Editor's note: This time around we've got a ROM review for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus from long time Android Central member JKK Photography. I know you'll enjoy it, and from the looks of things if you're the proud owner of a LTE GNex, you just might want to give it a try. Settle in and have a read after the break. And be sure to tell JKK Photography thanks for the review!
If you're interested in writing a ROM review of your own (the best reviews come from the folks who use them daily!) give us a shout, we'd love to talk to you!
A “Nexus” device embodies the pure Google experience and those who purchase them usually fall into one of two categories. The first is developers, who want to know that they’ll have the latest version of Android on the same hardware that Google will test it on. The second group contains the people who love Android: the power that it has, the potential of hacking it, and the Google experience in general.
Various ROMs try to extend the native abilities of Android, while others try to change the appearance by tweaking various UI elements. Still others take native Android, in all of its beauty, and iron out bugs. They take the freely-available source code, and then add the best of other open-source ROMs, as well as the developer’s own blood, sweat, and tears to make the overall experience better. These ROMs have three goals: stability, speed, and battery life.
For the Galaxy Nexus, the best of these types of ROMs is Redemption ROM. Developed by OhHeyItsLou, this ROM has consistently been the cream of the crop in my testing, and continues to be my daily driver.
Lou has included various tweaks to improve the responsiveness of the system, and it shows. This ROM is smooth - 60 FPS, no stutter when scrolling, phone-on-steroids smooth. This matches the smoothest device I’ve ever used (a Nokia Lumia 800) point for point. The slickness of this ROM is addictive, so be warned: it makes other ROMs hard to use, even if they do boast more features.
Speaking of features, Lou believes in a very Google-like experience for this device. While it does feature the advanced power menu, it doesn’t have much else. Some may find this to be a major issue, but I find it to be refreshing. Instead of focusing on theming the UI, adding various features to the notification dropdown, or changing how the home screen animates, Lou has focused on speed and stability. Again, be warned now that this isn’t up to feature parity with the likes of CyanogenMod or AOKP - for better or for worse.
The second focus of this ROM is stability and, again, it lives up to it. In my testing, this has consistently been one of the most stable releases I’ve used. Under the latest version (version 1.3, which is based on Android 4.0.4), I haven’t experienced any of the apps force-closing. I also haven’t had to deal with any random reboots. This level of stability is great to see in custom ROMs, which are sometimes much more buggy than their OEM counterparts.
Battery life on Redemption ROM is, like a few other ROMs, very good for a smartphone. In other words, I can easily go a day on it without desperately searching for a charger. The kernel Redemption ROM comes with is great, but I’ve moved to LeanKernel simply because I find that it does add a little time to the battery, as well as a few other geeky features that I appreciate. In my very unscientific testing, I’ve found that Redemption ROM does tend to last longer on a charge than other ROMs. Of course, battery life is heavily impacted by location, signal strength, and various other factors that are hard to reproduce.
Lou is also doing something that I find is unique to his ROM: he is trying to cultivate a community that can help others by his YouTube videos. Through these videos, he tries to explain the changelog in layman’s terms. I’m pretty far from an expert on Android, so these videos make the ROM that much sweeter, as it helps to increase my knowledge of the entire Android system, as well as that of how open-source works. He also includes little features, like his backup feature, that help to make the experience that much more convenient.
I recommend anyone on a Verizon Galaxy Nexus to give this ROM a try. I think that some people will be surprised that they don’t find themselves missing the dozens of little features that other ROMs have as the smoothness and reliability of Redemption ROM works it magic on them. My hat is off to Lou, for creating and maintaining such a fantastic ROM for the Galaxy Nexus.
Lou’s Redemption ROM is currently available on RootzWiki at version 1.3. It is based off of the Android Open Source Project, and works on the LTE Galaxy Nexus for Verizon. According to his Twitter, Lou is currently working on another ROM that has many more features, while maintaining the high bar that Redemption ROM has set in the speed and reliability departments. Also, he’s a Mustang guy. No wonder his ROM is so fast and smooth.