If you have been using an Android device for quite sometime, you must have heard about CyanogenMod. CM, as it is popularly known in the community, is among the most popular AOSP based custom ROMs out there for Android devices with support for more than 50+ devices. It recently crossed the 5 million user base, and its team is among the most talented and respected in the Android community.
If you are not well versed with the Android community, you must be wondering why should you be taking so much effort to install a ROM on your device that ends up voiding its warranty? Well, there are quite a few reasons as to why you should flash CyanogenMod on your Android device. Below, I list down 10 reasons.
Before you start reading the points below, keep in mind that it makes little sense to flash CyanogenMod on the latest high-end flagships like the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4. These devices are already running the latest version of Android, and the performance of these devices is nothing to complain about either. You also need to keep in mind that there will be certain trade-offs in terms of features vs. performance. Like on the Note 2, you will have to give up on some of the features of the S-PEN, for better performance and UI.
The CyanogenMod team is backed by an excellent community that is extremely helpful. It is the community that has helped CyanogenMod become so big, and distinguish it from the rest. While this might not seem important, it plays a big role when you are trying to install CyanogenMod on your device and face some problem.
The community also plays a major role in helping the CM team fix bugs, and add new features by giving them very helpful feedbacks.
OEMs take ages to push a software update to patch a security loop hole or fix bugs for Android device. The CyanogenMod team rolls out a new build with the security loop holes patched or major bugs fixed within hours of the issue going public. The CyanogenMod team has also patched many bugs, and security loop holes in AOSP, that will only be fixed by Google with the next version of Android.
8. Using Android the way Google intended it to be
Perhaps one of the major reason to use CyanogenMod is that you get to use Android the way Google intended it to be. With all the OEM skins deviating so much from stock Android in looks, majority of Android users have no idea how beautiful stock Android looks and feels. CyanogenMod offers a great way to experience stock Android on your device without the need to buy a Nexus device.
You can also flash CyanogenMod ROM on your device, if you are bored with the stock look. The new UI and features will literally breath a new life to your Android device.
7. Inbuilt Apps
On stock Android, you will need to use various applications to control the CPU performance, LED notification light, and to create Profiles. CyanogenMod comes with all such options inbuilt. It has an in-built LED notification picker for different apps, the ability to create various profiles ala Symbian devices, and the option to tweak certain aspects of the CPU performance as well. The stock AOSP dialer has also been enhanced with T9 search in CyanogenMod, that not only improves usability but also reduces the need to use a third-party app.
6. Increased Life Span
Remember the Galaxy S? The handset never got an update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, because Samsung deemed that the handset was not powerful enough. Ironically, the Nexus S, that shares the same internal specs as the Galaxy S, ran Ice Cream Sandwich, and even Android 4.1 Jelly Bean just fine.
While Samsung ditched the Galaxy S owners, the CyanogenMod team did not. Thanks to their hard work, lakhs of Galaxy S owners are running CM9 or CM10/10.1, which is based on Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, respectively.
The Samsung Galaxy S is just an example. There are a bunch of other devices that were ditched by their original OEMs soon after their release for no valid reason, and thanks to the hard work of the CyanogenMod team, are still alive and running Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean.
5. Latest version of Android
You can also use the latest version of Android within days of the update being pushed by Google. As soon as a new version of Android is released, the CyanogenMod team merges the sources with their CM branch, and then release a build. Depending on how major or minor the Android OS update is, this can take anywhere between a few hours to a few days. However, this is still much, much faster than waiting for your carrier or OEM to roll-out the update for your handset.
The U.S variant of the Galaxy S3 is smoothly running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, thanks to CyanogenMod. Officially, the latest firmware available for the handset from Samsung is still based on Android 4.1.2, more than six months after Android 4.2 was released by Google.
4. Usability tweaks
While CyanogenMod is based on stock Android, it contains a lot of minor usability tweaks that make it irresistible. Heck! After using CyanogenMod, you may find stock Android unusable due to the lack of features. Some of these minor usability tweaks include the ability to using the Volume keys to wake up the phone, the ability to hide the IME switcher from the notification bar, an enhanced messaging app with the ability to quickly reply to a message from the notification bar, an enhanced camera app with voice control, battery % symbol in the status bar and much more.
3. New Features
Apart from the minor usability tweaks, CyanogenMod has a lot of new features that are very useful in day-to-day life. These include lock screen shortcuts, quick toggles in the notification bar, an advanced power menu, a RAM bar in the Recents app UI and Quick launch shortcuts. Perhaps, one of the most useful features in CyanogenMod is the PIE mode, which is similar to the one that the Paranoid Android ROM implements. On devices with on-screen navigation buttons, PIE mode allows you to hide them, and instead gives you on-screen buttons when you swipe from the edge of the screen. This feature ends up freeing precious real screen estate.
Below is a video of the PIE mode in action on a CyanogenMod running Android device -:
One of CyanogenMod’s key strength is the customisation options it provides. While people praise Android for all the customisation options it offers, CyanogenMod takes it to a whole new level. You can customise nearly every aspect of the OS that stock Android does not allow. For example, you can customise the tiles in Quick Settings to your liking, you can add extra buttons on the navigation bar, you can completely change the look of the device using Theme chooser and much more.
While these options may not seem important at first, once you start using them, its tough to live without them.
Perhaps one major reason why you should shift to CyanogenMod is the improvement in performance. CyanogenMod is based on stock Android itself. There are no OEM skins running on top of it, which take up precious resources. Thus, you end up freeing additional resources which help in improving performance. Plus, stock Android is very light weight compared to the bloat that most of the OEM skins are nowadays. Even on the latest generation quad-core Android devices, CyanogenMod brings about a noticeable improvement in performance.
If you have a low to mid-range Android device, you should definitely install CyanogenMod just for the boost in performance. Keep in mind that the improvement in performance might not be that visible in benchmarks, but will be most largely noticeable in real life usage.
There are a lot of other reasons why you should take the plunge to installing CyanogenMod on your Android device. However, CyanogenMod may not be the appropriate custom ROM for your device. On some of the devices like the Exynos based Galaxy devices from Samsung, and some Qualcomm and Tegra devices, CyanogenMod is still unstable. Prime examples of this are the Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy S3. These devices have been out in the market for more than a year, and they still don’t have a stable version of CyanogenMod. If you end up installing CM on such a device, chances are you will face a lot of issues like poor battery life, random reboots etc.
I will highly recommend you to research about the progress of CyanogenMod on your device before making the jump. If you own an old Android device like the Galaxy S, Ace or some Xperia devices from Sony, you should take the plunge without a doubt. The whole effort would be totally worth it, and your device will get a new lease of life. If you’ve already installed CyanogenMod, then let me know what are your top reasons for installing it in the comments below.
How to install CyanogenMod?
You can follow this guide to install CM11 or CM12 on your Android device. If stability is your prime concern, install CM11 since it is based on Android 4.4 KitKat and has gone through several Milestone builds. The more adventurous types can install CM12 on their Android device, which is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop.