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How to Install Custom ROM on Galaxy S4!

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For those of you who want to install a custom ROM on your Galaxy S4, here’s how to do it using CWM recovery. (TWRP method is nearly identical just different looking menus but I will have tutorial on that too)

Before we begin, you will need a rooted Galaxy S4 with CWM recovery installed.  If you used CWM root method, you have CWM recovery already, if not, install CWM recovery first by following Steps 1 thru 6 here.

Also, you can use Titanium Backup app to backup all of your apps before installing a new custom ROM so you can easily restore your apps.   For SMS texts, use an SMS text backup app (many available on Play Store) so you can restore them easily after installing a new ROM.

For contacts, I highly suggest using a GMail account as your contacts will be restored automatically after installing a new ROM when you sign into Google.   If you don’t have a GMail account, just make a dummy account just for your contacts!

Before installing a new ROM, make sure you have at least ONE ROM backup, which will easily restore your phone back within minutes.

Step 1. Download appropriate ROM file for your Galaxy S4.

IMPORTANT: MAKE SURE YOU’VE DOWNLOADED A COMPATIBLE ROM FOR YOUR GALAXY S4 OTHERWISE YOU CAN BRICK YOUR PHONE!!!  E.g. If you install GT-i9505 ROM on AT&T Galaxy S4 SGH-i337, you will BRICK YOUR PHONE!  I’ve had many people who DON’T FOLLOW DIRECTIONS who’ve bricked their $700 phone, please do not end up being one of these people.   Double-check the ROM and triple-check that the ROM you downloaded is COMPATIBLE with your Galaxy S4!!!

Also, if you are downloading AOSP ROM (What is AOSP?), you might need to also download Google Apps (Gapps) and install that too.

You can download these ROM files straight to your Galaxy S4 or download on your computer and copy it to your phone.  DO NOT UNZIP the files, they should be in “zip” format, exactly the way you downloaded them.  Mac computers will automatically unzip these files but copy the actual ZIP file to your phone.

Step 2. Once you have your ROM files copied/downloaded to your Galaxy S4, power off your phone then hold down Volume Up, Center Home, and Power buttons together.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-1

Step 3. When you see a little blue letters “Recovery booting…” at top, let go of all the buttons.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-2

Step 4. Once in CWM recovery, choose “Wipe data/factory reset”.  This will erase your apps and app data but it will not erase the contents of your internal storage and SD card.

You may be able to skip this step depending on the ROM but for clean install, I do recommend doing wipe data/factory reset.

E.g. If installing AOSP ROM while you have TouchWiz ROM running, you will need to do this step.

However, if installing TouchWiz ROM while you have TouchWiz ROM running, you can try skipping this step.  Just make a backup ROM before installing so if you have problems, you can always go back.

If you are updating the same ROM, you can most likely skip this step also such as installing newest AOKP ROM while you are running older version of AOKP.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-3

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-4

Step 5. Next, choose “Install zip from sdcard”.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-5

Step 6. You can choose either “choose zip from sdcard” if you have your ROM files in your internal storage OR “choose zip from external sdcard” if you have your ROM files on your microSD card.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-6

Step 7. Browse your storage and find the ROM zip file and select it.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-7

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-8

Step 8. Installing ROM should take around 2-5 minutes depending on the ROM you are installing.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-9

Step 9. (Optional) If the ROM you are installing requires Google Apps (Gapps), go ahead and install that too by repeating Steps 5 thru 7.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-10

Step 10. (Optional) If having trouble installing a ROM (end up in a bootloop), try a fresh install and do this Step.  You can usually skip step though.  Wipe your temporary files by choosing “Wipe cache partition”.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-11

Go to “Advanced” menu and also wipe dalvik cache.

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-12

Step 11. Reboot your Galaxy S4 and if you see welcome screen, you should be on your new, custom ROM!  Congrats if this is your first time installing a custom ROM!

howto-install-rom-galaxys4-13

FAQ

Q: I’ve tried installing new ROM a dozen times but it will not boot!  How do I get my phone working again quickly?
A: There’s three solutions to this.
First, if you made a backup ROM (like I told you to), you can easily restore your backup ROM within minutes using CWM recovery.
However, if you didn’t make a backup ROM, you can unroot completely back to stock using ODIN and stock firmware.
Also, you can try installing another ROM, it could be a problem with the ROM you are trying to install.  If you cannot connect your phone as a USB drive then use a microSD card to copy your ROM files.

Questions?  Leave your questions in the comment box!

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Galaxy S4 Reference
You will need a rooted Galaxy S4 to install all ROM/kernels.
NOTE: THE AUTHOR OF THIS SITE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE IF YOU MESS UP YOUR PHONE, PLEASE READ INSTRUCTIONS TWICE BEFORE TRYING IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME TO ROOTING AND CUSTOM ROMS!

First time to rooting and custom ROMs?

Please see our Galaxy S4 Root FAQ FIRST!!!

36 thoughts on “How to Install Custom ROM on Galaxy S4!

  1. Viktor

    Can’t seem to find an answer to my question, so I’ll just ask you instead. Will FoxHound 2.5 work on my Galaxy s4 gt-i9505? I backed up my ROM using TWRP.

