Friday, August 10, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Ace - S5830: On The ROM Hunt (Part 1)

Samsung Galaxy Ace - S5830: On The ROM Hunt (Part 1)
On the ROM hunt is a series of reviews to find the best ROM for regular daily use that provides stability, good performance and good battery life for the Galaxy Ace. Everyone's daily usage differs but here is my typical usage scenario:
  • 10-15 messages (including Whatsapp, SMS and/or Facebook messenger)
  • 5-30 minutes of voice call
  • 2-3 hours of casual gaming (like Scramble with Friends, etc)
  • 3G data always on (except when WiFi is on)
  • 3-4 hours WiFi usage

The installation procedure for this ROM is a bit tedious if you want the ICS layouts but as long as you follow them correctly, you should have no issues. I tested with ICS layouts. Over the course of the test, I have tried using the follow settings of 245-844-SavagedZen/smartassV2 and 245-480-SavagedZen/smartassV2. I have to say that in normal operations, there were no huge lags present and you can safely use 245-480 with your favorite governor.

The only time lagging was seen was when you have multiple applications running. An example of lag is say during gaming, a message comes in or a FB notification comes in, lag would occur. It takes a couple of seconds to return to normal but those couple of seconds could well make a difference in a game. However, I think that this lagging is unavoidable. You only have a single core processor and it cannot handle multiple tasks at the same time.

The battery life is not bad with my usage. I manage to last the whole day (8am-11pm) with a single charge. The only thing I would like to mention is that the battery does suddenly drop during usage. While on standby, it would have little to no drop but when you suddenly pick up the phone and start doing something, a sudden drop will be present. This does not happen every time but many times during my test, the battery would suddenly drop 5-10%. I believe that this is more of a battery level indicator issue as after that, it would not go down for a while. I've also managed to transfer about 350MB of data while on WiFi (using AirDroid) and see no drop from 100% battery life.

One thing that I would like to mention here is that when you open up Google Play Store and tap on the search bar, your screen may turn blank, leaving only the keyboard. However, do not be alarmed as it is just a display issue. Once you start tapping on the keyboard, the display will be restored. This happened to me almost every time I did a search on Google Play. I've read that it happens in other places as well but I have not seen it outside of Google Play.

Conclusion: A stable ROM with decent battery life. Lagging is expected when you run heavy applications that takes up a lot of RAM or when running multiple applications. One thing that may put off some people is that this ROM is quite barebone. You would need to install your own File Manager, Music Player, Camera, Gallery/Picture Viewer and Messaging application. On the other hand, some folks may enjoy the freedom to install their own without any stock applications.

Likes: Colorful menu when holding down power button, Decent battery life, Stable ROM
Dislikes: No stock app for camera, gallery or messaging, Blank screen in Google Play

When you install this ROM, you need to make sure you download the fixes as well. Version 2 should fix all these issues but for now, make sure you install the fixes before you start complaining about things not working. ICS layouts is also available for this ROM but I like the non-ICS interface for this ROM and decided not to install the ICS layouts (which is the same tedious process as Apocalypse). The same 245-480-SavagedZen/smartassV2 combination works well here.

Like Apocalypse, there is not really any noticeable lagging during normal usage but when a few things start to happen at once, lagging usually will occur. This is to be expected from the aging single core processor phone. A dual core processor phone will be better equipped to handle this. If you're looking for a replacement for your Galaxy Ace, I think you can take a look at the Galaxy Ace 2 or the Galaxy S Advance. The prices of these phones are around the RM800-RM1100 range and if you can spend a few hundred more, the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S2 can be found around RM1200-RM1500 (more about this later).

The battery life for the DroidAce v1 is good. After completing installation of the ROM, I charged it to full and unplugged it before I went to bed. The next morning, about 7 hours later, it had only dropped by 3%. There was a large drop of about 10% when I answered a call in the middle of the day. But beyond that, it was mostly doing well. I think that it has slightly better battery life compared to Apocalypse ROM.

One thing that I would like to mention is that I did get bad connections quite a few times. Even with WiFi connected, there are times when my Internet just wouldn't get through. Other ROMs and phones had no issues which points to a ROM specific problem.

Conclusion: A pretty stable ROM with slightly better battery life than Apocalypse but the network issue on 3G and WiFi did put a damper on the overall score. V2 is coming out soon and hopefully it can resolve some of the issues and enhance on it. A ROM to look out for once V2 is released.

Likes: Decent balance of performance and battery life. Nice boot animation is a bonus.
Dislikes: Network issues are frustrating.


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