CM9 Review on Nexus S - fed up with waiting for Google official update

I was fed up with waiting for Google. With a total information black out and no sign of movement, an ICS update to my ATT Nexus S didn't look to be coming from Google any time soon. So I finally installed CM9 v2.1 by KalimochoAz (available here) and I'm glad to report that I couldn't be happier.

The Install

Let me start with the install process. While this wasn't my first rom change but I'm far from being even an amateur developer. To root my Nexus S I used a "Single click" guide that does most of the work for you. I found it easy to use and I highly recommend it. After this I was ready to wipe and load the two zip files I downloaded from the xda forum. The whole process took no more than 15 minutes. Don't let the install process scare you from loading this early version of CM9.

The OS

With about a week of use, I'm extremely happy with this build of CM9. It feels well polished; almost good enough to be an official CyanogenMod release. The phone feels noticeably smoother than the stock gingerbread I was running. For example the dock returns faster when closing a program. The ICS apps that come with the gapps zip are a big improvement over previous versions. Everything from the dialer to the gmail app is redesigned for better functionality, aesthetics and performance.

In terms of CM9 alterations to the stock OS, the developers included many settings I’ll never touch. Other changes are great and what we’ve come to expect from CM, including a highly customizable power widget in the pull down notification. There’s much more tweaking that can be done to the OS. Another tweak I like is the ability to hold the back button to force close any app.

Battery life is also improved. I went from draining about 70% of the battery in one day to about 40% (!!?!). I was really surprised about this and would like to hear your experience with the battery life with this rom.

Room for Improvement

The developers need to work on stability when users enable some of their custom tweaks to ICS. Posts in the xda forum note some issues when enabling Deep Idle or lulzactive. They also need organize and consolidate the many additions they made to the settings page.

At no fault to the developers of the rom, I’m missing several apps that need to become available to ICS, including HBO GO and some other big ones. Other apps just aren’t as stable on ICS. I imagine this has to do with the slow adoption of ICS. Google has to push their partners to get ICS updates out MUCH faster.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of the wrinkles that need to ironed out, the most important and awesome part of this CM9 build is its smooth and reliable operation. The phone has frozen only once in the last week and I’ve had fewer force closes (and I attribute those force closes to ICS incompatibility). If you’re sick of gingerbread and the Nexus S experience has been a let-down, you might want to try loading this CM9 build.

I’ve finally regained faith in my Nexus S, no thanks to Google. Thank you KalimochoAz and the other developers that worked on this rom for your time and effort. Keep up the good work.

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