    Reply
    1. Max Lee Post author

      You mean FoxHound from Galaxy S3 GT-i9300? No, you will brick your phone, please don’t try!

      Reply
      1. Viktor

        Haha no I won’t, that’s why I asked you. I’m new to Samsung and android, and don’t really know much about it. Can you recommend a ROM for me?

        Reply
        1. Max Lee Post author

          I would suggest waiting at least 1 week until everything settles down. Right now everyone is still developing new ROMs so best if you wait a bit especially if this is your first time. But CM10.1 is solid for Tmo/Canadian variants and WanamLite is good on GT-i9500.

          Reply
  2. Scott

    Ugh, everyone says there is a Canadian cyanogenmod 10.1 for Canadian s4′s but no where can I find the files for my I337. Aren’t all Canadian S4′s modeled I337?

    Reply
  3. Don Smith

    Hi Max,

    After installing CM 10.1 on my GT-I9505 (XXUAMDE) wi-fi no longer works. I’ve tried CWM and TWRP recoveries (even though I’m not sure if this would influence it) and I’m seeing the same behaviour with the AOKP ROM. I’ve not been able to find much on the xda-developers forum and was curious if you knew of a fix or where and how I should construct my search.

    Really appreciate all you’re doing for the Android community! You’ve been a huge help in my learning.

    Cheers,
    Don

    Reply
  4. kennan

    hi just wondering i keep getting errors when trying to flash im useing twrp for i9505 and it cant mount the system and some other things how would i fix it

    Reply
  5. Muqy

    Hi max, is there a recovery for the i9505 MDM, I can’t find one. Using the normal ones run me into problems such as E://unable to mount system etc…
    I do have root.

    Reply
      1. Muqy

        I fixed the problem. Do the following before installing the rom, it may not work first time so repeat 5 or 6 times.

        Boot into recovery > Wipe > Advanced wipe > Check [Dalvik Cache, System, Data, Cache] > Head to mount > Mount system > Flash rom

        May not work first time, but try 5 or 6 times.

        Reply
        1. Michael

          No need to do the procedure 5-6 times to try to flash the ROM from the external card. Just copy the ROM to the internal memory. Delete it once you have flashed the ROM.

          Reply
      2. Harga Hp samsung Galaxy Ace 3

        You can download these ROM files straight to your Galaxy S4 or download on your computer and copy it to your phone. DO NOT UNZIP the files, they should be in “zip” format, exactly the way you downloaded them. Mac computers will automatically unzip these files but copy the actual ZIP file to your phone.

        Reply
  6. Cristiano

    I`m sorry friends, but I have a conceptual question: how can I start the installation if the Volume Up, Center Home, and Power buttons doesn`t enable the CWM recovery, since bootloader is locked? I have a AT&T model, wich bootloader is locked, as we know.

    Where I can get a s4 custom rom, like the samsung original?

    Now, Max please: when you finished the process, you saw the 16 gbs?? Thank you! Appreciated,

    Cristiano, Rio, Brasil

    Reply
  7. masi

    hey does wannalite come with kernel or do i have to use the at&t method to intall the kernel. i have s4 at&t

    Reply
  8. Rob

    I would like to know if task650 would be okay to install on canadian i337m teus s4? I have also seen clean rom but they said I require a kernel to my phone to use…suggestions?

    Reply
  9. j papa

    Hey so I flashed the t-mobile aws band qcn file on my sgh-i337 without being rooted. I could access recovery and tried witusing odin and kies with still the same results. Any help would be greatly appreciated

    Reply
  10. Mr. Chow

    I don’t know what is going on with CWM recovery but it keeps telling me it can’t mount my SD card. I’ve tried using 2 different sd cards already. And I’m about to smash this damn pile of junk, then claim insurance on it.

    Reply
  11. Henry

    I held the buttons as above and all it says its downloading something do not turn off i cant get to the options to select a rom

    Reply
  12. Bob L

    I have an unlocked AT&T SGH-i337 which I’m using on TMobile. I rooted the phone using Motochopper per the tutorial and everything works great. Now I’m looking at custom ROMs but am a little confused. Going through the FAQ you say

    “Compatibility Notes on S4 Models

    You can install any GT-i9505 or T-Mobile SGH-M919 ROMs on your AT&T Galaxy S4.”

    but in the “How to Install Custom ROM” you warn

    “Step 1. Download appropriate ROM file for your Galaxy S4.

    IMPORTANT: MAKE SURE YOU’VE DOWNLOADED A COMPATIBLE ROM FOR YOUR GALAXY S4 OTHERWISE YOU CAN BRICK YOUR PHONE!!! E.g. If you install GT-i9505 ROM on AT&T Galaxy S4 SGH-i337, you will BRICK YOUR PHONE! ”

    Can you help with my confusion?

    Reply
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  18. Cesc Henry

    Hi!
    Max,

    I have a Question, i just installed BobCatRom on my Galaxy S4 i9505 but i wont boot.
    I am stuck on boot animation so what i want to ask is if there’s any way i can boot image like the HTC method so i want to know if there is for Samsung Galaxy S4.

    Reply
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