I may be paranoid, but not an android

Time for another post about android? You bet!

I tried iOS 6 on my iPhone 4 for a week and quite liked it. Then I bit the bullet, rooted my galaxy S3 and installed a custom rom on it to get the latest android: jelly bean.

The rom I chose, after very little research, is called paranoid android. It’s based on another rom called CyanogenMod. The key feature of paranoid android is that you can pretend your phone is a tablet. You can do this per app. Some apps give you different UI layouts on different devices, paranoid android lets you use them on a single device. It’s a great idea and works a treat.

The downside to using a mod rather than a stock rom is that some of the stock features no longer work. On the S3 this means many of the advanced motion controls cannot be enabled: like having the screen stay on while you look at it. This is pretty minor, many of these features are gimmicks.

The most glaring problem is that Wi-Fi hotspot does not work. I was hoping to use that for my iPad when away from home, but it’s completely broken. Less of an issue, but there are some features in the Samsung camera app that are not available in the default Google app: backlight scene mode is one I would like to have.

So is a custom rom worth it? Oh yes. Jelly bean is great. Removing Samsung’s customisations is good, I prefer the Google experience. I also like that I can disable the hardware back button (which I kept touching by accident) and adding softkeys to the bottom of the screen. Give up a little real estate, but you get more functionality. The menu button can launch Google now (long press), and the back button becomes a hide keyboard button when you are typing. Nice!

Jelly bean articles talk a lot about “Project Butter” and how the UI is “buttery smooth” which I think sounds pretty silly. Having used it though, the animations are very nice when using home screens and the apps menu. It is definitely much better than the old ice cream sandwich UI. I could elaborate, but let me just say it’s as good as promised (even if it does sound a little silly). I especially love the animation when taking photos. It’s very clear when a photo has been snapped!

Custom roms are tricky to install though. I’ve wiped my phone a few times in the process. I think the simplest solution may be to buy a Google phone, rather than a Samsung. That should mean the jelly bean experience is unaltered and updates are released sooner.

I tried the Samsung flip case. It’s nice, but awkward for me. I’ve put a Case Mate barely there bumper on and that’s exactly what I needed. I don’t press the volume and power buttons by accident much anymore, and I can put the phone face down without it resting on the screen. It hasn’t made the phone much wider, I find it very comfortable in my pocket. I chose the purple case—it’s perfect paired with a Decepticon insignia!

One last note: the super amoled screen in the galaxy S3 is very nice, but it is not as good as the retina display in the iPhone 4. I can see the gaps etween the pixels when I hold the phone close (10 cm). But with such a large screen, holding it a little further away is no problem at all! Turn the brightness up a bit to experience the full glory!

The verdict? Very happy with my customised S3. Really like android jelly bean 🙂