You may be wondering, “What is ROM?”
ROM stands for Random Access Memory. It is used in electronic devices, like cell phones and personal computers, and is what allows you to keep saved data after a restart or a shut down.
You may have also heard of RAM, or Random Access Memory, and wonder what the difference is between the two. After you restart or shut down your computer, RAM, unlike ROM, cannot be recovered.
What is a custom ROM, and why should I want one for my Android device?
Since the Android operating system is an open source platform, any developer can make changes to its interface and functionality. Most of the developers who create custom ROMs do so because of their enthusiasm for customization.
This is a great benefit for you, because it means that most custom ROMs are available for download on any Android-compatible device, completely free of charge.
What’s the difference between my Android device’s ROM and a custom one?
The operating system that came with your phone tends to only let you customize it up to a certain point. You may have noticed that you don’t use certain apps, but aren’t able to install them, or your device might be running slower because of bloat ware.
Benefits from installing a custom ROM on your Android device:
- Updates: with a custom ROM, you won’t have to wait anymore for the manufacturer to release the most recent version of Android. Some custom ROMs are updated on a daily or nightly basis.
- Optimal Performance: after installing your custom ROM, you can remove bloat ware, which will give you more free space on your device. You’ll really notice this when you’re running an app that takes up more space, or playing a game with high-quality graphics.
- Improved Battery Life: as we mentioned previously, since you’ll be able to get rid of bloat ware, your device’s CPU (Central Processing Unit) won’t have to work so hard, since there won’t be as many apps open all the time.
- Customization: with custom ROM, you’ll find that the devil truly is in the details. You’ll be a super user on your device, so you’ll be able to select how you want your battery usage to look (if you want it to show the percentage sign, the battery icon, etc.), and align the date and time as you wish.
Why shouldn’t I install a custom ROM?
You should consider sticking with your stock ROM if any of these factors are important to you:
- Warranty: installing a custom ROM will void your warranty.
- May lose access to premium apps and/or features: these will vary based on your device, its model and your phone carrier. With the exception of a few custom ROMs, like Oxygen OS, you will most likely lose access to Google apps.
How can I install a custom ROM?
This process is going to vary, based on your device and the type of ROM you’re installing. There are two ways you can install custom ROM: with a PC, or through custom recovery. Custom recovery is the software that will allow you to install a custom ROM on your Android.
To determine how to get custom recovery, Google your device’s name and custom recovery. For example, you would enter into the search bar: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge custom recovery.
In order to find which custom ROMs are compatible with your Android, enter your device’s name and custom ROM into the Google search bar. For example: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge custom ROM. Before you download a custom ROM, make sure it’s compatible with your device.
Before installing a custom ROM, make sure you have a backup, like Titanium or App Backup, both of which you can find on the Google Store.
Top-rated custom ROMs for your Android device
ParanoidAndroid Official Site
The latest version of this custom ROM has features for OnePlus and Nexus phone and tablet users. With Floating Mode, you can look at apps without having to actually open them. This is nice when you want to send a short response to a text, or quickly check something without having to open the app.
You can choose to display or hide the status and navigation bars. On the Power Menu, you can switch to Airplane Mode, take a screenshot or reboot.
Paranoid Android is best for you if you:
Have a smart phone, but like the way everything looks on a tablet. This ROM lets you choose whether you want it to display in a phone or tablet layout.
Send a lot of quick replies to texts or want to look at apps while on the go. The Floating Mode is a great way to access what you need quickly.
AOKP (Android Open Kang Project):
AOKP Official Site
This ROM allows you to customize options you may have never thought possible. You’re sure to become addicted to finding new ways to customize your Android with AOKP.
You’ll be able to pick out wallpaper for your lock screen, or modify how your status bar appears on the interface. AOKP also allows you to customize your device’s vibration styles, so you can assign certain ones to specific people when they call, similar to a custom ringtone.
AOKP is best for you if you:
Frequently keep your phone on vibrate. The customizable vibration options will be helpful for you to know who’s calling if you can’t have your ringer on at work or school.
Enjoy the freedom of being able to customize your device, especially the navigation bar.
CyanogenMod Official Site
This is one of the most popular custom ROMs available since it was rolled out in 2008, as well as today, and with good reason. You can pick out lock screen images, and customize the sounds of your alarms and notifications.
