Last weekend, I installed CyanogenMod 12 (CM12) on my OnePlus One. No, the official release is not yet out. This is the nightly build that I’m using. Apart from the official OxygenOS from the OnePlus team released early this month, CM12 is probably the best way to get Lollipop on a OnePlus One right now.
CyanogenMod is a community version of the official Google Android operating system. It is an alternative software, or ROM, available for many Android phones, and it’s really popular among Android enthusiasts. These fans often go out of their way to replace the stock Android ROM with CyanogenMod.
The OnePlus One is very unique in that it comes preloaded with CyanogenMod 11S, a version of CyanogenMod based on Android 4.4 KitKat was was specially created for it. This is perhaps one of the reasons that made the One so attractive to Android and CyanogenMod fans. Alas the relationship between OnePlus and CyanogenMod had soured last year, and OnePlus has set out to develop their own ROM, OxygenOS. It’s possible that future Ones, and future phones from OnePlus, may come with OxygenOS preloaded instead.
OxygenOS is already officially available for the One, but it is not an over-the-air (OTA) install. That means if you want to try OxygenOS, you’d have to flash it manually, not different from how you’d have to install alternative ROMs like CyanogenMod on other Android phones.
I tried OxygenOS when it was just launched. For someone familiar with CyanogenMod and having taken to their features, I found OxygenOS too basic. OxygenOS is mostly stock Android 5.0 Lollipop with just a few tweaks. While CyanogenMod is also often described as pretty much stock Android, it clearly has lots more features to allow you to customise and personalise your Android in many ways.
The biggest beef with OxygenOS, for me, however, was the always-awake problem with Google Play Services. It apparently isn’t unique to OxygenOS, and sounds more like an issue with recent Google Play Services updates. Nevertheless, CM12 appears to have worked around this issue, and it was enough for me to switch to it.
After all, I already got the OnePlus One unlocked, installed a custom recovery, so as to put OxygenOS. To now switch to CM12 is relatively straightforward.
My first impressions of CM12 is that it’s a really sweet Lollipop ROM. The user interface is really fluid. It’s better than CyanogenMod 11S that had shipped with the One. It seems, true to Google claims, the new ART runtime from Lollipop does extend battery runtime a little bit. I’ve always been confident that my One will last me through one full typical work day, which for me is defined as about 6am to 11pm. But with CM12, the battery status tells me I can run more than two days, which looks nice and impressive, but in actual actual real tests, I’ve lasted from 6am to 10pm the next day. It’s still awesome.
Lollipop has added a number of nice things, like support for Guest accounts and additional user accounts. It makes it easy to share your handphone with someone else, like your kids you want to play some games. The Smart Lock feature that automatically unlocks the phone based on proximity of a Bluetooth device, or based on GPS location is also convenient. There is also Trusted Faces, to unlock based on face recognition, if you so prefer.
CM12 is a simple upgrade, particularly when you’ve already unlocked and installed a custom recovery like TWRP. Simply download the CM12 ROM, which for the OnePlus One you should look for the bacon device, put it somewhere under “external storage”, like the Download folder. Then reboot into recovery and simply install that ZIP file you downloaded.
The nightly build of CM12 for bacon is available directly from CyanogenMod downloads.