As most Android users already know, one of Android’s main charms is the ability to install ‘Custom ROMs’. In case you have wondered what they are and how to safely install them on your Android Smartphone, here we will explain some of the basic principles and then give you a very easy and straightforward, step by step guide on how to flash the custom ROM. The focus will be on trying to keep it simple so that any one with even a basic knowledge of computers can do this on their phones.
So basically what is a Custom ROM ? It is essentially like installing a new OS on your PC. The Custom ROMs are modified versions of the stock Android ROM with additional features. They will be based on one of the existing Android versions with tweaks done to a great extent, e.g change in themes, font, pre-loaded software, fixes, patches and so on.
Why Do it ?
Often times Custom ROMs are faster, light weight and don’t have the bloat ware of the original Android software on your phone. They can improve battery life, give extra features and so on. For most people, once they have installed a Custom ROM, there is seldom a reason to go back to the original Android OS that your phone came with.
You may even be able to install a version of Android not even released for your phone yet, e.g. Android 3.0 Honeycomb or Android 2.3 Gingerbread have been made available for a lot of phones via Custom ROM.
Tutorial and Step-by-Step Guide:
Alright, now with the basic stuff out of the way, lets get on with this guide. Make sure that you read through this guide first at least one, before you start this process. And beware that there are no guaranties, you are doing this on your own risk and flashing a custom rom will most likely void the warranty on your phone.
This guide applies almost all modern day Android smartphones including:
- HTC EVO 4G
- HTC Droid Incredible
- Motorola Atrix 4G
- Motorola Droid X, Droid. CLIQ
- Motorola Milestone
- Nexus One
- Samsung Galaxy S phones including Epic 4G, Captivate, Vibrant
- Sony Ericsson Xperia E51i X8 X10
Step 1: Root your phone.
This is the most basic thing which needs to be done first. Basically rooting the phone, will allow you to access system files which is necessary. Rooting Android Smartphones is really straight forward, you can use programs like SuperOneClick to root your phone. You can read our guide here on how to root your phone with one click.
Step 2: Installing ROM Manager
Install ROM Manager by ClockworkMod on your system, it is available for free on the Android Market. Here is the QR Code, to scan and download directly on your phone.
Step 3: Flashing the ClockWorkMod recovery console
Open ROM Manager on your phone, and select the option which says “Flash ClockWorkMod Recovery”.
Rationale: All Android phones have a ‘recovery’ menu present by default. However, the default recovery menu does not let you do much. What this option will do is that it will replace it with a more advanced recovery console which lets you perform plenty of other functions with your phone. The nice thing about this software is that it will search for the best compatible Clockworkmod for your phone and use it automatically. Once its done, no need to repeat it.
Step 4: Back up your stuff
This entails making first making a Nandroid back up of you current ROM with ROM manager as follows. Its important you do this, so that you can recover your system if things don’t go right for some reason.
Step 5: More Back ups!
Back up your software, SMS, Contacts. You can use Titanium Backup for software, SMS Backup&Restore is good for messages and you can save your contacts by syncing them with your Google account.
Step 6: Research time! Find the Ideal Custom ROM
Now here is the part for some research. Find the best Custom ROM for you phone which you want to flash. Note that ROM’s are phone specific and there is really no best choice overall. However, a good place to start is the CyanogenMod if its is available for your phone. Its version 7 was released recently, and you can take a look over here to see if it is supported by your phone. If not, then one other place to look would be http://forum.xda-developers.com/
Once you have found which Custom ROM you want to use, copy the zip file you just downloaded to an SD Card on your phone. You can copy it via your USB cable or just directly download the ROM with the web browser on your phone.
Step 7: Flash away the New Custom ROM !
Now here is the exciting part, where you actually flash the ROM. There are basically two ways to do it, and we will cover it both ways.
A. The Easy Way
Just open the ROM Manager app, choose “Install ROM from SD Card” and point towards the zip file of the ROM on your SD care. You are done !!
B. The Hard Way
Now this is a little more complicated, but I have found out that it works effectively all the time. Here are the step:
- Boot into your phone’s recovery mode. You do that from ROM Manager
- Select ‘Wipe Date/Factory Reset’, then do ‘Wipe cache partition’
- Now go to ‘Install zip from SD card’ and choose the zip file of your ROM
- After you are done, don’t exit, Go to advanced and choose ‘Wipe Dalvik Cache’
- Reboot your phone
The advantage of the hard method is that you will get a clean install with remnants of the old ROM deleted
Step 8: Wait … Wait … Almost there
Once you are done, wait for about 10-15 minutes, don’t do anything. This is very important as you are running a new ROM for the first time and its good to just let the OS build all the cache. After this restart your phone, and wait for another 10 minutes to make sure that any bugs are wiped out.
Step 9: Restore the old stuff
Restore your old applications, contacts, messages etc, which we backed up before.
This is it, enjoy your new clean and neat, Android Custom ROM. Be warned that this whole process can be very addicting and you may find yourself flashing a new ROM every week just to check it out !!
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