[ROM][5.1.1][CM] Vanir-Exodus (26th June 2015 nightly build)
A “Quick” Review of the Most Popular ROM for the OPO… My bad!
Before I get started, I’d like to mention that this won’t be a comprehensive review of the ROM since I’ve been facing a few problems with corrupt files and what not. Rather, it’s a brief overview of this particular build of Exodus and my [very personal] views on its massive popularity in the community. What you’re about to read here is admittedly a very short review, and this ROM has already been thoroughly tested by our own Antoine Vdb and guest reviewer Kevin Pei – so make sure you check their reviews out too!
By now you must have already heard about Exodus and know all there is to know about it; but just in case you missed it, here’s where you can learn more. And if you’d like to try it for yourself: here you go! On with the review…
Having exhausted a good number of ROMs to find one I can settle on while I troubleshoot my phone, I was led to Exodus. This being my first time using the ROM, I came in with a great deal of expectation. So, was I let down? Well…
UI Feel and Smoothness [Good]
Performance in the later builds of Exodus is, without a doubt, fluid and seamless. I hadn’t faced any lags or stutter that caught my attention and stability was rock-solid through most of my [non-]testing. This wasn’t my first priority given the task at hand, but Exodus did not disappoint in this regard.
While in most of my previous ROMs, I’d had to consolidate my app restores with a clearing of the cache and Dalvik cache before it was stable, Exodus seemed to fare well right from the get-go. I did face the odd crash here and there after changing themes, but a reboot usually took care of that.
Gaming and app performance was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. I’d like to specifically point out that I’ve had the best thermal performance on this ROM of all that I have tried so far. With relatively high ambient temperatures, the phone rarely exceeded 50°C or thereabouts, even after hours of continuous gaming on the “Balanced” performance profile. Overall, I was quite impressed by the performance and stability – especially the stability.
Battery Life [Very Good]
Sadly, I failed to subject my phone to my usual array of different use-cases since throughout the past week; I was reliant heavily on my phone for work, play and everything in between. All while being mostly away from home or work, meaning that a good deal of my time was spent on cellular data. I’m happy to report that battery life was above average, bordering on excellent.
With all the stories of ridiculously long SoT figures people had been getting using Exodus in the 5.0.2 days, I was prepared to not really get hours upon hours with my use of a 5.1.1 build. That being said, the 4:30h to 6:00h of SoT I did manage was quite reassuring. During the first day of flashing the ROM, I managed to get an SoT of six hours going from 92% to 6% while extensively installing apps and the constant rebooting that comes within the first few hours of installing a new ROM. I suppose it’s safe to assume that if had used the phone in moderation, that figure would easily exceed the 6:30 to 7:00h mark. In this particular instance, I wasn’t using Greenify or any other battery saving measures.
The heaviest use I subjected it to resulted in 4:00h of SoT – with continuous gaming, almost all day on cellular data, some use of GPS and brightness varying between medium, high and maximum. This isn’t bad, given that most other ROMs I’d flashed until now wouldn’t have yielded any more than 3:00h to 3:30h under similar circumstances. In one day, under similarly heavy use the ROM managed to provide 5:00h of SoT, granted this time around, Greenify was installed, but still – that’s not bad! So, battery life: not an A+ (yet), but certainly one of the best of the lot.
Features and Customizability [Good]
While I like to cover the features that come with a ROM quite exhaustively, this review, unfortunately wasn’t done under the right circumstances… So I’ll save my features review for a later time when I revisit Exodus. For now, however, this following video should give you a rough idea of the feature set included with Vanir-Exodus:
Apart from the myriad of settings and customizations you see in the video above, the ROM also features a working implementation of Ambient Display and my all-time favorite feature: LiveDisplay.
So, like MoKee, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of a fully-laden custom ROM. In fact, it felt rather minimal after using Dirty Unicorns and looking at BrokenOS and CyanideL. But the included stuff was all to my liking, so no complains there. While I wasn’t particularly blown away by this, the UI Morph will prove useful to users who like their settings menu to look a certain way – be it the signature Exodus style, like CM or like AOSP. Again, there is a lack of performance tweaks, but the kernel is already tuned rather well in my opinion – so the ability to switch performance profiles and IO schedulers is enough in that regard.
Overall Impressions [Excellent – But Wait!]
Overall impressions should be quite obvious at this point – it’s stable, performance is quite good and battery life seems promising even under tortuous loads. After all the hype, I wasn’t expecting Exodus to be a disappointment, and it wasn’t. My list still has a long way to go before I’ve tried every ROM under the sun, but I’m glad I came across this one. Because for better or for worse, this is now my “checkpoint” ROM – something I’ll likely fall back on if I have to put my reviews on hold for any amount of time.
So after everything I’ve said to this point, you’re probably thinking, “Gee! This guy seems to have finally found a ROM he’s not gonna bitch about!” Well, I haven’t. In fact, I have two major gripes with this ROM: its ego (if a ROM can have one) and its misdirected loyal following. Yes, I’m talking to you, “fanboys” – come at me!
Let me elaborate – I like the attention that has gone into perfecting this ROM, but quite a lot of attention seems to have gone into inflating its own ego. I said in a previous review that the “perfect” ROM is the most “transparent” one. Something that feels like an integral component of the device you hold in your hands, rather than a fancy trinket plastered onto the screen. With its constant reminders of how “Exodus” this ROM is, this is where this ROM failed. Whenever you run the Exodus morph mode (which is default) you’re always greeted by an “EXODUS” label on the top left of the screen – yes, I know you can turn this off, but I don’t need to be ever reminded of what ROM I flashed. I would know: I flashed it. Also, the Vanir development team thought it would be a good idea to put yet another “EXODUS” label on the spacebar of the AOSP keyboard. I don’t care either way since I don’t use the stock keyboard, but still. Why?!! Why would I need the space bar to remind me what ROM I’m using?
As for the loyal following, well, okay I’ll give you guys this: it is a good ROM, an excellent ROM even. But is it the second coming of Christ? No. Neither is it the best ROM ever made, nor is it particularly special in any way. A large part of the reason that I’m put off by Exodus is not through any fault of the developers, nor of the ROM itself. The hype surrounding it is another story, however. Like I was saying to a fellow team member earlier – Exodus might as well be the best thing ever made, but the 45-mile long hype train that precedes it just serves to ruin the fun somehow.
So if Exodus were a person, it’d be smart, athletic, generous, well-spoken and well-groomed. Great! But it would also be full of itself, and would have a gang of angry, insufferable nerds following it around everywhere… So, yeah.
So who is this ROM for?
Everyone. It’s rock solid and should be in every flashaholic’s “try once and keep a backup” list.
Would I recommend this ROM to others?
Not just yet. I have a lot more time to spend with the ROM first and try it out under different scenarios. But from what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think anyone would regret giving it a go.
I’m not done with the review, so no “final” final words just yet. I will leave you with this though: while it may be a great ROM for any user, I whole heartedly agree with Antoine Vdb on the part where it’s massively overrated by the community; it’s great, it’s just not the greatest.
Let the storm of hate commence! 😉