LiquidSmooth ROM Review (1+1)(Lollipop)

Liquid Smooth. Not the most common ROM, however quite a few people have heard of it. It’s name suggests buttery smooth performance all round, but this brings connotations of bad battery life. So, what actually happens?

NB: I am running this ROM on a OnePlus One, on version 4.0-2015-01-22. Previous and future builds may have changes that would render this review useless, so please bear that in mind This ROM is also not available for all devices so check you are downloading the correct version, and if in doubt download the most stable versions. I am not responsible for what you do to your device, so please make sure to have a backup and take all the necessary precautions. 

I personally remember this ROM from when I had my Nexus 4. LiquidSmooth was associated with the colour purple then (just as Cyanogenmod is with blue) so personally it was interesting to see what has changed with the releases, apart from the obvious fact that it’s running Lollipop. On bootup you are greeted with a different animation, which looks like a slow motion video of a stream of water hitting the water surface.

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LiquidSmooth boot animation as of version 3.1

 

There is an obvious and slightly annoying bug during the looping part where you can see where the loop starts and ends, but that doesn’t really affect anything apart from the visuals of the boot animation (and everyone’s OCD).

LiquidSmooth looks very simple after the initial bootup, but there are tons of features to change in the settings, as opposed to most other ROMs which, as of right now, have very bare Lollipop interfaces and very little customisability (which is why it’s such a big deal that xposed has been released, as most ROMs that would have extensive customisation options, such as PA have really lagged behind when it comes to Lollipop due to the significant changes in the system and also partly because of the new ART runtime), so it’s very nice to see a ROM which has some good customisability right out the box. And, while we’re on the topic, let’s talk about what kind you get with the ROM.

Personalisation

After opening the setting menu you get a new section called “Personalization”, which includes the tabs “LiquidSmooth”, “Performance”, “Privacy”, “Buttons” and “Themes”. It might not be immediately obvious what all the separate tabs do, so let’s list what kind of stuff you can get your hands dirty in.

Personalisation options within Settings

Personalisation options within Settings

Under the “LiquidSmooth” tab you’ll find EVEN MOAR tabs (told you there was a lot). First up we have the equaliser tab, which simply opens up Viper4Android (there’s no accessible app in the launcher). Personally I wasn’t able to get V4A to work, in fact it prevented any sound playing through headphones while it was turned on, so I would stay away from it. Next, there’s the Interface tab. There are options to change LCD density (if you have a OnePlus One I would set it to 380, with such a large screen it doesn’t make efficient use of screen space), system animations (for some reason it says it is on AOKP default, even though I haven’t changed, so be wary of that), ListView animation (the animation that happens when you open a scrollable settings menu), ListView interpolator (how the animation is executed) and some various clock widget settings (I’ll be honest, no idea why they have been put here. The Navigation tab brings you universal custom gestures that you can set actions for, an app circle bar, and allows you the change the heigh of the navigation bar.  The Notification tab allows you to change how the LED light behaves, how notifications are displayed when the device is locked, heads up notification settings (think Motorola’s Active Display) and how apps interact with notifications. The Status bar tab lets you change everything to do with the status bar, including quick settings, brightness control, dt2sleep, notification ticker, weather options, various options on displaying network and battery, and style settings. Finally, in advanced we have an ad blocker option, which lets you change the hosts file to block specific ads.

Under the “Performance” tab. there are all of the usual options to change performance, with the ability to change clock speed, governor and I/O scheduler. Pretty standard stuff and nothing too fancy, although all of the options you would expect are here.

The “Privacy” tab is a welcome addition, and it adds some features that quite a few users would be very happy to see, as even in the more developed ROMs these can be quite scarce. There is a privacy guard, which controls which apps have access to your data, a blacklist, which lets you blacklist certain phone numbers from calling/texting you and the ability to filter notifications. Personally I’m not too fussed with which apps get my data, as long as they declare it first (and if I’m not happy with how they’re using it I could always use this feature).

