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These are the best custom ROMs for Android

Update: More ROMs added!
These are the best custom ROMs for Android

If you want to use your smartphone for more than two years, you will likely get reliable and up-to-date software only with ROMs.They also give you the opportunity to explore brand new designs and UIs, and offer new and impressive functions. If you've yet to explore the world of ROMs, here is our guide and list of the best it has to offer.

Custom ROMs: A dying hobby?

Good custom ROMs are characterized by an active community and support for many different devices. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many third-party firmwares. Many smartphone manufacturers have taken on important criticisms of their original firmware and proved users wrong. Here are some examples of the updates:

  • Previous security updates
  • Less pre-installed software
  • Improvement of the user interface

After about two, in a few cases three years, security updates are over. If you want to continue using your smartphone, you have to accept security risks or at least replace the software.

However, additional issues are waiting for the modders: protection mechanisms from SafetyNet. Because of these, apps refuse the service and games do not start. Well-known examples are Pokémon GO, Super Mario Run, Snapchat and Netflix. So, we have extended the feature table with the appropriate tests.

The same applies to the vendor image, whose closed-source components often have to be installed separately, which takes time. However, some ROMs already include them in their images and make installation and updates easier. Others deliver the matching images to the same location where you find the system firmware.

The best custom ROMs

Good custom ROMs are characterized by an active community and the support of many different devices. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer third-party firmwares match these criteria. Those who want to keep their Nexus 5 or his Galaxy S5 still up to date have only a few alternatives. If your smartphone needs a better user interface, less bloatware and earlier software updates, then you should consider a custom ROM.

Custom ROM features: quick comparison

  Lineage LineageOS for microG Dirty Unicorns Paranoid Android Resurrection Remix SlimRoms
updates Download in the settings, installation via TWRP Download in the settings, installation via TWRP As an app Integrated in the settings Integrated in the settings Manual via TWRP
Vendor-Image Separately Separately Separately, even server Integrated Separately, same source Separately
Root Access Optionally as a zip Only ADB as opt-in; optional as zip No No Only ADB, opt-in No
SafetyNet / Pokémon GO No / Yes n / A n / A Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
Themes via substratum via substratum; not available without Play Store via substratum Per color engine or via substratum via substratum via substratum
Special features
  • Trebuchet Launcher
  • Privacy management
  • Volume profiles
  • Better camera app
  • Better music app
  • Screen recorder
  • F-Droid with extension pre-configured for automatic updates
  • Google-free replacement services
  • Rest like stick lineage

No browser

Dirty tweaks:

  • animations
  • OmniSwitch
  • Improved App Switcher
  • App Ops
  • Completely CAF-based
  • PA Browser
  • Shuttle + Music Player
  • PIE controls (new design)
  • Burn in Protection for OLEDs
  • Privacy Guard
  • Volume profiles
  • No browser
  • Developer tools

Interface options:

  • Status bar
  • Overview of open apps
  • Quick settings
  • navigation bar
equalizer AudioFX AudioFX MusicFX Snapdragon Audio + AudioFX MusicFX

LineageOS (the legacy of CyanogenMod)

Lineage is the legacy of CyanogenMod. Fans of the mod have to say goodbye to CyanogenMod and their favorite features. CyanogenMod was ideal for beginners, since the Wiki offered a great collective wealth of knowledge. Lineage was able to hang onto some of this in the form of its own Wiki. A backup copy of the old wiki was created for posterity, as well.

cyanogenmod 13 home screen
Lineage has its own interface. / © AndroidPIT

Lineage has a compact launcher, a feature-packed camera app and few pre-installed apps which leaves you with a lot of free memory. It also has volume profiles, which can mute the phone or make it loud under certain defined conditions. The privacy feature also sends incorrect data to apps that whose privileges aren't normally escalated. And the best thing: Lineage makes old smartphones fast again. 

