CyanogenMod founder praises S4, disses TouchWiz on his way out

Steve Kondik CyanogenMod Google+
CyanogenMod creator Steve Kondik's Google+ profile picture

Steve Kondik, the creator of CyanogenMod who was scooped up by Samsung in 2011, has left the South Korean company.

He announced his departure with zero fanfare in a Google+ post, where he declined to discuss the details of his time there, his reasons for leaving or his plans for the future.

Kondik's departure from Samsung was "not because of anything in particular," he wrote in the discussion thread following his post. "Samsung was great. Just decided to do something new.. Ask me in a couple of months." He added a smiley-face for good measure.

Though his lips were sealed about certain things, he wasn't shy with his praise for Samsung's latest flagship Android phone, the Galaxy S4.

'Blows the competition out of the water'

Kondik's post reads partially like a Samsung ad and partially like a genuine review.

"Spec-wise, this device blows the competition out of the water," he wrote of the S4. "Benchmarks put this device FAR above the competition (40K on Quadrant CPU) and there should be no reason why it won't run your favorite apps flawlessly.

"GPS seems to work better than any other Samsung device, with a lock being acquired instantly in almost any condition. The camera is excellent as well, both front and back."

He also praised features like the touchscreen's ability to detect a hovering finger (with varying effects) and the S4's IR blaster, both of which he said "have a lot of potential."

And he added that although the hardware design hasn't changed drastically from the Galaxy S3, the S4 does feel "more solid than" its predecessor.

Hold the phone

Kondik was not so quick to praise Samsung's TouchWiz interface overlay, though, calling it "a bit more consistent" before leveling some nitpicks.

"It feels like [TouchWiz] has been sent a few years back in time to the Froyo days," Kondik wrote. "Say goodbye to all of the nice touch-friendly ViewPagers and say hello again to a fully tabbed UI.

"You'll also enjoy the seemingly endless onslaught of popup windows and modal 'Loading…' dialogs. UI performance is average. It's better and worse at the same time, depending on your viewpoint I suppose."

On the features side, he had one complaint: "My least favorite new feature is 'Smart Scroll' which is supposed to scroll based on face detection + tilt, but it mostly serves to anger me into disabling it."

Overall, though, he said the Samsung Galaxy S4 is "a solid device and a clear choice if you are upgrading from the [Galaxy S2]."

"You'll feel right at home if you have a GS3 currently, but upgrading is probably less urgent (especially if you're on contract)," he added.

CyanogenMod on the Galaxy S4

So far there's been no official word of CyanogenMod continuing its life on the Galaxy S4, but Kondik did tease the possibility at the end of his lengthy Google+ update.

"Since [the S4 is] powered by Snapdragon, CM should work wonderfully on it," Kondik wrote, followed by another smiley-face.

Given CyanogenMod's history and Kondik's obvious infatuation with the Galaxy S4, it seems likely that the custom Android firmware will eventually make its way onto the new device.

But given Kondik's air of secrecy, it also seems that there's more in his future than just CM, and it will be exciting to see where he leaves his mark next.

Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.