AndroidGood and EVO

A note on placebo ROM effects and how to avoid

For lack of a better iconOne of the first things I read about the Sense 5/Android 4.3 update that HTC released and then yanked was how fast and smooth it was compared to the previous version. I saw a lot of people who had installed the HTC RUU update claiming this, as well.

Having installed several hundred ROMs prior, and having installed this official ROM, I saw degraded performance, a task killer that pretty much ended multitasking, WiFi that would randomly fail and be unable to turn on, messed up stock widgets, and benchmarks that were slower and lower than the previous version.

So with all these reports of how good it was, the question became, why am I not seeing these performance gains? And I think I’ve got it narrowed down to two critical areas.

The first is this is most likely the first time that most people who are running that RUU have ever completely wiped their device and started from scratch. Currently Android devices get slower and slower as you install things that stick around in memory such as task killers, schedulers, apps that run constantly to figure out your location, apps that constantly are running to grab your social media, etc.

In the first few days of running, you’re probably not going to have accumulated the massive amounts of app trash that cause a phone to go from great to third rate. If you’re a root user, chances are you’ll just reinstall all your apps using Titanium and see no real difference.

The second involves belief. If you believe something is going to be better and faster, it will be to you. Pick your most hated device manufacturer of overprice slow garbage and apply this to their fans, you’ll immediately get what I’m talking about.

So for this reason we have benchmarks. While it’s a pretty well stated fact in the ROM world that a benchmark is not the true measure of a ROM, it is a measure. Currently you can figure out if video performance, IO performance, and CPU have been enhanced or hindered pretty easily from ROM to ROM.

That however is not a good summary of the ROM as boot times, transition between screen times, etc. are not benchmarked by these. There’s also that a developer can set the default transition animation to off and most ROMs suddenly look like they’re on fire. For those that didn’t know, settings, developer options (which have to be enabled,) advanced, animation, and set those to zero and watch the magic.

But yeah, every fresh OS install makes a ROM feel like it’s magic and something new. Then you put on all your social networking apps, games, utilities, check in apps, and watch that phone suddenly start being a clunker.

I think that’s what was happening in EVO land with the 4.3 update. I know that’s what happens when people get tired of their old ROM for being too clunky and slow and then get tired of their new ROM a couple of months later for being too clunky and slow.

Uninstall Facebook, Google+, etc. and watch how much better your phone performs.

Then again, my phone could just be dying … or demons.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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2 thoughts on “A note on placebo ROM effects and how to avoid

  • could it also be that a wipe and install could erase the flash and effectively do a TRIM?

    • While it does effectively commit a TRIM, I’m doubting that there’s a significant difference between a fresh installed and a non-trimmed multi-month SD card.

      I understand SSD fragmentation can slow throughput, but our SD throughput doesn’t seem to vary too much over the benchmarked course of our phone’s lives.

      I think TRIM shines on OSes that write a billion logs and are constantly creating files, but that doesn’t look to be the case with Android.

      Perhaps I’m wrong, will see if I can find specs tomorrow… I’m sure TRIM will be useful eventually, but I don’t think it’s that much of a deal for us


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