[Week 2] – Rez K’s Review

[ROM][5.1.1][AOSP] MoKee Open Source (6th June 2015 RC build)

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What is MoKee?

After last week’s review of SlimLP, I’m rendered quite a bit flustered my test of MoKee this week. Let me explain: the SlimLP Alpha I was testing was just that – an alpha, so I forgave its few bugs but was rather harsh regarding its quirky battery performance reporting. MoKee on the other hand (at least the release candidate build I tested,) is a mainstream ROM with subpar battery life and its fair share of bugs. So, did I not like it? Well, read on to find out!

MoKee is, as its name suggests, an open-source ROM based mainly on the AOSP program but includes quite a bit of the best features from other open source platforms as well, including CyanogenMod, AOSPA, SlimLP, OmniROM, etc. This makes it a bit of a rarity – combining the feature sets of several ROM types. It is, of course, a Chinese ROM, which may set off alarm bells for a few of you concerned with privacy and security, but I saw no particular reason for any such apprehension.

You can learn more about what MoKee Open Source is all about that the English version of their developers’ site here.

UI Feel and Smoothness [Average]

So MoKee is a feature-heavy ROM, which inherently comes with a bit of a performance hit. That being said, the performance is not too bad – apps loaded just as fast as any other ROM, but the UI itself exhibited some signs of stutter at times. Boot times were blazing fast, and the services load quickly. Both multi-tasking and gaming performance seemed quite good as well. There were no UI glitches or bugs that I could notice during my testing, settings worked perfectly. If I were to nitpick, I would point out that the LiveDisplay feature sometimes seemed to function only when location services were enabled.

Stability on the other hand, was a whole different story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like apps crashed every few minutes or something, but I came across an unexplainable soft-reboot at times when the system would stop responding. Several apps (mostly Mortal Kombat X, TuneIn Radio, AZ Screen Recoder, and AudioPocket) crashed quite a bit, especially when internet connectivity was spotty. An unusual problem also manifested in Tasker where it would often become disabled without any user input. I would like to point out that this might be due to specific incompatibility between some apps that I had been using and the ROM itself – since according to fellow AndroidScout teammate, Dax, this is one of the most stable ROMs he had ever used.

The oddest issue I came across was the inability to change the default user name or image. No matter what I tried, I could not change the Chinese text for the user profile nor the image. I would qualify the overall performance experience as acceptably good, but the recurring crashes and reboots rendered my experience of stability as rather questionable. But given its feature-rich nature, the overall feel was smooth enough.

Battery Life [Average]

After my harsh judgment of SlimLP, I initially thought I would score this ROM very poorly with battery performance. Truth be told, the battery life was rather poor, even for a feature-laden ROM such as this. Without the assistance of battery-saving apps, I would not get any more than 3:00 hours of SoT under heavy use with 5:30 being the absolute maximum SoT with moderate use. However, this ROM has no minimalist pretensions. The features included warrant a hit on the battery, but not as much as they took, in my opinion. Since in my testing I also elected to let wakelocks run rampant, I also noticed standby times of no more than 18 to 30 hours depending on my usage.

Battery life with moderate use
Battery life overview with heavy use
SoT with heavy use
SoT with heavy use
Battery life overview with moderate use
Battery life overview with moderate use
SoT with moderate use
SoT with moderate use

So why then did I score its battery performance as “average”? Well, because it kind of is. Based on the last two weeks of testing of various 5.1.1 ROMs among our team, we learned (rather disappointingly so) that most 5.1.1 ROMs suffer poor battery performance compared to previous versions of Android. This is especially true when not engaging the help of apps like Greenify, Amplify or PowerNap, none of which I used for my initial testing.

After installing Greenify and blocking a most major wakelocks, however, I managed to extend my SoT to 5:15 and my standby to 22 hours. So if you’re planning on using this ROM, you might want to consider some battery-saving measures.

MoKee therefore receives a battery score of “average”, not in absolute terms, rather in the landscape of current builds of 5.1.1 ROMs which average pretty much similar SoT and standby time figures.

Features and Customizability [Excellent]

This is the highlight of MoKee Open Source. While it not come with every little UI tweak and customization known to Android, but it includes the best of AOSP and all the various open source programs that this ROM borrows from. Following is a list of some of the highlighted features that come with MoKee:

  1. Cyanogen Theme Engine: UI customization buffs rejoice! Cyanogen’s robust theme engine comes included and works flawlessly. I tried a few custom themes and they worked without any crashes, hiccups or boot-loops.
  2. The Privacy Guard (App Ops): Indispensible for battery-saving and keeping your personal info – uh – personal.
  3. An interesting and unique ListView animation feature allowing you to customize how lists scroll up and down: this one was more of a novelty, but as novelties go, it was a pretty entertaining one. I quickly found myself turning this off though.
  4. Interface tweaks: a wide range of interface customizations are available; apart from the usual Quick Settings tiles selections, you also get to tweak the status bar extensively – even include a network connection speed display.
  5. LiveDisplay: A display tweak that is quickly become one of my favorite features in lollipop ROMs: it’s like having flux for Android, or having Chainfire’s excellent Lumen app preinstalled. Also includes user adjustable settings for display parameters, color calibration, and much more.
  6. User selectable DPI settings: not a difficult thing to do with textdroider or by editing the buildprop file, but it’s nice they included this in the display settings.
  7. Pre-rooted: Well, of course it is!
  8. OTA Updates: One of the few (if not the only) custom ROM to offer such a luxury! This is part of the MoKee Center feature which also includes support links and add-ons like suggested GApps packages.
  9. Automated hold-up-to-face dialing from phone app or messaging: felt more like a gimmick than a feature, but I’m sure it would be useful to some users (especially ones who dial a lot of unsaved numbers.)