Unfortunately, Lineage OS recently announced that it's dropping support for over 30 devices. You can find the full list here.

cyanogenmod 13 features
Lineage has adopted many CyanogenMod features, but the equalizer (right) is missing. / © AndroidPIT

LineageOS for microG: Android without Google

Common to all custom ROMs is that they ship without Google apps. Anyone who wanted to use Android without Google anyway, is not yet well served. Important Google Suite souvenirs such as location services, play store, and theft protection should not be missing. Alternatives for some of these components are present in the microG version from Lineage. After installation, you can update your smartphone with ordinary LineageOS images.

Dirty Unicorns

Dirty Unicorns is designed for Nexus, Oppo, OnePlus, Xiaomi as well as some HTC and Samsung devices. It has similar features to Lineage and provides root access via apsp and regular updates for security and stability.

dirty unicorns nougat home
DU presents itself as tidy and up-to-date. / © AndroidPIT

DU supports a wide range of devices. Also, the update frequency is exemplary.

dirty unicorns nougat tweaks
OmniSwitch and Dirty Tweaks. / © AndroidPIT

Thanks to OmniSwitch, you can easily multitask. Dirty Tweaks contain important settings options which are missing in conventional Android.

Paranoid Android is back

Paranoid Android is one of the oldest custom ROMs and is a popular alternative to CyanogenMod & Co. After a brief awakening in summer 2016, the third-party firmware once again fell silent. Following May 2017 though, there has finally been a big update again and an equally big promise: more frequent updates.

AndroidPIT paranoid android 6
Paranoid Android looks good, and offers PIE Controls. / © AndroidPIT

This new version brings Android 7.1.2 Nougat to smartphones. The CodeAuroraForum (CAF) drivers are expected to make more Snapdragon-based devices compatible with the ROM. In addition, we can expect more frequent updates from changing the substructure.

On the positive side, there was no need to install an additional vendor image for the Nexus 5X in conjunction with OpenGapps' Google apps. This effort makes operating system updates easier to handle compared to Lineage OS, where you have to get and flash the vendor images additionally.

paranoid android update marshmallow 601
Paranoid Android returns / © AndroidPIT

Resurrection Remix

Resurrection Remix has a large user base, supports several devices and offers the fewest range of functions. In our January 2018 test with the Nexus 6P, no variant of Google Apps allowed installations from the Play Store (bug 963), so we can make no statement regarding SafetyNet.

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.

An alpha Android Lollipop build is out, but things are moving slowly at the SlimROM camp and updates are currently infrequent at best. Find out more at slimroms.net.

OmniROM

OmniROM is the true spiritual successor of CyanogenMOD. Developed by former members of the MOD team and based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), it is one of the best custom ROMs around. It supports a wide variety of smartphones, including OnePlus, Xiaomi, Nexus, Motorola and Sony devices.

Capture32432432
OmniROM supports a variety of devices. / © AndroidPIT (screenshot)

One of its best features is the Advanced Settings app, which gives users access to various customization options. This includes the Flick2Wake tool, which allows you to flick the phone to turn on the screen. Pick2Wake can also be useful, as it wakes the device when put in a vertical position.

The notification drawer is also customizable - you can adjust the brightness of the screen by sliding across the status bar, change the position of the date and time, adjust how the bar is opened and much more. The list of launcher options is also quite expansive, making OmniROM one of the most interesting custom ROMs around.

AOSP Extended

As you can guess from its name, AOSP Extended is based on the Android Open Source Project. The custom ROM not only looks like sleek and modern, but also provides a smooth user experience and great performance. It offers a variety of features, many of which focused on customization.

http imgur.com px8hQ9T
Screenshots of the ROM in action. / © AOSP Extended

If you are a programming enthusiast or a more advanced user, you also take advantage of its open source code by contributing or creating your own build. The best part, however, is that the AOSP Extended development team is active and committed - you can expect monthly updates with security patches, as soon as they are released by Google.

Pixel Experience

If the new Google Pixel 3 and 3XL are bit too expensive for your taste, but you love their aesthetic, Pixel Experience is the right choice for you. This custom AOSP ROM will transform your phone into a pure Google device, with all the Pixel goodies included - launcher, icons, fonts, etc.

pixel experience rom
Pixel Experience: true to its name. / © AndroidPIT

The ROM OS version is 9 Pie. A great number of devices are supported, including some of Google's own Nexus phones. The updates are timely and you are going to have a great experience with this ROM overall.

