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Best custom ROMs for Android: 5 awesome UI's to make your smartphone even better

Authored by: Scott Adam Gordon — 5 months ago

While you might enjoy the way your smartphone interface looks and feels, you may not have realized just how different things can be. Custom ROMs give you the opportunity to explore all new designs and UIs for your device, as well as all-new (and often very impressive) functionality. If you are yet to explored the hidden pleasures of the Android community, here is our list of the best custom ROMs for Android. 

cyanogenmod paranoid android teaser
These are the best ROMs on Android. / © ANDROIDPIT

CyanogenMod 11 - stable, stylish, with frequent updates

CyanogenMod is one of the most well-supported ROMs for Android, with a huge community, and frequent updates; it’s no wonder that this popular Android ROM even managed to find a home on last years OnePlus One.  

Features of CyanogenMod include its unique app launcher entitled Trebuchet, personal themes, video screenshots via its "Screencast" functionality, and a mode specifically for viewing left-handed in landscape. Currently supported on more than 50 devices, look out for integration with Lollipop coming soon. 

IMGL9365
Widespread, very stable ... CyanogenMod is the Volkswagen of custom ROMs. / © ANDROIDPIT

Paranoid Android - Stock Android with subtle changes

The first appearance of the Paranoid Android Custom ROM dates back to early 2013, for Android Jelly Bean. The Paranoid Android ROM doesn't have a radical design overhaul, instead it focuses on a number of simple but effective changes to notifications and navigation. 

Immersive mode allows you to view information on screen while hiding system bars, and "dynamic system bars" blends your status and navigation bar color with the particular app background. It's purely aesthetic, but provides a nice transition nonetheless. 

Paranoid Android is available for a whole range of devices including the Nexus line and the OnePlus One. To learn more, visit ParanoidAndroid.co.

custom rom nexus 5 paranoid android
Paranoid Android offers a great design. © ParanoidAndroid

OmniROM - for the OmniSwitch toolbar

Designed by former CyanogenMod devs (Xplodwild, Chainfire, Dees_Troy, Pulser and Entropy) in late 2013, OmniROM is a no-frills ROM, basically offering the Stock Android experience with some nice extras. 

OmniROM supports the ability to launch apps by tapping on the time and date in the notifications menu, it can add a notification counter in the status bar to show the number notifications you've received, and has the ability to manage the display brightness just by sliding your finger along the notifications bar.

OmniROM's standout feature, however, is the "OmniSwitch" shortcut. The OmniSwitch is a quick-menu which you can load with shortcuts and jump from any part of your phone to any app, or vice versa, and it is completely customizable. 

Lollipop nightlies for OmniROM will be arriving shortly, head to OmniROM.org for more.

androidpit omni rom
OmniROM brings advanced and unique features. / © ANDROIDPIT

SlimROMs - bloatless, but feature-rich

SlimROMs made a name for itself by offering a completely stripped down version of Android and letting you determine exactly how much of the Google Play services you want bundled in. Otherwise, SlimROMs is characterized by the ability to modify the DPI of fonts and icons and make everything as tiny as you need it to be. The Slim family currently supports almost 50 devices, but is yet to be ported to any current-gen handsets. Find out more at slimroms.net.

slimkat rom galaxy nexus teaser
SlimKat: very slim package combined with customized Google Play experience. / © ANDROIDPIT

AOKP - for complete control and tons of customization options

Android Open Kang Project, or AOKP, is aimed at serious Android modders, and those with good level of technical know-how. Released in September 2013, AOKP is now compatible with dozens of Android devices, and houses a number of interesting features, like the ability to customize shortcuts in the quick settings menu, and manage the color and blink rate of the LED notifications in several applications.

Additionally, this ROM also includes a feature called "Navigation ring", which acts an an intuitive shortcut for up to five apps. As if that wasn't enough, application permissions management and the ability to adjust processor performance are there, make this one of the most interesting Custom ROMs on android.

Stable releases are far and few between but after a break from October last year, a post on the AOKP website in March revealed that work would soon be starting on "proper" Lollipop builds. We'll be keeping an eye on this one. To learn more, visit AOKP.co.

nexus
AOKP is about as comprehensive as a ROM can be. / © ANDROIDPIT

The custom ROM database

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive and you might want to do a little more research into other custom ROMs that are currently available. Thankfully, the fine ladies and gents over at the XDA Developers Forum have put together a custom ROM database that compares all the features of the major custom ROMs at a glance. It's a great resource.

custom rom db
With the custom ROM comparison database you will get an overview of the current custom ROMs and their features. / © ANDROIDPIT

What do you think is the best custom ROM on Android? Let us know in the comments below. 

Originally from the UK, Scott graduated in Popular Music Studies at Newcastle University and attributes most of his success there to his beloved Samsung Galaxy S2. A dedicated Android fan, Scott has never owned an Apple device, of any kind, and doesn't see this changing anytime soon.

10 comments

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  • t.swildens 1 month ago Link to comment

    does the paranoid android ROM works for every phone.and does it work with android 5.0. If it works can you give me a link to download it.
    Because i want it on my Lenovo K3 note

  • Nishant gauns 5 months ago Link to comment

    Pac man rom is the best for me!!!

  • Terie Mumby 5 months ago Link to comment

    I'm an AOKP user since September. Love it. But I wanted to try Lollipop. So I backed up my AOKP and flashed Lollipop.. Which I really like. I did a backup of lollipop and re-installed the AOKP backup with no issues. However.. Re-installing the lollipop backup didn't go so smoothly. I ran into all sorts of things. I tried this several times on my nexus 4 and 7 with the same results. I like Lollipop so much I decided to stick with it still hanging on to my AOKP backup for later. I noticed straight away that it was tricky finding the TWRP backup folder. It also was doing weird things to the ability to write to the internal memory. I had to keep wiping my gadgets clean to reinstall Lollipop and get it to work. If anyone knows how to fix this I'm all ears. I like the ability to flip back and forth between roms.

  • Dwarfer66 5 months ago Link to comment

    What about the Touchwiz based roms? There are plenty of great ones out there for i9505 like Echoe v44 (4.4.4 & 5.01), CarHDRom (4.4.2 & 5.01) is a great themed rom. You only ever put on ASOP or CM based roms.

    CM is not as good as they used to be, they don't apply fixed that are reported (just look at the forums).

    • Scott Adam Gordon
      • Admin
      • Staff
      5 months ago Link to comment

      @Geoff, these sound like great suggestions, I'd like to give them a go and add them in at a later date.

      I'll definitely keep Echoe and CarlHD in mind.

      • Scott Adam Gordon
        • Admin
        • Staff
        5 months ago Link to comment

        And yeah CM is definitely changing, but it still stands as one of the most well-supported and talked about ROMs, and I think for new users its one of the "safest" entry points.

        But I take your point ;)

  • giannis dolopoulos 5 months ago Link to comment

    please answer me! i have alcatel c9, exist rom to install in my phone? i have 4.2.2

  • Darwin J. V. 11 months ago Link to comment

    Great article but what can you say about Paranoid ROM? It's one of the only ROM I never tried since I never owned a device that has support it or has Paranoid ROM development. I hear this ROM all the time but always been curious about it. Thanks.

  • Steven Adkins 11 months ago Link to comment

    You forgot Hyperdrive 18.1 Rom very stable and very very customizable with themes.

  • Radoi Emanuel 11 months ago Link to comment

    I use OmniRom from some months now and I like it much more than the Cyanogenmod (which was lagging aaaall the time) and other custom roms