5 reasons to install CyanogenMod

by: Robert TriggsOctober 8, 2014

cyanogenmod nexus 5 boot screen aa 1

CyanogenMod has long been the most popular custom Android ROM around, and with good reason. With a speedy stock-like experience and plenty of its own tweaks and improvements, here are 5 reasons why you should try CyanogenMod, if you haven’t already.

1. Increase your handset’s lifespan

OEMs can only usually support their handsets for a finite amount of time, and, even then, they don’t always update them in a timely fashion. If you’ve ever found yourself irritated by the slow pace of OEM updates, then a well supported custom ROM like CyanogenMod might be just what you’re looking for. Either that or buy a Nexus device, if you have the spare funds.

Android developer trends

There is still a large percentage of Android handsets running older versions of the operating system. If your handset has dropped off the update list, a custom ROM can give your old phone a new lease of life.

For example, handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S2 have Android 4.4 CyanogenMod 11 ready for download, while Samsung shows no signs of officially updating the handset past Android 4.1. Less fortunate handset owners have even been found still stuck with Gingerbread (Android 2.x), so don’t have access to important new features like Google Now, Project Butter, improved camera functionality, or apps that require newer versions of Android to run.

CyanogenMod has a huge array of officially supported devices, and even more which are kept up to date by developers porting CyanogenMod’s open source code unofficially. Even if your handset doesn’t have the latest CM11 version available, there’s a good chance that an older version is lurking around somewhere online. If you’re looking for an AOSP-based ROM to run on an older handset, CyanogenMod is probably the best place to start.

2. Soup up your Android

Even if you’re the proud owner of a new flagship handset, CyanogenMod can help speed up the feel of your smartphone by shedding some of those useless features and resource-hungry default apps. This isn’t for you if you’re fond of OEM specific features, like Samsung’s Air Gestures or LG’s Knock Code, but is definitely worth considering if you’re fed up of bloated features that you never use.

Gripes about manufacturer and carrier installed apps are quite common, and although rooting is an alternative way to disable or remove this irritating software, you’re still stuck with often sluggish and questionable looking interfaces, like Touchwiz or LG’s UX. The look of default Android is a preference like any other, but the additional simplicity and speed can give an older handset a much needed speed boost.

oneplus one aa (27 of 34)

Combining CyanogenMod with the OnePlus One’s high-end hardware results in a lightning fast Android experience.

For the really adventurous, CyanogenMod also features overclocking utilities to speed up your handset or improve battery life by capping the maximum CPU clock speeds. There are also selectable CPU governors, which can automatically adjust your device for improved performance or extra long battery life. Caution is advised here though, as smartphones can be prone to overheating, as there is little ventilation for heat to escape through. Some CM handsets also support display optimisation tweaks, such as an adjustable colour tint or gamma option.

3. Additional features

Alright, so technically all of the above points could apply to any of the “pure” Android ROMs out there. So what makes CyanogenMod so special, besides the superb levels of developer support?

CyanogenMod isn’t just a straight port of Google’s Android source code — the development team is continually experimenting with and implementing its own software ideas to improve the default Android experience. CyanogenMod has often been on the cutting edge of Android innovation and some of its features have even made their way into official versions of Android.

CyanogenMod is a pretty customizable ROM, with enough options to tailor Android to just how you like it. For the audio enthusiasts out there, the built-in DSP Manager gives you plenty of control over your sound. It even allows users to set up different profiles based on whether they’re listening through headphones or the handset’s built-in speakers.

CyanogenMod Extras

Additionally, users can customize the shortcuts that appear of the Quick Settings menu. Shortcuts can be moved, deleted, or even replaced with entirely new functions, such as toggling your camera’s flash on and off to use as a flashlight or putting the device straight to sleep. The team has also made improvements to the default camera app, allowing users to control it using voice commands, which comes in particularly handy for taking pictures at a distance rather than having to setup a timer and dash into shot.

