Spotlight: Resurrection Remix (5.0.2) for GT-I9300

Spotlight: Resurrection Remix (5.0.2) for GT-I9300

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The Galaxy S3 was a massive success for Samsung and even today it remains their most popular phone, and one of the most popular Android phones of all time as well. At the time of its release, it packed more muscle than the usual smartphone, and with the Exynos (GT-I9300) version being one of the first quad-core mobile chipset carriers out there, it began the trend of the “quad-core or nothing” buying habit many users have today when reading spec sheets.

Not only was the phone speedy in its processor, but it was also feature-packed out of the box and had good all-around internal and external hardware. But what mostly made it one of XDA’s favorite handsets was that, it being widely adopted by almost everyone in the the world, developers widely adopted it as well. And as such, the Galaxy S3 saw one of the most varied and interesting modding communities out there, and even today the S3’s XDA forums are filled with people porting, building, and flashing custom ROMs.

Some tout the S3 to be one of the few devices that will remain “alive” for even more years to come.  The developers at XDA have a fetish for porting new Android versions to seemingly “obsolete” devices. Not long ago we saw the first Lollipop WIP ROM on the HTC HD2, and early on Lollipop’s life cycle we saw news of a CM 12 Unofficial Alpha port for the S3. When this came out I was eager to flash it and the results were surprisingly stable and didn’t disappoint me in almost any way.

Lollipop brought with it a new wave of Lollipop custom ROMs to the not-so-dusty S3, and with this, my flashing addiction was rekindled. Once again I could see my S3 perform fast and cleanly, and more beautifully than ever. You could say that the S3 resurrected. And then I wanted to give all possible merit to said word by installing the newest version of the very popular Resurrection Remix ROM, now in version 5.3.1, based on Android 5.0.2. Let me tell you how it went!

 

Overview

 

Resurrection Remix ROMs are very popular for a variety of devices, ranging from LG handsets like the Nexus 5 to Sony’s Z1 Compact. In this list you’ll also see a plethora of Samsung phones. The Samsung Galaxy S3 (GT-I9300) got the Lollipop treatment with Resurrection Remix, now a ROM based on CM 12 Lollipop, with a lot of additional functionality and optimizations ported from other big-name ROMs like OMNI and Slim.

My S3 hasn’t been my daily driver for a while, but I still use it for many things and I usually run either CM 12 or SlimKat (4.4.4) on it. Now with this ROM you seem some neat differences, mostly on the functionality side. While KitKat ROMs have had more than a year to fully grow and develop, in a very widely adopted base OS platform in comparison to Lollipop, Android 5.0 is seeing a slower progress in terms of ROM development, mostly because of how much of Android’s infrastructure changed with the new update. The switch to ART and the overwhelming amount of new APIs and interface changes means some loved features from older ROMs take a little longer to be incorporated into this update, in comparison to the more high-level update of KitKat.

Nonetheless, Resurrection ROM features a very consistent and cohesive package. Installation is rather easy: Some ROMs on some devices require you to flash a bootloader separately, and then also flash some fixes. This is what happens with leaked images, as seen with newer Samsung devices that are officially getting Lollipop. The fact that this is a Stock ROM based on CM 12 means all you’ve gotta do is clean-flash the ROM and you are good to go. And you will most likely not have any problems after that, either, because the developers of Resurrection have been very meticulous with what they add and when.

 

Interface

 

The interface is typical Lollipop, and there’s really not much new stuff to see here in terms of changes. You can tweak some things in the notification drawer, like remove the brightness slider or information displayed, but other than that, you are looking at a rather common iteration of Lollipop. The bootanimation is particularly jarring to me, as it is low resolution and has artifacts. It looks very outdated and it loops quite a few times in a silly explosion before it ends up booting. CM 12 and Slim ROMs feature much more pleasing bootanimations, but then again you only have to look at that every once in a while.

The default Launcher is the standard Launcher3, which has seen little changes since… well, I really don’t remember any drastic changes ever. You have all the basic settings to change the wallpaper, adds widgets, and then have extra options to adjust grid sizes, configure the app drawer, choose scrolling effects, etc. It is not Nova Launcher, but the good thing is that Nova Launcher exists, so if you want extra customization you’ve got that. The default Launcher is very slim and optimized, though, and if you keep it simple you won’t see much of a reason to change it.

The rest does see some useful changes like a notification counter you can toggle, and a “close all” button on the multitasking menu, which is something stock Lollipop should have adopted from the start. The notification panel and bar can be configured rather extensively, with options to change the battery icon, have a Super User indicator, and toggle the “quick pulldown” which makes the right pulldown bring quicksettings by default.

The clock and date in the status bar can be modified, from the font to the color and alignment. It is relatively easy to do manually, but having the option to change it on the fly straight from the settings is a nice addition, although one not too original, as almost all custom ROMs have that by now. You can also add a battery bar at the top of the screen, something also very common with almost all major ROMs. Finally, the usual Network Traffic is here as well.

The Navigation Bar can also be resized or toggled off. The latter is particularly useful given the S3 has hardware keys and thus little need for it. You can change the size, but you can only make it smaller from the default of 48dp for height and 42dp for width.

The Notification drawer can be customized by changing the tiles that show up, and their order. The first (top) tiles in the quicksettings can be enlarged, or you can lead them as part of the 3-column grid. There’s also advanced location settings available when you choose the GPS icon, to change the location mode (High Accuracy, Battery Saving or Device Only) on the fly.

Hardware buttons can also be extensively customized, which is great for everyone that hates the standard setup. The power button can have a couple additional options added to it (“screenshot” and “sound panel”),  and each of the navigation keys can have it’s short press and long press actions configured. The backlight can also be extended, reduced or disabled, and you can set if you want the keys to wake up the device. All of this is standard stuff, really. But nice to have regardless. There’s also song skipping for the volume keys if that’s your thing.

