Why You No Longer Need a Custom ROM for Android Devices
Whatsapp Pinterest
Advertisement

Not so long ago, most Android enthusiasts would root their phone and flash a custom ROM. It was the norm, even on brand new devices.

But things have changed. Rooting is less important Do You Still Need to Root Your Android Phone? Do You Still Need to Root Your Android Phone? Rooting used to be a necessity for many, but as the years have gone by, is it still as useful? Read More than it used to be, so what about custom ROMs? If you’re rocking a Pixel 2 or a OnePlus 5T, will you really benefit from flashing a new ROM? Let’s take a look.

Why Do People Use ROMs, Anyway?

It’s fair to say that the golden age of custom ROMs has passed. Android phones are better than they’ve ever been, even at the budget end of the market.

But they still do serve a purpose. Here are the main reasons why you should consider installing a custom ROM How to Install a Custom ROM on Your Android Device How to Install a Custom ROM on Your Android Device Ready to revitalize your Android phone or tablet? Installing a custom ROM is the best way to do that -- powering it up with even better performance and features. Read More .

Security and Operating System Updates

We’ve looked before at which manufacturers are most likely to keep your phone updated Which Smartphone Manufacturers Are Best for Android Updates? Which Smartphone Manufacturers Are Best for Android Updates? Android phones aren't always guaranteed updated, so how do you know which manufacturer to go for? Read More . In short, if you have a flagship phone (or select mid-ranger) from a major manufacturer, you can expect two Android updates, plus security patches for two to three years. On any other device, don’t count on it.

Not having Android updates is frustrating. You miss out on new features and performance enhancements. Not getting security updates is a bigger concern. It’s not like our smartphones have a lack of security issues.

If your phone has been abandoned by the manufacturer, installing a custom ROM is your only option for keeping it up to date. ROMs like Paranoid Android and Lineage have wide device support, get frequent updates, and will patch the worst of your system’s bugs.

Privacy and Security

The recent furor surrounding data collected by OnePlus devices (along with a second claim that the company denied) have highlighted the amount of trust we have to place in our phone manufacturers.

This applies more to budget phones that may have security problems. And even the world’s second largest smartphone manufacturer, Huawei, has recently found its US ambitions blocked by US security agencies over concerns about spying.

And even once you get past this, every Android user is handing over vast amounts of personal data to Google Here's How You Can Use Android But Ditch Google Here's How You Can Use Android But Ditch Google Want to use your Android smartphone or tablet without Google? Want to use open source software? Here we take an in-depth look at exactly how to do that. Read More and others every single day.

A custom ROM can help address your security and privacy concerns. ROMs are — or should be — open source. The code is available for anyone to scrutinize. Even if you don’t have the skills to analyze it yourself, you can be sure someone will and flag up any concerns.

why no longer need custom rom android

Lineage OS has numerous privacy controls built in, including a Privacy Guard that restricts how apps can use your data. Plus, you can use it without Google apps if you prefer.

For even more robust protections, take a look at Copperhead OS. This security-centric ROM is available mostly for Google’s own phones.

They Extend the Life of Cheaper or Older Phones

The other possible benefit to a custom ROM is that it can save you money How to Upgrade Your Android Phone Without Buying a New One How to Upgrade Your Android Phone Without Buying a New One Upgrading your Android phone can be expensive, so how can you get the most out of your current device? Read More . If you have an older phone that you’re generally happy with, or were shopping on a tight budget, a ROM can extend its life.

These are the types of phones that rarely get updated, and are often not as well optimized as their higher end brethren. There’s nothing you can do about slow hardware. But a leaner, less-bloated ROM should give you a performance boost. You can often find new firmware that has been designed for longer battery life too.

why no longer need custom rom android
Image Credit: Samsung

In some cases, you might even be able to unlock new functions or find features from newer flagships ported back to older ones. The best place to look for these ROMs is at xda-developers.com. There are individual forums there for almost every Android phone.

Project Treble and the Return of Custom ROMs

Before introducing you to the case against custom ROMs, it’s worth making a brief mention of a new feature of Android Oreo called Project Treble.

The aim of Project Treble is to make it easier, quicker, and cheaper for manufacturers to update their devices to a new version of Android. It does this by modularizing parts of the Android framework. It’s all very technical, and you can read more about it on the Android developer website.

why no longer need custom rom android

Here’s why it’s relevant:

Devices that support Treble must be able to run a generic, stock Android firmware. This means you could have a single custom ROM based on stock Android that worked on many devices. You’d no longer need developers to produce builds for each individual handset.

