Oxygen ROM: Minimalist and Fast

Oxygen is a minimalist ROM built on Gingerbread for the HTC Desire, with an emphasis on running smoothly and conserving power. But how does it compare to the Desire’s stock ROM, which runs HTC Sense?

In this review, I’ll be covering v2.0-RC7 of Oxygen. Naturally, to install it to a Desire or any Android, you must first root your device.

Whilst Oxygen is one of the best ROMs available it is not without its shortcomings, as is to be expected from something that is not released from a manufacturer. One of the features listed by the developer is that the Zeam launcher is included though it was not, so for the purpose of this review I have installed it.

oxygen homescreen

Oxygen Homescreen

HTC Sense to Oxygen

My phone was running HTC Sense FroYo 2.2. The first thing I noticed was an increase in visual performance and battery life. Be it bringing the notifications panel down, opening a menu, or scrolling through menus, it was a lot smoother than with the stock ROM. Dare I say, almost as smooth as the iPhone 4.

As for battery life, with Sense I would be lucky to get 16 hours on a full charge without having any synchronization enabled. I had to take my charger everywhere with me because I knew it would run out. (For the record, my Desire was purchased in April 2010.) With Oxygen, I was easily able to get 24 hours out of the battery, though I never did turn sync back on as I didn’t need it.

Incredibly, it is feasible to charge the phone through USB once more, as never before has this been possible.

Out of the Box Features:

  • add/remove silent mode
  • download any file type
  • kill apps by long press back
  • Customizable power widget
  • FM Radio
  • Legacy Apps2SD support
  • Reboot option
  • Skip tracks with long press volume up/down
  • Status bar power widget
  • Support for connecting to Ad-hoc wifi networks
  • Menu wake and unlock.
  • Trackball wake (eases the pain for iPhone users)
  • Widget picker
  • Various other tweaks and features

The best few features are Legacy Apps2SD support, which negates the need for an app, the reboot option, and the customizable Status Powerbar Widget. Phones have long needed a reboot option, and being able to customize the powerbar widget (who uses Bluetooth?!) is amazing.

An Abundance of Settings

Oxygen has its own settings that you can dabble in — check out a few of them in these screenshots:

oxygen settings

Oxygen Settings

Powerbar Widget

Let’s explore the power bar widget. You can access the actual bar through the notifications dropdown:

Powerbar Widget in Action

Powerbar Widget in Action

For me, this is one of the areas where Oxygen really comes into its own. The bar is changeable to suit your personal preferences, which I take full advantage of. I never use Bluetooth so that was the first to go. However, the limitation is that you may have a maximum of six icons on the power bar; we’ll investigate that shortly.

Check out how many settings there are to choose from:

power widget settings

Powerbar Widget Settings

Powerbar Widget Presets

A neat feature is the selection of presets that further dictate the functions the settings will perform:

Brightness, Network and Screen Options

Brightness, Network and Screen Options

Sound and Flash Options

Sound and Flash Options

Oxygen Updater

Another fantastic feature of Oxygen is OTA updates for revisions. If I can quell the desire to try other ROMs out then maybe I’ll get to give this a go!

Oxygen Updater

Oxygen Updater

Theming

There’s a massive amount of custom UIs for Oxygen; the screenshot below shows the featured interfaces, but if you’ve found another one that you like you can manually add it in.

Oxygen Theming

Oxygen Theming

Notable Bug

There’s one main bug in Oxygen. Sometimes the phone will go into an infinite loop, stuck on the Oxygen loader screen. It’s very power hungry when this happens so if you don’t reset it, the phone will simply run flat.

There seems to be no particular reason for this happening. I’ve only had it happen a few times in two weeks, though a friend of mine reported many more instances of this occurring.

All in all, a very solid, well performing ROM, but problems such as the random reboots need to be fixed


Summary

Oxygen is a custom ROM built on Android 2.3, with an emphasis on being smooth and conserving power. Overall it performs well, but it has a couple of problems that stop this getting a 10/10 score.

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