ROM review: CyanogenMod 7 (VALPHA 2) for EVO 3D

I'm an AOSP man. Sense has gotten good, but I just can't seem to tear myself away from vanilla Android, and more specifically, CyanogenMod.

The speed, the themes, and the customization are just a few of the reasons I'm always drawn back into Steve Kondik's world, so the night the EVO 3D alpha went live, I flashed it.

If you're curious about the goods, follow me after the break.

For anyone who has used vanilla Android anything, CM7 should look familiar. The launcher is back to ADW (the free version), with the same old lockscreen we're all accustomed to. Pop open the app drawer and you'll see all the apps you're accostomed to seeing, including the CM7-specific ones, like Theme Chooser and File Manager. There's not a bit of Sense to be found, and I like it.

Installation & Setup

Install is no different from any other ROM. Nandroid your old stuff if you're coming from a different ROM, wipe everything, and flash away. You'll want to be sure you grab the latest gapps and flash those right after you've flashed CM7 (and before you reboot), or else you'll be missing most of the good stuff.

Performance (with numbers!)

What needs to be said? It's CyanogenMod, and that means it screams. It flies. It goes as fast as you want it to (and faster) and chuckles as it leaves lesser ROMs in the dust. Scrolling is quick and snappy. Menus open and change near instantly. The only time I find myself waiting on anything is when I'm refreshing Google+ or Plume, and that's a data connection thing, not a ROM thing.

Because I've heard folks like numbers, I've added some of them into the mix. On FPS2D, average FPS was 56 (as seen in the picture). Deviations are higher than I'd care for, but I haven't noticed any real world issues, so take it for what it's worth.

Both the Quadrant and Neocore scores are great and indicative of how much this ROM wants to fly. Again, I'm not surprised that Neocore scored so high (I mean, hey, it's runnning an Adreno GPU), but it's good to know that performance isn't adversely affected by poor programming. Wait, did I just say "poor programming" in a CM7 review? Silly.

NenaMark 1 and 2 always kind of elude me. While they might make the CM7 port to the EVO 3D look sort of 'meh,' it's not meh. It's actually quite awesome. But hey, if there's a benchmark out there that makes this phone (or ROM, or any combination of factors) only score a 40 or a 25, that's ok. Because in everyday, casual-to-hardcore use, it's fine. I've yet to run something or try to open something and say to myself, "Man, this performance is terribad."

Battery Life

I feel like this is something that has to be noted because I specifically waited for a particular fix to come out before reviewing it. Originally, when CM7 was released for the EVO 3D, the battery life was so-so. It wasn't atrocious but it wasn't the excellent battery we've all come to expect from Cyanogen and his ilk. In short, it was average, par the course, if you will.

When alpha2 came out, some strange niggle was introduced that kept your battery from (appearing) to charge all the way. It was frustrating because you could wake up at 530 in the morning (like me) and see your battery had 61% on it. Halfway through the day, I'm hurting for a plug socket and am on my way to having a nice, expensive paperweight until I get home.

Well, a fix was finally released for that issue specifically, and boy, is it great. My battery easily lasts all day without problem. I even left it off the charger last night just to see what would happen. The result? The second picture. Battery life on this ROM absolutely rocks my socks off, and I don't say that lightly.

If you're a moderate user, you'll be able to go from morning to when you get home from work (and then some) without asking for a charge. It's great.

Known Bugs

For all the good that's in an alpha build of CM7, not all is well in jockey land. Fortunately, everything is well documented. Things that still need fixing are:

  • bluetooth borked for now
  • nextflix has a security issue
  • wimax broken for now
  • keyboard all massive. i use Gingerbread keyboard from the market
  • taking 3d images and video not working
  • 3d pictures (mpo, jps, ect) do not display in 3d
  • FFC takes pics upside down

Epic Conclusion

I know "alpha" might be a little scary to some and off-putting to others, but aside from a niggle here and there, toastcfh's CM7 port is good enough to be my daily driver. In fact, it is my daily driver.

It's fast, stable, and works just about as well as I could ask. Yeah, there's a couple of things that aren't working, but if you're not dependent on 4G or Bluetooth, this is more than usable.

If you're looking for the vanilla, stock Android experience and have an EVO 3D, it's here, waiting for you to flash.

  • Thanks for the review. But I have my phone connected to my stereo in my car through Bluetooth and I'm not going to plug in a damn wire just to run this ROM :) And I use the FFC sometimes, so no need to give that up either. But once this is ready, it's where I'm going, absolutely. I'm pretty tired of Sense. The Carousel was just too annoying, as was the useless launch bar at the bottom. So I use Go Launcher, Contapps, and Dolphin HD. There's not much left I need Sense for.
  • +1 on the Carousel. I *hate* what they did to it- it was so much better on the Evo 4G. Now it seems impossible to flip to just where I want to go. Are you listening HTC? It might SEEM cool to spin your screens around, but *NOBODY* likes it that way!!!! While you are at it, could you PLEASE alphabetize ALL the menu entries in things like Settings? Otherwise, I generally like the new Sense.
  • As soon as the first VAlpha1 build was released, I flashed it. Yeah, there are known issues (VAlpha3, released on Sunday, fixed bluetooth by the way), but I'm not in a 4G area, so I don't miss that, and as much as I love the 3D, I can do without it for a bit (3D videos still play with Rockplayer, however). Fast? Definitely. Battery life? I've gotten over 30 hours on a single charge. With VAlpha3, there's a kickass new lockscreen that's reminiscent of the Sense 3.0 lockscreen, but much better looking. Even with the Alpha tag, it's a quality ROM with everything you've come to know and love from CM. I would highly recommend it, at least to test out, to anyone with a rooted Evo 3D.
  • How are you saying that the ROM itself is the reason your battery is lasting all day? It would seem that with the display accounting for only 2-3% of the usage in that time, the phone just wasn't being used much.
  • That's an interesting point that I never thought of. All I can say is I was using my phone just as much as I normally do, and I use my phone often. (Gotta keep up on the Google+ and Twitters and whatnot.)
  • what theme is that, it looks slick!
  • MellowYellow!
  • thanks, been running mattedblues for a while. imma give this a try now. thanks again.
  • Even though I'm rooted, I still haven't touched any of the ROMS. The root seems to have stabilized my EVO. I dunno. I hear that Cyanogenmod 7 wasn't stable from one guy, but others seem to like it. I dunno...
  • That's what nandroid backups are for. Back up, and try some ROMs. If they're not to your liking, then you can always restore. Life is too short to play the "wait and see because 'one guy' said it was this or that" game... Just saying. Get out there and try some custom ROMs dammit! :D
  • Exactly Nandroid backups take literally a full copy of your entire system the way it is. If you wipe everything and try ANY rom and you don't like it, you restore the nandroid backup and you'd never know that you did anything different from before you wiped it out. It's a zero-risk process since you can go back to what you had so easily.
  • On my EVO 4G there were issues with text and mms. How about for 3s?