With Android being skinned left, right and centre by every phone manufacturer under the sun these days, some experiences are going to be better than others. Fortunately, with the versatility that many Android phones offer, it’s simple to root your device (check out or guide to rooting the Nexus One if you want an idea of how it’s done, although each phone has its differences) and load custom ROMs such as the popular Cyanogen, on to it instead.
Cyanogen isn’t the only custom ROM knocking around though, there are literally hundreds of tweaked images of Android running around on the internet. One such option is MIUI, a ROM from China, that adds a number of unique additions to stock Android, and is soon updated to the latest version unlike many custom skins that are applied from manufacturers; the latest version of MIUI is running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). Let’s take a look at what it has to offer!
MIUI incorporates some great additions in to the GUI that would look great in vanilla Android versions. The lock screen, for example, includes two simple buttons at either side of the handle that you pull down the unlock the phone. If you drag down the handle holding the left hand side, you’re taken straight to the phone app. Hold the right hand side whilst pulling down and you’re taken to the SMS application. Also, if you just tap and hold the SMS icon, you can see a preview of any messages you have waiting without even leaving the lock screen.
The home screen in MIUI incorporates some very neat transitions when flipping between panes, including a Linux-esque 3D cube for more powerful phones that can display such graphics. I tested the ROM on a Nexus One with everything enabled and things were generally smooth so you should be fine with any phone that has a relatively powerful processor.
As far as the user interface is concerned, this Apple mentality is obvious from the fact that there is no app drawer as all of your app icons are placed on your home screen. iOS style folders can house any apps that you want to put in to them and all of the app icons are given a rounded square border just like the ones that you’ll see on the iPhone. Your dock at the bottom of the screen provides quick access to any apps that you want, although I just keep the essentials there, such as the phone, messaging and settings apps.
A Viable Alternative?
Despite the easy-on-the-eye interface that MIUI offers, I’ve found that at present it is too unstable to be considered for sole use. I’ve been using the ROM for over a week now, and there have been many times that I have been all too tempted to throw my phone out of the window when the browser comes crashing down or the messaging app force closes. On many occasions, I have had to restart my phone for these issues to be resolved, and for most people this is unacceptable when trying to use a ROM on a daily basis.
There’s no doubt that MIUI has its advantages; it makes a lot of every day operations such as re-arranging icons on the home screen a million times easier, but there are just too many faults and slight UI inconsistencies for me to consider it as my regular ROM over something more established such as Cyanogen.
If you do want to try out MIUI, then you can head over to the official website and download it. Remember to get the English language pack with the image as well, otherwise everything will be in Chinese!
If you have any thoughts of your own on MIUI, or have any other Android ROM suggestions for us to review, let us know in the comments!