After using Android for the last four years, and owning various devices across the spectrum, as well as running more custom ROMs than I can remember, I have a few thoughts on what makes android such an excellent OS.
My first Android device (and first smartphone) was an HTC Wildfire S. It was a relatively low-mid range device for its time, running a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7227 chipset, using a single core Arm11 CPU clocked at 600MHZ out the box, coupled to 512MB of RAM and an Adreno 200 GPU. Even with such measly specs, the device ran smoothly, and powered through mostly text messaging and snapping pictures with the 5MP camera. The tiny phone packed a 3.2 inch display, running Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
This device instantly had me hooked on Android due to the customization options, even before I knew custom ROMs existed. Different launchers, apps, and tools that allowed you to use the device as a platform rather than a phone are what caught my attention.
The Experimental Stage
My next device was a Samsung Galaxy Gio. It ran the same chipset, with the same display size and resolution at 320*480, however, the CPU was clocked in at 800MHZ (mostly to stop touchwiz lagging). This was the time when i really got familiar with how the android system was built and run, as I had a device to play around with. you see, 3 years ago, rooting a device or flashing a custom ROM was extremely risky, not to mention difficult. there were no one-click rooting tools, or apps that did the work for you. everything was done over ADB.
After managing to flash CM7 to my Wildfire S, and overclock the CPU to 1GHZ, I decided it was time to try out CM7 on the Gio. Needless to say i managed to brick it. Luckily these devices were cheap (USD 60) and readily available. I got another and managed to get it onto CM7, and later CM9 and 10.
I used these ROMs as daily drivers for a while, and I discovered all the ways in which android can be customized. Don’t like the battery icon? Change it. Don’t like the color of the signal bars? No problem, flash this Xposed module and there you have it, any colour you can imagine. Even without flashing a custom ROM, you can easily go ahead and change aspects like icon packs and lock screens.
I have just moved from my LG Optimus L9, (which was, interesting… in that there were not many custom ROMs due to its rarity, although even that had an official build of CM) to my first full on flagship device, the LG G3. It may not be one of this years top devices, but with the price drops after the G4 announcement, you get a lot of phone for the money. It’s currently running a rooted stock ROM, not due to the lack of CM12 and 12.1, but because I like how smooth and polished the Lollipop update is. It’s also Bump’d with TWRP Recovery, encase i decide to try out some custom ROMs.
This brings me to my final point. Android evolves. If you have been flashing custom ROMs for a while, you would no doubt have noticed how features that developers add to the custom ROMs, soon become integrated into stock Android. Do not disturb? That was a CM feature. Swipe up on the home button for the action circle? First seen in CyanogenMod. Google learns what people want from what they do with an open source platform, and that is the key to Android.