Custom ROMs - sharing a beginner's experience
As a long time Android user and general nerd, I often hear from some of my friends about new and cool custom ROMs. It ranges from "amazing customization" to "blazing speed" and even "far better than anything stock in general".
So this weekend I decided that since my warranty is no longer valid anyway, and Samsung won't be updating the Galaxy S2 GT-i9100 anymore, I can go ahead and try something new and shiny, which could help me with my job.
And thus began my research and tests on Android custom ROMs...and oh boy, that was one hell of an experience.
Everything I heard from people about nearly everything was shattered right then and there.
As a reasonable person, I decided to try some of the more popular ROMs, trying to stick as much as possible to stable builds since everyday use is a big deal for me. So now I present to you, my experience with what I was told are the top-dogs of the custom ROM world and my impressions of each:
- Omni 4.4.2
This one actually surprised me in terms of it's video driver. As some might know, a bunch of Gameloft published games always show washed out colors on the Galaxy S2, but when used, this ROM showed the correct colors...quite shocking! ...however, it turned out to be highly unstable with apps crashing left and right all the time and often for no real reason. This ROM is not really advertised as "stable" so I guess that was understandable, so I decided to move on.
- MIUI v5
This ROM was just impressive. I absolutely love the UI (and I didn't even try the customization stuff, yet I say that!). It seemed really stable and I almost decided to stick with it...until I found out that 3 apps in particular I very much rely on don't work properly or at all (overlay issues it seems). This got me really disappointed but I figured functionality is more important than looks so once again, I decided to move on.
- CyanogenMod 10.3.1
This might be the biggest disappointment for all the wrong reasons. The buildup and hype I got from people about it created in my head "the ultimate ROM"...but after installing it and doing some tests...I have to say, the performance difference was just barely noticeable and i all honesty, not worth the trade for the bugs it also brings (although if it had the video driver from Omni I would've changed my mind). I really wanted to do a fair judgement since I know this is the top-dog of ROMs (or at least in popularity) so I even ran tests on it...and in games, the framerate difference between stock and CM10.3 was just 2-5fps.
- Resurrection Remix 4.0.7
This was...let me just say it out loud - the installation for this ROM should be a standard - just incorporate some stuff and have people chose what to get or don't get. Having stock stuff and then 10 additional flashable ZIPs while not really a big issue is just a time-waster for a lot of people in my eyes (although it would've been nice to know more about the modems when it asks you for a choice). Anyway, this ROM's keyboard just refused to work so I got rid of it after 2 flashes.
- ReVolt JB 4.5
...keyboard didn't work on this one again, and after another 2 flash attempts, I scrapped it aswell.
At this point I pretty much just gave up and went back to the Samsung stock ROM for my region and was left with an empty feeling that custom ROMs all seem to have at least one or more huge flaws.
All the buildup and "legends" (lacking a better term) weren't even close to what I experienced (except the MIUI...well, UI) and it got me thinking...are custom ROMs meant for everyday users or they were always aimed at people willing to experiment? Personally, I decided that my journey through the custom ROM world has ended here at least for the time being (maybe someday I'll go back to MIUI but who knows), but I wanted to ask, does anyone feel the same way I do? That custom ROMs, while a really cool thing to be able to have is getting overhyped to the point where unless you really know what you're getting into will lead to just disappointment?
I would really like to hear other people's views on this, especially if you're not an expert user.