Android is great, but sometimes, the version yous acquire amongst your phone—whether its vanilla Android or something similar Samsung's TouchWiz—leaves a chip to live desired. Here's how to install a novel version of Android (or ROM) on your device for an fifty-fifty amend Android experience.
What's a ROM?
One of the best things nearly the openness of the Android platform is that if you're unhappy amongst the stock OS, yous tin install i of many modified versions of Android (called ROMs) on your device. Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 novel ROM tin convey yous the latest version of Android before your manufacturer does, or it tin supercede your manufacturer-modded version of Android amongst a clean, stock version. Or, it tin accept your existing version in addition to simply beef it upwards amongst awesome novel features—it's upwards to you.
If you're familiar amongst Linux, it's variety of similar to installing a unlike Linux distribution. Each version of the OS has a specific goal inward mind, in addition to every bit such differs quite a chip from the others. Which i yous lead is subject on your priorities in addition to how yous purpose the device. You'll demand to unlock your bootloader in addition to flash a custom recovery (more information on that here), but in i lawsuit yous acquire the hang of it, it's non likewise difficult.
Note: We originally wrote this guide inward 2010, but things receive got changed quite a bit, thus nosotros figured it's fourth dimension to revisit the process. Many of yous Android vets already know how to practise this, but hopefully newcomers volition honour this guide valuable—and perhaps fifty-fifty yous veterans volition acquire a affair or two. Let's begin!
Step One: Unlock Your Bootloader in addition to Flash a Custom Recovery
First, let's clear upwards some confusion: Contrary to pop belief, yous practise non genuinely demand to root your telephone to flash a ROM—you simply demand to unlock your bootloader in addition to flash a custom recovery. However, this procedure commonly goes hand-in-hand amongst rooting—and most custom ROMs come upwards amongst root access—so what yous think of every bit "rooting your phone" is belike what you're going to receive got to practise first.
Unfortunately, nosotros can't acquire through this stride inward item here, because it's unlike for every phone! So, I highly recommend checking out our everything root guide to acquire a chip to a greater extent than nearly what's involved, what all the unlike price mean, in addition to what to lookout adult man out for. Then, search some sites similar XDA Developers for instructions on how to unlock the bootloader of your specific phone, which recovery yous should purpose (usually TWRP or ClockworkMod), in addition to how to flash it.
I also recommend rooting your telephone during stride one, since it'll brand the backup procedure inward stride 2 easier—and salve yous some hassle along the way. Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 lot of methods in addition to one-click apps volition root your telephone anyways, thus it powerfulness live included inward the process. Again, this tin vary from telephone to phone. (If the instructions require yous to flash SuperSU.zip, yous tin refer to stride 3 of this guide for information on how to practise that—ironically, it's simply similar flashing a ROM).
NOTE: Unlocking your bootloader volition most probable wipe your phone, in addition to without root access, yous won't live able to dorsum upwards really much. So, salve anything yous wish to maintain on your computer—you volition receive got to laid upwards your telephone from scratch simply this in i lawsuit before continuing.
When you're done, homecoming hither in addition to expire along to stride 2 for the residuum of the ROMming process.
Step Two: Make a Backup of Your System, Apps, in addition to Data
Now that you've got a custom recovery on your phone, the start affair yous should do—before you ever make a large alter to your system—is dorsum it up. First, we'll brand a Nandroid backup, which is basically a epitome of your electrical flow system. That way, if something goes wrong, yous tin restore your telephone to exactly the way it was before yous started tweaking. This volition salve yous a lot of hassle if something goes wonky (which, let's live honest, tin occur often). To practise this:
Reboot your telephone in addition to acquire inward recovery mode. This is a chip unlike on every phone, but commonly involves some permutation of pressing the ability in addition to book buttons at the same time.
Head to the "Backup" or "Nandroid" department of your recovery mode. The default settings should live fine. If given the option, give your backup a advert that helps yous recall what it is (like "Pre-CyanogenMod Backup 01-17-14"). Confirm your backup in addition to permit it run.
Wait for the backup to finish. This may accept awhile.
I also recommend making a 2d type of backup: your apps in addition to settings. If yous simply unlocked your bootloader in addition to wiped your phone, yous tin skip this step, but whatsoever fourth dimension yous flash a ROM inward the future, you'll wish to dorsum upwards your apps first, since yous may receive got to wipe your telephone before yous flash. With a backup, yous tin easily restore those apps in addition to information later flashing, making the procedure a lot simpler. We recommend using Titanium Backup.
