ROM Review: Virtuous Unity (Sense 3.0)

HTC, one of the biggest phone manufacturers in the world, has its own “skin” that it applies over Android. Called HTC Sense, most people either love, or hate it. It is incredibly heavy, and most times full of bugs. The Android community loves to tear apart the ROMs, and try to increase their usability. There all also many ports for taking a more recent ROM on a flagship phone, and port it to older, lower spec devices. That’s is where Virtuous Unity v1.31.0 comes in.

Available on the HTC Inspire 4G, this ROM is a working port of Sense 3.0 on the HTC Sensation. HTC has stated that Sense 3.0 and above will only be on newer, dual core devices. This means that this ROM is NOT made for the Inspire, and performance may vary. Now, the Virtuous team has optimized it for better preformance, but that doesn’t make it run buttery smooth. They’ve also included a few tweaks to fight off the lag.

Interface

HTC Sense has remained largely unchanged from the early days. To unlock the phone, you pull a ring up. Right above the ring are 4 icons. These icons lead to Phone, Mail, Camera and Messages when you pull them down into the ring. This makes it one of the more useful lock screens available on Android. Once the phone is unlocked, the Android home screen is more or less the same, with quite a bit of visual customization. For starters, the buttom dock includes Apps on the left, Phone in the middle, and a custom Personalize tab on the right. There are up to 7 home screens, and a custom app drawer. Sense is one of the more capable ROMs when it comes to personalization. When you hit the tab on the home screen, it brings you to a page where you can add apps and widgets, and change various settings like the current “scene” and “skin”. The scenes consist of different modes to put your phone in, like work or play, and changes the wallpaper and widgets accordingly. The skins mode changes how the ROM looks in general, but doesn’t change any functionality. HTC includes a custom app that you can download more skins and scenes, called HTC Hub.

Widgets

Normally, I wouldn’t include widgets as part of a normal review, but HTC includes some quality ones. My favorite one, and the one I use the most is the Clock widget. It has been on every Sense phone to date, and is one of the first things you see. In 3.0, there are multiple Clock widgets that each include an extra feature, like social network statuses, or weather. Next, is the Friend Stream widget, which is HTC’s social networking widget. Facebook, Twitter, Plurk and Flickr accounts can all be added, and then displayed together on the home screen. There’s also a Messaging and Mail widget, each displaying their respective content. In my experience with these widgets, they’ve tended to be a little buggy and slow, but this appeared in even the older Sense 2.1 phones, showing that it may be more the software more than the phone, but nothing is for certain.

Perfomance

Sense has always been slow. Even on the new dual core monsters, it has been reported that there are still many bugs, and the phones lag occasionally. The Inspire has a 1Ghz processor and 768MBs of RAM. That amount of RAM is the same as the Sensation, but the processor can’t always keep up. And it isn’t as much the processor’s fault, as much as HTC’s. These problems were around in Sense 2.1 builds, and even the Virtuous team can’t work miracles. The worst part: battery life sucks. Included with the ROM is a custom overclocking app. In my opinion, you should never have to overclock a phone to get the performance you want. That should be a given in this day and age. But for those speed demons looking to get those 10 extra points in Quadrant, it’s ready to be used. Also note, overclocking can severly damage your phone, causing it to overheat and become unstable in certain situations. It decreases battey life and isn’t what the manufacturer intended. DroidDog does not recommend overclocking, and I would recommend avoiding it. Everything is done at your own risk.

Wrap Up

HTC’s custom ROM’s are not, in my opinion, for anyone but the consumer who doesn’t have a care in the world for custom ROMs. They’re buggy, memory and processor intensive, as well as eat battery life for breakfast. In reality, I can’t make it through a day with Sense ROMs while I can make it at least two with Cyanogen or MIUI. Even with multiple devs optimizing the ROMs, that should be HTC’s job in the first place. If you’re a hardcore Sense fan, then by all means try this ROM and let us know what you think. Leave a comment or tweet me @jlehto43. But for anyone else looking for their new ROM, stay away from Sense 3.0. Disclaimer

As always, DroidDog, its editors, and other personnel do not hold any responsibility for your device when rooting, or initiating any other modifications. You take the risk upon yourself to root or generally modify your device in any capacity. Keep in mind that modifying your phone may void your warranty. DroidDog does not bear any responsibility if you root your phone.