[ROM][5.1.1][CM] EOS 5 by Team EOS (09th of June 2015 Build)
Introducing the ROM
When we hear or read EOS we immediately associate the name to the major camera manufacturer brand but this EOS terminology couldn’t be more far from what this really is. EOS 5 is another “fish in the tank” of CM based ROM’s but it has a (big) little nifty trick up its sleeve. But could it be enough for you to press the “shutter button” and flash this baby and use as your daily driver? The first part applied to me, the second not so much.
1. UI impressions: some rough edges but overall very smooth and stable
Well, let’s be honest that when we flash a CM12.1 based ROM we immediately know that performance wise won’t be an issue. But don’t get me wrong, solely because it’s based on that code it doesn’t automatically make a smooth experience: the potential is there but is up to the developers to work on it.
I started testing EOS with a nightly build from 8 of June and it was performing flawlessly on the first minutes setting it up. It was right after installing and using Google Chrome I’ve started to notice some performance issues, especially jumping between applications. So I headed up to EOS Google+ community (Google+ link) and the moderator Glen D’souza pushed a couple of small tweaks that in his words “(…)should make bacon faster, smoother & use all that RAM properly”. While I was waiting for the update to be pushed I started to check my RAM management and I was getting a lot of free RAM, no matter what kind of usage I was doing. And we know that, on android, free RAM is wasted RAM. And that was the reason I was observing performance issues.
After pushing the update, I flashed the 9 of June nightly and hoped that the performance improved which, gladly, it did. Multitasking was improved without noticing any visible lag jumping and/or opening applications. The same smooth experience that I have in most CM based ROM’s was also visible with EOS with everything running with an impressive frame rate.
But even with the improved performance, after a while I start to notice some frame rate drops for example on checking Google Now or dropping down the notification panel. It wasn’t highly repeatable but it was there from time to time, either on light or heavy usage. But don’t let this frighten you because this didn’t happened that often and what I experience can or cannot be experience by you. It depends on the apps you have installed, the launcher (I use Nova) or even the GAPPS package. In fact, only on my 3rd GAPPS flashed that I stooped getting the “Google Play Services crashed” error.
Overall, it was a very good experience with the UI, from light to heavy usage, web browsing to gaming. It handled everything I threw at it and it passed the test distinctively. EOS really took full advantage of how CM code handles every usage scenario. We will see what that meant for battery later on this review.
Finally, just mention that on Antutu it scored around 45000 and 990/3070 (single-core/multi-core) on Geekbench 3. You know my opinion on benchmarks and what is the translation to daily usage so I use these numbers only for reference and not as decision factor and you should do the same.
2. Battery endurance: EOS holding its ground
Being a CM based ROM and using a Cyanogenmod based kernel (3.4.67 based) I was expecting the same battery life as others CM based ROM with this level of customizations. But I was surprised that it out performed other CM ROM’s I’ve tested lately.
On my 5 days test I had consistently hit from 5.30h to 6h SOT on a 24 hours between charges which for some doesn’t sound impressive but based on my experience and the kind of SOT that I normally get this was well above average. For example, last week I’ve tested FlexOS (you can check it here) which is a CM based ROM and under my usage the SOT was most of the times lower than 5h.
I’ve tested the ROM under different circumstances, from light to more power hungry usage. During two days I was using the ROM lightly (no 4G, Wi-Fi only when needed, no gaming, SMS and some phone calls) and I managed to end the second day with only 3.30h SOT but I still had 28% battery left on a 36 hours period. On my moderate usage (screenshot bellow) that involves Wi-Fi always on, web browsing, productive apps (Google docs, image editing, etc) I managed to drain 48% battery with a respectable 2.37h SOT. That gave me a final projection of more than 5h SOT in the end of the day. That was during a 5 hours morning usage.
On the second half of the day I threw everything I could on EOS: Wi-Fi always on, gaming (Limbo and Monument Valley), chatting in between, heavy web browsing, etc. EOS managed to keep up with my “rampage” and on 3.30h I got 2.20 SOT which is almost the same while I was on moderate usage. I was, literally, quite impressive with its performance. And on the bellow screenshot you can see that on the 8.30h total standby my phone was awake 7h which shows the moderate to heavy usage that I took EOS on that day.
I’ve tried to make EOS to “crash and burn” under my usage but it hold it like a true champion. It still has room to improve as any other ROM, nothing is perfect but on the battery department it sure isn’t a weak point for EOS. This screenshot bellow illustrates my normal and most accurate daily usage. As you can see almost 6h SOT which is quite impressive.
Just worth of mention that I use Wakelock (Play Store link) detector to monitor the apps that can potentially keep my phone awake and Servicely (Play Store link) to control them. Everything else was full stock (no Xposed)
3. Customizations: NX Gesture Interface – an ace under its sleeve
Before digging in on that nifty feature, let’s give the same treatment as other ROM’s and find out how customizable it can be.
Being a CM based ROM we get all the customizability that features the CM12.1 code so we get all the bell and whistles it has to offer. On EOS we can find:
- LiveDisplay – automatically (or manually) changes the colour temperature depending on the time of the day or the Automatic Outdoor Mode that increases brightness and saturation under bright sunlight. This last one I end up not using since when active and under heavy sunlight it over saturates for my liking and when you are, for example, taking pictures the colour that you are seeing will not be the same as the end result.