There are also some more obviously useful changes too, such as the ability to quickly reply to SMS messages from the notification bar or  to record your screen as a video file. CyanogenMod has also borrowed some open source features from other ROMs. Paranoid Android’s PIE Controls allow users to do away with the on-screen navigation bar. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, CyanogenMod has a customized lockscreen with shortcuts, a user configurable Navbar, it’s own File Manager and CM Account software for remote finding or wiping if your phone is stolen, Privacy Guard, and call blacklist features.

CyanogenMod Pie Controls

Under the hood, CyanogenMod implements SELinux to improve the security of the operating system. This works on the principle of using mandatory access controls, rather than root permissions, in order to control which parts of the system apps can and cannot access.

Of course, other ROMs have their own features, so picking the right one for your will come down to preference. In my opinion, CyanogenMod is an excellent all-rounder, with plenty of extra options to improve day to day usage, as well as under the hood settings for those who like to tweak every inch of their handset.

4. For the sake of vanity

If stock Android doesn’t quite appeal to your sense of style, CyanogenMod also incorporates a “Theme Chooser”. This allows users to easily download and install theme apk files or download themes directly from the Google Play Store. There are a wide range of themes available, from simple color changes to unique designs that offer almost a complete overhaul of your phone’s appearance.

I know that many users install custom ROMs to escape the likes of Touchwiz, but if you’ve developed some sort of Stockholm syndrome with an OEM launcher you’ll even find themes that aim to bring back the default look and feel to your handset, but without all that bloatware.

There's plenty of different looks available with Theme Chooser. Take your pick.

There are plenty of different looks available with Theme Chooser. Take your pick.

It’s a very simple system to use – install the theme and then apply it from the Theme Chooser app. There’s no need to mess around with root folders and you don’t have to reboot your phone to apply the theme either. You’ll never become bored with the choices out there.

5. Stay secure with quicker updates

The final point I’d like to make is that CyanogenMod has an excellent track record of patching up bugs, and the team is often far quicker than OEMs. The consistent nightly builds carry general fixes and optimisations to keep everything running smoothly, but also provide a quick and easy platform to rollout fixes for more severe problems, if any ever crop up.

Last year, the CyanogenMod team patched up a number of Android security exploits, including the infamous “Master Key” bug as well. Most OEMs have been much slower to address these problems, and older handsets that no longer receive updates are technically still vulnerable to these, and similar, exploits.

Developers even patches up older Gingerbread releases from time to time, so consumers with aging handsets still receive important security updates long after the manufacturers have forgotten about them.

Take Five

Considering all the hard work that’s gone into keeping CyanogenMod running over the past few years, the team has certainly earned the opportunity to make their ROM a commercial success. Default installation on the OnePlus One and dedicated OPPO support has shown that the custom ROM is well suited to a full commercial product, and fortunately it’s also available to the rest of us for free.

If you’re interested in trying out CyanogenMod, I recommend reading up on rooting, Googling the various ways to install customs ROMs for your specific device, and finally checking out the latest downloads from the CyanogenMod ROM master list for a file tailored to your handset.

  • Craig Foster

    That target ad was REALLY annoying.

  • I tried CM11 on my G2 and the rotation would not work and there are GPS issues….I see the latest says they address this but what about the rotation?? I tried KK baseband before and after installing the ROM. no luck. anyways, Mahdi works best for me. You lose the knock-on/off feature though, which is a bummer. Take a look at CloudyG3 V2.0, really awesome on the G2. I’ve tried a bunch, CM included and I always end up back at Mahdi.

    • Victoria

      Same here, with G2 I think that the CloudyG3 rom is the best. CM still has some annoying bugs and PA is even worse.

