Android is known for its customizability. But every manufacturer tries to limit the consumer in their ecosystem (user interface(UI) or system apps) to make profits from their software services. In such cases, the customizability is limited to the options they provide through their software services and from some third-party apps which do not require root access. But in reality, Android phones are much more customizable and having an unlocked bootloader is the key to the world of customizability
With an unlocked Bootloader, you are open to change your stock recovery into custom recoveries like TWRP or OrangeFox. Stock recoveries can only be used to flash official recovery ROMS or incremental update packages or wipe data(format the device or factory reset) and do not support modifications or flashing custom ROMs. If you find all of these terms are difficult to understand, Don’t worry, check out our detailed guide below to get more information.
For this guide, you will need the following things, we will discuss more about each one (or give the link to proper guides to do the process)
- Android Phone with an unlocked bootloader
- A custom recovery (TWRP or OrangeFox)
- Custom ROM
- Gapps( if ROMs comes without Gapps)
- Magisk( Rooting,Modules,etc)
1. How to unlock the bootloader?
As we said earlier every Android phone comes with a locked bootloader for the safety purpose. But if we have to use custom ROMs we need to unlock it first. The procedure for unlocking the bootloader is different for every manufacturer and some may not support it too(Huawei or Honor). Here is our detailed guide to unlock the bootloader of Xiaomi devices (Mi, Redmi, POCO). You can also read more details about Bootloader, risk and benefit of unlocking the bootloader and re-locking procedure, etc in it. To unlock the bootloader of other branded devices just use Google search to find the procedure, you probably will get a detailed guide from XDA or community websites of each brand.
2. Stock Recovery VS Custom Recovery
Stock Recovery: stock recovery only lets you flash official recovery ROMs or incremental updates or it also can be used for factory resetting your device.
Custom Recovery: it lets you do all the things stock recovery offers and can be used to flash custom ROMs, backup and restore, root your device, etc
TWRP and OrangeFox are the two most popular custom recoveries in 2020. In earlier days custom recoveries like cwm (ClockworkMod) were popular as TWRP.
3. Custom ROMs.
I can write a lot about custom ROMs. But it makes this post way bigger. So it is better to link another post from XDA to limit the post size.
There are plenty of custom ROMs out there with various features. Currently, I am using Oneplus 8 Pro as my primary device without any modification(locked bootloader), I don’t want to lose my Widevine L1(HD streaming) to L3(SD streaming). But I used to switch ROMs in my previous mi phones very often. Pixel experience or customised MIUI(xiaomi.eu– MIUI without ads, bloatware but with more features) or OxygenOS ports have been my favourite options.
GApps is the Google applications package. checkout more details about it on google search or check out their official website to learn more details or download GApps packages. Most of the custom ROMs out there are GApps included, so you don’t need to use it in such situations, the developer usually writes it down whether the ROM is Gapps included or not.
We use Magisk to root the Android device. Magisk has now preferred over old SuperSU due to the availability of a wide range of Magisk modules for enhanced customization. Checkout this XDA page for more details about Magisk.
To start the process we need a device with an unlocked bootloader, the steps to unlock the Bootloader are different for every brand, so check out the above section 1. The rest of the steps are exactly similar to all the devices out there.
How to flash Custom Recovery like TWRP or OrangeFox?
1. First, you need to find either of these to your particular device
(You can go for official recovery if it is available, or you could get unofficial recoveries from various sites or community)
- TWRP Official: Link
- OrangeFox Official: Link
- Unofficial TWRP for xiaomi: Link 1 (use Translator: Russian site) | Link 2
- For other unofficial recoveries, use Google search
Some of these Recoveries will be listed with the device code name or board name. Just search for your device code name in google to get it
2. Flashing the custom recovery?
After getting the Recovery file for your device, now we have to flash it to the recovery partition of your device to replace stock recovery.
Steps: ( Here I am using Xiaomi Mi5s and flashing the TWRP recovery)
1. For TWRP recovery: The downloaded file will be in .img format. But is better to rename it to something simple which can be easily typed) (twrp-3.4.0-0-capricon to twrpmi5s)
For OrangeFox: Here the downloaded file will be in .zip format. First, send a copy of this to your phone internal storage. We need it later. Then extract the .zip file in the PC to get .img file(based on my experience it will be recovery.img, but I recommend to rename it into something as like we do with TWRP in the above step ( for example I renamed into orangefoxmi5s)
2. Now connect your phone to PC in Fastboot Mode ( power off the device, then press volume down+ power button simultaneously to enter Fastboot mode)
