Buying an Android phone means opening up a new world of excitement as one can choose to download loads of apps and perform various tasks amazingly. But after using it for 1-2 years, people complaint of sluggish performance and inability to update their devices. Though this can be irritating, but very few people know that this can be rectified by flashing it with a new custom ROM.
Why should I do this?
There could be numerous reasons why flashing a new ROM is a good idea for an Android phone user. The first and foremost is that he or she will get new updates and customizations. Second, it will eliminate all the bloatware that came preloaded on your device. Moreover, you can choose to have Android UI and not the manufacturer’s boring custom UI. Last but not the least, you can update your phone to new versions and make it work like new.
The bitter truth is that a majority of manufacturers rapidly forget about their old devices, and continue releasing updates for them. Now it is easy to understand the economics of the situation–it’s not feasible to pay the hardware company to get new updates and to support old phones. This is one of the major reasons why new phones find their way to junkyard.
Let’s understand this with an example of Samsung Galaxy S III. After its release in 2012, it became highly popular. But the irony is that Android 4.3 Jelly Bean was the last update it ever got–and it got it 6 months after Jelly Bean was released by Google. There is no doubt that technology keeps upgrading and it is difficult to always have the best. But ROMs allow the users to get the latest version of Android–Marshmallow–through custom ROMs like CyanogenMod. And, when it comes to witness the performance improvement, there is hardly any doubt in this process.
So if you have a phone that no longer receive updates, but you still wish to keep that phone, flashing a new ROM to your phone is a wonderful way to make it new and sharp.
What you’ll need
Flashing ROM is seriously not an easy process as you would have to unlock the bootloader and install a custom recovery environment like TWRP. So, if they are new to you, go and understand them and then come back here.
Next thing you would need is a ROM that you wish to flash. There are endless varieties of ROMs out in the market from many independent developers and tweakers to choose from. Some highly popular ones include CyanogenMod and can be found for all major phones. Others may be developed by more independent developers for one or two phones. To find out what kinds of ROMs are available for your device, switch to XDA Developers and visit the forum for your particular phone model number.
Please note that you’ll want to keep your phone’s exact model–carrier and all. It is going to help you know the model number and “codename” for your phone. For instance, the GSM Galaxy Nexus (GT-i9250) was known as “maguro”, while the Verizon version (SCH-i515) was known as “toro”. Verizon Galaxy Nexus users need to flash ROMs built for their phone, and can’t flash ROMs built for the GSM AT&T version.
In the given example, CyanogenMod 12.1 is being flashed on Moto X. This ROM comes in a ZIP format. Go to CyanogenMod’s download page and get the latest version of ROM. If you wish to get the newer version of Android than the stable releases being provided, you can click “nightly” in the left sidebar for less stable, but more cutting-edge versions.
Irrespective of the ROM you pick, you’ll likely to get the “Google Apps” ZIP file, which includes Google’s proprietary apps such as Play Store, Gmail, and Maps, as these apps can’t be bundled with ROMs. You can get them from OpenGApps.org. Remember to download the correct version for your phone’s processor and version of Android (if you aren’t sure what kind of processor your phone uses, you can search it on Google). In this example, we require Google Apps for Android Lollipop 5.1 for an ARM processor.
Just think that you’ve unlocked your phone, with TWRP installed, and both your ROM and Google Apps ZIP files. Let’s start.
How to Flash a ROM with TWRP Recovery
To flash the selected ROM, the first thing is to put these two .zip files on our phone. Plug in your phone with a USB cable and drag the ZIP files to the phone’s internal storage or SD card.
It is recommended to keep your phone’s internal storage untouched (where your photos, music, and other files are stored), but you’re likely to lose most of your app settings and other data. If you wish to save any of that data, use any of the backup apps before following this process.
Now switch off your phone and boot in TWRP recovery. This step differs from phone to phone. For example, you may have to hold the Power and Volume Down buttons simultaneously, and then use the volume keys to boot “Recovery Mode”. Refer to Google instructions for your specific model.
Once you’ve done with this, you’ll be get the usual TWRP home screen.
From here, choose the Wipe button and swipe the bar at the bottom to perform a factory reset. This is a necessary step before flashing a new ROM. If you’re just upgrading your existing ROM, you may not have to, but if you ever experience problems after flashing, a factory reset may help.
Now, go back to the TWRP home screen and tap the Install button.
Scroll down and move to your ROM’s .zip file you transferred earlier.
Tap the .zip file and you’ll come across this screen. Swipe to confirm the flash.
It may take a few minutes to flash the ROM, so be patient.
When it’s done, it’s time to flash the second .zip file. Again go back to the home screen and tap the Install button. Now, choose your Google Apps .zip file, and follow the above process. This may take time, so please be patient.
When it’s done, choose the “Wipe cache/Dalvik” button and swipe to confirm.
Now reboot your phone into Android.
Now please note if you asked by TWEIP to install SuperSU, always choose “Do Not Install”. Some ROMs, like CyanogenMod, already have root access available in the settings, and for any that don’t come rooted, it’s generally good to flash SuperSU yourself.
Please remember that it may take time to reboot your phone the first time as each element has to get everything ready for you. Give it time. If anything goes opposite as expected or the phone won’t boot after a great amount of time, reboot back into TWRP and restore it using your backup, or if want, try flashing again. Make sure you downloaded the correct ROM files.