Here's my humble review of this fantastic ICS CM9 ROM (13th December 2012).
My Huawei Ascend G300 Overview
I bought this phone (from Amazon.co.uk) as it was a good price, as I'm sure everyone else thinks so. Having a 4” screen, 5MP Camera, a 1GHz processor and ICS as a stock download – all this for around £100, bargain I say!
My last Android phone was a HTC Wildfire S, so this was a bit of an upgrade.
It was locked to the Vodafone network, but unlocking only cost around £5 from Ebay. I immediate rooted it and removed some of the bloat that Vodafone had stuck on. The battery life with the Stock ICS once downloaded wasn't bad compared to what I've had before. I'm not a heavy user anyway, I tend not to have Data on, or Wi-Fi. The later I use when I need it maybe once a day for checking Email and sometimes checking out Google Play. Most of the time I text with the odd phone call here and there.
Even though after rooting and removing the odd app, I was getting a little frustrated not having a more vanilla version of Android, such as the ICS lockscreen, keyboard and various other bits. So I thought I'd give it a go installing a new ROM. For me it's scary, I know everyone says that the phone is cheap, but it's my only phone and I look after all my gear, so I was a little paranoid that I might end up bricking it – either that or I'd have functions of the phone not working.
I've previously upgraded my wife's Chinese Gingerbread MID 7” tablet to ICS which went well without a hitch, so I guess it helped persuade me.
I used the great Huawei Ascend G300 guide here on Modaco for the under 5s – it took a few attempts to get right as I was pressing the wrong volume button for certain parts – my bad.
Incidentally my Huawei is on baseband 2030 ;)
One other issue I had is that the drivers for Windows 7 conflict with my Huawei E122 USB 3G modem, it took a while to work out what was going on. It appears that the modem won't work when the drivers are installed, so I had to download everything and the web pages to follow while I installed the new ROM – afterwards I just uninstalled the G300 drivers and the Modem worked again.
It mentioned in the guide that things might take a while, but I have to say it was pretty quick. I still don't understand why you have to re-root the device part way through, but I did it anyway. The “RootG300.exe” file appeared to be from the same link.
I choose this ROM mainly because it looked the most cut back vanilla ICS version I could find, plus it had plenty of screenshots (a major thing in my opinion).
The boot animation screen that is shown in the screenshots was not the same (it didn't look that good), infact the version here is pretty cool – in case you haven't seen it, I won't give you any spoilers ;) A darn sight better than the glitchy crued stock Vodafone one.
Even though it took longer to boot than normal (I realise this is normal for the first boot), it was pretty quick – it certainly didn't take 10 minutes or whatever, more like 2-3.
The phone booted into the usual PIN screen for my Tesco sim and then had the standard Android wizard to set things up. All went fine, although I did my google account afterwards manually.
So how quick is it?
From what I can see it's pretty nippy – the lockscreen is better than the stock Vodafone, more minimalistic (which is what I like) – it's also customisable. The Default Launcher is good and also has more options than a stock ICS one, such as icon spacing and transitions, but looks the same - all good here. Altering the window and Transition animation might make it a bit more fluid, but it depends on how much smooth vs how quick you want it ;)
There is a nice effect when you close the phone, the screen shrinks to the middle similar to an old TV set. I've only seen this on one other Android phone before, but it could be pretty common, but looks good all the same.
The notifications bar when you slide it down has slightly different smaller icons for the toggling the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc. plus this is also configurable for the Battery icon and time etc. So all good here too ;)
The apps that are installed are a bit of a mix, I'd like to have seen a more comprehensive list ticking more boxes, but it's no harm at all as you can obviously download what you want to suit.
Here's a quick list of the default apps:
Apollo – Music player, for some reason my album art isn't being shown though
Browser – Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Calculator - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Calendar - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Camera – This has some cool differences although looks like Vanilla ICS, see below
Clock - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Dev Tools – I've probably no use for this, but if you need more info for the backend, it's probably handy
Downloads - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
DSP Manager – Nice to see this, a graphic equaliser for the sound on the phone
Email - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Gallery - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell) – had a few issues with this :(
Messaging - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Movie Studio - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
News & Weather - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
People - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Phone - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Play Store - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Search - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Settings – Pretty standard look, but with a lot more customisable options, cool!
SIM Tool Kit - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Superuser - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Talk - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
Terminal Emulator – Not much use for this myself, command lines scare me ;)
Torch – Uses the camera LED to illuminate your way (probably wastes a lot of battery in use)
Voice Dialer - Vanilla ICS (browser as far as I can tell)
One great thing is that the Camera app is so much quicker, smoother and better than the stock Vodafone one, focusing is now great! The pics are still a little under-saturated (maybe it's just my hardware), but it all works so much better – like it should have in the first place.
It's the only app that I've had issues with, going into it crashes 1 out of 5 times, no apparent reason why, it's pretty random. There is an ICS styled version on Google Play which looks like a carbon copy - I might download it if this gives me anymore issues.
Looks pretty ICS vanilla to me, the smart touch that came with the vodafone was good, with big keys – I thought i'd end up installing it again as it's available on the Google Play Store, but surprisingly I've found that I make less mistakes with the standard keyboard on this ROM – even though the keys look tiny, who'd have thought?
So what is working for me?
What I've tested so far is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and all of the above apps, no issues so far 24 hours in.
I'd have like to have tried the 3G, Data connection and GPS, but I can't easily at present.
There's a lot here, and too much to mention – I've not tried other ROMs so I can't compare, but lets just say it's pretty comprehensive compared to vanilla ICS or the stock ROM.
There wasn't much to choose from, there was a bunch of Cyanogen papers, which weren't my bag and the default ICS ones which are very random as you probably know.
There is an extensive list here which is really nice. I don't know if they are standard ICS ones, but my wife has an ICS Xperia Miro which has similar – very good.
It seems good, compared to the Vodafone stock ICS it appears marginally better, but it's really hard to know unless you scientifically test it with a full charge on each with the same functions for the same length of time. The important thing is that it's no worse ;) I charged last night at midnight and I've opened a few apps to test, although it's been on standby most of the time and is on around 95%. Wi-Fi will probably be more of a drain, but like I said it's hard to test, unless it depletes like a mad thing.
I think that if you go for the alternate percentage icon for the battery in the notification area, you'll be watching it more and probably see it drain quicker rather than just looking at the standard battery icon that doesn't move much. I don't want to spend my time focusing on it, so I switched the percentage icon on for a bit, then turned it off for good ;) It's as bad a habit as always looking at a watch to see what time it is, then 1 minute later being asked the time and you can't remember!
What would I add?
I'd like to see a file manager as this is pretty essential these days – the Dev tools and Terminal are a little bit pointless for me, but they might appeal to others. I'll probably add a different Music app, as I said my album art wasn't shown. Maybe change the Gallery app if it doesn't right itself.
Excuse the extensive use of the word “Vanilla” in this review, but it's the best word I could think of – I don't even like Vanilla much, or the colour ;)
So as a final note, thanks to all the devs involved, you've done a smashing job, well done! Oh yeah and as it's getting near that time of year, so Happy Christmas everyone!