      • yeah I tried PA for a few quick days and see everyone trying the new release (even tho it seems its not for the G2 yet??) and I just could not handle the random boots. GPS would shut off randomly….yada yada yada. I’m back to Mahdi for a week and am honestly missing Cloudy’s rom. Soooo fast and I really miss my knock-on/off =(

      • Pirateghost

        PA doesn’t officially support the G2. It is handled by the legacy team which means that the device tree is derived from CM. Any bugs you have with CM will likely follow you with PA-Legacy. The only officially supported devices under PA are Nexus, Oppo, and 1+1

    • Scott Ricketts

      The GPS functions were broken for about a week in the nightlies but have been fixed for the last few builds. For me, it got rid of LG’s interface which I just couldn’t stand. I only miss some tweaks of the G2 camera that haven’t been ported to work on AOSP yet, like slomo video.

      • you should give CloudyG3 V2.0 a shot, it has the slow-mo ported over and it works pretty good. I was just reading on XDA that people are saying the GPS and rotate have been fixed so maybe i’ll see whats up again. Its almost as tho its turning into a featureless ROM. I can do way more with Mahdi….or even PA. I dunno.

        • Scott Ricketts

          I’ve tried that and another G3 port and the interface just drives me up a wall. I spend about an hour with it and I’m ready to rip it off. I know it’s a matter of taste, I just can’t get used to the LG experience.

          • I get that, for real. Have you tried Mahdi???

          • Scott Ricketts

            No and on XDA I see people raving about it. I may throw it on there after testing driving M11.

          • You will love it. very fast and its CM11 with more features. good luck!

  • Adam Beňko

    Got LG Optimus 2x (with cyanogen mod 11 4.4.4 kitkat) , released in january of 2012 till now and right not , and i must say that CM11 saved this phone from going to trash container. It is not as good as i would like it to bee but it extended the life of the device. Now i can wait for Nexus 6 peacefully :)

    • Sam Bonatas

      I’m on a SGS4. and I see no reason to buy a new phone any time soon. The hardware is still great, I can buy plenty of accessories and Cyanogen keeps the software updated.
      My next phone will probably be something that comes from Project Ara.

      • Is that really going to happen? i read so many contradicting articles on it since their lead left a few months ago….I’m really interested in it. Although the Nexus 6 is really making my mouth water.

      • Adam Beňko

        S4 is phone from 2013. We can consider it as a new phone likely. No reason to go for newer one over s4. For anyone.

      • Dannyjayfuller

        I feel exactly the same about my Optimus G, especially since Android L is available.

  • MasterMuffin

    And some other popular options just in case you want to compare: Omnirom, PA (/AOSPA), AOKP or Slim :)

    • Shark Bait


      • MasterMuffin

        Dem acronyms :D

        • Shark Bait

          once you work for a company of more than 10 people you start dreaming in acronyms!

          • Flex360

            Is that how you wrtie your professional emails too?

            Hello Mr sup. Hru today

          • Shark Bait

            pretty much, i work for a real hip company.
            (i don’t their all old)

          • Flex360


  • Chris

    1. You live in your mothers basement
    2. You have no job or only work a couple hours a day flipping burgers, making tacos or burning coffee.
    3. Your only close friend is your mothers cat. The rest are people you see online and that chick Stacy who’s really a dude from India wanting to extort your bank account.
    4. Leaving your house frightens you as with seeing the sun
    5. You are nerd..

    I kid I kid…

    • haha I like #3

      • Malhar Nagori

        as an indian… that’s very much possible..!!

    • MasterMuffin

      Jokes on you, my mom doesn’t have a basement, I live upstairs!

    • s3icc0

      LOL – I switched my S4 to custom roms not only because I am a geek, but mainly because I don’t want to serve my phone – I NEED my phone to serve me!
      and none of the reasons you provided fits to me …

    • mghussan

      I am not interested in your story.

      • Chris

        It was a joke that I made over 5 months ago. No one forced you to read it nor respond to it.

  • Marty

    I use CyanogenMod on my Nexus 7 and it seems to be more reliable than the OEM software.

