Samsung Galaxy SII Custom Roms Overview

/* DISCLAIMER: DO NOT FLASH I9100 BUILDS ON I9100G OR ANY OTHER VARIANTS. Also, rooting voids your warranty, flashing custom roms kills bunnies, and overclocking can set the world to an early end. You have been warned. */

Hello, folks!

This here will be a general overview of all the I9100 roms I’ve tried since rooting. I’ll try not to be lazy and add screenshots for the newer ones including battery performance, quadrant, and vellamo scores.

GB based roms:

MIUI: The Gingerbread rom was my first custom rom, and stepping away from Touchwiz to MIUI was nothing short of marvellous to be honest, it was full of eye candy, although it wasn’t that much faster, it was a lot nicer. MIUI is basically a very heavily skinned Android rom, if all you want is having something eye appealing, the GB MIUI for all you GB users is definitely the way to go! It also had a lot more settings in the notifications area, and for you Arabic users, it has Arabic support as well! It also has a neat feature where you can make your own theme! Get it through here.

CM7: I didn’t use this rom a lot, since I didn’t like the stock look of Android’s Gingerbread, but I think CM7 was flashed with Siyah at the time, or another overclocking helping kernel because I could overclock from the settings menu with no external apps! Or maybe CM7 just supported OCing, who knows! You can’t go wrong with Cyanogenmod anyway, this is where you can get the latest stable build of CM7.

ICS based roms:

MIUI: When I updated to the ICS MIUI I was extremely disappointed to seeing some touchwiz lingering here and there, the dialer was Touchwiz’s, so is the notification area, which ultimately defeated the purpose of never using Touchwiz again, so I deleted it, that was the first ICS MIUI rom. However I recently ran the newest ICS MIUI and it was nice, laggy, but nice, no more Touchwiz lingering anywhere, the only complaint I had was that it looked the same as the GB MIUI with the exception of the settings menu, oh, and I think I forgot to mention that MIUI has no appdrawer, it’s iOS-ish in look really.

CM9: I spent a considerably long amount of time with CM9 ever since it released with the nightlies, following the RC builds, but I never got to getting the stable build since it was released after the Jellybean experimental releases were out, anyway, I wrote an extensive review of the rom over here where I cover the nightlies I’ve flashed on my phone and the first RC build. Stable build was released and you can find it here.

JB based roms:

Let me first start off by saying that Jellybean isn’t yet fully supported on i9100 devices since the mighty generous Samsung gods haven’t bestowed upon us, mortals, a JB rom yet. Until then, settling for AOSP roms ported from other devices is the best bet, although things aren’t buttery smooth yet, they are definitely faster than your fastest ICS or GB rom.

CM10: Again, extensive review of CM10 over here, I stopped using CM10 since the last few builds were crashing SO much it was downright irritating. Nightlies are over here.

Slim bean AOSP: Don’t expect a link here, I can’t remember the link for the version I used. Anyhow, it was a weird rom to say the least, it was, phablet like, everything was bigger, it wasn’t all bad though, it looked nice if you’re looking to see what your i9100 would look like stretched out.

SuperNexus build2: This is my current daily driver, it is VERY stable and smoother than CM10, I didn’t use it with its stock kernel, I have Siyah 4.1.1 flashed, and understandably it does make every thing smoother anyway and allows over clocking.

Battery as shown below lasts nicely, it should be known though that I underclock my phone to run at 900MHz, although the impact on performance is very negligible.

Quadrant scores are nice, maxing at 3640 when overclocked to 1.5GHz, OCing to 1.6 crashes Quadrant.

You can get it through here.

Resurrection Remix: I’ve heard a lot about this rom, and the way it was hyped up, though I have to say I was underwhelmed after a few days, the rom itself is big, huge, even, compared to other custom roms, it’s a 420 MBs rom, but it has its own custom installer (Aroma), with a lot of choices for modems, you can install either the CM10 kernel, or Siyah, you can choose to add multiple applications to your phone, including file explorers, music players, and launchers, though after that, it’s all downhill, the rom, crashes, a lot, even with the latest 3.8 update, I find the keyboard struggling to keep up with my typing, be it in Twitter or in the browser, this was also present in the previous version, and sometimes the phone itself gets extremely slow to the point of almost freezing, but not actually being frozen. Battery wise, it stacks up with most custom roms, 25~30 hours with average usage. I didn’t bother checking for Quadrant and Vellamo scores in fear that it might freeze again. This should not be a daily driver.

