caveats. First you need to be an Android dev: "flash the system and vbmeta images over fastboot" doesn't sound like something common people might know how to do (and succeed in doing). And second you don't even know if it will work, or if you just have spent a couple hours bricking your device.

        I had high hopes when Project Treble was announced, but clearly it was only a marketing stunt, as nothing has really changed in the phone industry. (Well, why would it? They want to make you buy a new phone, not help you keep the old one a little longer.)

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Android One

          Really?

          I knew that it was currently a techie thing to do the update yourself, but I expected it would be consumerised.

          As for the rest of your comment.... Looks like I've been suckered by the hype. :-(

          Cheers... Looks like I won't be blindly upgrading my Huwaei to get rid of the awful EMUI after all......

  8. Belperite

    Ah, Vodafone ruining firmware again

    They've got form on this going back a long way, such as reskinning the nice UI on the T610 to some dreadful red-themed bilge that you couldn't remove without the use of a Terminator cable to flash the stock firmware.

  9. tallen

    Would be nice if Xiaomi would share this fix with us end users...

    Based on reports from the Vodafone support community thread, Xiaomi have a candidate fix that they'd like to push out for testing, but they've not fixed the issue yet on everyone's Mi 9s. Not by a long way. Shame really, it's actually an excellent phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not Xiaomi's fault.

      1. tallen

        No, it's not, but they're the ones telling the press they have a fix and telling the phone owners that the fix won't be available for several days.

        Vodafone are, of course, AWOL...

  10. Chris Evans

    Blood boil!

    If I was effected then "we apologise for any inconvenience " would make my blood boil.

    PR 101 says it should be: ""we apologise for THE inconvenience" and given the severity of the problem they need to grovel much harder.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blood boil!

      Yes, if you were "brought about, produced" your blood would boil.

      Mine boils when I see affected and effected mixed up.

      /pedant rant over

  11. vtcodger Silver badge

    I'm curious

    I don't do smart phones because I really don't seem to need one. I have a decade old tracfone that satisfies my occasional need for remote phone calls and text messages, costs less and probably only spies on me on those rare occasions when I turn it on. So maybe I'm missing the obvious.

    But I'm curious. If you have no connectivity as a result of installing the latest manufacturer improvement, how are you supposed to download that fix that will be promulgated any minute now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm curious

      Wifi?

    2. jason_derp Bronze badge

      Re: I'm curious

      I am also curious. I don't know enough about phone updates to know if wifi would work. I had assumed they needed to be sent out over the network of the phone company itself.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm curious

        No, you even get the "Use wifi to not incur network charges" on Xiaomis.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: I'm curious

        The updates released by carriers are just placed on the carrier's servers, with the phone locked in some way to only get updates from those servers. You can contact those servers however you want, though. If you have a carrier-locked device that you didn't connect to their network, it still gets updates*.

        *It actually doesn't get any updates, but that's because the carrier never releases any. If they ever did release one, your phone could download it and install whatever bugs it contains with no difficulty.

  12. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Reaching out to customers"

    I really hope that they have an alternative to their now borked phone for 'the reaching out'

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not a brick...

    It's not a brick if it can be fixed OTA

    1. tallen

      Re: It's not a brick...

      Can't be fixed OTA, can only be fixed if connected to WIFi. That's if either of these fixes work, which they don't.

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "The rep claimed that a patch is in the final stages of testing and should be deployed to customers by the end of the week at the very latest."

    Why bother testing? Obviously they didn't test the initial update... OK just kidding.

    "No it didn't. Processor throttling reduced performance to avoid a shutdown due to declining battery output, but it never came close to the 'point of unusability' unless your battery was completely fscked"

    Inaccurate. Look online, and people complained of devices that were normally 1.4-1.8ghz being reduces to like 600-800mhz. This is a very large reduction in speed (I'm surprised, I thought it was like 10-20%...) and could easily make people decide their previously usable phone was unusable. This was a ridiculous design flaw, every other vendor realizes old used batteries sag a few 10ths of a volt under load. My BlackBerry KeyOne has a battery rated for 3.85 volts, so most likely it uses 3.3 volt hardware. No problem with sag there!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What are you blathering on about?

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Keep up, kiddo!

  15. Frank Bitterlich

    Interesting response...

    If you look at the forum, the issue had been marked as "Resolved" as soon as Vodafone came around with a message that a fix is in the making.

    Also, I don't see the word "sorry" or "apologies" anywhere in their response. Only "... to get you all connected to what you love again". As if the fix for bricking the phones was a "feature."

    What a nice, modern approach on customer service...

  16. AndyBW

    And still no fix has appeared

    After promising a fix to the problem, there is still no update.

    What really annoys me is that the two companies just keep passing the buck between them with neither of them accepting responsibility for their mistake!

    Meanwhile anybody with this model phone is in to their second week without a working handset!

  17. Ehs026

    I have the mi9, received the second patch, still not working. Being batted back and forth between Vodafone and manufacturer. No one taking any responsibility

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