Modifying your Nexus 5 is really a breeze: the bootloader can be unlocked easily, rooting it is simple as pie, and installing a custom ROM a cake walk with so many compatible options out there. But which ones are the best? Here we explore the best custom ROMS to get on your Nexus 5.
Let’s start off with Paranoid Android, which is one of the most popular ROMs, following closely behind CyanogenMod. This custom ROM is a benchmark for many developers, and it is open source, which means that they get new ideas constantly on ways to improve it. For example, Paranoid Android was the first to use the PIE menu. The custom ROM available for the Nexus 5 is mostly stable, and is based on Android 4.4.4 KitKat.
Paranoid Android will really please users that appreciate tidy interfaces. The ROM allows you to change the main color of the Holo design and integrates the latest apps and functions that are available on all ‘bigger’ custom ROMs. For example, Hover and Peek can both be found in its vast repertoire. The updates for the ROM usually come over the air, and are pretty regular. Get the Paranoid Android install information on their website.
- Read our tutorial on how to root the Nexus 5
Elix-R is a simple and very efficient custom ROM that we would recommend for users who treasure a smooth smartphone experience with few apps to bog down the system. The developer's goal was to offer a ROM that is based on stock Android, with only a few additions from the developer community: just a simple experience for the user, which will have less negative effects on the battery and memory overall.
Though we really like the concept of taking bits and pieces of features from other developers that many custom ROMS are adopting, the simple idea behind Elixir is great because it really improves the general performance of your Nexus 5. Finally, the custom ROM also offers the new Android L buttons. The information for getting Elix-R can be found on the XDA Developer forum.
SlimKat Stable 6.0
SlimKat is Slim's version of KitKat. The ROM is known for having an excellent kernel and system. It’s also quite stable and is energy-friendly, to the point that it has become one of the benchmarks for users who want to improve their battery. Simply put, SlimKat is popular because of its many functions, and it will also last more than a day.
SlimKat also offers a lot in the way of personalization. You can create a bunch of shortcuts, and pretty much anywhere you’d like: the hardware buttons, navigation menu or pie, lockscreen, notifications etc. The advantage is that you can sculpt the interface to just the way you want it. Find out more on the XDA developer forum for install guide and further requirements.
CyanogenMod is the most popular ROM that exists for the Android OS, and for many reasons, among which are the many customization options and stability it has to offer. It has also been officially pre-installed on devices by manufacturers, both Oppo and OnePlus, though the OnePlus One has a slightly different version, CyanogenMod 11S. CM really thrives on its huge community, you'll always find someone to help you out.
If you don't know which ROM to get, try out CyanogenMod, you won't be disappointed, and in the process you'll learn how to personalize a brand new system. CyanogenMod 11 is based on Android 4.4, and is available in nightly form for the Nexus 5, which means it is not yet stable. Check ou the CyanogenMod website for more information.
- Read our tutorial on how to update the Nexus 5 bootloader and radio.
Pure Android + Franco Kernel
For those purists out there, there is nothing better than stock Android. To take advantage of the possibilities that are offered by custom ROMS, all while continuing to use an immaculate AOSP interface, all you need to do is to install a good kernel. For the Nexus 5, the Franco kernel comes highly recommended. It has the reputation of being very energy-efficient and is optimized for the Nexus 5 battery. In addition, pure Android consumes less of your smartphone's resources than a personalized custom ROM (most of the time), so this is really a winning combo.
The Franco kernel has a dedicated app right in the Play Store which allows you to manage the updates securely, without needing to flash firmware manually. Find how this is done on the XDA Developer forum.
What custom ROM do you have on your Nexus 5?