How to install a custom ROM on your Android device

All screenshots are provided by Gerson Noboa

We get it…you’ve gotten all you can get out of your stock software and it’s time for a change. A solid  custom ROM is a great place to start and I’m gonna give you a guide to help you on your journey.

Notes and disclaimers:
Not all devices are bootloader unlockable. Please do not be angry with us if your device does not unlock and we are in no way responsible for any hard or soft bricking. If you have any issues other than bricking, report it in your device forums on XDA or leave it in the comments and we will do our best to assist

Things to download and how to prepare

Fastboot drivers:

These guides and software will help you install all the necessary drivers about as easily as possible

  • TWRP: Look for your device here and download the proper version of TWRP
  • SuperSU: Required for root(some ROMs may have root default)
  • ROM: There are so many ROMs available. It is recommended to go to your device forum on xda and find the development subforum. For the matter of this post, we used the popular ROM Dirty Unicorn. You can find downloads for it here.
  • GAPPS: These are required for your ROM to run Google Play Services. You can find your processor architecture by searching on gsmarena. If your device has an Intel processor, its x86. If your device has another processor, its likely arm. And then just determine if it is 32 or 64-bit architecture.

Preparing your phone: Unlocking your bootloader will erase all data. Make sure all your pictures and music are backed up either to your preferred cloud storage platform or your sd card. Also, before connecting your device to your computer, go to Settings>About Phone and click Build Number until you see a message saying you are now a developer. After that go to Settings>Developer options and make sure that USB debugging and OEM unlock are enabled(Note: If you don’t see the OEM unlock option, it is no big deal and you can continue with the process.)

Step 1: Unlocking your bootloader

  1. Connect your phone to your PC and make sure it is detected
  2. Open your terminal and type adb reboot bootloader(Your device should display a screen similar to this)
    image
  3. While still in your terminal, type “fastboot devices” to make sure your computer still sees your device
  4. Now type fastboot oem unlock
  5. On your device, use your volume buttons to highlight yes on the confirmation screen that shows up and select it with your power button
  6. Your device should now be bootloader unlocked. Leave your phone connected to your computer IMG_0527-1

Flashing TWRP
Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 9.29.28 AM

  1. Rename your downloaded TWRP twrp.img
  2. In your terminal type adb reboot bootloader
  3. Now type fastboot devices to make sure your device is recognized
  4. Type fastboot flash twrp.img
  5. Reboot your phone using fastboot reboot
  6. Use the proper key combination to boot into TWRP and let it patch your system.(If your device does not boot corrrectly,flash SuperSU in the next step)

Flashing your ROM

  1. Move the SU download and ROM to somewhere you can find the path of easily. It is also recommended that you rename them to short names like su.zip and rom.zip
  2. Reboot to TWRP on your device
  3. Go into >Advanced>ADB Sideload
  4. On your computer type adb sideload /path/to/file.zip
  5. Your installation will start immediately
  6. If you want your ROM to be rooted, follow the same process for SuperSU
  7. If you want Google Play services, follow this process for it

This process is very general. If your device cannot be unlocked and twrp flashed using this method, look for it in your device forums on XDA.
There are many one-click methods for doing these things, but they don’t always work and may actually be very buggy. A prime example is that Gerson tried to use Windroid and his device almost bricked 5 times.
It is good to note that if your bootloader cannot be unlocked, then you can still get a custom-ish ROM on your device as long as it is signed with your manufacturer keys. For example, my AT&T Galaxy Note 3 is not unlockable, but I am still running the Touchwiz based version of AllianceROM.
Gerson is now on the popular ROM Dirty Unicorns. Screenshots are included below:

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