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AOSP Vanilla Android 4.2.2, I don’t know what all the fuss is about?

Last night, I flashed a copy of Android 4.2.2 as featured on the Google/LG Nexus 4 and HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Editions onto my T-Mobile Galaxy S4 and I have to say that I am not terribly impressed with the AOSP version, I really fail to see what all the fuss is about. I am definitely happy that I opted for the Samsung Galaxy S4 over the Google/LG Nexus 4.

Obviously I had previously rooted my S4 and installed Clockwork Mod Recovery through ROM Manager. I backed up my current T-Mobile ROM before even thinking of flashing anything using CWM, and even copied the backup to the SD card to make sure I had a backup of the backup. You won’t find the backup unless you download a decent file manager app like ES Explorer, which is free. I used ES Explorer to navigate to Data\Media\ClockWorkMod\Backup on the NAND storage and copied the dated folder to my SD card for safe keeping in case something went wrong during the flashing process. I won’t go into how to flash ROM’s, AndroidRootz.com has already made a visual tutorial.

OK, so the ROM itself, it definitely looks and feels like the Nexus 4, no bloatware, just the pure Google experience. I was all excited at first but after an hour of playing around with the leaked ROM, I started to find issues. The biggest of those issues was the Wi-Fi connectivity, after being connected to my LAN via Wi-Fi for 10 to 15 minutes, download speeds dropped drastically, downloading the 40MB Angry Birds game took over five minutes on my 150Mbps Internet connection and streaming on Youtube became painful, buffering every 5 to 10 seconds even on a short 3m video.

Second thing that annoyed me is the screen DPI, which was set to 480dpi, I changed it to 441dpi as listed in the Galaxy S4 specifications using Resolution Change/Density, which helps a bit but still didn’t look like it had as many pixels on the screen as the stock Touchwiz ROM and my Fancy Widgets clock and weather spilled over onto the adjoining homescreens, unlike the stock ROM!

A third annoyance is the lack of ability to change the amount of homescreens you have, Google have decided that the optimum number of homescreens is five and therefore omitted the ability to customise how many homescreens you’d like to have. I also don’t like the voice / Google Now search being fixed on all homescreens. I understand that this is supposed to be a faster cleaner ROM but I think it has gone too far, too few options to adequately customise the look and feel of your device.

Suffice to say, I used the aforementioned NANDROID backup of the stock ROM to return to Samsung’s Touchwiz interface, I’d rather have more options than not enough options. This experience leaves me feeling disappointed, I have heard how great the AOSP releases are for some time and now I am left wondering why so many people swear by AOSP vanilla Android releases.

Update [Jul, 27 2013, 13:03]: I tested the nightly build of Cyanogenmod 10.1 (based on AOSP 4.2.2), dated 2013.07.25 and I like it a lot over the pure AOSP versions, it addresses a lot of the issues above but the Wi-Fi slow down issue remains, which makes it unusable for me, I need reliable Wi-Fi connectivity. I’ll try Cyanogenmod again when it comes out as a stable release.

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