Of the many ROMs out there, CyanogenMod is the most popular. What makes it so unique and prominent is the fact that it runs stock Android, with a few added features that most find enhance the experience. Now, not everything about it is stock. For instance, it runs ADW as it’s main home launcher. But most find it to be about as pure as it gets.
CyanogenMod has been around for little over a year now. It has become one of the biggest out there, and is available on dozens of devices. Chances are, your Android phone supports it. (Please note that usage may vary, and while it is available on many devices, not all of them have official support.) The version being reviewed is 7.0.3 running on an HTC Inspire 4G. This is currently the newest stable release.
Even though most of CyanogenMod is stock Android, one of the biggest changes is the default launcher. It uses ADW launcher, a common one found in the Android Market. It operates in the same way as the stock launcher, just with a slightly different look and added customization. When you first flash CM7, there are the 3 main icons in the dock (Phone, App Drawer, and Browser) that can be added or removed, as well as up to 5 more added. This is incredibly convenient, allowing access to up to 5 apps at all times on the home screen.
The launcher is also customizable as far as looks. Its got a built in Theme Chooser, allowing you to change the theme depending on your personal taste and mood with ease. In addition, you can download additional ones to use on your phone. Also, ADW launcher can be run on any Android phone, but it runs much better on CM7 due to the fact that the OS is built around it. This leads to little or no lag, making the ROM as a whole much quicker. If you’re a fan of ADW, CM7 is a must have.
I wanted to give a small section to the camera app, and it isn’t exactly good. It’s a pretty straight forward, no frills app, and in my opinion, it actually decreases picture quality. But the most annoying part is the bugs. Again, your usage may vary, but when using the app on the Inspire it would constantly force close, taking a long time to focus and then snap the picture, and also struggle to save the picture.
One of the main reasons people flash new ROMs on their phones is for the performance boosts they can provide. CM7 is, while debatable, one of the fastest ROMs available. In my personal use, I’ve found it to be the fastest I’ve tried (and I’ve flashed dozens of ROMs!). In version 7.0.3, I’ve found little to no bugs, with maybe an app crash here and there. Also, it runs on top of Android 2.3.4, increasing speed even more.
Another part of CM7 that makes it so unique is the developer support. On an almost daily basis “nightly” ROMs are released. These are experimental versions of CyanogenMod that are updated almost every day. This all depends on the device you’re using, and developer phones (i.e. Nexus) receive updates more often. Please be aware though that these ROMs are not polished nor final products, and some may not even work. Always have a back-up plan if you’re going to flash a nightly ROM.
CyanogenMod is one of the closest and best alternatives to stock Android. The stable releases tend to be incredibly polished, with tremendous speed. For a user looking for something new, this probably isn’t the best ROM for you. For the Android purist, this is a must have. The productivity of it is also unmatched, so power users will appreciate it as well. This ROM receives one of my highest marks as far as Android ROMs go, making it well worth the time put into flashing it.