Custom ROMs: You don't have to use TouchWiz, Sense or whatever awful UI they throw at you
That is something I wish Verge covered more.
If you are reading this site and forum, you are probably tech-savvy already, so you should be afraid to tinker with your phone.
So here you are, interested in buying a new phone, but not feeling all these Blinkfeeds, TouchWiz bleeps and bloops. Or you already own a phone and you are just sick of manufacturer's UI.
Well guess what, you don't have to use it. There are lots of ROMs for most of devices, CyanogenMod being one of the most popular of them.
What do they offer?
- Stock android
- More customization
- Interesting and useful features
- Faster updates and bugfixes
Can I do it?
Absolutely! Check supported devices. You will need to read up on some things, like custom recovery menus, ADB and some brand-specific thing (like for example ODIN for Samsung Devices), but don't be discouraged, it is really easier than you think.
There are also toolkits available for some devices, which perform the whole process automatically, how cool is that?
Where can I get more information?
You have probably heard about XDA-Developers before. It is a great forum about Android devices with almost 5 million members. XDA also have their Wiki that is constantly updated. Also check out their XDA TV project, where they post helpful videos.
Is it dangerous? Do I lose my warranty?
Yes and no. It is really a grey area, because you are literally hacking your device, but again, you can always restore it to the original state. And there is pretty much no danger,
it is really hard to brick your device nowadays with a lot of placed precautions and transparent step-by step how-to.
Get your hands dirty
I don't want to write a "How to root you device" guide, because there are people how are much better at this, so I will just supply you with International Galaxy S III (i9300) example links.
- Read the FAQ page.
- Read the Wiki page.
- The easiest way to get rooted and custom recovery for SIII is Samsung Galaxy SIII Unified Toolkit
- Choose a ROM that you want to flash. There a literally hundreds of them, but I prefer Android Open Kang Project. It is a good mix of stock experience and custom features. It's a good place to start.
- Flash it. Get flashable .zip file and gapps .zip (Google Applications package is supplied separately due legal reasons) on your phone, reboot into recovery menu, choose install, then flash your ROM and gapps packages. You are done!
There is also an app called ROM Manager on Google Play store which is amazingly powerful and helpful, definitely check it out.
There you are
This is your device, not Samsung's, HTC's or Sony's. You should be able to do whatever you want with it, and you right now, if you stay away from locked bootloaders you can.
With this post I want to encourage you to tinker with your device, or at least make sure you are aware of possibility of modding it. This is not iOS, where all you can hope for are dirty jailbreak hacks.
This is Android, open architecture and ecosystem, you might as well reap the benefits.
Thank you for reading.