[Week 1] – Rez K’s Review

[ROM][5.1.1][AOSP] SlimLP by SlimROMs (27th/31st May 2015 Builds)

Introducing the ROM

SlimLP is an AOSP-based ROM developed by the SlimROMs team. This is not to be confused with the SlimSaber ROM, which is an unofficial build. Currently SlimLP is still in alpha, but according to most devotees of SlimROMs, their alpha builds are often more stable than most other dev teams’ final builds. I can attest to this claim based on my brief period of testing this particular ROM.

SlimLP About Page 1 SlimLP About Page 2

SlimLP attempts to provide a smooth AOSP ROM experience to the end user without compromising on features – the result of this paradigm is a ROM which shows its, um, “slimness” elegantly. Everything from the compactness of the .zip to be flashed and the rapid way in which it flashes and boots up, shows the very minimal nature of this ROM’s build. That is not to suggest that its lacking in features, on the contrary it is quite feature packed as you will see as you read on.

Before I begin, I’d like to give a shout out to Dax – my fellow AndroidScout.com team-member – who recommended SlimLP for me and helped me flash it onto my phone. And with that, here’s what I have to say about the ROM after having spent the past week living with it as my daily driver:

UI Feel and Smoothness

Lets start by diving right into the first benefit of using a minimalist ROM: UI/UX performance. The overall performance of the ROM is great: the UI is fast, smooth and has fluid transitions (typical of any solid Lollipop ROM). The ROM itself as well as the recommended Slim mini-gapps package is devoid of bloat and unnecessary services, so boot-up and app loading is lightning quick. Now, I would like to point out that they did set their transition animation, window animation and animator duration scale to 0.75x, which was a bit tricky – but it results in a UI that feels faster than it really is, smart move Slim team!

Performance feels quite good overall: apps load quickly, animations rarely lag or stutter, gaming performance is just as good as expected. All in all, if you don’t want a lot of added stuff and you want a lightweight ROM which dedicates more of your hardware resource to pushing your apps and the UI, this is the ROM for you. Despite the poor PVS bin on my chip, I didn’t notice much overheating during day-to-day use. I would like to draw your attention to the ambient temperatures, though – it was remarkably hot here in my city during the time of my testing (upwards of 39ºC at times), so I can’t particularly fault (nor praise) the ROM for its CPU heat stats.

Crashes and hangs were few in number, but present. The most crashes I faced were during extended periods of playing Sky Force 2014 – this could possibly be an overheating issue, but that is unlikely since Mortal Kombat X (a more demanding title) seemed to fare better. Overall stability and performance of the ROM is remarkably good.

Performance and stability is quite possibly the biggest selling point for this ROM. Our testing process does not involve us using benchmarks to gauge performance, so I won’t post any here. In real-world use, though, the performance of this ROM is up there with the best of them. Good job SlimROMs team!

Battery Life

So after my fawning over this ROM’s lightweight nature, you’re probably expecting me to say that battery life is game-changing, sadly it’s not. Not to suggest that battery life is poor in absolute terms: it is acceptable with extremely heavy use – yielding about 3:30 hours of screen-on time with constant heavy gaming, extended phone calls, and limited use of lighter apps. Problem is that it doesn’t seem to do significantly well with moderate or light use, which is quite disappointing.

Moderate use doesn’t yield any more than 4:45 to 5:20 hours of SoT; this left me genuinely disappointed; for such a lightweight ROM, battery life should have been outstanding. There was also a significant amount of battery draw from “Miscellaneous” which I could not find an explanation for. This mystery draw would also come and go as it pleased. Truth be told, I’m certain that Greenify or Amplify would help in that regard, but the high miscellaneous battery use stat is a bit disconcerting. I have no idea what’s causing it or what it contributes to battery use in regular use. The only real draw back I’ve found in this otherwise solid ROM. I would like to give a special thanks to return.of.octobot for his help in investigating this issue.

Battery stats during heavy usage
Battery stats during heavy usage

HEAVY USE I (2) HEAVY USE I (3)

 

Battery stats during moderate usage
Battery stats during moderate usage

MODERATE USE II (2) MODERATE USE II (3)

A point to note is that it feels as though the battery warms up slightly during standby – this might have to do with the CPU state during wakelocks or the crap weather we’re having (hot and humid). This was persistent regardless of whether Ambient Display was enabled or not. Another observation I had was a change in the AC and USB charging behavior. This may be because of the programming of the stock kernel that comes with SlimLP. The charging process itself is slightly slower than in CM11S, but at a huge advantage: my charger no longer overheats while plugged in. On this subject, the included slim governor does an excellent job at load-balancing and goes a long way in ensuring that you don’t face lag and that frame rates don’t drop, but at the same time doesn’t seem to sacrifice deep sleep much.

Compared to my previous daily-driver ROM, CM11S XNPH44S, the battery life on this ROM seems on par. Compared to ROMs like Vanir-Exodus and even CM12.1 nightlies, however, the battery life on SlimLP (at least without the use of Greenify/Amplify/etc.) is unacceptably poor. In summary, battery life isn’t stellar, which it should be given the minimal build of the ROM; but it’s not too bad either.

