So after trying out most Custom ROM’s available for the Galaxy S, I worked my way up to the big one: Cyanogen Mod. Cyanogen Mod or CM is based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). It has no carrier or manufacturer software and is almost Pure Android. The latest release is known as CM7 and is based on Android 2.3 Gingerbread (currently 2.3.4). The previous version, CM6, was based on FroYo.
Unfortunately, there is no official support for the Galaxy S series, so I shied away from it for a long time. However, the increasingly stable builds of CM7 being shown off on XDA Developers finally got to me and I decided to take the plunge.
Here are 10 reasons why I’m glad I did so and wish I had done it earlier:
- Its Speedy – Calling it fast wouldn’t do justice. Its mind numbingly fast. The latest version of Gingerbread officially for the Galaxy S is decently smooth, but simply doesn’t compare to this. The phone feels like its on steroids. Also, its not just at the start. After installing a fair amount of Apps and Games (20-30), the phone still shows no sign of slowing down. It has a Quadrant Score of 1618, if you’re into that sort of thing. There is absolutely no need to install a LagFix here. Not having Samsung’s TouchWiz makes such a huge difference to the smoothness of operation.
- Its Gorgeous – CM7 comes with a custom version of the ADW Launcher. It has a lot of extra Themes and Wallpapers to choose from, out of the box. It also has the Nexus S’s loved CRT Animation while locking and unlocking the screen. This definitely is the WOW factor to the ROM and has people constantly locking and unlocking their device. It also has the Nexus S Overscroll Glow Effect.
- One niggle I had with official Galaxy S firmwares was that they only show the last 6 used applications. In CM7, you can show up to the last 15 apps used. Definitely handy. Also, you can now set an App to open on you long pressing the Home key.
- Customizable Notification Bar – In stock firmware, when you swipe down the Notification Bar, there is a top bar of common settings like Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, Silent Mode and Auto Rotation. While useful, it would be way more useful if it was customizable. In CM7, you can do exactly that. There are tons of other options too, like Media Controls, Flight Mode, Brightness etc. Also there is no limit to how many shortcuts you can keep and you can swipe left and right to access them.
- Battery Percentage – As far as I know, no phone tells you the exact battery percentage. There are always a number of Bars, or a battery icon on the top. In CM7 we have the option of showing battery percentage as the default battery icon, hence eliminating the need to install a 3rd party app for this.
- Lovely Lockscreen – The lockscreen is completely customizable, with 4 types available: Sliding Tab, Rotary, Rotary Revamped and Lense. We were partial to Rotary Revamped. Here you can slide left and right for the usual unlock and Silent Mode. You could also swipe down to launch an app. The best part though, was the gesture support. From the lockscreen itself, you can literally do everything by drawing gestures. This is similar to the Gestures in the Dolphin HD Browser. You can launch an app, call/text/email a contact and open a file. The possibilities are endless.
- Enhanced Widgets, Homescreen – Android’s default Power Widget is useful, but limited. We had to resort to purchasing the Extended Power Control App to get a level of customization. However in CM7, you can customize the power widget as you wish. Another option we were impressed by was the option to keep the Home process permanently in Memory, so that it never gets shut by the system. This means that whenever you press the Home Key, the homescreen immediately pops up.
- Long Press Back Button to Kill – We loved this option. If you ever find an App unruly, instead of waiting for the Android system to tell you its not responding and then Force Close it, you can simply long press the Back button. Its also handy for exiting an app really quickly. It reminds me of Symbian’s Red Button.
- Browser Tweaks – The Web Browser has a lot of nifty tweaks. One thing I didn’t like in the Web Browser was that when you zoomed in, the text wouldn’t reflow until you click. This can get irritating, and this now happens automatically. Also, AMOLED Screens use less power when black, so there is an option to invert colours in the Web Browser.
You can also change the User Agent of the browser to that of various other platforms, like iPhone, Eclair, Linux, iPad, Mac and even IE6! The IE6 option is particularly useful for students in India, as we check out Exam Results on the University Websites, which are invariably made for IE6.
- Its a Tweaker’s Dream Come True – There are options for literally everything. You can enable 180 degrees screen rotation. You can use the Volume Keys to seek tracks in Music Player when the screen is locked. You can bring the Notification Bar down to the bottom, like in tablets. You can set default installation location to Memory Card. No need to use App2SD to transfer it later.
What do you think? Do you want to install CM7 on your phone? Head over the their page and give it a shot!
[UPDATE: CM7 is now OFFICIALLY supported on the Galaxy S! New Nightlies release every night over here. Quadrant is now up to 2000]