Conclusion: to mod or not to mod?

Custom ROMs can be the salvation of older smartphones and tablets. They can also clean up new smartphones and remove bloatware. Often, they speed up smartphones and add more features. But, the threshold is high for those who want to mod, as it can be a confusing process for beginners. This threshold is less of an issue thanks to LineageOS, which is much simpler and is well supported by many from within the vibrant CyanogenMod community. 

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

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93 comments

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  • Anuj 10 months ago Link to comment

    Anyone out there interested in a project that involves building a custom Android ROM and doing some fun stuff with audio?


  • I have one device I'd vaguely like to change from Android 4.3 JB - would be largely for the fun - but the only good reason would be to overcome restrictions on App2SD functionality that were introduced after Gingerbread. The Acer tablet has a perky Intel processor but only 8GB of internal storage, so don't want to wipe that out with a massive new Android. But if a mod could restore the grand old days of full, fast, unencrypted microSD use I'd be interested. It's a good working device still in active use so I'm not about bricking it just for the heck.


  • Sir, would you recommended a "Panasonic p55 max" for compatible ROM??? Plzzzz Sir...i hope that, it will be very soon for me...√√√
    Have a Glorious blessed Tuesday be with youu All!! 🌹☕🌹👍✔


  • Lineage OS is very good, but ever heard of pixel experience ROM? It supports many devices and feels more clean than los, stock like


  • nice my MI4 is really outdated since most dev retired the only custom rom updates is lineage 14.1 and no news for oreo, but there is also mokee 8.1 what do you think about mokee?


  • FU NDA Jun 10, 2018 Link to comment

    Paranoid Android sucks. Home button doesn't work. Installed it twice.


  • Sorin Apr 21, 2018 Link to comment

    It's the ideal time to play with custom ROM on an old phone that now has Android 2.2.2. Yes, it is very old and almost nothing goes on ...


  • What happens if you try one and it doesn't work/load is the device bricked? Or is there a way to revert back to last know good boot?


    • the only way is if you made a backup beforehand. when flashing a custom rom you should always back up your current working setup


  • Love custom roms, except for one thing. When development stops, it really stops, for a particular phone. The developers will lie, and tell you the updates coming, but they just want you to keep interest. I had to tell posters on another site, that was it for dev on a phone, but they posted I didn't know what I was talking about. 8 months later, nothing, but there are posters that still will say updates are coming.


    • Before you install custom rom download unbrick file from xda forum for your device. In case you brick your device you can easily bring your device back. Sorry for late answer


  • You do realize there are Samsung based custom roms as well not just AOSP?

    And again a rehash of old articles. Considering the cost of a Samsung phone (and quality) I would never use a AOSP based rom on such a great device.

    In fact I now have a S8+, and have no intention of putting on a custom rom Sammy based or not.


  • Would you recommend a BlackView R7 compatible CUSTOM rom please


  • Would you recommend a BlackView R7 compatible CUSTOM rom please


  • Where is Resurrection Remix?


  • Would you recommend a BlackView R7 compatible rom please


  • Would you recommend a BlackView R7 compatible rom please


  • Please correct this article because dirty unicorn now countains a equalizer!


  • I don't understand the basic idea behind custom ROMs. Do we need them just because of variety? If they really prune android to its bare minimum, how are they different from stock Android which we get on Pixel? And since they seem very hastily thrown together, I'm surprised they aren't buggy.


    • Custom ROMs are good for devices that manufacturers have stopped updating. They allow you to get the latest version of Android on an older device.


      • That is a good point for custom ROMs. Apple definitely seems to be doing a good job rolling out updates promptly and keeping almost all devices still being used actually equipped with the latest iOS. Steve Jobs' fascination with complete control of the end-user experience does seem satisfying at times. Most Android users, on the other hand, are stuck with older versions of the operating system.
        One thing, however. The targeted market of custom ROMs doesn't just consist of users with pretty old devices which are no longer getting system updates. Hobbyists who like tinkering with and modifying their phones are a part of this market too.


