How To Load a Custom ROM on an Android Device

Ready to flash some custom ROMs on your Android device? Here’s a little generic walkthrough to give you a better understand of the concept, it’s prerequisites, and get you from beginning to end without any headaches.

I Before You Begin.

1. Want more info on what a ROM is? Head to our glossary of terms and get familiar with all this jargon.

2. You might have been linked to this procedure from one of our other How To’s, namely rooting procedures. Either way, this procedure is meant to give you a solid overview so you may have already done some of these steps (I’ll mention which ones as we go). If you came from elsewhere and haven’t done the mentioned steps, don’t panic. Just follow the adjacent links as you go. As always, if you have any issues, please post here in the comments or in the forums for help.

II. Root Your Device

First and foremost, you need root access. Root access is essentially getting the phone to give us permissions to change what we want.

1. If you don’t have root access or never rooted your phone, then head to our how to’s here and find your android device to look for a procedure that’ll work for you. Once, done, head back here to continue.

III. Flash a Custom Recovery Image (skip if when you rooted you flashed a custom recovery already)

Next thing needed after rooting is a custom recovery image. All Android devices have a recovery partition. This is essentially a section of the device’s memory devoted to a very basic recovery system that is separate from the normal operating system. This is normally used by manufacturers for recovering a broken device (as even if the operating system crashes, the recovery image has a chance of still being access and used to reflash the operating system, etc.).

Because of that function of flashing the operating system, once we have root access, we can use it to flash our own versions of the operating system. Before it’ll do that though, we need to replace the original recovery image with a custom one that has a lot more functionality.

1. After you have root access, head to the market on your device and look for ROM Manager. Download and install the free version.

2. Open ROM Manager and select Flash ClockworkMod Recovery and choose your device.

3. Select Grant when the Superuser prompt comes up.

4. Wait for it to say successfully flashed. You now have a custom recovery image.

IV. Load a Custom ROM

Now that we have root access and a custom recovery image, we need to find a ROM we want to flash. Thanks to the amazing third party developers (most of which do this in their spare time), there are a bunch of ROMs to choose from. All of them have their own pros and cons and tweaks and themes, so you should try a few to decide which you’d prefer.

1. Head to our ROM Repository and find your Android device to be presented with all of the ROMs we’ve found for your device. Then follow the download links to see their features and download the .zip file for the ROM to your computer.

2. After you download the .zip to your computer, plug in your device via USB cable.

3. Copy the .zip file to the SD Card (do NOT extract it, just copy the whole zip file).

4. Unplug your device.

5. Now, open ROM Manager again.

6. Select Reboot into Recovery and wait for the device to reboot.

7. Once in recovery mode, use the volume buttons to navigate and power button to select Backup and Recovery.

8. Then select Backup and hit yes to confirm. Wait for it to finish backing up your current system (this will save you if something goes wrong).

9. Select Wipe Data / Factory Reset.

10. Select Flash zip from sdcard.

11. Select Choose zip from sdcard.

12. Find the ROM we copied to the sdcard in .zip format and select it. Then select yes to confirm. Wait for it to finish flashing.

13. Select Reboot System Now. Once it reboots (which will take a while the first time), you’ll be running the new ROM.

To flash a different ROM, just redo all the steps in Section IV here. Enjoy and don’t forget to comment on the ROMs you try in the repository so others can see what they’re all about.

As always, if this procedure helped you please thank/donate to the developers. You can thank Koush, the creator of the ROM Manager app, and/or the developers of the ROMs you like (their donate links found where you downloaded the ROM from).

  • http://vakkalanka.in kishor vivian

    Dear David, Please let me know the appropriate link for the safest Root and easiest Unroot for my Sony Xperia T2 Ultra having Android 4.3 Build Number 19.0.D.0.253

    • http://theunlockr.com David Cogen

      Click on How Tos then find the manufacturer and phone and our procedure will be listed there.

  • http://sites.psu.edu/aarondearmitt/ Aaron DeArmitt

    could you tell me how to tell if the roms need S off?

  • ish

    i rooted my xperia tipo with android kitkat.. but after the final step..i.e rebooting..my phone is not onning

  • shihab

    can u help me for rooting

  • Ramkrishna Naik

    Hello ,
    Recently i tried updating zperience ROM to my Sony Xperia U from Ginger Bread.
    I have installed CWM 5.0.0.4 , after extracting zip file from SD card and rebooting the system , mobile ends up in loop of sony logo and never it boots up properly. Kindly help me.
    I am updating only because of one issue , that is WiFi , it is not allowing me to turn on and after that it shows as Error and remains in that state always. Is there any fix available. Please suggest me what can be done. Thank you in advance.

  • Steve

    Hello, my phone is a huawei y200, am having problems with the touch screen firmware to a point that THE TOUCH NO LONGER WORKS, where can i possibly get this firmware

  • Ally Forsyth

    Managed to get all of this done, but when I go into Recovery mode and to install from SD card, my ROMs don’t appear. I can see them on the memory card when I turn the tablet on though.

    Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5.

    Any help would be much appreciated!

    • http://theunlockr.com/ David Cogen

      Make sure they are still in zip format and also try to put the ROM in a different folder and see if that helps.

      • Ally Forsyth

        perfect, that worked! Now just trying to install the play store apps using CM11 ROM, proving a bit of a pain!

        • http://theunlockr.com/ David Cogen

          Try doing a full wipe in recovery and reinstall the ROM to fix that :)

  • Sufiyan Asif

    Everything is working properly dude this rom is awesome 4.4.4 version of android running very perfect….thanks alot