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How to install a new ROM on your Android smartphone

Posted by Russell Barnes

You might have read or heard people talking about custom ROMs they have installed on their Android devices. Here’s how to do it quickly and safely…

This article is dedicated to the launch of Android Magazine, the world’s first monthly mag 100% dedicated to the little green robot.

How to install a new ROM on your Android smartphone

One of the main reasons people like to root their devices is to install a new or different version of the operating system. The open source nature of the OS means that it’s possible for anyone to view the code that makes up Android and then modify it as they see fit, in a similar way to which the Linux-based desktop operating systems work.

Custom ROMs can offer new features over the standard ones, allowing you to tailor your device to your needs. They also allow developers to port other manufacturers’ interfaces to other device makes – for instance, HTC’s Sense UI onto Samsung phones – or to remove a heavily customised ROM altogether. Another reason is to hurry along the update process: you are no longer tied to waiting on the phone manufacturers and the mobile operators to push out the latest version of Android. Installing a new ROM is a relatively simple and quick process thanks to the ROM Manager app which can be downloaded for free from the Android Market.

First of all you need to root your phone and there are a few methods for doing so. Some of the most popular are: SuperOneClick, Universal Androot and Z4Root. Check the compatibility with your particular device before attempting to gain root access. Here’s how we’ll do it:

1) For this example we’ll use Z4 Root. Download it from here, as it isn’t available on the Market. You will need to register first. Now, copy the .apk file you’ve downloaded to your SD card and then install using an app such as ‘Easy Installer’ or by clicking on the apk in your favourite file manager.

2) Open Z4Root and in the centre you will see a button saying ‘Root’. Click on the button and wait for a short while, for the process to complete; the progress is shown in the bottom bar. After it has finished, the phone will reboot. You now have root access!

Once you’ve rooted your phone, ROM Manager makes backing up, installing a custom recovery and downloading the new one a breeze – and will even enable you to restore your original ROM if you prefer! This tutorial will take you through the process step by step and help you on the way to a fresh new experience with your phone…

Installing ROM Manager
First off, you will need to install the ROM Manager app. The good news its that it’s a free one (although there is a premium version that offers more features). Open up the Android Market from your apps list and search for ‘ROM Manager’, then click the icon and install.

Install Clockwork Recovery
When you rooted your Android device, it’s quite likely that at the same time you installed a piece of ‘custom recovery’ software. ROM Manager will check that you have this installed and that you have the latest version that’s available.

Backup your ROM
Open up ROM Manager, click on the Backup Current ROM button, give the backup a name (perhaps something like ‘Standard ROM Backup’) and then click OK. You might be asked to allow ROM Manager superuser access and you’ll need to grant this.  The phone will now automatically reboot into recovery mode. The backup process can take a little while, so make sure you aren’t expecting any important calls! The recovery backs up your current ROM to the microSD card, so it’s important not to format this.

Choose your ROM
Back in ROM Manager, click ‘Download ROM’. This will bring up a list of available ROMs for your device. In this example we will install CyanogenMod 7, one of the most popular custom versions of
Android due to its stability and wide device support.

Download the ROM
Choose the CyanogenMod version you wish to download – the latest version at time of writing is 7.1.0-RC. It’s strongly advisable to stay away from the ‘Nightly’ builds, as these are largely experimental. Google apps don’t come as standard, so click to download them.

Installing the ROM
Once the ROM and Google Apps have finished downloading, reopen ROM Manager and you will see the ROM pre-installation screen. Tick the ‘Wipe Dalvik’ and ‘Wipe Data and Cache’ boxes. Click OK and
the phone will now reboot into recovery again. The new ROM will now install. This might take a little while. Once complete, the phone will reboot again. The first boot of any new ROM can take a while, sometimes up to 15 minutes, so be patient and don’t panic if the device appears to have frozen.

Setup your Google Account
Once the phone has booted up, you will then be prompted to enter your Google account details. Doing this will automatically download and set up all your contacts, settings and apps back onto the phone. You now have a brand new ROM to explore!

(Optional) Battery Calibration
Plug in your Android device while it’s on and let it charge fully. Disconnect and turn off, then reconnect the power cable and wait until the LED goes green. Disconnect and turn back on, turn off again and reconnect the charger until the LED goes green again.

Below is a sample of Android Magazine‘s Hacker Zone – a section of the mag dedicated to tweaking and modding your Android devices. Follow Android Magazine on Facebook and Twitter

How to install a new ROM on your Android smartphone

Rooting your phone and installing ROMs on your device may void your manufacturer warranty. You undertake the procedure outlined in this tutorial at your own risk. Linux User & Developer, Android Magazine and Imagine Publishing Ltd. cannot be held responsible for loss of data or damage to your device.

Words by: Kieron Howard

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    • Trev

      There’s a typo in your headline! (Andoid should be Android, shouldn’t it?) The rss headline from Lxer that led me here was correct. Let’s hope the same mistake didn’t find its way into the “print” run! Want me to proof read the next edition before printing?

      For completeness, this article should mention that there are many phones that can not install Clockwork Recovery “out of the box”. We should at least mention online Android suport groups like XDA Developers and Slatedroid where people can go to check whether modified Root, Clockwork Recovery, even custom versions of Cyanogenmod 7 may be available for their particular device.

      Yes, your link to download Z4root takes them to XDA Developers but a few words about what to do if “my phone is not supported” would be very helpful. Hey, they might even find the forum places where they can learn to build their own rom, and so become contributors to Android Magazine’s Hacker Zone! :)

      I hope Android Magazine is a success!
      Best Wishes

    • Russell Barnes

      Spotted the typo too… Thanks for your thoughts :)

    • mike

      im using GT i9003 Samsung Galaxy S.So just wondering does the ROM version compartible with dis phone?Tks.

    • Anshuman Chandel

      Thanks a lot, its very helpful.
      hope it helped out a lot of guys out there seeking help regarding rooting droid.

    • raghav

      Thanks soo much.. great. Just how to install the windows mobile or ubuntu rom. I thought rom was read only memory?
      How would it erase then?
      How to replace ROM chip?
      THanks. :)

    • Rajsekar

      when i am updating CM 10.1 Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean to my phone ,i am getting error that “some changes failed (status 7)” then “installation aborted”
      please help me…
      i had farmated my phone three to four times due to this error…………….help me……

    • peepop

      my phones s3 .f9300 nogoogle playtime.Alps brand.model ing100
      if b possible please show me how to do

    • Dragonvale cheats

      Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.

    • Pingback: How to install a new ROM on your Android smartphone – Sarthak Vox

    • sabareesh kumaresan

      How to install linux in the android mobile …by removing android os and install linux os in mobile ….plz help me ….my email

    • sabareesh kumaresan

      Iam using Sony Ericsson Xperia mini pro sk17i

    • Jas Chahal

      im using lava iris 351.So just wondering does the ROM version compartible with dis phone?Tks.

    • Jas Chahal

      im using lava iris 351.So just wondering does the ROM version compartible with dis phone?Thanks

    • Omar Ebrahim

      Re your question on how it’s overwritten:
      Yes a ROM means that it’s read-only, but on a phone it is flashable, which means that in certain conditions it can be overwritten – i.e. When installing, which is how you can upgrade versions of Android.