Cyanogenmod 9 Review (Updated with CM9.0.0 RC1)

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, the whole “custom roms” thing, since I finally got the guts and rooted my Galaxy SII. And ever since then I tried exactly two custom roms, MIUI and Cyanogenmod, now the reason I’m reviewing CM and not MIUI is very simple, I was lazy. Anyway, onto the review!

I initially made the switch from MIUI since their ICS version wasn’t all that stable, nor was it really usable on a day to day basis, the lockscreen wouldn’t function correctly, the device was overall slower than the Gingerbread version, and it all just didn’t feel nice. So based on a couple of recommendations from a few friends, I decided to give Cyanogenmod a go, and let me tell you this, I was scared shitless of bricking my phone with all the custom rom installations, but after I got the hang of it, I was switching out roms like there’s no tomorrow! I also tried the Gingerbread CM7 but I didn’t like it all that much, the ICS flavor was a lot nicer.

The thing about Cyanogenmod is that it looks almost exactly the same as the stock Android, so if you want that stock Android experience, especially that the stock ICS is VERY sexy and hot, then I strongly suggest going with the nightly build I’m reviewing right now (which is CM9 Nightly build 20120322, since it’s stable enough for day to day use). Now this has all the ICS goodies Google were so kind to bestow upon us, including Face unlock, the new task manager, and the very nice browser wheel thingy! Oh, and it supports Arabic! Finally! MIUI didn’t, my stock Touchwiz android didn’t, but now I can finally read Arabic tweets!

Onto the battery life! And I can say with absolute certainty that it. is. fucking ridiculous! seriously! compared to what I used to get before rooting, 3 days and some hours is insane! This was an average to low usage, with me overworking the processor at times, and doing the occasional benchmark, because, you know, you only get the idea to do these things when you’re leaving the phone on the side… Scumbag brain…

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Speaking of benchmarks, here you will see two benchmarks, first is Quadrant, now what I did here, is set the processor to work on full load (Yeah, you can actually do that in CM9! But you can’t overclock without extra tools, unlike CM7) and just blasted away the benchmark, and this is what I got! before CM9, or actually, before rooting entirely, I got a 3200 score, now I know a 297 jump isn’t exactly THAT huge a jump, but it’s still a difference, and it proves that TouchWiz was somewhat hogging my phone’s potential.

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The other benchmark here is Vellamo, a mobile web benchmark that evaluates browser performance and other stuff, and as you can see here, my dual core GSII beat the quad core Asus Transformer Prime, albeit by a very small margin, but a win is a win! Which further proves the advantage in performance I gained from Cyanogenmod.

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The only issue I have with this version of CM is that the video camera doesn’t work, at all, when you start recording, it crashes, but everything else works just fine.

This whole rooting, custom roms thing is very new to me, since the GSII is my first Android phone, and again, I was scared shitless when I was doing this stuff the first time, especially since I had a couple of issues rooting the phone at first. Let me know what you folks think of Cyanogenmod and MIUI, and if you have suggestions for other custom roms, let me know!

UPDATE: Flashed a newer Nightly (20120402), fixed the video cam issue, records normally in fullHD now, scored 3555 on Quadrant, and scored 1569 on Vellamo, I don’t exactly remember how much the older rom scored, but I know it was closer to 1400.

UPDATE: Flashed the newest Nightly (20120625), AVOID THIS NIGHTLY! Highly unstable, lots of issues with the dialer, the “1” key hangs as if pressed and any other press is considered a multitouch press and swipes the dialer away, along with frequent network connection losses, all the other stuff seems to be working fine though. Mainly all of the Nightlies prior to (20120402) have lower Quadrant and Vellamo scores, significantly lower, Quadrant doesn’t pass the 2900 mark, and Vellamo at best reads 1100.

UPDATE: RC IS RELEASED! Yay! Get it through here. So far, the dialing lag is there, also the notification bar doesn’t show notifications, the rest though isn’t there, very stable, everything I’ve tested seems to be working fine, although Quadrant reads a disappointing 2371 and Vellamo reads 1100. It’s still completely bad ass though, very smooth and stable, highly recommended!