Finally, you have the ability to customize listview animations and change the interpolator. All of the system animations can be customized too, from activity opening to moving back, closing tasks, and the like. So if you have gripes with Material Design itself, there’s something you can do about it to some extent. The animation speeds in developer settings have more number options, for those who miss the 0.25 animation speed of KitKat ROMs. And as a final treat, you can also customize the toast animations.

 

Navigation

 

This ROM doesn’t have built-in PIE controls yet, but for those who enjoy the concept you’ve got the very similar App Circle feature. You can customize an area to the side of the screen that, when tapped, brings up a PIE-like circle of apps for you to open or switch to. This is much faster than using the recents panel to access last used apps when multitasking. The trigger areas are fully customizable as well as the number of apps.

A very nice feature reminiscent of Paranoid Android’s is the quick-switch when long-pressing the recents button. This will simply take you to your last application, allowing for seamless app switching. I personally love this functionality and it is something I always look for in a ROM.

The other nice navigation tweak is system-wide gesture support, that you can set off from swiping from the left or right of the screen. These can be used to trigger applications or activities, and the gesture detection is very good and accurate. As a nice touch, applications like the calculator will be triggered as floating instances for added productivity.

Theme Engine

 

One of the best parts about custom ROMs is customization, and luckily for you, this ROM has adopted the CM 12 Theme Engine! I played around with it a little bit and it works perfectly.

Theme’s can change the “style” (overall interface appearance) of the ROM, as well as the wallpapers of both homescreen and lockscreen, the fonts, icons, boot animations (thank God!), ringtones and notification sounds, and alarms. The most important bit here is the “style” of the theme, as the rest can be manually configured. There’s already a growing selection of nice CM 12 Themes out there, and all the ones I tried really did enough to change the look of the ROM. If you are looking for a good start I suggest these color swaps that are very stylish and true to MD.

Having this theme engine means that the ROM will only get better (and prettier) over time.

 

Performance

 

This one is always kind of a hit or miss. When I first installed the ROM it was pretty smooth, but I was quick to notice one inconsistency that bugs me every three pulldowns: the notification bar stutters. The problem persisted after a second flash, but I haven’t seen many users complaining about it on the forums – if anything, there’s many more complaining about transition lag, chrome lag or dialer lag.

Benchmarks state a clear improvement over the KitKat S3, which was usually getting 14k to 17k in Antutu Benchmarks. This version hits a remarkable 26,394, an extremely significant improvement. This is not surprising, however, as it goes in line with many Lollipop updates increasing performance by large percentages. The Geekbench 3 score also saw a significant increase. An S3 on TouchWiz 4.3 Jelly Bean, the last officially pushed update for the GT-I9300, typically saw under 340 for single core, and 1070 for multi core. However, this Geekbench puts it at 444 for single core, and 1402 for multi-core . Multi core scores saw a steep increase, which is good for a device with 4 cores, that was also one of the leading devices with that configuration, in an app ecosystem that is increasingly heading towards multiple core support and optimization.

But benchmarks tell half of the story, as performance can still be subject to unoptimized code or many incompatibilities that result in slowdowns or stutters. The real world performance of this ROM is rather good, but it won’t blow your mind. If anything, I’d say that the base CM 12 ROMs it is based upon outfperforms it in actual speed. However, the system itself is rather smooth. App launch and return times are very good for such an old device, and transitions are mostly stutter free. Some heavier apps like Chrome or Youtube do see some frame skipping when launching them or switching to them though. List views are smooth, and the recents panel also scrolls neatly. But there is that notification panel lag in my build that annoys me one out of three pulldowns, but not many have reported this. You will most definitely see it lag during I/O operations, and it will stutter on you from time to time. But it’s not bad by any stretch of imagination for a device from 2012.

There is a “performance” CPU profile in the settings that does help with any perceivable stutters. And gaming performance is rather good, too. So if that’s your thing, Lollipop on the S3 has you covered.

Battery Life

 

This one varies a lot from user to user, so there’s really not much of a point on me raving on about my experience. However, I noticed that standby battery is acceptable – not the best, but over 1% idle drain per hour, which does hurt you with a tenth of battery loss over night. Considering I had good cellular reception at my place, it might not get much better without further and deeper modifications. But I do have background services like Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram in there, although I haven’t used them on foreground since I used this ROM. The screen-on drain is very reminiscent of what I had on SlimKat. All in all, with partial drain rates during testing I calculated a good 3 to 3.5 hours SOT across a work day (16 hours for me). This is enough for me, and I’m sure many of you would find it acceptable. But there are better configurations you can use, with custom Kernels to help mitigate the drain. Some XDA forum members have managed to get 4.5 hours SOT out of this ROM, so it can definitely be taken further with some tweaks.

 

Conclusion

 

Lollipop ROMs are still in their early stages. They have been progressing rapidly, but the fact that actual Lollipop adoption is very slow and much slower than KitKat’s, coupled with Lollipop being such a complex update with a lot of infrastructural changes, has led to a less accelerated development than we saw in previous years. But ROMs like CM 12 are making huge advancements with their additions (like their Theme Engine) and eventually we might even see Xposed make a return to the game.

As it stands, Resurrection Remix ROM is a good alternative for S3 users, but I didn’t find anything truly remarkable about it, especially when compared to the legacy it has on older versions and in other platforms. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of being your daily driver, considering the currently limited selection of Lollipop ROMs, with limited feature offerings.

Resurrection Remix has everything you’d expect out of a custom ROM, and then some. And it’s been advancing rapidly and steadily. Eventually, it might become the ROM to get, like it has been for many in the past. It’s definitely a good incursion into the Lollipop world, and it’ll only get much better.