- Ambient Display – wakes the screen when we pick it up or receive notifications. It’s doesn’t give the ability to change its threshold like other ROM’s do but I don’t use it much since the its purpose is to save battery when we are just checking my notifications or time but that only makes sense on AMOLED/OLED displays where only individuals pixels can be activated. Even on a grey scale, on a LCD panel every pixel gets activated no matter what.
- LCD density – natively gives to ability to change the DPI without using any third party app. If you interested, I’m using 400 DPI.
- Theme Engine – for some one of the most important feature as it gives you access to hundreds of free and paid theme on the play store and outside it. And, from my experience, easier to work with than “Layers” that is present in certain non-CM based ROM’s
- Hardware buttons customizability – you can customize the hardware buttons with long press, single tap or double tap to trigger actions or launch certain apps. But using hardware buttons will make you loose the best feature this ROM has with the navigation bar.
There are a lot other feature buried inside the settings but all can be found on the CM12.1 nightlies as well. There is nothing new here, except the magic card EOS throws into the game.
I will be honest that when I first heard about EOS I was thinking “Great, another CM based ROM that looks exactly like a CM nightly”. But then I headed to EOS website (http://teameos.org/) and read about the NX Navigation and that “ain’t nobody else got dat”. Like Leonardo DiCaprio said in “Django” – “Gentleman, you had my curiosity but now you have my attention” and so, flash EOS I did.
After flashing the ROM and setting up my accounts and apps I started my adventure looking for that feature. Luckily, it was a very small adventure as the “Navigation Bar” is under “Settings” ->”Personal”. Once there you can activate the navigation bar (turning off the hardware buttons) and choose between the stock navigation bar and the NX Gesture Interface. Going deeper on NX settings and that’s where all the fun starts.
Now, right out of the bat NX has a learning curve and if you can’t handle the first minutes of frustration then this ROM has not much else to offer than others already do with more features added to the mix. But if you are like me and don’t give up on frustration, you take your time to learn how the all process goes and after mastering the gesture, oh boy it all makes sense!
It gives you endless customizations with short and long swipes from the right or from the left, single tap and double tap on either side as well long presses. Either of this actions can trigger either a custom action like “force close app”, “last app”, “search assistant”, “power menu”, “Screenshot” among many others. You can also select a certain application to launch when a certain action is triggered. On the video bellow you can see a brief overview on how the gestures work.
Being the navigation bar presented everywhere across the system ecosystem makes this solution perfect for me to be a lot faster and productive when using this ROM. For example, I had the “right long swipe” to trigger Google Now and the “left long swipe” to launch voice search, very handy when you are on the car (and you don’t like the “OK Google”), “left short swipe” to jump between last apps (awesome for multi-tasking). Moreover, because this is a big phone and most of times you will need both hands, I set up the “double tap left” to toggle between “Normal/vibrate/silent” and the “Long Press right” to open the contextual menu and the “long press left” to open the quick toggles allowing me to trigger those actions without needing two hands. There is an even very cool feature that you can turn on so whenever your music is playing the all navigation bar turns into an equalizer without sacrificing its functionality.
But you can change every action to better suit your needs and to make you a lot more productive or, at least, more efficient. It is a nice take on what a navigation bar should be able to do and since it is everywhere across the Lollipop system this is a nice way to take full advantage of its persistent presence. It makes perfect sense.
As an improvement advice to the EOS dev team: they should come with a better name for this feature (EOS G+ mod Randall Rushing gave a nice suggestion), a simpler and eye catching name. As other advice, although this a little more difficult to fulfil and will take some “creativity sparkle”, is to find some way to diminish that learning curve and those first minutes frustration. That could lead many people way from EOS and that is, indeed, a shame thing to happen.
I like it EOS team, nice move!
4. Where are the bugs?
I will be honest and during my 5 days experience I didn’t find any major or even minor bug. No app crashes, no random reboots, no nothing or, at least, my testing didn’t bring any to my attention. Apart from some performance issues that I talked earlier, it was bug free experience.
5. It’s the NX enough to make you flash this and become your daily driver?
Well, this is tricky question and I can’t give you a straight answer without going through some points.
The first is if you can handle solely the customizations CM12.1 already gives you, if that’s enough for you and you don’t miss some customizations other ROM’s offer you. For me, EOS and its NX navigation bar would qualify as my daily driver if it offered just a little more customizations ability like the “App circle bar” and the ability to change the icon colours on status bar and add a date next to the clock. Of course, you can change some aspects using the CM theme engine but I like having the native support to manually change individual aspects of the UI. Of course, this would mean that battery life could get worse or even make the UI more unstable but just that “little” more customizations power would make me a happier flashaholic. But I’m sure more customization will come further down the road so it’s just a matter of time, besides we’re talking about a nightly version.
The second is the NX Gesture Interface that I vastly enjoyed using it, even with those first minutes frustration. This has, indeed, a lot of potential to be a game changer and I just hope they continue this improving process the EOS dev team is doing. After you get around all the swipes and taps everything makes sense and it makes the navbar a powerful tool. In the end it just makes you wonder “Why didn’t anybody thing about this before?” but I’m glad that EOS team figured this out and I am glad my curiosity was strong enough to take EOS for a spin.
If it can be my daily driver? Short answer is no because I miss some features that I find in many ROM’s but it can be your daily driver with no problems, no bugs and very smooth, with that NX Gesture Interface being a true winner, if you don’t give up on the initial frustration that is.
Written by Tiago Marques