ROM Review: MIUI (build 3.25)

One of the best things about the Android operating system is its flexibility. One could even make the argument that this is the operating system’s best feature. You can change as much or as little as you like from just adding a particular widget that you want to your homescreen to something a bit more adventurous. If you’re looking for a more challenging overhaul, installing a completely different ROM would be the best (and most fun) thing to do. To do this, you must achieve root on your device (which does void warranty in almost all cases) and find a ROM that appeals to your particular style and interests. In this regard, MIUI has become one of my favorite ROMs on my HTC Evo, though it is available on several other platforms. Check in after the break to find out why.

Of all of the ROMs I’ve tried, MIUI has had the most distinctive look to it. With cooked Sense-based ROMs, you get the Sense UI, albeit generally much smoother, quicker, and a bit customized. With most cooked AOSP ROMs, you get unadulterated stock Android, usually with some extra goodies thrown in and again, much quicker than stock. None of these are bad at all, but MIUI is something different altogether, and its latest iteration is also Gingerbread-based. Every inch of this ROM is themed and repurposed, typically with a more iOS feel, but with Android functionality thrown in. The launcher is a good example of this.


Like iOS, all of the app icons, both downloaded and pre-installed, are located on the desktop. There is no pop-up grid of apps, though you can organize the apps any way you life via folders (again like iOS). The Android functionality comes in with the fact that you still have those marvelously useful widgets to pin about and the dock bar can house whatever apps you like, up to five. Folders can also be placed on the dock, which is what I did, placing my internet folder in the middle with the Browser app and shortcuts to my most used sites. On the far right side of the docking bar, I placed a folder with a dozen or so of my most used apps. Everything else I threw into folders of matching purposes placed on another desktop.

Pinching on the launcher screen or pressing the home button on the home launcher screen brings up each pane of the launcher. From this screen, you can also manage these screens, adding and deleting them or choosing the default home screen. One plus here is that you can add as many screens as you like.

Notification Bar/Lockscreen

On almost any Android ROM, the pull-down notification bar is a standard feature. MIUI is no exception and has even thrown in a few caveats. You’ll notice that along the bottom there are three buttons for Notices, Apps, and Toggles. Above is the picture for the Notices tab, which shows you notifications, while clicking on Apps…

…brings you a list of your most recently used apps (and a built-in app killer) and clicking on Toggles…

…brings you a handy grid of on/off buttons for radios, sound, display, flashlight (torch), and phone power options. A semi-hidden feature here is that holding down most buttons will take you to the full settings of that particular item (i.e. Bluetooth settings). Very handy.

The lockscreen of MIUI is very well designed. Pulling down on the center of the bar simply unlocks your phone, like your typical lockscreen. On the left and right sides of the bar however, you may notice icons for phone and text messaging, and these serve two purposes. First, missed calls or text messages will be indicated on the related icon by a red circle and the number of calls or messages missed. Pressing and holding on the icon will reveal missed caller information and any message text, and letting go will clear the notifications. The second purpose of these icons is that dragging from them unlocks the phone directly to the default app used for your phone or messaging. Another nice feature of the lockscreen is that its wallpaper is separate from the launcher screen. Also, when listening to music (more on this later), the lockscreen displays the song title and an animated EQ.

MIUI Music

The music app on MIUI is so good that many devs have started including it in their own ROMs. Included in the app is a lyrics downloader, a cover art downloader, a favorites feature, a playlist manager, and lots of really pretty eye candy. It runs extremely smooth and also comes with two widgets, a 4×1 and a 4×4. Even if you don’t end up installing the MIUI ROM, I highly recommend finding the MIUI Music app and giving it a try.


One nifty feature of MIUI is a built-in theme manager and downloader. You can access this through an app icon or through the settings menu. Previous to the newest update, these changed everything from icons and wallpapers, to the lockscreen lockbar, system menus, and even certain apps. Now the main things changed are icons and wallpapers, however I’m sure once the theme developers update their themes to accommodate the new Gingerbread framework, these will once again be themeable as well.

MIUI is an incredibly slick ROM. It’s smooth in its execution and animations and its entire UI is very pleasing, both aesthetically and functionally. It may not be for everyone’s tastes, but if you haven’t tried it out yet, I would definitely recommend it. You can find MIUI in the XDA Developers forums (depending on your phone) or in their very own MIUI forum. In the meantime, check out the gallery below for a better look at the pictures used in the article plus some extras.


