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.
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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. If you don’t find your exact device, then Google for how to root it, finish that and return 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.
Some devices, however, do not have custom recovery images for them. Either a developer hasn’t created one yet, or there just isn’t an easy way to flash it. If your device is one of these, then do not try and flash another recovery as it could mess up your device. Just be patient for one to come out, or accept the fact that there just isn’t one for your device.
1. After you have root access, you can flash a recovery. Some root procedures actually do this while you are gaining root access. If at any point during the rooting tutorial you flashed anything called ClockworkMod, TWRP, or any other custom recovery, you have it already and can skip this step. I try to make sure that all of the tutorials I do here on the site for root also show you how to flash the custom recovery at the end of the tutorial.
2. For everyone else that doesn’t have a custom recovery, Google for your device name and custom recovery and you should find a tutorial on how to flash it for your device. Do so and return here to continue. Again, please do not flash a recovery that is not specifically designed for your exact device or it could mess up the phone.
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 the developers of the ROMs you like through their donate links found where you downloaded the ROM from.
Hope that helped and let me know if you need further clarification.