Moreover, every device that launches with Android Oreo or later must support Treble (but not those that have been upgraded from an older version). In the not too distant future, we may start to find a lot more custom ROMs becoming available for a lot more devices.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Custom ROMs

The existence of custom ROMs owes itself to the somewhat ramshackle nature of Android for its first few years.

It lacked anything like the polish or performance of iOS, and the custom firmwares each manufacturer built were bloated, slow, and full of questionable design decisions.

why no longer need custom rom android
Image Credit: Samsung, HTC

But things have changed. iOS is no longer the standard bearer for smartphones, and although every phone’s software is still different, they’re now much more tastefully designed. So are custom ROMs even relevant now?

The Camera Might Get Worse

The camera is one of the biggest draws for any phone, and as their complexity increases, it’s also one of the hardest things to implement in a custom ROM.

why no longer need custom rom android

Many phone cameras now have dual lens setups, fancy HDR effects, and high frame rate 4K video. They all need special tools to drive them, and these are all part of the phone’s firmware. There’s no app that you can simply lift and install on another device. Nor can you replace all of the functionality with third-party camera apps 9 Apps That Help You Get More Out of Your Android Camera 9 Apps That Help You Get More Out of Your Android Camera Your Android camera is capable of a lot more than your stock camera app is capable of. Read More .

Replace the original firmware by installing a custom ROM, and there’s a good chance you’ll be downgrading your camera in the process.

Oh, and if you choose the wrong custom ROM you could potentially lose other features too, like quick charging support or Android Pay.

Stability and Reliability

In the early days of Android, phones were often slow. They’d grind to a halt 5 Reasons Your Phone Slows Down Over Time 5 Reasons Your Phone Slows Down Over Time Is your smartphone suddenly slow? We've got good news: you're not going crazy. That loss of device power hits both Android and iOS users. Devices do slow down over time. Here's why. Read More if you went more than a couple of days without rebooting, and they tended to crash a fair bit.

This no longer holds true. While some manufacturers still have better reputations than others when it comes to speed and bloat, you can generally now be confident that most phones will be smooth, stable, and have decent battery life.

why no longer need custom rom android

ROMs come with no guarantees. The official builds of the most popular ones, like Lineage or Resurrection Remix, get updated often. You can hope for a regular supply of refinements and bug fixes for these. But for unofficial builds, or for less well known ROMs on less popular devices, your experiences may be a lot less positive.

Stock Android Is No Longer the Best

One of the biggest draws of custom ROMs used to be that you could install stock Android on any device. You could replace the bloated software from Samsung, Huawei, or HTC with a ROM based on the open source version of Android. Throw in the suite of Google apps, and you’d have something akin to a pure Android device. This is the principle around which Google’s Nexus phones were built.

But Stock Android is no longer the best How Android Differs Depending on the Hardware Manufacturer How Android Differs Depending on the Hardware Manufacturer Not all Android devices are created equal. See how yours stands out from the crowd with our comprehensive guide. Read More version of Android.

Even Google admits this. The best parts of the company’s Pixel phones aren’t Android. The camera app, Google Assistant, and the fast, streamlined launcher are all proprietary software. They’re developed and owned by Google. In fact, on the product pages for the Pixel phones, Android barely even gets a mention.

It’s true that stock Android is still fast, but it’s now very much a bare-bones system.

ROMs Are Just Not Needed

The main reason why custom ROMs even existed in the first place was to fill in some of the gaps in the Android operating system. There were so many features missing in Android for so long that the only way to get them was by flashing a new firmware.

Among other things, ROMs would give you:

  • Control over app permissions
  • Better power management
  • Improved RAM management
  • More control over notifications
  • Multiple user accounts
  • The ability to reply to messages from the notification shade
  • Support for installing apps on an SD card

All of these are now part of Android and are available on virtually every modern device. Even the old complaint about bloatware has been mostly fixed — you can just disable any built-in apps that you don’t need.

Plus, if you’re tempted by a ROM just to try something new, why not try a launcher app instead? They’re easier and safer to install, and you can test as many as you like.

So, Do You Still Need Custom ROMs?

The case against custom ROMs is growing. Android has no obvious missing features, stock firmwares are better than ever, and a ROM might not even be able to get the most out of your phone’s hardware.

