Most Android users turn to custom ROMs when their device is no longer updated by the manufacturer. I’ve done things a little differently, flashing a ROM on my OnePlus 3 to avoid an update. That ROM is Sultanxda’s spin of CyanogenMod 13, and so far it’s pretty great.
OnePlus promised owners of its 3 and 3T models an update to Android 7 (Nougat) before the end of 2016 and, to their credit, a notification of said update appeared on my phone late last week. The only problem is, I’m not especially thrilled about Nougat—I tried the stock Android 7 ROM on my Nexus 9 tablet last September and was surprised to find that I couldn’t change the hosts file with AdAway. That issue might well have been fixed by now, or it could have been a one-off problem specific to that installation; even so, I don’t currently desire any of the features that Nougat has to offer.
I could have just stuck it out with the Marshmallow version of Oxygen, which for the past six months has served me very well. But instead I took the opportunity to flash Sultan’s ROM, and I’m glad that I did.
For starters, the ROM seems somehow quicker than Oxygen OS, and Oxygen is certainly no slouch when it comes to performance. Then there’s the added value of CyanogenMod extras—a file manager, screen recorder, audio equalizer… and what I’ve missed more than anything else: The CyanogenMod Theme Engine. Oxygen’s dark mode is better than nothing, but it’s no match for the ability to theme select apps and your system’s UI. To get you started, the ROM includes Cyanogen’s HexoLibre Theme, pictured above.
There are, of course, a few minor headaches associated with the installation of any custom ROM. You’ll have to flash a Google apps package separately, which will include at least a few AOSP packages that you’re likely to never use (they can at least be “frozen” with Titanium Backup). In the case of Sultan’s ROM I also had to flash a custom firmware before the actual ROM would take.
Even with all that, plus the added annoyance of having to reset two Android Wear smartwatches, it was worth it. I now hold in my hands what feels like an entirely new phone, along with a reminder of just how powerful and flexible Android can be. If you’re interested in this excellent custom ROM, links from XDA are immediately below.