Stuck on an Old Android OS? Get a Custom Rom!
There are definite upsides to Android smartphones. Unlike iPhones, you have so much customization ability. You can put your own lock screen, home screen launcher and widgets on the phone. You can even root the phone and add functionality that was not present before. There is no need to rely on the Google Play store to add apps, as you can sideload them onto the phone with ease.
But Android does have some negatives too. Depending on the type of phone that you got, you may be stuck on a much older version of the operating system. The big criticism for companies that manufacture and sell phones is the cycle of updates.
With Apple iPhones, you get updates on all devices until they are not supported. So an iPhone will have regular updates for at least five years after its launch, at the same time as everyone else who is getting updated.
Inconsistent Update Schedule
With Androids, it is different. It is up to the phone manufacturer and/or the carrier to give you an update. So you could have a Galaxy S5 from AT&T that is still on Android 5.0 or 6.0. Or you could have an S5 from a different carrier that got Android 7.0. It is all about the fortune of choosing the right carrier or phone.
But what if you had the bad luck of choosing a carrier that is not giving you any updates? Are you out of options?
What are Custom Roms?
If you are not able to get updates through your manufacturer or carrier, there may be another route. Most phones have unlocked bootloaders, which means that you can easily install custom ROMs on the phones.
A custom ROM is a different version of the operating system on the phone. Think of it like installing Linux on a Windows computer. And since you can install a custom ROM on the phone, you can get one that is based around a newer version of Android.
Even if you have a phone that is on Android 5.0, you could use a custom ROM to get all the way to Android 7.0 or 8.0. Of course, your phone may not run as smoothly as the new operating systems are more intensive. But that is a choice you are making when you upgrade on an older phone.
Risks with Custom ROMs
Of course, you are taking a risk when you do something so drastic as installing a custom ROM. You are voiding your warranty, if your phone still has one. You are taking a security risk, as you are not getting any official security patches on custom ROMs. you just have to trust that whoever created the ROM knew what they were doing.