  • Planterz

    Cyanogenmod was the “gateway” ROM for me. After reading about it for months, and getting ahold of a Nexus 4, I immediately flashed CM (without even bothering playing around with rooted stock). Then I went on to try nearly every Nexus 4 ROM under the sun, and I’ve ended up on LiquidSmooth.

    IMO, the best thing about Cyanogenmod isn’t even the ROM itself or the features it offers. It’s simply the fact that it exists, and so many devices can run it. There’s lots of phones out there that wouldn’t have a custom/AOSP ROM at all if it weren’t for CM. Like the countless low-end Samsung Galaxies that suffer from the excessively heavy and laggy TouchWiz.

    I love LiquidSmooth on my Nexus 4 (SlimKat, Omni, Carbon, Mahdi, and DirtyUnicorns are all great too), and I prefer them over Cyanogenmod, but I’ll be happy as a pig wallowing in its own feces if CM ever gets ported to my Galaxy Light.

    • Craig Dowdall

      That’s exactly what happened to me with the Galaxy S3 I9300

    • Marc Williams

      I echo that last sentence. Though I’ve moved up from the Light I still consider it a very impressive little phone. I wore out the thing with every kind of mod I could waiting for the day CM or similar is released for it.
      Far as I know there is only one ROM available but it’s a de-bloated stock.
      Right now I have a G3 and tried CM11 on it today but that might not be the one I’ll settle on (Deviant Xone probably).

      • Planterz

        Yeah, Lightwave. I haven’t tried it myself yet (I finally put TWRP on my Light, so I might now). The same dev was working on CM for the phone, but we haven’t heard from him in a few weeks. The Light is now available with MetroPCS (running 4.4.2, while mine is stuck at 4.2.2), so hopefully some more development will come.

  • _X_

    I have CM 11 on my Galaxy S2, but I am no computer wizard and don’t know how to get Google play store on my phone…this makes my S2 on CM useless

  • Jorge M.

    Paranoid Android fo’ life my ninjas.

  • Estuardo Dominguez

    At the begining i was CM fan… My s3 was running cm10 but then i started using ParanoidAndroid and no matter wich ROM i install, im allways back to PA

    • Craig Dowdall

      Same here you should try PAC and Liquidsmooth, I used both on my S3

  • Elloizius

    more like 5 Reasons to install Custom Roms

  • A.M

    s3 is still kicking man I remember running CM9 on the Epic 4g reason why I don’t use CM now for me I enjoy customs such as ROMS Dirty AOSB AICP Resurrection Remix etc

  • john

    cyanogenmod is the best platform out there for smartphones. It helps the old devices to be up to date but there is one big issue and that is the battery life. i have a galaxy s2 and its running cm11(latest available) its awesome but the battery life is terrible. Its extremely limited compared to the stock samsung firmwares. Even the old stable versions of cm had battery life issues.

    • Jason Brubaker

      Same here!

    • Moshe Danni

      Wait for cm. 12. ….

  • Kris Smith

    C-Rom ftw

  • malfunctionification

    Two reasons I haven’t flashed a custom ROM on my GS3LTE yet are :

    1. Camera
    2. Warranty

    But I bet when Android L is released, I’ll be rethinking things. Got a Nexus 7 2012, witch I won’t have problems to flash if it gets left behind.

    • Richard Sequeira

      Chances are that the Nexus 7 (2012) will have Android L.

  • Dimitrios Pandioras

    I’m running stock with xposed on my Nexus 5 and I alternate between CM 11 and Alliance Rom on my S3 LTE. Maybe it’s because I’m a minimalist, but I prefer stock android. It’s great that we have so many devs building ROMs for different devices. That’s the one thing that made me move to Android from iOS.

  • loeascalsepta

    Love knows no bounds.
    “It don’t matter if you’re black or white”.