      • Yes, they are, and the main reason for using Custom ROMs are features. Most CRs offer so much more than any stock Android version. You can basically tinker around with everything, while it takes some time it's also a lot of fun :)


      • Thanks. Although I am fascinated by custom ROMs, sadly I can't find a proper one for my Samsung Galaxy A7 model SM-A700FD. I want a proper one, not just a nightly indie modification. If you can suggest something, I'll be grateful.


      • Well, there are smartphones that are greatly supported by the community and others sadly are not. The A7 is one of those phones that do not really interest the community :(


      • It appears there's a Resurrection Remix ROM for this, I cant post link but a quick google search will land you onto xda-developers forum page, the page says its official RR ROM, but not sure why the download link to official resurrection remix was not there!
        "God bless the Custom ROM community.."


  • For me Echoe Rom Nougat is the best TOUCHWIZ rom, screw Aosp style roms they are so boring. There is now way I would use an aosp stlye rom on my s7 edge.


  • Cory, nobody cares about ten year old minor UI features like dim bars.

    What possibilities to start a life without vendor lock-ins comes with each ROM team?
    - StockyROM for example, introduced a wizard that lets you decide exactly what to kick off BEFORE the first login.
    - CyanogenMod's team had a love affair with microsoft venture capital - and no code audit afterwards. Can their code be trusted in any way?
    - Which ROM brings native support for free standards such as CalDAV or CardDAV for synchronizing with your own cloud?
    (Hint: Apparently, none as of now. Sadly, even alternative software repositories such as F-Droid have to be installed manually.)
    - Explain the negative meaning of "original firmware" against the meaning of "stock". Original means none less than "completely hijacked"!


  • This article is bullocks, really.

    Author completely fails to nail the different motivations behind the teams.
    On top, this tells lies like a general "need" for Google Apps. Living without is a basic motivation for custom ROMs.
    Sorry i can't deliver better (as of yet).


  • PC-Man Is Best Roms


  • I thing OmniROM is the best for advanced user.


  • I want a custom rom for infocus m330
    Is there any custom rom out there please need it badly


    • You might try some of these?
      Try - needrom or these others....search their sites and find your device. (Since I can't post the actual links just add the ",com" to the end of them when you search!

      androidmtk
      leakite
      kriztekblog


  • My phone is intex aqua hd power .there is no update for my phone. Then how can my phone with lollipop version .i got my phone before 1year till now i didn't get any update.pls help me. I need custom ROM for intex aqua hd power _v08_indian.


  • I need a ROM for Intex Aqua Star 2 (8GB) please any one help me out !!!!

    I don't a ROM in my phone unfortunately deleted


  • I have a rooted Samsung Note 4, what is the best Camera friendly ROM as I am running CM13 which is very unfriendly with my camera and I am a photography hobbiest and going crazy with my phone resetting everytime I want to get a good pic and have missed so many awesome shots,Please help...


  • thank you for article


  • Pokemon go


  • Miss the "old time".


  • And still all the custom roms you go on about are crappy ASOP or CM roms, there are PLENTY of custom Touchwiz based roms as well.

    What is the use of using ASOP or CM roms on a samsung phone, when you could just go and buy a phone with it on already?


  • I have a Nexus 5 marshmallow build non rooted. Currently I am finding issues with battery drain. Can anyone suggest me a good ROM ?


  • Quite informative!


  • Custom roms that are reported to The article are The least outdated.... And stopped development. While pure nexus roms or ressurection Remix thrives from The beginning of marshmallow version paranoid And omni roms Just recently outdated their roms... You should search for other newer roms And developers...


  • Reyn Jul 4, 2016 Link to comment

    Good for me.


  • No rom for Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)


  • Paranoid Android is back!


  • Mokee and Bliss are the best ROMs out there. The stability, customization & features are mind blowing.
    Using Falcon(moto G) & Hammerhead(N5).


  • CyanogenMod is the best ROM. i have Moto G2nd and using CM 13.


