Looking back, it truly hasn't been
too long since Android entered the mobile OS arena as a daring
contender against the trend-setter from Apple. Ask a bunch of people
to sum up what the underlying design philosophy that Android so candidly followed is, and openness and stemming from that –
customization – are sure to make a telling appearance.
Of course, it has been a while since
Android played the role of the underdog, and things sure are looking
different nowadays. One thing, however, has not changed, and it is
the topic of today's pick: there are still a number of people who are
happy to invest the extra hours of reading, experimenting and
sometimes even ruining their devices to get Android to work exactly
the way they want. If you fall in that category, or simply are
looking into spicing things up a little bit, then you've come to just the
right place, for this is our pick of the best custom ROMs based off
Note that Android
4.3 hasn't been on devs' radar long enough, so most of these ROMs are
considered unstable. That being said, Android 4.3 didn't exactly
bring too much to the table, so these are, for the most part,
sufficiently stable, despite their alpha/beta/nightly tags. Bear in mind that meddling with your device can result in a brick, or said otherwise -- make sure you read the full instructions before flashing anything and make sure you're using files intended for your device. If it feels/looks too complicated, you probably should ask somebody with more experience to do it for you.
Best Android 4.3-based custom ROMs
Best Android 4.3-based custom ROMs
is probably the most critically-acclaimed custom ROM out there. The
team has been working tirelessly to bring innovative features to
users, and they have surely delivered. To that end, Paranoid Android
has been noted for its so called Hybrid mode, which allows you to
choose from several modes that will change the layout and scaling of
your entire UI to that of, say, a tablet. Another favorite with us is
the per-app custom coloring which ensures that visible UI elements
inside apps (status and navigation bar) all follow one coloring
nightlies of Paranoid Android are now available for the Nexus 4,
Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Note I and Note II, among
Flashing CyanogenMod's latest
iteration, 10.2, won't introduce you to settings as sweeping in their
visual repercussions as those included in Paranoid Android.
Fortunately, at the expense of some visual eye-candy, you'll be
getting one of the most thoroughly tested custom
Android ROMs out there. Probably the most popular of all custom ROMs
out there, the CyanogenMod team has proven that it is not just capable, but also quite ambitious.
Among noted features that the
CyanogenMod 10.2 ROM offers are the exclusive, extremely feature-rich
Focal camera app (shown on your left), built-in support for custom
themes, performance tweaks and generally speedier than stock
experience and also, as of CM 10.2, calls and text blocking.
Nighly builds of CyanogenMod 10.2 are
now available for over 20 devices.
The team behind the Carbon ROM has
been following a simple rule: feature-filled ROMs, but not at the
expense of stability and performance. It is no wonder, then, that the
ROM has stuck with users and the team seems intent on continuing that streak.
Based on the original AOSP, the custom ROM also incorporates
functionality from other big names, such as CyanogenMod, SlimBean and
AOKP, among others.
Nightly builds are currently
available for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2012), Nexus 7 (2013) and Samsung
Don't get fooled by the name, for
while an outstanding performer, the SlimBean ROM has an extensive
amount of features, some of which unique. Among our favorite extras are the support for PIE controls, lockscreen shortcuts, and, of
course, the ability to invert the color scheme of the entire ROM,
including those for Google Apps.
The SlimBean 4.3 beta 2 is now
available for over 30 devices.
Cataclysm ROM is one of the newcomers
on the scene, but it has quickly garnered a following, to nobody's
surprise – the ROM touts a lag and bug free experience, unburdened
by a ginormous list of features that you probably don't need. That
being said, Cataclysm isn't without extras. Some of the more notable
features it offers include: a Smart 3G profile which switches between
2G and 3G as needed, in order to conserve battery; the handy Network
Speed monitor and the sometimes useful Fake/Spoof caller.
Nightly builds for Cataclysm are
currently available for the Nexus 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Exclusive for Google's Nexus line,
the RasbeanJelly ROM has been sticking around long enough to show
that the devs behind the project know what they're doing. Based on
AOSP, the RasbeanJelly team has kept Google's idea of non-bloated software
close to heart, opting for speed and stability instead. While extra
functionality is on board, do not expect to spend days fiddling with
and fine-tuning settings.
RasbeanJelly is available for the
Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus
The PAC All in One ROM is truly
trying to catch them all. Features, that is. No longer do you have to
choose one feature at the cost of another, for the team behind the
PAC ROM has done some truly amazing job. Said otherwise, the ROM
includes select notable features from some of the best ROMs including
Paranoid Android, CyanogenMod and AOKP, and has managed to do so with
negligible amount of bugs and performance loss.
Some of the many features you can
expect with PAC include: CyanogenMod's built-in themer, PIE controls,
Lockscreen shortcuts, extensive customization of nearly all UI
elements, including the status and navigation bar, the app drawer and
homescreens, and just too many more to list.
PAC is available for a range of
devices, amongst which the Nexus 4, Galaxy Note I and II, HTC One S,
HTC EVO 4G, Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4.