Most Popular Custom ROMs for Android: LineageOS, Pixel Experience, Paranoid Android, and more!
If you have been following the Android aftermarket development scene for a while, you must have heard of the term custom ROM. A custom ROM is essentially a third-party operating system that replaces the factory-installed stock ROM or skin on your phone. Even though manufacturers like Samsung, OnePlus, and Xiaomi have done a great job of refining their Android skins, there’s still plenty of interest in custom ROM development for plenty of devices.
As soon as Google drops the source code of a new version to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), the modding community starts working toward making the latest flavor of Android accessible to more and more devices in the form of custom ROMs. As such, there are a number of Android custom ROM distributions to choose from. If you’re itching to try out the vanilla Android experience on your shiny new Android phone or just want to breathe new life into an old device stored in your closet, but unable to pick the perfect candidate, then this guide is for you. Below you can find the most popular custom ROMs in the domain of Android.
Truth be told, the LineageOS project doesn’t really need an introduction at this point. Being the true successor to the legendary CyanogenMod project, LineageOS is a lightweight ROM with the bare minimum in additional features, resulting in a high-performance, high versatility Android variant one can imagine. The official LineageOS builds are standardized against a Device Support Requirements charter, which ensures that all the basic hardware functionalities (such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Camera, NFC, etc.) continue to operate after replacing the factory-installed software with LineageOS.
No wonder the XDA community loves LineageOS to the moon and back, because it has set itself as the highest benchmark in the world of custom ROMs.
If you’re a stock Android enthusiast and want to experience vanilla Android just like on Google’s own Pixel devices, then you should definitely check out the Pixel Experience project. The custom ROM comes with all Google apps and Pixel goodies, like the launcher, wallpapers, icons, font, and boot animation out of the box.
The developers also offer a “Plus” variant of the ROM which features a handful of extra customization options that aren’t present in the basic distribution.
Like LineageOS, the Paranoid Android project (also known as AOSPA) has a rich heritage. It was once a top contender in the Android ROM scene for many different reasons — innovative features, a slick user interface, a revolutionary camera app, you name it. If you’re a fan of the stock Android look, but do admire aesthetics over random customization options, then I would highly recommend taking this custom ROM for a spin.
Are you a vanilla Android enthusiast and looking for a Pixel-esque ROM that also offers some useful UI/UX customizations? Take a look at the Evolution X project. The ROM comes with preinstalled Google apps and Pixel goodies, and features several customizations like Status Bar visibility toggle and Gaming Mode Quick Settings Tile.
The ArrowOS project started with the sole aim of keeping things simple, clean, and neat. The developers added only a handful of tweaks on top of AOSP, aiming to deliver smooth performance with better battery life. The end result is a lightweight ROM that offers comparatively better performance and reliability over the stock Android.
For those not familiar with dotOS, it stands for “DroidOnTime” and is based on AOSP. However, unlike other AOSP-derived ROMs, dotOS is known for its unique user interface and innovative features. In a nutshell, if you want a stock Android experience with a host of additional features, opt for dotOS.
Additionally, distributions like OmniROM and BlissRoms have introduced a plethora of novel concepts to the custom ROM scene that are later being adopted by many other ROM maintainers. Enthusiastic users will also find out several other custom ROM projects such as Potato Open Sauce Project (POSP), PixysOS, RevengeOS, Havoc-OS, crDroid, and more on our forums, as the developers continue to come up with something new all the time.
Another honorable mention: Xiaomi.EU
For those of you with a Xiaomi, Redmi, or POCO device, and who just want to get rid of the bloatware and advertisements of the MIUI skin, you can go for the Xiaomi.EU ROM. This particular distribution is not an actual custom ROM in the truest sense of the term, but the extensive modifications make it quite an equivalent one in the MIUI ecosystem.
The daily builds of the ROM are based on Chinese MIUI beta firmware packages and have further been localized for the international markets. As a result, users can get their hands on all the bleeding edge functionalities introduced in the Chinese variant of MIUI before Xiaomi officially ports them to the global ROM.
Now you’re aware of the most popular custom ROMs in the scene, pick one for your device and give it a go. In case you need any help before or during installation, don’t forget to take a look at our excellent guide to installing a custom ROM on your Android Phone. And once you have the ROM installed, see if you can further upgrade your Android camera experience with GCam.