My Google Nexus 7 is a toy. I’m sure there are very productive things to do with it, but the most productive thing my Nexus 7 does for me is save battery life on my phone because I’m using it a lot less. That being said, I like to play with my toys, and a few days ago I decided to flash MIUI’s custom Jelly Bean ROM on my Nexus 7. Only few weeks ago, MIUI released the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean version of their popular custom ROM for a couple of devices, with the Nexus 7 being one of the first officially supported devices. This initially caught my interest, but was turned off by initial reports of MIUI’s first release on the Nexus 7 being not ready for the device. Team Shogun over at XDA got their hands on the ROM, and have tweaked it to be a little more prime time ready. However, I don’t get it, and i’ll explain why in a bit.
If you’re not familiar with MIUI, MIUI is a custom ROM developed by Xiaomi Tech out of China and is known for doing away with the app drawer giving the ROM a very iOS feel. Xiaomi Tech have also in the past few months released a launcher to give you the MIUI feel without flashing a new ROM, and have even more recently released a new phone that looks pretty dope. Their ROMs are heavily themed, and the stock MIUI theme again screams iOS. They also often have lots of custom themes that are easily downloaded and applied to the ROM, so if you like to switch things up, this ROM makes it easy. So, if any of these things sound up your alley, MIUI may be worth a shot. I’m going to tell you how I feel about it on the Nexus 7. Experiences may be very different running MIUI on a phone.
To install MIUI on your Nexus 7 you do need to have an unlocked and rooted device. If you want to get that taken care of, check out my how-to video here. I found you need to install it from your custom recovery and will not work installing through ROM Manager. You can download the ROM zip from here. Be sure to thank the developers (Team Shogun) who have worked hard on tweaking this ROM for use on the Nexus 7. It really does run well, the issues I have with it are not their fault. Gapps are baked into this ROM, so you do not need to flash gapps after flashing the ROM. Follow the typical steps for flashing the ROM:
0. Backup your Nexus 7 through your custom recovery
1. Wipe data/factory reset
2. Wipe cache partition
3. Wipe Dalvik Cache
4. Install from SD card
5. The developer suggests to set permissions to be extra safe
Now onto my review of the ROM and what I don’t get: It’s a phone ROM. Take a look at my screenshots, it’s like the MIUI developers ported over the phone ROM and made it work on the Nexus 7 and stopped right there. I get that this is a work in progress, but there’s not one thing about the ROM that makes me feel like I’m using a tablet besides the soft keys. Also, what’s with the menu button in the soft keys? What is this? Gingerbread? I guess I have two options to go to the menu now. The dpi funny, the grid is 4×4, and there are shortcuts to the dialer everywhere. Really? Now, I realize all these things are fixable. Team Shogun developer timmytim has already released a mod to fix the grid. The fact is, right now, this is a phone ROM running on my Nexus 7 and it’s not floating my boat. The ROM doesn’t make my Nexus 7 feel special, it just makes it feel awkward.
That being said, MIUI does have some benefits. As I stated earlier, if you like to give your device new looks, there are some great themes out there. I had to take a look at the theme named gentleman, you can see it in the gallery. I love how chrome has a mustache. Anyways, the themes available for the MIUI ROM can be appealing. Also, the toggles available in the drop down menu are also handy. I also like how there’s a page for common settings, as opposed to always having to scroll through all settings. The ROM seems relatively smooth except for the lock screen, and Google Now and the Jelly Bean Notification features are working. MIUI does do a lot of things well. As for this ROM on my Nexus 7, it’s not working for me. In the future, I do think it would be fun to give this ROM a run again, but until MIUI turns this into a tablet ROM, I’ll pass.
So, am I being a total wiener on an early build for the Nexus 7? Are you running MIUI on your Nexus 7 and loving it? What appeals to you about the MIUI ROM? Or do you not like it? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below…
P.S. Sorry about the huge list of screenshots. We’re having technical difficulties with the gallery…