The “Buttons” tab contains some unique features to the OnePlus One, so be wary of that. The OnePlus One has the ability to either have capacitive buttons or software buttons (it came with this feature out of the box) so this tab of course lets you control this, with the added ability to control how bright the capacitive buttons go and for how long they are illuminated after every touch. There’s a lefty mode if you are using software buttons (yesssss, always happy to see devs catering to those of us in the <10%), ability to end calls with the power button, ability to customise what pressing/long pressing/double tapping a button will do, ability to wake your device using the volume keys and, of course, the obligatory Keyboard Cursor Control (I have yet to find a ROM without this option, however none of the stock ROMs have it).

Finally we have the “Themes” tab. This is very self explanatory, it uses the Cyanogenmod theme engine, which means most themes in the playstore for CM11 and above will work perfectly fine. The default theme is listed as LiquidSmooth.

Although that’s the end of the personalisation tab, that is not the end of all the options! There are still custom settings under Display (toast options, immersive mode settings, screen off gestures (ability to set custom ones), and some wakeup options, ability to set custom system profile (Cyanogenmod style) and the standard SuperSU tab.

As an additional feature you can get added information in the About Phone tab at the bottom that you wouldn’t normally be able to get, to do with your hardware and probably way more information than you’ll ever need.

Performance

Performance within the UI is generally good, there is no stuttering within animations, and games tend to run smoothly. It performs noticeably smoother than my previous ROM, a custom build of CM12, as that performed with some stuttering at times of high load, however this is smooth regardless of load on the CPU (any sort of stuttering with animations is disappointing, the whole point of Project Svelte in Lollipop was 60fps animations, everywhere and all the time, regardless of the conditions). Benchmark results were also higher than the stock OnePlus One (comparison against other phones is useless, as other manufacturers cheat in benchmark tests). Although you should never use benchmarks as a true indication of the performance of the phone, due to the volatile nature of the and how dependent they are on the condition of each individual phones software was, it was nice to see some slight improvement and they can be useful when comparing the same model on different versions of software.

Battery

Battery was very mediocre. I got 1-2 hours less screen on time than I would have gotten stock, and bear in mind this is stock KitKat not Lollipop. This is of course expected from a ROM that is aimed to improve speed and fluidity instead of battery life, so there are no surprises there. However, this phone already has one of the best (if not the best) battery life of any flagship out there right now (Driod Maxx might be an exception, but we don’t have those here) so it will easily get you through the day. Personally I manage to get about 2.5-3 hours SoT from 7am to 10PM with a couple percent left over, and please bear in mind it is being constantly wakelocked by me as my usage of the phone is very erratic, so that is a pretty decent result.

Stability

As a ROM that is constantly being developed it does suffer a bit, as app crashes occur that wouldn’t normally occur, and there is the occasional reboot. These occurrences however seem to happen with certain apps while doing certain actions (and are therefore reproducible). This is all of course expected with an alpha build, and apart from the occasional app crashes (and even the VERY occasional bootloop, only happened twice and all it needed was a hard reboot).

There is a very big problem with the camera however, and that it is unable to take videos. This problem does not occur with the stock OnePlus One camera however, so please bear that in mind. You can find the camera .apk file here

Summary

+ Good performance, no stuttering

+ Lots of customisability options in contrast to other ROMs available.

– Battery life sub-par (and I meant that, it’s not bad)

– Stability suffers, bear in mind that this is an alpha build for now

-That boot animation loop issue is going to kill me one day…

-Unable to record video, have to use stock Cyanogenmod 11S camera apk

Score: 6.9/10 (-3 points for the bigger downsides, point 1 for that boot animation…..)

Overall this is an excellent ROM is you are not concerned about battery life. I would personally say that this is a very viable daily driver build (well, I’m using it as one) but then I am used ot frequent crashes with some of the ROMs I have run on my OnePlus One and previously on my Nexus 4 (especially on my Nexus 4). If you are looking to squeeze the most out of battery life then this ROM is not the ROM for you, but if you are willing to sacrifice an hour or two for great customisability and very smooth performance then you have found the right place.

 

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