Normally when I do a ROM review, I look for one that takes Android to a new level by either making it look different or adding new features. Today, we’re going back to the basics. Gingerbeast is a near AOSP build of Android, which means it’s almost what Google intended it to be. With all the new skins coming out on phones, it’s hard to forget what it’s all based off of. You can find it on xda-developers for the HTC Inspire 4G.
This particular build actually has some framework from CyanogenMod, another ROM I reviewed. It runs on Android version 2.3.4. From my understanding, the developer is just trying to make the smoothest AOSP experience possible on the Inspire 4G, a phone that shipped with HTC’s Sense. I won’t be detailing every feature, as most people are familiar with pure Android, and this phone runs just that.
For starters, this ROM is fast. The Inspire’s processor may now be outdated, but you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Most people have grown accustomed to slight lag in Android, but that is due to all the tweaks manufacturers make to their software. Google’s stock build is the fastest I’ve used, and while this may be that the developer optimized the software, I’ve heard great things about the speed on the Nexus S.
In my week with this ROM, I experienced no lag whatsoever. That’s pretty impressive considering Android isn’t the most stable operating system. Even when taking pictures, the ROM soars. In all honesty, I didn’t realize my Inspire was capable of such speeds. The only problem I experienced was the Market app crashing occasionally, which I’ve noticed in every ROM I’ve used since it was updated.
I’ve never actually owned a phone with stock Android on it (my Nexus One and G2 both came pre-rooted running custom ROMs), and I am in love with the looks. The green on black scheme is genius, and every aspect of the ROM looks beautiful. Also, the launcher is so smooth that it rivals the iPhone in animations. I’ve previously been a fan of horizontal app drawers, but I’ve switched sides after using stock Android. The way it puts everything into a list just makes me feel more productive.
Something else I fell in love with are the wallpapers Google includes. Specifically the live ones. I’ve been using Android devices for about a year and a half, and I’ve never been a fan of live wallpapers. To me, they used to just be a headache waiting to happen, and also a major battery drain. Google sucked me in with their Microbes live wallpaper. On screen are a bunch of small organisms, waiting to feed. When you touch the screen, you create little dots of light, which appears to be their dinner. If you don’t feed them, they die. In total, I’ve probably spent 4 hrs of the last week sitting there feeding the microbes. Not good.
The only problem I have is with Google’s stock Music application. It’s ugly, and downright confusing. After figuring out that the back button only exits the app, I realized how much I missed HTC’s music app. And I am not a fan of Sense. Not everything can be perfect, and my message to Google is that they should improve their music app in Ice Cream Sandwich.
The final thing I have to say is that battery life is decent. I could make it through the day with moderate usage, but not much longer. Other ROMs like MIUI and CyanogenMod would make it at least a day and a half. Not a deal-breaker, but I’m sure Google could do better.
After spending my first week with Google’s AOSP build of Android, I have to say I’m impressed. It is the smoothest experience I’ve ever had on an Android device, and manufacturers should take note. I believe they should stop wasting time skinning it, and try to just optimize their phones for stock Android. Personally, I only see Nexus devices in my future, starting with the Nexus Prime.
Have a great ROM to share? Leave a comment, or tweet me @jlehto43.
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