-The dock bar will hold 6 icons/apps.
-The theme manager still provides you with the ability to change every aspect individually (text style, wallpapaer, lockscreen, icons, boot animation, boot audio, ringtone, notification ringtone, alarm, and font) or to simply apply a complete theme or create your own. You can also backup your theme settings right in the theme manager.

About the Author: Mitch Wright

Witnesses at Mitch Wright’s birth claim that he came out as a mechanical cyborg beast, who then decimated the doctors in the room with a violent laser blast. Naturally, these witnesses are insane. Mitch was born in Texas, grew up in central New Jersey, and then moved back to Texas, where he met his spectacularly awesome wife. He currently works as a repair tech for Major National Carrier, where he is able to fulfill his love for gadgets by taking phones and PDAs apart and (hopefully) fixing them. He has a strong passion for technology, reading, writing, and science fiction, and loves the fact that modern technology is getting ever closer to the latter. In the world of PDAs, Mitch started off in the land of Windows Mobile with the HTC Touch and HTC Diamond, migrated to webOS with the Palm Pre, and has since been infatuated with Android, first with the Samsung Moment and now with the HTC Evo.

  • David Anderson

    I’m with you; I have found MIUI to be the best fit for my Evo. Only thing is that I notice you don’t have the ever-present voicemail icon on your screen. Any tricks to making that go away?

  • J

    Nice review. A few corrections/additions.

    -The dock bar will hold 6 icons/apps.
    -The theme manager still provides you with the ability to change every aspect individually (text style, wallpapaer, lockscreen, icons, boot animation, boot audio, ringtone, notification ringtone, alarm, and font)or to simply apply a complete theme or create your own. You can also backup your theme settings right in the theme manager.

    Other cool features not mentioned:
    -Doubletap the time on the lockscreen to bring up the music controls even when no music is playing yet
    -In the notification bar (pictured above) you don’t need to press the bottom buttons (“Notices”, “Apps”, “Toggles”), just swipe left or right to get to the one you want. Also, dragging down on the left takes you directly to the “Notices”, while dragging on the left will take you directly to the “Toggles”
    -Built in screen capture (Down Vol + Menu)
    -Built-in backup that will backup your choice of: SMS/MMS, WiFi settings, desktop screens, contacts, call records, apps or all of the above. Makes Wiping and flashing new versions painless.
    -Tons of animations throughout which can be changed, tweaked or turned off.
    -So many more, too many to list

  • J

    Correction: [while dragging on the left will take you directly to the “Toggles”]should read: while dragging on the RIGHT will take you directly to the “Toggles”

  • Andrew Greenfield

    Try downloading Handcent SMS and blacklisting your phone number. It prevented the voicemail icon from showing up for me :)

  • J.D.

    OOOo, this ROM is what I wished iOS was. Everything I complained about with my iPhone I can actually do on Android. This ROM’s look is a great alternative for people who are coming from an iPhone.

  • J

    @David, head over to XDA and do a quick search for your issue. That particular issue probably has a dozen threads and 100’s of posts. The fix involves a second non-smart phone and quick process with Sprint. Good luck.

  • Nathan Cooper

    what theme are you using? I like the big rain drops. :)

  • bruX

    What theme are you using, as well as the weather widget? Very clean looking phone there. I’m using the iPhone theme, but man yours looks much better.

  • bruX
  • eh

    that is not the theme… what is the theme being used, and the wallpaper, and the widget for the clock?

  • pete

    second what the weather widget is? that looks really neat. And im also loving the new MIUI version 1.3.25 really brings it into its own.

  • bruX

    Wallpaper: “Wet”
    Theme: SWG and Crystal hybrid

  • MIUIAndroid

    Hi all,

    You can find more themes and the English versions of MIUI ROM at the first site to bring MIUI English to the masses :-)

    We welcome all new users at our web site.


    MIUI Android Team

  • jdharm

    I just tried to download the latest ROM from the site mentioned in the previous comment. It’s got Chinese all over it and FC’s all over the place.

    Then I found and apparently that site was started by the original developers and they started a new site because miuiandroid was run by a jerk.

    Anyway, the ROM from had no Chinese in it and was way more stable! I’d recommend you get it from there instead.