Installing android P: Part 2 - An Unlocked Experience

  • This is a follow-up to Part 1 found here.

320 Hours later:

It's done. Once the timer reaches zero it just worked.

To be honest it kind of feels like having to wait 15 days to register to a web site. Like if someone wrote: "Please wait 320 days to approve Terms of use".


Anyway: after I'd done my time the unlock tool just did what it should no questions asked.

It's time to install the Developer Preview:
You'll need to download 2 more things if you haven't allready.

  • The Xiaomi MI Flash tool found here
  • The Android P images found here

Install the MI Flash tool and unpack the compressed  folder containing Android P. Remember where you put it.

Flashing and avoiding accidents

Step One:

  • Boot your device into Fastboot mode again and connect it to your PC.
  • If you can't see it in the tool, press refresh(second image).

Step Two:

  • Press select (third image) an navigate to the folder you unpacked containing Android P. It'll include the flash_all.bat file among others. 
  • Make sure you have unchecked the clean and lock button in the lower right corner(fourth image). You should check clean all to avoid complications.

Step Three:

  • When you're ready, press the Flash button and watch it go.

You'll know when it's ready and it'll reboot itself. Now if you forgot to un-check the clean and lock box you will get an error message telling you that the system has been destroyed which in it self is terrifying. If this happens just go back to the MI Unlock tool and unlock the bootloader again. I say this from first hand experience.

Worst case scenario download the stock MIUI images from here. This will get you the latest MIUI 9.5 version as of now which you can flash the same way as the Android P preview. Otherwise:

Welcome to Android P.

Stock Android with a fresh paint job: My Experience

This is different. Up until now I've been getting used to the heavily customized MIUI skin from Xiaomi but now Stock Android from Google also takes some getting used to. The system automatically puts you on the path of Androids new gesture based navigation. I've been looking forward to trying this out and my first impressions are that it's half baked. Of course this is the first preview of the feature and it might change. I think the third developer preview actually did something to tweak them already. In contradiction to what some people seem to think this isn't anything like the old cartoony Touchwiz skin. The icons are round sure but they're no where near as ugly and distracting. I actually think it looks nice.

Stock Android is very fitting to the Mi Mix 2s. I kind of wish they made an Android One version, but more on that in my upcoming review. 

The interface is smooth, but since this is a beta it's also full of bugs. Neither Instagram, Facebook or Facebook messenger worked for more than 1 second at the time and the Google App crashed a lot of the time.

I have this gripe with Xiaomi for not putting the new version out yet. I feel like the point of the preview program is lost if they just release the first version. Especially since the new APIs and such is coming in the next version, along with well needed bug fixes. 

Screenshots:

The Gestures:

As you probably know, MIUI 9.5 comes with built in full screen navigation gestures with a lot of likeness to the ones on the iPhone x. I actually like those as they feel natural to me.

Googles alternative still gives you a home button, and the back button is there when you need it and it takes up the same amount of space whilst making it dragable for different actions:

Drag up to the middle for recent apps

Drag up further for the app drawer

Drag to the side to either jump to the previous app or to slide between the recent apps menu and release to enter the highlighted app.

Now this isn't bad in any way, but it's kind of hard to get used to. More often than not I got to the app drawer. Speaking of which, if you swipe up on the home screen dock you now also get the recent app menu before the app drawer. I found this frustrating and even if I swiped all the way up I still get to see the recent apps menu briefly which feels like lag. I don't like when the interface feels like it's lagging.

Camera:

I knew it would be like this but it's always sad when it's true. The camera app that teh preview comes with is the Snapdragon Camera app. It takes pictures, that's it. 

It's kind of obvious that it's not ment for daily driver photography so if you're expecting that stay clear of the Android P beta for now.

What did I do?

Unfortunately I decided to go back to MIUI. This is a Developer Preview but I was hoping for some optimization. I am however still hopefull that Xiaomi will release the next beta version with some fixes. Maybe even a dedicated camera app?

I do hope for a future Lineage OS release though. Stock Android was really good looking on the Mi Mix 2s. It's been fun seeing what the new version of Android has to offer so far and I do appreciate the Face lift. 

The beautiful thing is that now once unlocked it's very simple to install new ROMs, betas and even root if that's interesting to you. Let me know if you'd like a rundown of what you can do after unlocking the bootloader.

In the meantime I'm trying out the Xiaomi EU version of MIUI 10 and for starters I experience way less keyboard lag with the gestures here.

Xiaomi EU is, while sounding official, an unofficial custom ROM based on the Chinese version of MIUI with a global focus. This means that most features that Xiaomi advertise are implemented with more languages supported than English and Chinese. I'll touch on this in my full review as well.