Paranoid Android 2.99 PIE Beta Review (Best Jelly Bean 4.2.1 ROM)
Paranoid Android has been a very popular choice for many flash enthusiasts as it combines a clean vanilla Android experience with the latest version of Android and a new way of customization. This ROM is designed from the inside out to take advantage of all the screen real estate on your phone, so if you have a big display and high resolution then this ROM is really well suited for you.
Installation is much like any other custom ROM, simply boot into the custom recovery of your choice and install both the ROM zip and Google Apps zip. There isn’t much other than that, but you might have to clear your cache and wipe your data if your coming from another custom ROM. Visit our ROMs section or use the search bar on the side to find out the latest Paranoid Android for your device.
After the first boot, you are invited into a clean and stock Vanilla Android experience. Navigating around the UI, its pretty much what you could expect from a stock Android custom ROM.
With normal phablet UI enabled in the Paranoid settings, you get a medium DPI and and the notifications tray and navigation bar are like on a Nexus phone. The notification tray can be accessed by pulling down from the top left, and the new settings tray in Jelly Bean 4.2.1 is available by pulling down from the top right. The navigation down at the bottom features the same three button software layout you are used to. On the Nexus 7, the phablet UI is just like it is stock. When moving into the phone UI, things become much smaller and the notification tray takes up the whole screen now. To access settings, you will need to either swipe down from the top with two fingers or press the settings icon in the notifications tray. Honestly, on the Nexus 7 I wouldn’t recommend the phone UI. In the final tablet mode, you get all of your trays on the bottom, where the navigation is on the left side and the notifications and settings is on the right. You can access settings by pressing the time and date/settings icon at the top of the notification tray. The other tablet mode (mid) which is set at 180 DPI I think suits the Nexus 7 quite well. If you need a bit more work space than the phablet UI than this is the mode for you.
Last but certainly not least is the new PIE controls. This is a little half circle that is situated at the side of the screen where you can access all your important settings without the need to take up any space on the screen when not in use. Simply swipe from the side you have selected and slide your finger along the PIE interface to select what you need. If you slide past the buttons you will see that there are two lines that light up when you have your finger over them. One of these is for the notifications tray and the other is the settings tray that will fill up the screen and slide in from the left side. All of this is however dependent on what orientation you are using and where you chose the PIE controls to show. Also, you might notice the white dots at the edge of each side. If you slide your finger to one of these, you can easily change the orientation of the radial PIE control. More on how to enable this later.
Other than the usual array of settings available on Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, you also have a lot of other options available in Paranoid Android. Pretty much all of these settings are for the customization of the UI, and no performance enhancements or tweaks are available. However, you can usually enhance performance if you would like by installing a custom kernel. Anyways, if you go under the customization portion under system settings, you’ll find all of the available tweaks for the system UI.
Under themes, you can choose any compatible themes with this custom ROM. Under lock screen, you will find all the changes you can make to your lock screen. These include but are not limited to, different shortcuts such as your browser, Google Now, etc. Here you can also choose if you want the widgets on your homescreen to appear in the lockscreen.
Toolbars is where you will find all the available settings for the status bar, navigation bar, and notifications tray. Here is also where the settings for the PIE controls are, and you can enable play around with different settings with it. To actually enable the PIE controls, you need to hold down the power button and select Expanded Desktop as on in the menu. To access the PIE menu, simply onto the screen from the side that you have chosen.
Hybrid properties is where you will find your usual array of Paranoid Android settings. If you press the back button at the top left near the eyeball, you will find the different menus for each setting. Under launch is where you will find the PA colors that you are using, and mainly the global DPI settings for different form factors such as phablet, phone, tablet, and tablet (mid). Interface is where all the global DPI and colors settings that you can fine tune and completely customize. Lastly, under apps is where you will find the last of the important settings and is where you are able to fine tune every app to your liking. After these, there is also tools where you can reset, backup, and restore the preferences that you want. There are also help and about tabs that contain exactly what they say. Also, if you want there is a paid version of Paranoid Android you can apply for here that redirects you to their link on the Play Store. Honestly, I haven’t tried out the pro variant but if you need the latest experimental features then it might be right for you!
Battery Life & Performance
On my Nexus 7, I got quite a good mix of battery life and performance from this ROM. Battery life was quite good, and I was pretty doubtful beforehand because this is still a beta version of this ROM. On average, battery life was quite comparable to what it’s like on the stock firmware. I got anywhere from 1-2 days from this doing not very intensive tasks. However, if I tried to game on my Nexus 7 than I saw the battery drain quite quickly. Hopefully the battery in the fully sorted version will be even better.
As for performance, it was quite good just playing around in the OS. I didn’t experience any lag or anything, but sometimes I got some stutter if I was opening lots of apps or multitasking between them quite frequently. So in a real world scenario this custom ROM does quite well. It’s performance in benchmarks was very comparable to how it is in stock Android. This means that if any performance issues are prevalent, it’s more so due to coding issues than anything else. This of course, will get better after every iteration.
I didn’t really experience any drastic bugs and glitches that brought me away from the experience. Mostly they were minor rendering issues that will be surely fixed in later versions. For the most part, the PIE controls were very solid and usable. I think that for the most part the other hybrid options functioned quite well. The only thing that could be worked on is that the PIE controls’s notification and settings tray weren’t as elegantly integrated as I’d like. Sometimes they left exposed are on the side, and overall I didn’t like how lets say the settings tray only needed 1/3 of the screen yet the rest was blacked out. Hopefully the dev team that is working so hard will integrate these features better in later versions.
No matter what your device, Paranoid Android has always been a very good choice. With this latest version, you get a cool new way of saving space on your device (PIE control), and a fast and clean AOSP Jelly Bean 4.2.1 experience. Definitely a good choice even if its still a beta version as of now.
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