Features and Customizability

Being a minimal ROM doesn’t mean it skimps on features – the settings cover a good range of adjustments but don’t include anything unnecessary. It was also pleasant to see a custom ROM that comes with a settings menu which is nicely organized and easy to use. I won’t go over a full list of the included features, but the ones I feel are worthy of particular praise are:

  1. The Privacy Guard (App Ops): something that should come with every Android ROM ever made
  2. Interface tweaks: the abilities to reorder the Quick Settings tiles in the notification dropdown, change the status bar settings quite extensively, etc.
  3. LiveDisplay: An excellent display tuning utility which allows for user selectable display parameters as well as an f.lux-like automatic color temperature adjustment to make night viewing easier on the eyes. But take note that this entire feature seemed to have completely disappeared completely on the 20150531 build, so… Yeah!
  4. 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.
  5. Pre-rooted: Which is always a good thing!
  6. Absolutely no bloat: This sounds rather like a lack of features, but I feel that the gain in performance is a feature in itself!

Features I wasn’t a big fan of are the clumsy implementation of Ambient Display and the slightly buggy SlimLauncher. Also, the inconsistency in the SlimLP builds makes it difficult to ascertain exactly what features you will or will not get with the ROM you flash – case in point: the sudden disappearance of LiveDisplay that I noticed. It was brought to my attention by my fellow team member that the SlimROMs team are “inconsistent as fuck” with their build releases. This might make finding the right build for you a bit difficult.

In my week of testing, these are the other minor bugs that I came across:

  1. Screen off gesture settings’ back button doesn’t work (okay, yeah – I’m nitpicking)
  2. Hardware buttons won’t work until disabled then re-enabled
  3. The only way to “disable” hardware buttons completely is to turn off the setting and turn the button backlight intensity to 0%. Not a big problem for those who prefer hardware buttons (like me!)
  4. Double-tap to wake won’t work if enabled only from the main settings window – the respective setting needs to be enabled in the Screen off gestures settings as well.
  5. Ambient display triggers itself without any provocation sometimes (as with most Lollipop ROMs)
  6. UI glitches in stock browser and while using SwiftKey.
  7. Buggy SlimLauncher – Google voice search bug where voice search will be triggered by clicking the microphone icon location even without the search bar present; homescreen rests sporadically on left-most panel rather than designated homescreen; widgets don’t show right away when adding them. I switched to Nova Launcher and was completely satisfied.
  8. Lockscreen glitch leaves part of the status bar unshaded when device is brought out of standby.
  9. Cellular data connectivity sometimes disappeared after getting disconnected from a WiFi network.
  10. AudioFX is completely non-functional.
  11. Random reboots and total system freezes when playing the Sky Force 2014 game for an extended period of time.
SlimLP 5.1.1 Lockscreen Glitch
Lockscreen glitch visible often when waking up from sleep (2015-05-27 build observed)

Overall Impressions

As you probably can tell, I like most of this ROM. So what don’t I like? The bugs are a bit annoying but not a deal breaker. The poor battery life is a bit of a mixed bag in my experience, especially if taking the miscellaneous power draw into consideration – it completely disappeared as mysteriously as it came, driving me up the wall! Another issue that I found quite a bit annoying was how the volume controls became non-linear: media volume sounded rather weak at 100%, barely audible between 70-90% and almost inaudible below 70%. This, I presume, is because of the audio drivers, but perhaps can be resolved by installing Viper4Android – I hadn’t tried this myself, but if the audio issue bothers you too much, you could give it a go.

There’s not much else to not like – because there’s not much, period. SlimLP sheds weight in favor or simplicity and performance, but what they leave in is all good stuff. It’s hard to believe that this is an “alpha” ROM; there are stable releases of big-name ROMs which are buggier than this.

The few minor bugs aside, this is a good ROM with poor battery life being it’s only major drawback. Based on my experience, I would score this ROM 3.75 out of 5 – no higher only because SoT is majorly important to me.

In conclusion

So who is this ROM for?

Anyone who’s looking for a simple, clean, stable and fast build of 5.1.1 can’t go wrong with this ROM. If, however, you’re looking for the ultimate collection of features, or you need to squeeze out every last second from your screen-on time, you’re better off flashing something else.  Remember, this is an alpha build, meaning that optimizations may be necessary before we can gauge the actual battery performance that can be expected from a final, stable release.

Would I recommend this ROM to others?

Yes I would. Personally, I am a big fan of minimal ROMs with just the right feature set and somehow the SlimROMs team seems to have tailor-made the perfect collection of features for me. It’s just a shame that the SoT is “meh” – meaning that SlimLP is unlikely to remain my daily-driver in its current 0.3 alpha stage.  If you’re considering an AOSP ROM, give it a try, you might just like it!

Final words…

Being a bit wary of all the potential issues going to Lollipop, I’ve stuck to CM11S for the longest time. Has SlimLP made me a hardcore Lollipop-lover? No. But it has made me a big fan of SlimROMs – they certainly know what they’re doing. I expect good things from them in the future.

If you’re interested in trying this ROM out for yourself, you can find it here.

Note:

Please take a moment to rate and comment on this review. Your opinion helps us work on our content to deliver more improved reviews for you and other flashaholics alike. Happy flashing! :)

 

5 Comments

  1. Adam Willis Adam Willis

    Excellent job Rez! Very comprehensive, inspiring even. I like your style 😀 Looking forward to getting into the mix

     
    Reply
    1. Rez Rez

      Thank you, Adam you’re too kind! And I look forward to working with you soon. :)

       
      Reply
  2. Kevin Connolly aka theshinybeast Kevin Connolly aka theshinybeast

    Nice one Rez ,I’ll keep this one in mind for the future as you seem to think it’s a great ROM but still in need of work.This review is very helpful as now I know what to look out for when I get around to trying it out.Great work.

     
    Reply
    1. Rez Rez

      Glad to be of service Kevin, and thank you :)

      Feel free to PM me on the forums when you try the ROM out for yourself – I will be happy to share notes and give you a more in-depth analysis of SlimLP should you wish.

      Have a good one man!

       
      Reply

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