In addition, you’ll enjoy the latest version of the Android operating system, and be able to grant or restrict permissions to apps to release your personal information. You can choose how you want your status and menu bars to appear, and assign functions for each of the buttons on your phone.
Cyanogen Mod is best for you if you:
Love changing your themes. Cyanogen makes it effortless to update your theme and customize options like your navigation toolbar, quick settings, fonts and notifications.
Want to change the display on your screen. Cyanogen allows you to modify the screen’s saturation and contrast.
Have an older phone or tablet that the manufacturers no longer send Android updates to. It allows you to quickly get the most recent version of the operating system with an Over the Air update, in just a few clicks.
PAC-man ROM Official Site
If you’re not sure which custom ROM to go with, check out Pac ROM. It considers itself an “all-in-one” custom ROM, mixing together features from Paranoid Android, AOKP and CyanogenMod (hence the name Pac).
One of the standout features with Pac ROM is the ability to create custom gestures. This will allow you to assign a specific function when you slide your finger from one side of the screen to the other. You can use this to play or pause music, or bring up your camera.
In addition, many Android users have said that Pac ROM is one of the best if you’re looking for a battery-saving solution.
Pac ROM is best for you if you:
MIUI Official Website
Bridging the gap between iOS’s easy-to-use interface and Android’s versatility, it’s no wonder MIUI is a popular custom ROM choice among Android users. It has a security scan, which monitors your app usage and will block an app if it detects anything unusual.
You’ll have access to an aesthetically pleasing music player, flashlight and calendar. In addition, MIUI has a built-in ad blocker.
MIUI is best for you if you:
Slim Bean Official Site
If you don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of customizable options, check out Slim ROM. You’ll enjoy its easy-to-navigate interface, and being able to access the most recent version of the Android operating system in just one click.
You can add the flashlight into the quick settings with Slim ROM. It also has a custom dialer, which will let you search for nearby phone numbers, and a 3 layer, easily customizable pie menu.
You can set up this ROM so certain opens open when you shake your device. This ROM runs smoothly, and is a smaller file size than most of its competitors, which will free up space you to install more apps.
Slim ROM is best for you if you:
Want a simple, easy to use customizable ROM.
Have a lot of apps, or plan on installing a lot of them, and don’t want a ROM that will hog a lot of space on your device.
Liquid Smooth Official Site
This ROM lives up to its name, as it runs with ease. It gives you 5 choices for your lock screen style, among other options.
One of the unique aspects of this ROM is that it lets you customize almost every aspect of its interface. If you like to watch YouTube or stream movies/TV on your phone, you’ll enjoy LiquidSmooth’s full screen option.
LiquidSmooth is best for you if you:
Stream videos or watch a lot of YouTube.
Want a smooth running ROM, with the ability to customize down to the smallest detail.
Dirty Unicorns Official Site
The goal of this custom ROM’s newest release was to prove to its users that Dirty Unicorns is forward thinking and focused on progress. Point well taken.
With the Fling feature, Dirty Unicorns allows you to assign gestures to custom actions, like closing all open apps, accessing the menu screen and voice search, just to name a few.
If you don’t want to see the Fling logo, you can change its colour and or completely remove it and still keep all its capability. With Fling, you’ll literally have everything you need at your fingertips.
When you’re listening to music, you can enable Pulse, an equalizer bar that comes with this ROM. The SmartBar will let you set up your apps and display the buttons as you wish. You’ll love being able to quickly change your device’s theme with the Themes tile.
Dirty Unicorns is best for you if you:
Oxygen OS Official website
This custom ROM was built with a focus on catering to One Plus One devices. This is a milder custom ROM, with the ability to customize ringtones, but limited access to themes. However, Oxygen is similar to stock ROM, and it gives you access to a lot of Google apps.
Oxygen’s camera allows you to piece together pictures taken from every direction with Photosphere. You’ll enjoy the Lens Blur feature after taking a picture, as it will allow you to choose where the focus should be.
All you have to do is double-tap your screen to turn it on. Dragging down your notification bar and tapping the grid icon will give you the option to get rid of, add or change the quick settings toggle.
Oxygen OS is right for you if you:
Euphoria, like Oxygen, has the double-tap feature to activate your screen. You can customize how the animations appear when opening or shutting down apps.
The AudioFX option will enhance your sound quality. You can record your screen if you wish, and like many of the other ROMs we’ve discussed, Euphoria will let you customize the quick settings menu.
Euphoria is right for you if you: