On May 31st, Paranoid Android for the OnePlus 3 was released after a long line of tweets and test builds. Bemused by the hype, I decided to take a further look. I’ve never really used AOSPA, but the perplexing nature of an entirely different Android version attracted me. I was impressed, but to give you an idea of the nature of this article and what my opinions will be, I am no longer using it.
Like any other Android ROM out there, you flash your ROM, you flash GApps, and you’re done. Initially, I had issues which eventually I put down to the use of MultiROM. Usually, MultiROM isn’t a problem and I know you aren’t meant to use it, but sometimes it’s convenient to have. Uninstalling it let me proceed as usual.
Paranoid Android for the OnePlus 3 takes a somewhat unique approach to customizability. With a custom color mode, reworked pie controls, and the return of immersive mode, such simple changes can mean a lot. With Paranoid Android, you are presented with various different system colors and accents to choose from. For example, your own custom choices or the stock Pixel colors. It’s an extremely simple change, and it just works. I’m a big fan of the operating system and how it incorporates the little changes it has. The pie controls, while I didn’t use them much were nice, however, I found the inability to disable the home button while using them frustrating, without enabling on-screen keys first and then entering immersive mode. The perfect blend of visual changes without ruining the aesthetic of the OS is welcomed, as some ROMs in their customizations stray away from the design language of Android.
This is one of the biggest problems with the ROM for me, and why I no longer use it. First of all, AOSPA is based on the HMP model. This is perfectly fine, but with the fast nature of Android ROMs, the lack of EAS is somewhat surprising. Still, not a disadvantage in its own right as EAS is somewhat experimental. What I will say is AOSPA is the best HMP-based ROM in terms of performance and battery life, hands down. The problem, however, that I experienced was the poor performance that would kick in for no reason and more often than not, require me to reboot my device. I’ve seen this mentioned seldom in the XDA thread, but it made the ROM unusable for me. I found a trigger often was using Facebook Messenger while using Snapchat, which has never caused me issues on other ROMs. Still, it could also happen just through simple web browsing, and that’s another point. The included web browser is absolutely awful. It stutters, it’s slow, and it’s just simply bad. There’s no other way to put it. Still, it’s such a minuscule part of the overall experience and most people will just install another browser anyways. If you are willing to overlook these things or are unaffected by the slowdowns which affected me, then this ROM is one of the best you can use.
One of the defining features of AOSPA on the OnePlus 3 is the camera, with their custom camera processing. Initial impressions were good in terms of quality, but the gains were minimal. The camera app itself is lacking, with minimal control over the actual camera, pushing me to use another camera app. Still, the photos I took were excellent, and in bright conditions, the camera excelled over stock. However, the ease of use and options for the stock camera are what pushed me back. Manual focus, manual exposure times, the actual UI, are all missing in the AOSPA camera. If you’re looking for a simple snap shooter with no other features except for better quality, you’ll love this. It is better than OOS, no doubt, but I wanted more. Here are some sample photos I took with it.
Furthermore, the technology behind the camera app is miles ahead of the competition. Much like OOS, there is a system module to handle camera processing. This means the system will process the pictures, not the app. This is a plus over other custom ROMs with the OOS camera port, as on those the app does the processing. This is a little bit unstable at times, and I rarely find a picture I took with the OOS port doesn’t get saved. Usually avoided by keeping the app open, AOSPA did not have this problem.
I touched on this a little bit in the performance section, but there is a lot more detail to give. I frequently hit 4 hours SOT on AOSPA with my heavy usage of Android, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, web browsing, and Reddit. The first two are especially intensive, and my battery life was decent. It could last a full day usually, but at times I did find myself a bit close to 0% by the end of a day. 4 hours is good for HMP, and is about what I’d expect from something claiming “various performance and battery improvements.” Better can be attained, but not without switching to EAS. Overall I’d say above average but nothing spectacular. My idle drain was good, with the phone entering deep sleep without issue. For reference, my day consisted of going out for the first half of the day, some usage on 3G, then by about 6 PM my phone was down fairly low.
Final wrap up
As a whole, the OnePlus 3 ROM market is fairly saturated. There is an abundance of choice on XDA, but Paranoid Android stands out from the crowd. A unique color engine, an improved camera, and good performance (most of the time) across the board. Still, the performance problems and the lack of EAS I find aren’t good enough today. If the performance problems are fixed in the next build, I can easily overlook the lack of EAS and name it as one of the best ROMs in general on Android.
If you’re looking for a ROM that just works, with some unique additions and improved camera, then so long as you have no performance issues, look no further than Paranoid Android.