Note 3 and Cyanogenmod
Since getting the Note 3 roughly 6 months ago I have found it to be a fantastic phone. It is fast with a brilliant clear screen and does everything I could have wanted in a phone, with one big exception.
Samsung Bloatware (and the inability to change much of it)
There is apps in there I will never use, but you cannot remove them. But more importantly there are apps there that perform a functionality I DO use but dislike tremendously but cannot remove them or change their default.
A classic one if Samsung music app. It’s rubbish and you cannot set anything else as the default music player. Seeing as when you import your music from iTunes via Samsung Kies it doesn’t actually import the playlists (just the mp3’s) that a killer for me. So I started using Doubletwist but pressing ‘Play’ on a bluetooth receiver (it my car stereo) starts up Samsung Music and there is no way to change it.
So this required adding another utility that over-rode this.
And this goes on for SMS (I used Hello) and so forth.
I had enough.
I have always been a fan of Cyanogenmod. Whenever someone asked me about custom ROMs it has always been where I pointed them. It is easily the best supported custom version of Android out there.
However the Note is not your normal phone. With its stylus it is hard to find a ROM (that isnt still based on Touchwiz *shudder*) that would work on the Note.
I wasn’t too sure on Cyanogenmod either – but is there was any ROM I was going to have a shot at, Cyanogenmod would be it.
So I backed everything up, nuked my phone, and installed Cyanogenmod.
The install went as smoothly as can be expected (it’s still not something for the faint hearted). Although on the Cyanogenmod ‘how to’ it points to both the “full” Google Apps install and a “short” one. Use the short one as the keyboard from the Full one didn’t seem to work and threw error on first boot.
Other than a few personal customisations to the GUI it was pretty much ready to rock and roll out of the box. I tend to jack up the number of icons/grid size on the desktop. The primary disappointment was that the standard keyboard in the ROM didn’t support the stylus. In fact as far as I can tell, the machine didn’t know about the stylus at all. Sorry guys, but if you’re building a ROM specifically for a phone that has a stylus, it’s probably a good idea to actually support the stylus.
The stylus I managed to get around by installing Swype Keyboard. I’ll be honest, its not the greatest keyboard I’ve ever used and the handwriting/stylus recognition is pretty poor (doesn’t support cursive nor simply stuff like spaces (you have to use a specific ‘space bar’ when writing)).
I also had to install a couple of small S-Pen helper utilities to get it to launch OneNote automatically (the only app I really use the stylus for).
Other than that, I’m pretty happy.
The included SMS app is certainly better than the standard Samsung one (which from a GUI point of view looks exactly the same as it did in Android 2.2).
I still use Nine for my Exchange/work mail.
The included music app (Apollo) works well enough and supports the playlists once imported my iSyncr.
Battery life seems to be on par with the standard Samsung ROM although I’m yet to (touch wood) face any run-away processes that previously would drain my battery in less that a day.
Since I posted this I’ve switched over the PowerAmp for my music as its the first one Ive found that actually gets around the horrendously annoying “dipping/ducking” of audio volume whenever a notification comes in.
Also, it would seem the battery life has improved over standard with Cyanogenmod, possibly to do with the fact that I’m not having to run half a dozen little utilities in the background for stuff that CM does out of the box.