A custom firmware can completely change the experience of a smartphone and today I wanted to show you how to install a custom ROM on the Nexus 6P.
Custom ROMs are a great way to get new features, faster updates and sometimes more optimized code when compared to stock Android. There are usually more reasons to root and install a custom ROM on a device that isn’t a Nexus(faster updates, less bloatware, etc), but there tends to be a huge collection of custom ROMs made specifically for the Nexus smartphones.
I would say this is because they are more developer friendly than almost every other Android smartphone out there, but there are probably other reasons why it is this way too.
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Custom ROMs are generally the go-to way to get unique features embedded directly into the core OS. Now, if you didn’t want to go this route, you could install Xposed Framework on the Nexus 6P and you could get a lot of the features that you’re probably looking for. Some people aren’t a fan of Xposed though(I use it for GravityBox) and they would rather have those features coded and built directly into the firmware. This way there are less chances of buggy code and generally a more streamlined experience with features and options all together in one section within the Settings application.
Whichever route you like more, there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s all a personal preference and we all have the right to choose what we think is best for our own personal usage. So let me show you how to install a custom ROM on the Nexus 6P and then you can start looking for a custom ROM that fits your needs.
You will need to do a few things ahead of time before you start installing a custom ROM though. For instance, you’ll need to unlock the bootloader of the Nexus 6P. We need to do this so that you can install a custom recovery on the Nexus 6P. If you want, you can root the Nexus 6P, but there’s not really a need to do this since installing a custom ROM will wipe it away. However, I do recommend that you create a Nandroid backup of the Nexus 6P though, just in case you don’t like how the custom ROM looks or performs.
Once all of that is done, then we can proceed with installing a custom ROM. . .
Nexus 6P Install Custom ROM
- Download the Custom ROM You Want Onto the Nexus 6P
- Then Download the Gapps Package that Matches the Custom ROM Version You Just Downloaded
- Boot the Nexus 6P into Recovery Mode
- Tap on the ‘Wipe’ Option
- Then Tap on the ‘Advanced Wipe’ Option
- Make Sure the Following Partitions are Checked. . .
- Dalvik Cache, System, Data and Cache
- Double Check that the Internal Storage Partition is NOT Checked
- When Ready, Swipe the White Arrows at the Bottom to Proceed
- After That, Tap on the Home Button at the Bottom
- Then Tap on the ‘Install’ Option at the TWRP Main Menu
- Browse to and Tap on the Custom ROM Zip File You Downloaded
- Tap the ‘Add More Zips’ Button
- Then Browse to and Tap on the Gapps Package You Downloaded
- When Ready, Swipe the White Arrows at the Bottom to Proceed
- Wait Until the Installation has Completed
- And Tap on the ‘Wipe Cache/Dalvik’ Option
- Swipe the White Arrows at the Bottom to Confirm
- Then Tap the ‘Reboot System’ Button to Reboot the Nexus 6P
- If Asked, Do not Let TWRP Install SuperSU
Naturally you will need to download a custom ROM for the Nexus 6P that you want to install. I get all of my custom ROMs from the Nexus 6P XDA forums so I would recommend that you do the same. I will be compiling a list of all the custom ROMs I have found for the Nexus 6P soon, but for now you can head into the Android Development and Original Android Development forums for a look at what is to offer. Just like with custom kernels, each custom ROM has a goal in mind and it is best to look through the options and see which ones you agree with the most.
Once that is done, you’ll want to download the appropriate Gapps package that matches the same version of Android that your custom ROM is based on. As of writing this, there are only 6.0 and 6.0.1 custom ROMs on the market so be sure to pick a Gapps package for Android 6.0. If this changes in the future and you end up getting a custom ROM based on Android 6.1(or whatever the next version is called), then just be sure to download the Gapps package for that version of Android. This part is critical because if you choose the wrong one then you could boot up to a flurry of force closes.
With these two things downloaded(they should be ZIP files) and on the Nexus 6P, go ahead and boot up into recovery mode so that we can begin the process. As directed in the Requirements section, you’ll want to have TWRP(or another custom recovery) installed and once you get into the main menu here, look for and tap on the Wipe button. I like to do this so that we’re starting off with a clean slate(this is typically called a clean install), so tap on the Advanced Wipe button and make sure the Dalvik Cache, System, Data and Cache are the only partitions selected. Once that is set, go ahead and swipe the white arrows to the right and that will start the wipe process.
Once that finishes, we can then tap on the Home button to go back to the TWRP main menu and then we’ll tap on the Install button so that we can start installing the custom ROM we downloaded. So browse to and tap on the custom ROM ZIP file and then tap on the Add More Zips button. This lets us select another ZIP file and this time we want to tap on the Gapps package we downloaded. This puts these two files in order so that we’ll be installing the custom ROM first and then the Gapps package. When that is done, swipe the white arrows to the right again and that will begin the installation. This can take a few minutes to complete so be patient while it does its thing.
Once that is done, and since I like to have the cleanest installation as possible, I tap on the Wipe Cache/Dalvik button and then swipe the arrows to wipe those caches. This step probably isn’t required, but it’s something that I’ve gotten into the habit of doing. It definitely doesn’t hurt to do and it only takes a few seconds so I would recommend it. With the cache wiped, you can then tap on the Reboot System button that appears and then it will start to reboot the Nexus 6P. If you are asked whether or not you want to let TWRP install SuperSU, tap the DO NOT button because if you let it install(at least at the time of writing this) it will put your Nexus 6P into a bootloop.
If you do want your custom ROM rooted(and root isn’t supplied in the ROM by default) then you can download and root it after your first boot up. It can probably be done now, but I like to boot into the custom ROM first just to make sure everything installed properly and there aren’t any surprising bugs to begin with. If things are running smoothly, I also like to create a Nandroid backup of the clean custom ROM before I do any additional tampering to it(like rooting it or installing other apps).