3. By clicking Shift+Right Click on the twrp file folder and select Open PowerShell window here.
fastboot devices in the PowerShell window and enter. ( It will list your device with a Fastboot tag, otherwise, you need to install proper Fastboot drivers for your device, or you can use 15 second ADB and Fastboot driver installer for this purpose
5. If the PC lists our device with its Fastboot tag, now we can go to next step
fastboot flash recovery <file name> or in my case, it is
fastboot flash recovery twrpmi5s.img then click enter. Wait for the finished notice
7. Then type
fastboot boot <file name> or in my case
fastboot boot twrpmi5s.img. Now you can see your device will automatically get booted in TWRP( or can do this step manually by pressing the volume down + power button at the same time, but recommend to type the command to avoid errors)
8. In the case of OrangeFox, the steps are the same. In my case, I named the file as orangfoxmi5s.img. So when I type above commands I need to use orangefoxmi5s.img instead of twrpmi5s.img.
9. Most probably first the recovery will ask for permission to allow modification, permit it.
10. This step is only applicable to Orangefox. Find and select the OrangeFox zip on your phone, tap on it, and swipe to install it (because OrangeFox Recovery needs some files from the zip). After installation, the phone will automatically reboot into OrangeFox
Now flashing the custom recovery is complete. But one thing to Note. If you reboot your device the custom recovery will automatically get replaced to stock recovery if you are running on official ROMs. To avoid that you need to either Root or flash Custom ROMs.
How to flash a Custom ROM?
The steps for flashing custom ROMs for every device is the same. Here, in this case, I am using TWRP recovery for flashing pixel experience in Xiaomi Mi5s.
The steps will be slightly different in OrangeFox. But I will provide brief steps for OrangeFox too. The OrangeFox team themself provide a detailed guide to everything.
1. You can use Backup option in TWRP if you need to backup system or other partitions like boot or recovery, recommended to do it (especially for devices with har to find official ROMs)
2. Go to Wipe then use Swipe to Factory Reset or you can do it manually by going to Wipe- Advanced Wipe then select Dalvik/ ART Cache, Cache, Data then Click Swipe to Wipe. In OrangeFox recovery, these steps are the same.
3. This step is optional: Format Data(this will wipe everything in your device).
Do not use the internal storage wipe option in the Advanced Wipe, if you wipe internal storage through this it will get encrypted. Follow the correct step below
TWRP: Go to wipe then use Format Data. After completing the process, you need to reboot into recovery again before doing anything else. For rebooting into recovery select Reboot then select recovery. If they ask to install TWRP, click on do not install
(Note: rebooting is only required if you are formatting the internal storage, not required if you are only doing step 2)
OrangeFox: Go to Menu-Manage Partitions, select “Data“, click on “Format Data“, and type “Yes”; this will format your data partition and will also wipe your internal storage). then you must reboot OrangeFox immediately afterwards, and, most definitely, before doing anything else.
4. Now you need to flash your device latest firmware or particular firmware mentioned by Custom ROM developer. (Not required, in some cases)
For example, if you are flashing xiaomi.eu ROM(modified MIUI ROM) on xiaomi device, you don’t need to flash any firmware, the ROM itself comes with firmware.
But here in my case, I am going to flash pixel experience ROM, which needs the latest firmware installed separately. If you need firmware for xiaomi devices you can use xiaomifirmwareupdater.com
5. To install the firmware install – select the firmware file from storage – swipe to confirm flash, after completing the flashing, go back to TWRP homepage.
6. Now go to Install then select the Custom ROM zip file you need to install and use swipe to confirm flash. After completing the flashing process, click on wipe Cache and Dalvik. after completion now you can flash GApps and Magisk if needed. or directly use the Reboot system to turn ON the ROM.
How to Flash GApps For Custom ROMs
To Flash, the GApps go to Install, then select the GApps package file and use swipe to confirm flash. After completing it (you can use wipe Dalvik and cache, but it is optional) either you can Reboot to the system or Go back to the homepage to install Magisk if you need root.
How to Flash Magisk to root the device?
flash Magisk zip file as like ROM or GApps, then you can reboot the system and enjoy. Also, install Magisk Manager App to get more control and use Magisk Modules. Checkout Magisk official site to get Magisk module and Magisk Manager.
How to update Custom ROMs?
To update Custom ROMs you just need to Dirty Flash, Dirty Flash means you don’t need to wipe anything. But it is recommended to wipe Dalvik cache and Cache. then you can flash the update to your Custom ROMs. If you are using a custom kernel which different from Kernal in the Custom ROM then flash it too. But if you flashing A different ROM then you need to go for Clean Flash. which is described in the above tutorial, means you need to wipe everything to make way for a new ROM.
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