The Hope of a Smooth Android

Written on December 15, 2014

Every time a new version of Android comes out promising a smoother, faster experience, I get extremely hopeful. Since my (original) Galaxy Note is extremely old and I lack sufficient funds to upgrade to a newer phone any time soon, even performing basic tasks can be extremely cumbersome due to all the lag and stutter. The last official update that was released for my phone, around December 2012 - January 2013, brought it up to Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean – an operating system that promised a smoother experience due to Project Butter. Although the slight performance increase was mildly noticeable compared to Ice Cream Sandwich, the performance of it still had a lot to be desired. Despite what I first wrote about the Jelly Bean ROM and how I said it was “EXTREMELY SMOOTH AND RESPONSIVE” and how it “feels like new”, I discovered that after using it for a few months it really went back to being slow and sluggish. I guess the only reason it felt like new was because I had to full-wipe when flashing.

The next major version of Android was 4.4 KitKat, which once again promised an even smoother experience by being optimised to run on devices with less than 500MB of RAM. Although advertised to have 1GB of RAM, the Galaxy Note really only has maybe 700-800MB. The lack of RAM was quite evident as there got to a stage where I could barely even keep 1 program in context in the background. Like, as soon as I switch to my last running app everything has to reload. After flashing CM11 (what I am still running today) I noticed the amount of free RAM on cold boot had increased from around 80MB to around 300MB – quite a substantial amount. However, after installing more apps I noticed my free RAM depleted to around 100-150MB. Though I can almost always keep at least 1 app in the background and be able to switch back to it without it losing its context and needing to reload itself.

Although the past two Android revisions Jelly Bean and KitKat hoped to improve overall performance, the performance on my Galaxy Note still has a lot to be desired. Having said that, I have high hopes that 5.0 Lollipop will be able to give me the smooth performance that I have always dreamed of. Thanks to XDA Retired Recognised Developer, bauner, there’s already an unofficial alpha build of CM12 based off Android 5.0. Since it’s such an early build, there are many things which aren’t working, stopping me from flashing it – despite how badly I want to test it out. Why do I have such high hopes for this ROM when I haven’t even flashed it for myself? That’s because XDA Senior Member, tysonraylee, went ahead and flashed this super early build literally on the day it was released and had this to say about it:

  • ok so i went ahead and flashed it because i really wanted to check it out and turns out i find it faster than KK
  • The boot time is faster too
  • No lags whatsoever, none at all
  • list and menu animations work flawlessly

This one comment has given me high hopes for Android 5.0 Lollipop on my Galaxy Note. I envision a day where I can perform basic tasks without encountering lag. A day where I don’t have to worry about the performance hit that comes from having too many apps installed. Since its original release, there has already been over 5 revisions and with each revision the list of things that aren’t working has gotten smaller and smaller. It’s only a matter of time before I will finally be able to get a taste of sweet, sweet, and hopefully lag-free, Lollipop.