  • Can you tell me how to root oneplusone running on 6.0.1


  • Check out BrokenOs. It's got a Slim base, but optimized for performance and customization. An absolutely sick ROM.


  • Alex Apr 23, 2016 Link to comment

    Cyanogen Mod ROM is the best,It has got all those cool features and themes and crazy customization and stuff,I own a Yu Yureka Plus Phone which runs with inbuilt cyanogen OS and the problem with Cyanogen is you wont get Updates so often other than that Cyanogen Rocks!


  • The problem with these roms is often the camera app/driver. I have a Galaxy S3 with CM13, it's a great rom, but the camera sucks.


  • All ASOP/CM recommendations as usual, what about custom TW roms, Asop/CM are fine if you like boring looking roms, but for me there are only 2 I recommend - CarHDRom (fully themed), and Echoe Rom.

    I have tried ASOP/CM based roms on my S4, deleted within a day due to looking crap (and yes I had used themes).


  • miui is best rom


  • update costum rom for asus zenfonr c :'(


  • Give Miui Rom, Miui Roms look good


  • you missed resurrection remix THE BEST ROM ;>


  • >tfw nothing is updated to Note 5 920p (if someone knows one or is able to find one, that'd be gr8)


  • I always go back and forward TW - CM some days i feel like customizing for wich i use CM based ROMS and when im in the mood for stability i go back TW ... its really up to what you find useful i guess and some times just to keep up on the updates...


  • "CyanogenMod is the Volkswagen of custom ROMs"

    These days this is not a compliment :D


  • it seems that OAKP is outdated, or the link is wrong. For Samsung Note 3 hlte are offered ROMS from 2014.
    I feel that Note 3 hlte is still a great device... now even better since i installed SOKP ROM for 5.1.1... no pain in any attempt.
    I did try CyanogenMod, unfortunately always by bad results. I understand that CM is a great team probably i was just unlucky.
    I recommend strongly to install SOKP.Definitively get rid of the annoying bloatware of Samsung.


    • Ryan Jan 16, 2016 Link to comment

      Where can I find the SOKP ROM? I to have a note 3 and still love the device. Used CM awhile back but always had issues with updating.


  • storm Nov 12, 2015 Link to comment

    I've attempted PAC ROM once and it boot looped me. Not exactly sure what the problem was as others with my hardware ran it successfully.


  • I myself only like to use Touchwiz based custom roms, I find ASOP and CM quite boring. On my S6 edge and Tab S, I have tried a few ASOP and CM based roms but still go back to either CarHDRom or Echoe Rom.


  • SOKP [sonic open kang project] dude..! That's the best! Do mention it in other articles.


  • 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


  • Pac man rom is the best for me!!!


  • 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.


  • 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).


    • @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.


      • 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 ;)


      • Hey Scott, I want to put CyanogenMod on my old but dear Samsung Galaxy S2. Can you please guide as to how to do that? Thanks in advance!!!


      • I have CyanogenMod 12 on my samsung galaxy s2 and... well .... if i dont plug it to the charge, the phone will crash when cm will boot... i do not recommend u to put a custom os on ur galaxy s2.


    • storm Nov 12, 2015 Link to comment

      Two issues with Touchwiz ROMs. First carrier compatibility. I ran a number of Touchwiz ROMs particularly for T-Mobile wifi calling compatibility. And I ran some without it in a more generic format.

      In the first case, you're trapped with how fast your carrier is updating Touchwiz add ons. This limits the number of ROM choices and how fast updates trickle down. With the early lollipop roms, there were a lot of battery issues across the Touchwiz spectrum. Waiting for the carrier to pass along fixes was brutal.

      Even on the more generic TW ROMs, the rollout of features and fixes was slow. You mostly saw updates when the next flagship was released and the bloatware was rolled into ROMs for older phones.

      With Samsung only giving you 18 months or so of official ROM support, TW compatibility can be limited and slow to appear.

      The Lollipop battery and related heating issues drove me into the ARMs (there's a pun there) of Slim and the arter97 kernel. That kernel compatibility made a huge improvement in my phone experience for 2015 and the 5.x ROMs.


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


  • 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.


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


  • 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

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