The answer seems straightforward. If your phone is older or very cheap, has bad stock firmware, or has been abandoned In Today’s Android World, Up-to-Date Software Is Only for the Privileged In Today’s Android World, Up-to-Date Software Is Only for the Privileged If you own an Android phone, there's a good chance you rarely get Android security updates. And you can blame it on the Google Pixel. Read More by the manufacturer, then it may be worth trying a custom ROM. That’s probably your only hope of seeing the new features of Android Pie The 13 Best New Features in Android 9.0 Pie The 13 Best New Features in Android 9.0 Pie Android 9.0 Pie is here and it offers some awesome new features. Here's a tour of the most exciting improvements. Read More .

But for everyone else — whether you’re using a flagship, quality mid-ranger, even a few budget phones, or are just happy with what you’ve got — there’s almost no benefit to using a custom ROM.

Do you use custom ROMs? Or have you recently given up on them? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. JD
    October 14, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Thank God for custom ROMS. My HTC One M9 now runs Android 8.1 with the latest security patch.

  2. James S
    September 26, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Looks like the author has kept quite after all those comments that rooting and or custom ROMs is still the only way to go. The stupid unnecessary crapware is just one of the reasons why many of us want total control of our devices. No device controls me, unless you are a iPhone fan ;)

  3. Martin
    August 29, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    I do not think the author has used a custom ROM like Resurrection Remix or Crdroid. With these you are able to adjust the light by sliding across the Status Bar, control music with gestures on the turned off screen, see the upload and download speed in the Status Bar, choose which app shortcuts to put on the lock screen, add a gazillion Quick Settings, blur the background screen when pulling down notifications, choose colours for the settings menu, turn on the torch light by holding the power button down and hundreds of other customizations. And having the latest Android version on both new and old phones. Custom ROMs fills an empty space and are not going anywhere.

  4. Tim
    August 28, 2018 at 5:25 am

    I want to flash to get rid of bloatware taking up space using data and clogging ram. Many apps can only be disabled. I want to only have apps that I use on my phone which all fit on one screen. Most of the space on any sized phone storage should be dedicated to file storage.

    • geoff
      September 11, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      to get rid of bloatware, you only need to root your phone, no need to install a custom ROM!

      • Geon
        September 19, 2018 at 11:07 am

        "you only need to root your phone"
        which apparently isnt important anymore either. this article is such a waste of time

  5. Tim
    August 28, 2018 at 5:21 am

    I want to flash my phone to get rid of bloatware taking up space.

  6. iPhoney
    August 21, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Its 2018 and you android users are still doing these? Yes, android is open sourced and fully customizable but Jesus! Aren’t you all getting tired of all this shit? It’s kind of getting really, really old now don’t you think? Android’s sluggish and pathetic OS and its updates are the main reasons why I switched to iOS for good for about 5 years now and I never looked back.

  7. JBrady
    July 20, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    Bloatware has been the biggest reason that I have for installing custom ROM's. I love Samsung hardware and have owned several of their tablets and phones, but I hate the fact that they pre-install apps that I don't use and can't get rid of that then take up internal storage space. I would gladly stick with the stock Samsung ROM if they would just allow me the option to toss out the garbage.

  8. Stevae
    May 23, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    This article is so full of SH** that I literally laughed several times while reading it. Custom roms run faster, smoother and look better than ANYTHING ANY MANUFACTURER puts out. But you don't seem to understand THE actual reason people use custom roms. Once you plunk down close to 1K for a smartdevice, how much sense does it make to allow the manufacturer or the carrier to control almost every aspect of that device???? Who really owns the device if they can just send an over the air update any time they want and change things you can't stop??? Rooting our phone's, and using custom roms is about control. It's about total ability to dictate on OUR devices whatever we want to. It allows customization on a level manufacturer's and Carrier's will NEVER give up. I continually challenge my friends and family member's to speed tests, and UI efficiency contests, and I almost always win. To drive my point home even further, I am using a two and a half year old S7 Edge, while almost all of them are on brand new Iphones, HTC's, Samsung's or LG's. But because of all the crap that their manufacturer's and carrier's load their phones with, I am still beating them more than 95% of the time in real world demonstrations. And for the record, my pictures are every bit as good as their's are. You can scream all you want about synthetic benchmarks, but you CAN'T argue with side by side real world contests. Benchmark's rarely show real world type of results. While I am using the Exynos version of the S7E, which is much better than the SnapDragon from these devices, it's still almost three years older than their phones.

    • Swthrhs
      August 28, 2018 at 8:52 am

      I couldn't agree more with you bro !!! Like you were in my mind.... This article is full of BS and missleading facts.

