While ‘branded’ perhaps not is really the correct term to use, most people does get what I’m trying to say. And the terminology I use myself on this. And, this text might be a little simplified in some parts. This is just to get you started.
Sometimes a seller sells a phone as “unlocked”, which sometimes just means that it’s SIM unlocked and not really an “unlocked” phone. Just that it can accept any sim card from any network.
So, what does ‘unlocked’ mean?
When not talking about SIM unlocked (see above), ‘unlocked’ or ‘unbranded’ means that it’s a regular HTC phone not made for a particular network/carrier. And that it will get OTA updates directly from HTC. This is the important bit.
What’s a ‘branded’ phone then?
A branded phone will have your carrier’s logo during boot (usually), and it will also usually have apps which are installed by the carrier and cannot be removed. (Check credit apps, music sharing apps and so on). The main thing will be: If you bought it from a carrier/network operator, it will usually be branded.
And some carriers/networks got the software so adapted to them and their network so you will not get updates OTA (over the air), if you are not connected to that network and in the country of said network. Example: a phone made for American AT&T will NOT get updates OTA outside it’s home network and/or in its native country USA.
So, how do I check that it’s not ‘branded’
By checking CID (CarrierID)
A CID tells what country/region/network/carrier it was made for. This is often the easiest way to do this, since it will return a HTC__xxx if it’s indeed a regular unlocked/unbranded HTC phone. Like HTC__001 which means HTC WWE (world wide english), and means it’s a UK phone. If you bought what the seller told you was an “unlocked UK phone”, and you check CID and it’s ORANG001: that means that they sold you a network ‘branded’ EE/Orange UK phone and that you will get updates when it’s done by that network and not directly by HTC. Some American HTC phones (Unlocked and Developer Edition) got a BS__US001 and BS__US002 CID, but that is still American phones that might be slightly different in radio bands etc that you actually need.
You check CID with Simple CID Getter, which will also tell you where that CID “belongs” to. Some CID that app can’t find (just doesn’t have that CID in its database), but the rule is: If CID starts on HTC__, it’s in general a regular Unlocked/Unbranded phone.
A SuperCID with just a bunch of 1’s might have issues getting OTA updates, but with that: you can use any RUU you find for that phone.
If you suspect that you’ve got an American carrier phone.
Then you can check it’s IMEI. This tells you where it’s made for, and sold to. American carrier phones will show up here, as just that. Use THIS site. It doesn’t tell you if it’s branded or not, it just tells you where it’s made for: and sometimes that it’s a BIG hint.
Help me! My phone is from American AT&T and I don’t get ANY updates to it where I live. What do I do?
HTC offers what’s called ROM download for some american carrier phones (american unlocked and developer Edition as well). However: Verizon is the big exception here, as you will NEVER find from them. Edit: done a new post on this topic HERE.
Assuming it’s not tampered with since then all bets are OFF
If a phone is S-0FF/rooted/etc: then it can run a custom rom/etc etc. And CID changed etc etc.