Sunday, 7 April 2013

Android MODs and Kernel's - my experience

For a while I had been tempted to try a different mod from the stock TouchWiz for the Samsung Galaxy S3. My biggest issue was to ensure that while modding the phone, I don't lose any of my data. Thankfully, with so many apps being completely cloud-based, this risk becomes less and less as time goes by.

Anyway, after taking a huge number of different backups, I went for my first MOD. Slimbean. I must admit that after the richness (although bloated) experience of TouchWiz, Slimbean was a shock. It was so raw, and so lean that it felt overwhelmingly empty. TouchWiz maybe bloated, but there are definitely quite a lot of built features which are hard to replace. Stuff such as the large amount of gestures, features like SmartStay have their own value. Even, the blank background and the feel of a mostly Vanilla Android was a bit of a shock, and it takes getting used to.

The shock was so great from my point of view, that a few days after, I tried my second MOD - CyanogenMOD 10.1. Here, once again, I was expecting a bit of a richer experience, but once again, I was slightly disappointed with the lack of "fun" features. CyanogenMOD is very lean when compared to Touchwiz, but then again this is what I was looking for - a leaner Android experience and that was what I was getting.

After I mostly setup CM 10.1, I was fairly happy - but I ran into another issue. Android OS was eating up way more battery that I was expecting. I spent quite a few days troubleshooting what could have been causing this problem. I installed a heck of a lot of battery monitoring apps, including BetterBatteryStats and tried to understand all the partial wakelocks which were happening. I turned off syncing, location, widgets and whatever else usually causes potential battery issues. Eventually from many threads I read on XDA forums and many other places, it looked like I had run into some kind of kernel issue. Once again, I saw somewhere that flashing a kernel could be the solution to my problems. Once again, I started a search for a good kernel. Siyah looked to be quite a safe bet and I was soon flashing Siyah.

As soon as I flashed Siyah, the Android OS issue was immediately gone. And the battery life is awesome. I use the phone heavily, with multiple calls, music, playing games and various other activities, radio and Wifi on, and I still get a full day with quite some battery to spare.

Eventually, I've tweaked CM to be a very pleasant experience despite the lack of TouchWiz features. At this point, I don't miss them anymore and I've gotten used to the lean experience and moreover I quite like it. Also, CM gives me access to the latest Android versions much earlier than the Stock Samsung Android does. Here is a screenshot of my various homescreens.

So, if you are looking to take the plunge, from TouchWiz to something else, prepare yourself. Overall, it's a great experience.

Just wanted to share my thoughts my Android modding experience.