So, you are likely thinking “why the hell is a self-proclaimed flashaholic reviewing/running COS12?”
While I would love to be able to say that the primary reason is that they are the current iterations of my devices native software and you, the people, deserve a head-to-head, frankly, that would be a big fat lie! The truth is that I bought my OPO and almost immediately flashed something on it. And, while I have enjoyed that journey, I never had the benchmark of how the stock Cyanogen software performed.
So, with a week off work and little but plum scratching in the family calendar, I took a step back in to CM11S territory to find out for myself. While I was out of my comfort zone I thought I would give COS12 another go. I say another go as I clean flashed it when the 17L build came out but after a couple of days and much swearing, whining and throwing of toys I flashed on to pastures new.
I had been running the 17L build for about 10 days when the 2I3 build came out. I have since been running 2I3 for a further 5 days. Both versions were clean flashed and, in the interest of experiencing something as close to stock as possible, I chose not to root. I did, however, change the DPI via ADB as I can not live with the stock DPI. There is just too much lost screen real estate for my taste on 480.
A little more about my configuration and use: I use Nova Launcher Prime, Brightness on manual, Bluetooth off, GPS on Battery Saving and I do not use Greenify or any other third party battery saving apps. General daily use for me is browsing, messaging, social media, listening to music (streamed and local) and some 8-Bit emulator action.
UI feel and stability
Both builds look like you would expect, Android Lollipop with Cyanogen painted on top of it. Both were smooth and stable. I had no issues with random reboots or glitches with either build.
I found 17L very smooth and so, when I came to flash 2I3, I expected no real difference in responsiveness as my touchscreen has never caused me any issues. I was wrong! Everything is more responsive and subsequently smoother on 2I3. From typing on the keyboard to double tap, to wake, it just feels more optimised.
Features and Customisations
CyanogenOS has more features than I will ever use. My heart will always be with stripped-down AOSP. This predisposition failed me the first time I tried 17L though, I had never used Privacy Guard and so turned it off only to later wonder why my battery life was dire. Having used it for a few weeks, I now like Privacy Guard and will miss its simplicity to bring app by app preference tweaks to my fingertips.
It is worth mentioning that a lot of the settings that you are used to are hidden by default in COS12. If you would like to unhide everything then go to Settings > About Phone and toggle Advanced Mode.
With 17L I never once topped 4hrs 30mins screen-on time which, to be fair, will get me through an average day’s usage. But I like to have some juice in reserve. I averaged around 3hrs 40mins over the 10 days on 17L. Coming from 05Q’s 6 hour average, I can completely understand why people were so disappointed with the jump to 17L.
2I3 is a different beast. The lowest screen-on time that I experienced was the day after flashing and that was 5 hours. Every other day I achieved around the 7 hour mark on a mixture of WiFi and cellular.
Idle drain on both builds was not great, even with light use I struggled to get more than 24 hours standby. Please take this statement with the caveat that, at home, my cellular signal drops out regularly. Clearly this constant searching for signal will drain my battery more quickly. The more eagle eyed among you will notice this from the battery statistics screenshots below.
In summary both builds were smooth and gave me no real issues but 17L is a thirsty little scamp.
2I3 vs.17L is like comparing Robert Patrick’s T-1000 to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s CSM-101. It is faster, more responsive and more efficient.
If you have tried and dismissed 17L, do not tar 2I3 with the same brush. Is it perfect? Absolutely not, but it is a step in the right direction. Would I recommend that a cautious CM11S user upgrades to 2I3? If you want Lollipop and are willing to compromise a little on battery life, Yes. If you want max battery life, No.
I never thought I would be saying this but I am genuinely looking forward to trying the COS12.1 builds. Thank you to the Android Scout team for letting me write this.