    ==== Black +White+ Hu b+C o M =====

    Here is the best, largest and most successful Interrācial online dāting. Black people meeting white people is why it here. Share your life and love with friends online . You never know who is out there just waiting for you to make their dream love life a reality. . It’s safe and worth a try. Every serious sï ngle is welcome here.ewtwetwet

  • exzanon

    CM11 for life , reporting from a cyanogenmod rom , i9500 nighlies :)

  • Craig Dowdall

    Paranoid Android, PAC ROM and Liquidsmooth are my favourites, what’s yours and why?

  • Balraj

    Rocking NX5 experience ROM on my moto g
    It’s awesome !!!!!!!!
    Cyanogen mod is superb features
    Like double tap to lock the phone
    Hover vs halo notifications
    Themes !!!!! I’m using Fi theme right now
    It’s cool…
    Loving the ROM..
    Way better than moto g custom ROM :)

  • wvcadle

    PA has always seemed to bloated with features I don’t want. I’d like the author to describe how Cyanogen excels over Slim, my choice of ROM. As I was reading the article I kept thinking, “Slim has it, check. Slim does it, check.” Slim has single-handedly taken me from a crack flasher to a bored Android enthusiast. It just doesn’t get any better.

    • Ariya SD

      Theme Chooser comes to mind. Also CM’s calculator has more features than Slim’s (which is a big deal to me). Other than that, I personally prefer Slim. Tho apparently those two (and probably a few other little things that I can’t think of right now) are important enough for me to be using CM :D

      • CMs calculator is an app on Play Store really, that CM adopted. Just search for Calculator Cyanogenmod on Play Store and you’ll find it. :)

      • wvcadle

        I spent about two weeks flipping through and trying themes when I had CM, but really, once you’ve used one of them, you’ve used them all. What I found was that other than looking different, they all had basically the same functionality, and I never really whole-heartedly liked any of them.

  • I really hope CyanogenMod bring back PIE Control.

  • Carl Draper

    Number 5 could easily be lumped in with 1

  • Mark Simrow

    I would if i could install it on my G Flex, but they do not make an official rom for it.

  • Johnny Vu

    I just left CM11 because my dial keep messing up being out of place and sometime there’s lock screen on my dial which is not allowing me to hang up after a call.. I’ve been updating every nightlies to hopefully fix these problems for more than 6 months before i decided to give up. I went with the stock google for my galaxy S4 and my problem solved, I’m happy with my stock google rom.

  • Kasi Viswanathan

    surely and no doubtfully and obviously i will be with is syanogeenmod only if i get the one plus one because i have never had a smartphone till date

  • Jonathan Kramer

    Wow.. had no idea there so many converts to custom ROM’s.. As a complete ignoramus when it comes to these who has a GS3 running TW, I’m wondering how challenging it is to install and operate without the knowledge or experience? I’m out of contract obviously so there’s no concern about voiding warranty either LOL

  • Rasmus Kristensen

    Ill lose multitasking and SPen functionality. So I wont be doing that on my note devices. I have it on my girls S3 though, of course. For phones its great.

  • Guysho_2112

    Just one reason not to do it

    There isn´t cyanogenmod for LG G Pro Lite

    Sorry for my bad english, I’m from Argentina

    • Thomas Corn

      That reason does not apply if you don’t have that device.

  • Reason 6: Its fun breaking warrant. Why keep warranty by the way?

  • I loved CyanogenMod when I flashed it in my Galaxy Note 2… But, the bugs? Talk about the bugs! The main reason I leave custom roms was the incredibly annoying bugs it can bring. In my experience, the camera begins to crash everytime I tried to take a photo. So, did I get a Galaxy Note 2 to enjoy speed or enjoy what it suppose to be in it?

  • Jimmy Hauser

    I think it depends on the device. My OnePlus One runs very well (aside from the hinky touchscreen, waiting to see if the update fixes it)

    Because of my opo, I decided to install Cyanogenmod on my LG G pad 8.3. I think it runs worse than the stock LG rom. Granted, this tablet is kind of turd. But point is CM really did nothing for it.

