Hack Your Phone (Part 3)

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ROM in focus CyanogenMod

Available on: Over 50 devices

Description: CyanogenMod


CyanogenMod is the most famous of all the custom ROMs for Android, and has amassed more than two million users. CyanogenMod is currently available as version 7, which is based on Gingerbread (Android 2.3), and also as version 9, which is based on Ice Cream Sandwich. CyanogenMod is based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which is the pure source code for the Android OS. This is what gives it its popularity -CyanogenMod comes without any customizations that are common with phone manufacturers. It is heavily optimized to produce excellent performance in both speed and battery life but also comes with a large number of tweaks and options that enables the user to customize their experience. These range from the ability to grant or revoke permissions from third-party apps on a case-by-case basis, to Phone Goggles, which prevents you from sending inappropriate >*= text messages when you are otherwise worse for wear!

The Google apps are not part of the CyanogenMod ROM, but are available to install separately on your device when you flash the ROM.

ROM in focus AOKP

Available on: 26 devices

Description: ROM in focus AOKP
ROM in focus AOKP

AOKP - which stands for Android Open Kang Project (a play on AOSP and the term ‘Kang’, which means leaked or stolen code) - is a relatively new custom ROM that launched late last year. Like CyanogenMod it is based on the Android Open Source Project and gives user’s access to the Vanilla Android OS. As a result the differences between AOKP and CyanogenMod are relatively small, at least at first glance. Probably the main benefit of choosing AOKP over CyanogenMod is for its ROM control feature. This collects together all the tweaks and settings specific to AOKP into a single location. Almost all of the most crucial parts of a phone’s UI are up for grabs - from big things like the lock screen to minor concerns such as how the LED flashes. AOKP ROMs are generally good for day-to-day use, and very easy to flash, but also have plenty for the more demanding user too. If you have a Galaxy Nexus, in particular, you’ll find lots of goodness from AOKP.

Cut out and keep guide... Rooting your phone

The process for rooting an Android phone differs from one device to the next. In some cases there are universal tools that can do the job, but for other devices a specific app is required. Here are a few options - be sure you always follow the instruction for your method fully.

Description: Rooting your phone

Rooting your phone

Step 1

Apps such as Super One Click and Universal And Root reduce the rooting process to nothing more than a few clicks of a mouse on your desktop computer. Simple and, where available, the best option.

Step 2

If you don’t have a one-dick solution then you will need to use a manual method, which can sometimes be as easy as the one-dick offerings. Fastboot and ADB are the methods that are used here to great effect.

Step 3

Find and follow the instructions specific to your device. If you need to enter commands you should copy and paste them rather than typing, to ensure there are definitely no errors in what you enter.

Cut out and keep guide... Creating a Nandroid backup

A Nandroid backup is a full backup of your phone – the ROM, the apps and all the data you’ve got. You can’t selectively restore data from a Nandroid backup; instead it is used when you want to roll back to an older ROM, and is absolutely invaluable if you ever encounter problems.

Description: Creating a Nandroid backup

Creating a Nandroid backup

Step 2

The phone will now automatically reboot into Recovery Mode, the backup process can take a little while so make sure you aren’t expecting any important calls! The recovery backs up your current ROM to the SD card.

Step 3

If you ever need to restore a ROM boot into Recovery (usually by holding volume down and the power button) then navigate your way to the Backup and Restore menu. Choose Restore and pick one of your ROMs to restore.

Cut out and keep guide... Hashing a new ROM

When you flash a custom ROM on an Android phone the entire device gets wiped and replaced with the new version you are flashing. When you reboot for the first time it may take a while for the phone to start up, so don’t be alarmed and just leave the phone to do what it needs to.


Download ROM Manager, scroll down the main menu and select Download ROM. A list of suitable ROMs for your device will appear. Choose a ROM and a list of version releases will be displayed. Select and tap to download.

Step 2

The ROM will download followed by a reinstallation menu. Select both Wipe Dalvik Cache and Wipe Data and Cache. Select Backup Existing ROM should you wish to save your current setup. The phone will reboot and flash.

Step 3

The flashing process should take a short while to complete (and a bit longer if you’re backing up as well). Once the new ROM has booted up it may be slow for the first few minutes while the Dalvik Cache is rebuilt on your device.

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