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 10 Review (Updated to build 20120815)

Jellybean! Google’s latest sugar coated Android offering! And it has already been ported to other Android devices! My galaxy SII being one of them, thanks to the great Codeworkx and team Hacksung! This sugar coated flavour comes to us GSII users in the guise of Cyanogenmod 10! Now most of my readers will know how much I love CM over other custom roms out there, like MIUI for instance, it’s simply for how much CM sticks to the stock Android look, and seeing as I, along with many others, I’m sure, have suffered so much at the hands of Touchwiz, and don’t really want an iOS-ish look, Cyanogenmod saved the day!

Onto the good stuff. You can download the build I’m currently using on my phone here and of course the Google Apps over here. To start this off, I’m not responsible for any damage/bricking that may occur to your phone, though it’s a very VERY low possibility that it almost never happens unless your battery dies out midway through flashing a rom or something, it’s still a possibility! I also read on the original post by Codeworkx on XDA that you should have ICS bootloaders before flashing CM10, basically, have CM9 first, do a full wipe, all cache wipe, and flash this bad boy.

And now, the review (Yay!).

Let me first and foremost remind you all that this is an experimental build, not even a nightly build, so it is basically allowed to have bugs, though I am yet to find any, which is incredible for an experimental! This rom here is as stable as CM9’s RC2, if not better (It actually IS better). The OS feels smooth all over, thanks to Google’s Project Butter which completely eliminates the Android lag we have all grown accustomed to, this basically means that the one thing iOS users have been bragging about, is no longer a brag point. Scrolling through the screens and the apps is a joy, I honestly just open the phone to scroll through it meaninglessly just to enjoy how smooth it is! The notification bar has a new look now as well, also when you drag it down, it dims the background, like a curtain, and brightens while pulling back up. Speaking of the notification bar, we have expanded notifications now! Yay!

Also when you set app defaults, like for viewing pictures, or whether you want the phone or skype to make the phone calls, this stuff, well, they changed that a bit.

It’s not that big of a change, but it’s nicer that way in my opinion.

Google’s voice search! Oh how I love it! Let me ease your minds first, it is lightyears ahead of Samsung’s S Voice, so, no, you didn’t miss out by passing on the SIII, it’s almost as accurate as Siri, but it doesn’t launch apps yet, and you can’t tweet/update your Facebook status from it, not yet at least. But you can make calls and send messages from it. It also has a nice feature called “Cards”, it’s basically, well, cards.

Now that we’re done with the UI stuff, let’s delve a little under the hood. As I mentioned before, the OS feels A LOT smoother than ICS, though Quadrant and Vellamo don’t seem to think so, but hey, if it’s making the experience more pleasurable, who am I to judge by the numbers?

The numbers though ARE higher than CM9’s RC1 though a lot lower than the first few CM9 nightlies I’ve flashed. I should mention that I’m keeping the processor at stock speeds, I didn’t overclock the phone yet, I was keeping it running at 1200MHz throughout the benchmarking for optimum results.

The battery life was tested with heavy usage in mind, and some mild usage in between, and it lasted a nice day and a few hours! Wifi was on most of the time with screen brightness set to max since I was outside most of the day, and the benchmarks were done in that battery cycle as well, while showing some of my friends CM10, so they toyed around with it testing and stuff, hindering the battery cycle even more, for it to last a day with that much usage was really nice! I think with mild to almost no usage, it would last around 2 or even 3 days!

One single disadvantage I encountered was that the connection drops frequently, a simple reboot though fixes it.

And that’s it for my CM10 review, I think it’s outstanding, very fitting for day to day use albeit being in experimental status, I won’t be flashing back to ICS at all, and again, much thanks to Codeworkx for bringing this to life as soon as he did!

Let me know what you folks think of the rom if you flashed it, if you have any questions feel free to leave them down there and I will do my best to answer you all! Have a nice one, folks!

UPDATE: This build is, hands down, the smoothest version of Android I have personally ever used, it is amazingly responsive, and I haven’t yet encountered any experience hindering bugs, the build brings back Trebuchet as the launcher though, so you WILL see your desktops reset, but then again, Trebuchet is a really nice launcher, so, win-win. Quadrant shows a score of 2175, Vellamo a score of 1257. A new system settings menu has been added, “Hardware options” which allows you to enable custom actions on your button presses. I’ll update this post again if I encounter any bugs, for now though, this really is the nicest JB build out there! After a day of usage, I can also say that the battery life is a lot better than the older build!

UPDATE: Latest experimental build, now I did not test this build thoroughly, though basic stuff works fine, that includes -but not limited to- phone, messaging (I think), camera, video camera, data, wifi, and all buttery goodness! Also, I know you like numbers, and I like this build’s numbers so much I let out a loud “HOLY CRAP” at the beach, and when my friends asked what I was surprised at, I told them, and, well, suffice to say, I was labelled the trips ultimate dork/geek. But I care not for the earthly amusements of theirs! It is numbers we seek, and it is numbers we shall get!

Quadrant gave an absolute all time high. (I should mention that I’m also running Siyah Kernel, and this was made while having the phone overclocked to a max of 1.5GHz and min of 1.0GHz)

Vellamo as well gave an all time high. Same overclocking.

The 20120815 build, while good as benchmarks, does have frequent crashes, annoyingly frequent that is. Another weird thing that has happened as well, both Apollo and Gallery have switched to showing the media stored in the external SD card, not the main memory, and I can’t find a way to switch it back.  I would advise NOT flashing this build mainly due to the frequent crashes, unless you want to show off the benchmark numbers that is.

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…


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.


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.


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!