    • Richard Sequeira

      I don’t know what you’re talking about. Cyanogenmod is awesome. It makes my phone fabulous!

  • Flex360

    2 reasons not to install cm
    Battery hog
    Random reboots

    • Dimitris Katikaridis

      you just cant understand which version u must download…NIGHTLY versions are versions that are under construction.
      its YOUR choise to download those buggy versions.

      try use snapshot versions before start hating..
      the wrong knowledge u have is worse than full lack of knowledge

      • Flex360

        When I used to use cm I never used nigjtlies. I used milestones. Stop trying to act like you’re smart. I make my own custom ROM and share it on XDA. So.you definitely don’t know more than me.

        Battery life on cm Roms are not the best

    • My 1/2 cents

      very common issues….like the iSheep, Android fan boys can’t acknowledge the truth.

  • jd

    I sure wish I could install cm again. Left sprint to go to at&t in April, not knowing at&t has locked bootloaders .sucks

  • Great article for those that didn’t know CyanogenMod. You could have linked to the official Wiki so people interested can learn how to install it on their devices.

  • Richy

    Nexus 5 + C-Rom = Perfection
    Nexus 7 + C-Rom = Also Perfection

    • My 1/2 cents

      Which =one is C-Rom?

  • sirius_gamer

    Is CM11 better than stock Moto X ROM with root and Xposed framework?

    • harsh singh

      I don’t think so. When you have Xposed you also have a lot more features. Also not sure about battery life on CM. You can still try it along with Xposed installed to get a better view on how it all works out for you.

  • s3icc0

    Well in regards of CyanogenMod the theme chooser is recently the best reason to at least try … there is plenty of other AOSP based ROMs with much more functions to tweak (and if we consider also some standalone kernels we can get even more). But what is truth – without CM the rest of custom ROMs will never (not literaly) be able to be here.

  • Rubel Lebantino Villaflores

    I have a Moto atrix hd and even if i updated it to official jellybean update it can’t run NBA 2k14, i tried the CM11 custom rom and it become so fast and smooth and now it can play NBA 2k12 with out a lag..

  • GinkoWeed

    Would the multitasking features on the note line still work? I’m thinking about getting a note 4 at some point(Probably January or something), and CM looks amazing, but there are some features from TouchWiz I don’t want to lose.

  • Michel

    Just installed it and loving it. Thanks for recommending, I am now your die hard fan. Thanks a lot. Regards, Soccer funda.

    • Jhony Reader

      I wished I could have done that installation few months back even. I missed it. Warm Wishes from Soccer funda.

  • BrashesVoucher

    6: I get nearly 2 days battery life with CM11 on my Galaxy Mega.

  • Jose

    I mainly use it for the Left Handed mode feature… for lefties like me.

    as well as App Privacy, to save battery life (and privacy of course).

    And more of my reasons here: http://amigotips.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/cyanogenmod-for-the-average-amigo/

  • markeb

    do these cyanogen roms or any others support the s-pens in the note series of devices [i do actually use and like my S-pen]

  • My 1/2 cents

    I can’t say I agree with this article. any custom mod comes with it’s share of bugs. some very common and others depending on your device. if you want stability, you might want to rethink about using a custom rom.

    • 1+1 Cents

      Well, any amount of thinking is requisite when deciding to use custom ROMs, and every single creator of ROMs will tell you as much. But OEM firmwares come with their fair share of bugs too, and as the article says, custom ROMs can actually get their bugs addressed faster than OEM software. So really, if you want stability, research is better than just avoiding custom ROMs, and regardless of what you decide, your mileage will always vary.

  • Anonymous Coward

    Can anyone speak to how much more or less secure this is v.s. Android’s OS? Also, what about things like availability of apps? Been in tech (network engineer) for 20 years, but I don’t know doodley squat about phones (I know, I know, behind the curve). Any input would be very appreciated. Thanks.