  9. Jef Fowler
    February 10, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Interesting article. I have an older nexus 7 (2012) that worked OK when I got it (used from a friend in 2015) but upgrading to Android 6 killed it. Basically useless.
    Tried Lineage unofficial build for it and wow! Night and day. Works great now, crashes if I change the wallpaper so I live with the default.
    Note that Netflix won't work with custom ROM's.
    So older devices can be useful still with a new ROM.
    I also like the idea of having more control over apps and bloatware but if newer iterations also include that then I could be happy with 'standard' proprietary Android.

  10. Frank John
    February 8, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    I use a custom ROM because the Chinese phone I'm using had a horrible experience. If you use a Xiaomi, Huawei or LeEco device you'll see what I mean.

    • Paraph
      February 12, 2018 at 10:36 am

      I installed Lineage OS on my Redmi Note 4 just to get rid of the heavy bloatware that was taking too much RAM.
      Also, I've always been fond of pur Android experience.

      • Frank John
        February 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

        I've long since dumped that stupid Chinese ROM. Using Resurrection Remix v5.8.5
        However, the trade off is that I lost the fingerprint reader and proper camera support. I'm using Footej but it's not as fast as the stock camera app was neither does it have panorama. The IR blaster only works with the manufactures ROM.
        I'd rather use with my phone like this than use that awful EUI.

    • Ronen
      April 29, 2018 at 11:40 am

      Hi

      I'm on redmi 4 prime and xiaomi didn't update it . it is currently stuck on android 6. I have 8.1 custom ROM, formatted the cache and data partitions and now in benchmark I get a result of around 85000 where the stock android 6 is around 60k.
      Needless to say that battery performance is still the same.

      In addition I can access 4k video , I guess that was blocked by xiaomi via software.
      So custom ROM worked big time for me.

  11. Shikhanshu
    February 8, 2018 at 4:37 am

    The two major reasons why I use a custom ROM (unrooted):
    1. Complete theming of the OS (and third party apps) using Substratum
    2. Many small tweaks like - night light (on devices that it's not available by default), volume button swap on orientation change and many, many more that make it a pleasure to use the phone.

  12. Armakuni
    February 8, 2018 at 4:28 am

    The only device I had on which I switched to a custom ROM was the Optimus Black from LG. It was the only alternative because LG didn't get it to make a good update for this device.

    Actually I have a Honor 6X and there is no need to root it or to switch to an other ROM.

    Rooting or alternate ROMs are not the best alternative. The manufacturers should do their work, even on low-cost devices.

  13. NNTB
    February 7, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    The real reason to use a custom rom is to get rid of uninstallable bloatware. to use roms that accomplish things like slimming down the phone experience and speeding it up. if you do it right you can use custom roms to get more out of your phone then stock roms. this article is ill informed and not sure who paid for it to be written. but obviously it has a anti consumer feel to it.

    to be fair i have a galaxy s8 i cant root. becuase if i did knox would break along with other stuff. why would i root my s8 and put a custom rom on it? well i live in japan. and even though the s8 has English language on the Japanese versions. it dosnt have bixby voice. a feature thats advertised heavaly in the usa. and if you use a custom rom you can get bixby working on the s8 on a forign phone.

    but in doing so you break knox security.

    its really a catch 22 and i am so unhappy with my experience with android so far. because i am stuck on a stock rom.

    • Karay
      February 14, 2018 at 1:08 am

      I feel similar about this article. The writer has curved mirror.
      Updating to the newest version isn't the best solution in all time. My HTC 10 received Android 7 update and I install it. Unfortunately I lost some functionality (e.g. "menu" button availability on "app switcher" button). I hoped there will be better when Android 8 update arrived. I lost some functionality again, my phone slowed down and there are some misbehavior.
      We can't trust in Google, Apple and Microsoft because of massive surveillance. Actually we aren't customers anymore because our data is the real product and they want to sell it. This is the reason why we need alternative OS on our smartphones. Unfortunately we have very limited options.

      • Tony
        May 14, 2018 at 8:22 pm

        This is exactly my motivation for installing custom roms. The amount of data Google collects from individual smartphone owners is enormous and this is not something you can fix by opting out of some settings. This is quite a big reason to miss in this article.

        Also, there are countless customizations in roms that the author did not mention. Cherry-picking some basic features that are not part of stock roms doesn't make it a good argument. Why instead not encourage brands to keep an open development environment?