Nexus 4 Frenzy: Top 5 Custom ROMs To Spice Things Up

By Alexandra Burlacu email: a.burlacu@mobilenapps.com | Feb 16, 2013 10:02 AM EST

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Nexus device owners can enjoy getting timely Android updates directly from Google, but many users prefer custom ROMs for their devices.

The line is definitely shorter for stock Android powerhouses, which means that Nexus device owners are at the front of the line and get the newest, freshest and latest improvements months before owners of non-Nexus phones. Sometimes even this is not enough, however, and people turn to custom ROMs to spice things up.

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Custom ROMs are versions of the Android operating system (OS), but they are re-programmed and bring additional tweaks or features to make things smoother, faster, or more intuitive.

Keep in mind that this is just a list of the top five most popular custom ROMs, but this article does not offer instructions on how to unlock the bootloader and root the Nexus 4. Before diving into the sea of custom software, make sure the handset is prepared. Nexus 4 owners who decide to flash custom software do so at their own risk.

Now, with disclaimers out of the way, let's get down to business. The Google Play store offers a great ROM Manager application to flash ROMs to the handset, and the app really makes the process a lot easier. With each ROM, users have to download the file and copy it to the root folder of the phone using a micro USB cable.

For the sake of precaution, creating a backup of the current ROM before selecting "Wipe data/factory reset" and "Wipe Cache partition" might be a good idea. Users have to wipe the Dalvik cache as well, and can do so from the Advanced menu. Next, enter Recovery Mode, select "Install ZIP from SD card" and select the ROM package. Here are the top five custom ROMs for the popular Google Nexus 4.

1.    ParanoidAndroid

ParanoidAndroid is one of the most popular Android ROMs currently available, especially since it moved to Jelly Bean 4.2.1. This ROM allows users to configure a hybrid user interface (UI) which combines elements of the Android tablet and phone UIs. This way, users can enjoy the best of both worlds, complete with the tablet-style notifications bar on the smartphone. Users can also meddle with the quick settings menu to replace unused options with preferred ones. ParanoidAndroid offers a great amount of customization, and the ROM seems quite stable. The ParanoidAndroid ROM is available for download at this link.

2.    LiquidSmooth

If the name didn't give it away, this ROM focuses on fluidity and speed. Another advantage is that this ROM goes easy on the battery, so it can help users maximize the efficiency of their Nexus 4's battery. LiquidSmooth also comes with an impressive range of options to customize the user experience. This ROM even allows users to customize their lock screen, adding additional quick-launch options to save time. LiquidSmooth is available for download here.

3.    Android Open Kang Project (AOKP)

The AOKP is one of the best ROMs currently available. This ROM is stable and offers extensive customization options for the Nexus 4's lock screen, widget support for the navigation bar, the ability to switch status bar icons, and much more. Although AOKP has only been around since 2011, it is one of the fastest-growing ROMs in terms of support, which means future releases will likely bring much more goodies. Download the AOKP ROM at this link.

4.    CyanogenMod 10

When it comes to Android custom ROMs, CyanogenMod is likely the most famous of all. The developers behind this ROM pledged their dedication to making this ROM as fast as possible, and they kept their promise. Compared to other ROMs, CyanogenMod usually takes the lead. CyanogenMod allows users to customize the home screen shortcut dock, offers extensive launcher options, theme control, status bar customization, as well as overclocking, i.e. making the Nexus 4 run even faster than usual. On the other hand, overclocking can lead to lower battery life and other unpleasant side effects. CyanogenMod 10 is available for download here.

5.    Xylon

Xylon claims to be the ROM that takes users "beyond Android," and, as any top ROM, it aims to deliver a fast, intuitive and fluid experience. Xylon does not have the deep customization of rival ROMs, but it does allow users to adjust the look of their phone to suit their taste. Although Xylon borrows many ideas from other ROMs, it does have a few things of its own, such as the ability to tweak the layout of the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen and change the color, placement and function of the icons located there. Users can also add extra options to the Google Now navigation ring. For now, Xylon seems to be a work in progress, but this young ROM has plenty of potential. Download Xylon at this link.

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