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I won't be getting a new phone any time soon, but this was a good article.

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Interesting (I hope at least enough to get attention)

I don't know why I'm here... but okay!

Where do I start?
First and foremost, be prepared to read and do your homework.  Every device, carrier, and version of android has different requirements and limitations.  Verizon, for example, likes to lock their bootloaders in such a way that it is very difficult to unlock them.  Samsung went through adding Knox security measures at one point.  It would be to your benefit to research your specific device on your specific carrier.  The version of android you are starting with might have impacts too (encryption, or app permissions for example).  The best place to start is the XDA developers forums.
The reason XDA is being recommended, you can search for your specific device and categories are available such as Help & Troubleshooting, Android Development (ROMs and Mods), Apps and Themes.  Start with the search box and the top and explore for your specific device and carrier.  Any information being discussed there can always be researched further by googling the specific topic if you need more.  Also, there are some great publications such as Android Police, Android Central and Droid Life (just to name a few).
A closing note – before doing anything to your device, start by researching until you feel that you understand, watch a you tube video or two and MOST IMPORTANT – MAKE A NANDROID BACKUP before starting.  Equally as important, make sure any files you download are compatible for your specific device.  Flashing a wrong file can brick your device.

What is "root access"?
You are a user when you sign in, and you are allowed to do certain things based on your user permissions. Root is also a user. The difference is the root user (superuser) has permissions to do anything to any file any place in the system. This includes things we want to do, like uninstall applications in the operating system. When you're doing things with superuser permissions, you have the power to do anything.

When you root your Android, you're simply adding a standard Linux function that was removed. A small file called su is placed in the system and given permissions so that another user can run it. It stands for Switch User, and if you run the file without any other parameters it switches your credentials and permissions from a normal user to that of the superuser. You are then in complete control, and can add anything, remove anything and access functions on your phone or tablet that you couldn't reach before. This is pretty important, and something you should think about when considering "rooting" your device.

How to Root?  There are several root methods, and this can be quite the topic of debate.  There are one-click root methods (or toolkits), or it can be done via ADB commands.  I would argue that while root toolkits are convenient (and usually effective without issue), rooting via ADB is a better way because you will have better knowledge and ability to repair and recover should something go wrong.

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If you're interested in any kind of modifications (custom Roms or issuing xposed framework), you MUST backup first. Many people forget this basic step first.

What is a rom (or custom ROM)?
 stock ROM is the version of the phone's operating system that comes with your phone when you buy it. A custom ROM is a fully standalone version of the OS, including the kernel (which makes everything run), apps, services, etc - everything you need to operate the device, except it's customized by someone in some way.

Custom ROMs are different from acquiring root access. There are many varieties out there, most are AOSP (Android open source project). It is a version of the open source code of Android, developed by Google in its consortium of brands to offer a pure version of the system, which is available to anyone. It can be modified by developers without the need to follow standards of Google applications. They offer a variety of custom features, and choosing which to use depends largely on user preference.

Please note, there are a variety of ways to achieve customization and modifications without the use of custom Roms, more will be explained in various sections if the community, but basically a custom ROM might be selected if it happens to incorporate the features you like (work is done for you). These other ways include the use of launchers, altering xposed framework, or apps with root access.

Where can I find ROMs?
Most ROM developers publish their work on XDA.  In addition, they usually have their own G+ Communities.  If you are interested in seeing the ROM in action, many times there are people who do reviews or describe specifics on You Tube.   There are some items to note, however:
ROMs don’t usually have all of the standard Google Apps (GApps) within them.  These include Play Store, Gmail, calendar, etc.  You will have to flash the GApps separately.  There are standard GApps packages that contain the full suite of Google Apps, and there are slim or minimal packages that have just the very basics.  Again, research to make sure you are downloading packages that are compatible with the ROM (and android version) you are looking to flash them with.  Failing to do so could cause bootloops.  Most ROM Developers either create or link to preferable GApps packages where they house the ROM’s zip files.

What is “recovery” (stock or custom)?
Recovery refers to the dedicated, bootable partition that has the recovery console installed. A combination of key presses (or instructions from a command line) will boot your phone to recovery, where you can find tools to help repair (recover) your installation as well as install official OS updates.  Source:
Custom recoveries often have the ability to create and restore device backups. Custom recoveries allow you to install custom ROMs. ClockworkMod or CWM used to be a popular recovery, but no longer maintains a custom recovery.  The preferred recovery is Team Win Recovery Project (TWRP).  Through recovery, various files can be “flashed” – such as the ROM, the Gapps packages, superuser, kernels and so on.
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