You just got a brand new android device that has quad core 1.5 gigahertz processor and you are telling your friends about it even though you dont know what that means yourself. Well, dont worry, after reading this mini guide, you will not only be able to know what those mean, but you will be able to get the best out of your android device (hopefully).
Warning: This guide is not an actual guide focused on a specific device, but is a general reference to guides for different phones. I take no responsibilities for any action you perform on your phone, and this guide is here just as a reference. And if your alarm stops and you miss a flight to Uganda, dont come yell at me, instead try to find out if your ticket is refundable.
Android is an open operating system. If you are a normal guy, you might be wondering what that means. It means that most if not all parts of android operating system are customizable, either directly or by rooting your phone. Now you might be wondering what rooting is. In simple terms, rooting means being able to change most (almost all) parts of android. Here is a mini vocab list that we will be using throughout the guide:
Rooting: The process of getting access to the “root” account of your android device, which allows you to modify system files in your device that you are normally not allowed to change/access. Rooting is required to do most things mentioned in this guide.
Kernel: A kernel is the main core of android operating system which handles all the interactions between the hardware and the software. For example, if a software in android needs to use the camera flash, it commands the kernel to do it, and kernel interacts with the hardware and the flash turns on. Android uses Linux kernel.
S-OFF: Some HTC phones have a S-ON flag on their radio which prevents users from changing kernels and doing other things even if they have rooted their phone. Having S-OFF means changing that flag so that users can install custom kernels and other things. Some phones have locked bootloaders, which do not allow S-OFF or even root.
ROM: A rom is a custom version of android operating system that can be installed on a rooted device. ROM’s provide new features, updated software and many new things to your existing phone.
Recovery: A recovery is a part of android that lets you install custom ROM’s.
Cyanogenmod: A popular custom ROM available for lot of android devices.
We all know android can be customized a lot more than iOS or Blackberry OS. This is probably one of the reasons you got an Android Phone or tablet or whatever device you have. Most parts of android can be customized and personalized out of the box. Changing launchers, lockscreens, themes etc is something that most of us can do on our android devices right after we get them. But it does not stop there, almost each and every part of Android can be customised after rooting your phone and/or installing a custom ROM. Not all people are aware of this and just plan to go with what they get when they buy their android device. But no worries, because this guide will tell you what you should do to get the best out of your Android phone. Not just best in looks, but also best performance, best battery life and best of everything. Enough of the talks, lets actually get started.
Step 1) Rooting Your Phone
The basic thing to get started in the world of android development is to root your phone. Rooting basically gives you the ability to do a lot of things with your phone that carriers and manufacturers prevent you from doing. Rooting is basically breaking the security mechanism added on your phone by your carrier or the manufacturer which will allow you to perform advanced modifications on your phone that were originally supposed to be able to be done by the carrier or manufacturers only. Rooting phone is not a easy thing to do, and it require some level of technical knowledge about phones and computers. That being said, it is not really impossible either, if you are smart enough to power up your computer and use the internet, you definitely will be able to read rooting guides and follow through to root your phone. Since all phones have different ways to root, depending on the manufacturer and phone model, you will need to find the guide for your phone and follow through. And the best way to do it is to visit XDA Developers Forum, and go to your device’s forum and find the appropriate guide to follow through. There are some apps like SuperOneClick Root which let you root different phones using the same software. Some device require you to unlock the bootloader of the phone to be able to root/install custom romsm which is something you might want to look before rooting your phone. There are plenty of guides for rooting guides available for almost all android device out there, and i bet you will be able to find one that works for you on XDA. Good Luck!
Step 2) Installing Custom Recovery
A recovery is a part of android phones that help you install and update roms and operating system packages. Almost all android devices have a inbuilt recovery. Custom recoveries are modified versions of those recoveries that let you install custom ROMS or modified versions of android operating system with a lot more features and less bugs than official releases. Installing recovery is generally considered a simple task after you have rooted your phone. The most common custom recovery available for a lots of android devices is Clockworkmod Recovery. It can be installed very easily via a free software that can be downloaded from android market called Rom Manager. Some other common custom recoveries are 4EXT Recovery, Team Win Recovery Project etc. Many recoveries have a touch enabled version available nowdays. Oh make sure you are rooted before you install a recovery though.
Step 3) Finding a ROM
There are different types of ROMS available for different android devices. They have different features available depending on the ROM. Some are just user interface changed, and some are complete changes visually/features. Some popular custom roms available for a lots of devices are HTC Sense based roms, MIUI, Cyanogenmod, AOSP Based roms etc. Finding roms is really easy, just go to xda developers forums, find your device and find a rom that fits your needs. Roms are usually available to download on a ZIP file format.
Step 4) Installing ROM
Installing a rom is a really easy task once you have rooted, installed recovery and downloaded a rom. Here are the instructions to install roms on most/all devices.
- Copy the ROM ZIP file to your phone’s SD Card.
- Go to your phone’s recovery. This can be done either from the recovery’s software like Rom Manager and 4EXT Controller or a quick google search will lead you to ways to go to your phone’s recovery by pressing different buttons during bootup.
- If the ROM developer wants you to wipe the phone before flashing the rom (check the rom thread/website for this), go to wipe menu and wipe system,data,cache and boot.
- Then go to “Install ZIP from SDCARD” option and choose the zip file.
- Press yes and wait till the rom installs.
- Once its complete, restart the device.
Step 5) Customizing
Now since you have a new rom on your phone, its all up to you to customize different parts of your phone. This includes installing custom launchers, overclocking to boost speed, installing different tweaks, changing themes etc. Since you are rooted, you will be free to change almost all the parts of your phone. Enjoy customizing your phone!
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