This is unlike from a Nandroid backup because it simply backs upwards the apps themselves, which yous tin in addition to then restore on whatsoever ROM yous want. Nandroid backups accept your entire organization every bit it is, ROM included.
Note that you'll demand to live rooted to purpose Titanium Backup (which is why I recommend yous root inward stride one). To perform a backup inward Titanium:
Open Titanium Backup in addition to grant it root permissions if it asks for them. If it experiences whatsoever problems amongst root, it'll say yous correct now.
Tap the "Batch" push clit inward the upper right-hand corner (the i that looks similar a lilliputian checkbox). Scroll downwardly to the "Backup" department in addition to honour "Backup All User Apps." Tap the "Run" button. This volition dorsum upwards whatsoever apps you've downloaded from the Play Store, in addition to their data. (You tin endeavor backing upwards your organization information every bit well, but I honour this commonly doesn't operate really well).
Wait for it to finish. If yous like, yous tin also sync these to Dropbox as described here, but yous don't receive got to for this process.
This may seem similar a lot of unnecessary backups, but trust me: it's going to salve yous a lot of fourth dimension inward the long run. Now if something goes wrong, yous receive got a nandroid backup to autumn dorsum on in addition to don't receive got to start from scratch. And, when your ROM flashes successfully, yous don't receive got to start re-downloading in addition to setting upwards all your apps yourself because yous tin restore them amongst Titanium.
Step Three: Download in addition to Flash the ROM of Your Choice
When you've institute a ROM yous wish to try, download it in addition to salve it to your phone. It should come upwards inward the cast of a fairly large ZIP file, thus you'll belike wish to live on Wi-Fi to download it. You tin either download it straight from your phone, or download it on your figurer in addition to transfer it over via USB.
To flash your ROM:
Reboot your telephone into Recovery mode, simply similar nosotros did dorsum when nosotros made our Nandroid backup.
Head to the "Install" or "Install ZIP from SD Card" department of your recovery.
Navigate to the ZIP file yous downloaded earlier, in addition to select it from the listing to flash it.
Wait for the procedure to complete; it may accept a few minutes.
Depending on your province of affairs (see below), yous may also demand to wipe your information and/or cache. In TWRP, you'll honour this nether the "Wipe" section, in addition to inward ClockworkMod, you'll demand to either lead the "Wipe Data/Factory Reset" choice or the "Wipe Cache Partition" option. When you're done, you're gratuitous to reboot into your novel ROM.
So, when should yous wipe your information in addition to cache? Here are a few full general guidelines:
If you're flashing a ROM unlike than the i you're currently running, yous should wipe information in addition to cache. Essentially, this performs a manufactory reset on your phone, in addition to yous volition lose all your data.
If you're flashing a novel version of a ROM you're already running, nosotros recommend wiping your information in addition to cache—but yous should live able to acquire away amongst simply wiping the cache, pregnant yous acquire to maintain all your apps in addition to settings.
Remember, if yous backed everything upwards amongst Titanium, in addition to then doing a manufactory reset isn't all that bad, since yous tin simply restore most of it. Keep inward heed that fifty-fifty if you're simply upgrading your existing ROM, factory resets tin live helpful. If yous alone wipe your cache, complaint that a few apps may encounter issues, but reinstalling them or wiping that app's information commonly fixes the problem.
When yous reboot, yous should live inward your shiny novel ROM, ready to play! But what? There's no Play Store? Read on for the final stride of the process...
Step Four: Download in addition to Flash Google Apps
Because Google's apps are non opened upwards source, custom ROMs can't bundle Google's apps—like Gmail, Hangouts, or the Play Store—with their ROMs. That agency you'll demand to download in addition to flash them separately. Luckily, this is pretty slowly to do: simply caput to this page on RootzWiki to honour out which ZIP file yous need, download it to your phone, in addition to flash it simply similar yous did the ROM inward stride three. Gapps Manager is also a swell app that'll assist yous honour the correct packet if you're stuck, in addition to yous can download the APK from XDA Developers.
Once you've flashed the latest Google Apps package, yous should live all set! You'll receive got a novel ROM amongst tons of settings to play with, the Play Store to download novel apps, and—if yous made a backup amongst Titanium—you tin forthwith caput into Titanium Backup in addition to restore all your apps in addition to their settings. Enjoy!