These are just few of the features which I felt worth mentioning. Rest assured, it also includes any other UI tweak you can think of. Well, almost.

The one feature I felt missing was the kernel tweaks that even come with CM11S. The Performance settings menu only allows choosing between I/O schedulers and the ability to enable/disable per-app performance profiles. No adjustments for CPU frequencies – this is possibly a limitation of the stock kernel itself rather than of the ROM. One thing that struck me as odd was the inclusion of a Quick Settings tile which allowed selecting between performance profiles, but there was no option to adjust the CPU governor from the Performance menu.

Overall Impressions [Average-to-Good]

So an above-average score for what is quite an above-average ROM. “IMHO” a proper daily driver should be, above all else, transparent. What do I mean by that? Well, it shouldn’t feel like you’re running a “custom” ROM – it should, essentially, feel ubiquitous, integrated and non-obtrusive. The few bugs and crashes that came with MoKee make the ROM feel a bit obviously “after-market”. The occasional lag and stutter only served to exacerbate the issue. But the ROM quickly redeems itself with a wealth of useful features (and a few not-so-useful ones.)

All things considered, MoKee is still an excellent ROM which I would gladly score significantly higher if only it had offered slightly better battery performance and a bit more stability. Not all the added features were useful to me, and to be completely honest a few (like the pick up to dial feature) of them felt like novelties rather than utilitarian.

In conclusion

So who is this ROM for?

Someone looking for a solidly built, [almost-fully-featured, quite stable and well-all-around-performing ROM should definitely give MoKee a try. To say that its middle of the road battery performance and UI performance is a drawback would be quite unfair. Had I not come from something as smooth and fluid as SlimLP, I’m quite certain I’d deem this to be the best performing 5.1.1 ROM I’d used yet. The feature set is quite appealing and won’t leave you wanting for customization or tweaking options. The added bonus of having OTAs delivered straight to your notifications window is great for those who don’t want to keep an eye on their repository.

Would I recommend this ROM to others?

Quite definitely. If you’re a perennial flashaholic, and haven’t been able to settle on anything that feels just right, you’ll probably want to give MoKee a go – it might just become your new daily driver. In fact, this is probably the go-to ROM for the ROM flashing addict who has tried everything else, at least according to Dax.

Final words?

Again, coming from SlimLP may have clouded my judgment of performance and stability quite a bit. To be completely fair, MoKee might just be one of the better ROMs out there. So will this be my daily driver? Not just yet. While I do like its extensive list of features and overall decent performance, the overall package is just not for me. But don’t let that stop you – it might just be the ROM you’re looking for.

 

Want to try MoKee for yourself? Read here for their official XDA thread. Download the ROM from their repository here.

 

6 Comments

  1. theshinybeast theshinybeast

    Top marks again Sir, great review.
    Oddly enough I haven´t tried Mokee for at least,if memory serves (it probably doesn´t but there you go),a month or more.I´m surprised that you had such bad/average battery life on it because I seem to remember it as one of the better ROMs in that respect.I shall return to it at some stage and see how it fairs.

     
    Reply
    1. Rez Rez

      Thank you sir!

      You could give it a visit, it’s not a bad ROM at all. I will admit that I was being a bit harsh on it, but I’m a bit picky…

      As for battery life, it’s not that bad, especially in comparison to other recent 5.1.1 ROMs but it’s not great either… It’s especially poor without greenfiy.

      Again, we can exchange notes if you flash this ROM. Your opinions and comments are always welcome! ☺

       
      Reply
  2. redleema

    Interesting read that. Might give it another go after my previous brief visit a while back.

     
    Reply
    1. Rez Rez

      Thank you redleema, always glad to hear from you! And I highly recommend revisiting the ROM. Having spent some time with it, I was left with the resounding impression that it would be the ideal daily driver for many. If you do flash MoKee, I will be happy to share notes and hear your opinions on it. Cheers!

       
      Reply
  3. AntMunny AntMunny

    this ROM is definitely not for China-phobes

     
    Reply
    1. Rez Rez

      No sir, it probably isn’t! 😉 In all honesty though, I kept a close eye on my network traffic and active services and didn’t notice anything fishy at all – at least nothing obvious anyway. But yes, those overly concerned with privacy are probably better off looking elsewhere.

       
      Reply

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