CyanogenMod 11 review: king of the custom ROMs

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In terms of availability for different devices, both old and new, the quality of CyanogenMod is unmatched. We take a look at CyanogenMod 11 more in-depth and compare it to other popular ROMs such as SlimKat, AOKP, and other forked versions of AOSP. 

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CyanogenMod is one of the best custom ROMs available on the market.  / © ANDROIDPIT

The success of all open source projects stands and falls based on the quality of the community that stands behind them. CyanogenMod has done some amazing work in regards to gaining a ton of momentum from their community of developers and is light years ahead of the their closest competitor.

The project first was given life in September 2008 and was introduced for the HTC Dream. Since then, it has taken on a life of its own and is currently installed on over 12 million active devices. Furthermore, their latest CyanogenMod stable release, M9, is currently available for over 40 different devices from different manufacturers. Monthly, stable updates (M snapshots) keep the custom ROM updated with the latest and the greatest and the team currently supports four major and active versions: CyanogenMod 10 (Android 4.1), 10.1 (Android 4.2), 10.2 (Android 4.3), and 11 (Android 4.4).

cyanogen mod lock
The Trebuchet Launcher (left) is feature poor and saves resources. The lock screen (right) can give you more shortcuts. / © ANDROIDPIT

The beginning of custom ROMs

CyanogenMod is the original founder of the theme engine found in many custom ROMs. With the ability to modify the UI of your Android device, the theme engine brought a new level of simplicity to customization. Whether customizing the navigation bar, start up animation, icon package, fonts, or sounds, everything can be modified by downloading theme packages directly from the Google Play Store.

cyanogen mod settings
The Notifications shade (left) can provide a ton of options. If you need more control, you can also customize the Quick Settings (right). / © ANDROIDPIT

Apart from that, CyanogenMod offers some specialty features built right in including pop-up notifications and extended desktop. A testament to how popular these features are is their inclusion in other custom ROMs, such as Paranoid Android and AOKP.

One of the bigger features that was specific to CyanogenMod but has since been ditched from official CM releases is the PIE Mode. Popular in SlimKat, AOKP, and Paranoid Android, the CM team dropped PIE mode once Android introduced the full screen mode and made more real estate available for the display.

Hidden features

CyanogenMod offers ways to optimize Android in different sorts of places which are integrated right into the regular settings and are where you would expect them to be. This is a contrast to AOKP and SlimKat which has specific areas for the custom ROM settings and are separated from the regular settings. As well, CyanogenMod also has a search function built straight into the settings, so you can pinpoint exactly what you’re searching for. This currently isn’t available for stock Android, but is expected to show up in Android L.

cyanogen mod security
The Theme Engine brings a bunch of customization options for your device. You can also have a 6 x 6 unlock pattern for your secufirty. / © ANDROIDPIT

Below is a list of some of the CyanogenMod features that you’ll discover throughout the settings.

  • USB Tethering
  • Trebuchet Launcher
  • Screen lock with 6x6 patterns
  • Up to four lock screen applications
  • Designs (Theme Engine)
  • Battery level in percent
  • Open the Quick Settings by dragging them from one of the upper corners
  • Change tiles the quick settings
  • DSP Manager
  • Battery light
  • Color Calibration
  • Special functions for on / off and volume button / n
  • Profiles
  • Privacy Policy for App permissions and unwanted callers
  • Performance
  • Super User
cyanogen mod display
You can search through your settings to find what you need quickly. As well, if you have a LED device, you'll have options to calibrate your display to your liking. / © ANDROIDPIT
cyanogen mod dsp
The DSP Manager improves the output of your audio based on different secnarios. As well, the Profile Manager allows you to control what connections and sounds your device make based on your location. / © ANDROIDPIT

Additional functions

Some more additional functions that you’ll find built into CyanogenMod 11 include the DSP Manager for optimizing the sound output on your device and profile management. The DSP Manager stores all your audio presets and equalizers for different equipment (headphones, phone speakers, Bluetooth devices, etc). The profile manager allows you to modify the volume controls on your smartphone based on which wireless networks or Bluetooth devices you’re currently connected to.

Conclusion: a custom ROM for all Android devices

The real reason that CyanogenMod has become so beloved in the modding community is mainly due to their support of the community and keeping older devices up to date with their latest releases. While manufacturers might abandon a device after their “update period” has expired, CyanogenMod has kept a ton of older devices on par with the latest Android releases. Furthermore, with their monthly M updates, they continually keep their system stable and secure.

Several times in the past, CyanogenMod has been at the forefront of patching security issues and bug fixes ahead of manufacturers and even Google. The combination of the a tenacious community that is avid at providing continual updates continues to be CyanogenMod’s biggest strength. It is the largest alternative to stock Android or manufacturer UIs. Thanks to the inclusions of an easy to use installer that is available, the technological know-how required to install the custom ROM is at an all-time low and you don’t have too much tech savviness in order to try it out for yourself.

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  • rahul bj Sep 6, 2014 Link to comment

    how to install cyanogen mod in my Samsung galaxy tab 2 gtp3100

    please help

  • Nishant gauns Sep 5, 2014 Link to comment

    Guys which is the best S5 looking rom for galaxy s3???

  • Dwarfer66 Sep 5, 2014 Link to comment

    If you actually read the CM forums LOTS of people are have issues on the latest CM, they have to stop releasing updates and actually FIX the damn thing, thats the reason I no longer use CM, I have gone to Echoe rom for the last 5 months.

    • Saem Sarguroh Sep 5, 2014 Link to comment

      which device?

      • Dwarfer66 Sep 5, 2014 Link to comment


      • Bojan M. Sep 5, 2014 Link to comment

        Too bad for you, I'm very satisfied with mine.

      • Paco Inurreta Sep 6, 2014 Link to comment

        I have a S4 and I have no problems with it, only problem I ever had was that I had to wite data when moving from CM 11 M6 to M7 and one of the previous Milestones had a small battery drain, apart from that Im super happy with CM

      • Albert U. Sep 9, 2014 Link to comment

        Works great on my Note2 though, had frequent reboots on all the other AOSP ROMs (omni and slim to name but a few).

  • flooney Sep 5, 2014 Link to comment

    Wasn't there already an article about this custom rom with the same title already?

  • Lucas Tavares Sep 4, 2014 Link to comment

    ParanoidAndroid is the King! #Paranoid4Life #StayParanoid

  • pedro amaral Sep 4, 2014 Link to comment

    Does it worth it to install it in a nexus 4?

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