SparkOS is a custom ROM available for a rather limited list of handsets that includes the Poco F3 and Poco F4, Lenovo Z6 Pro, Redmi Note 7/7S, as well as the Xiaomi Mi A1. Although this Qualcomm Snapdragon 625-driven has been around since 2017 and the latest major Android update for it was Oreo, the Android 13-based SparkOS 13.2 ROM runs surprisingly well on it.
One of the most important highlights of this custom ROM is the SparkLauncher. As a part of — and together with — the overall user interface, this app delivers an entirely different look & feel when compared to the launcher used by AOSP, on which this community effort is based. The version 13.2 comes with the security patch dated November 5 and includes multiple battery optimizations, system-wide ad blocking capabilities, as well as many performance tweaks and advanced settings.
Mobile photography fans will surely enjoy the "Unlimited Photos storage" option, although it's not entirely legit. Once enabled, this option turns the Xiaomi Mi A1 into a Pixel XL for Google Photos, so the app will allow unlimited storage as it does for Google's handsets.
One feature that I never used back when I had the Xiaomi Mi A1 as my main phone bat was curious about now is face unlock. Leaving its lack of security aside, I can say that it works like a charm. FM Radio is also fully functional, and the ROM even includes the headphone audio customization present in the official firmware.
Battery life is rather short (playing CSR 2 for 46 minutes used up no less than 39%), but the options available can help get the best out of this aging handset. My phone is now past 1,000 charges and the present battery capacity is less than half the original 3,080 mAh (around 1,000 mAh reported by AIDA64, for example). Given what my daughter put it through (repeated drops, water and sanitizing gel ingress, running games while charging), it's a miracle it still works.
These being said, I can easily grant SparkOS 4.5 stars out of 5. The reason that keeps me away from a perfect score is the lack of an advanced camera app and the use of Google Chrome as the default web browser when there are better solutions freely available. With more Android 13 custom ROMs for the Xiaomi Mi A1 in the wild, I will probably discover a perfect 5 sooner or later.