Nexus Custom ROMs – Q3 2015

TWRP Install Screen

Yesterday I proclaimed that Google’s Nexus line of phones and tablets will always have the widest selection of available custom ROMs, thanks to their easily unlockable bootloaders and lineage as reference devices for app developers. I feel compelled to support that claim, so let’s take a look at what’s available for the current Nexus 6 phone and Nexus 9 tablet some 10 months after their release.

In my opinion the gold standard for custom firmware is still CyanogenMod. For the rest we’ll be consulting the appropriate device portals on XDA Forums, where ROMS are both listed and ranked by the number of followers.

Nexus 6

After publishing nightlies for what seemed like forever, CyanogenMod 12.1 reached its first stable snapshot release (M1) earlier this month. For whatever reason progress on CM12.1 has been unusally slow; for reference, the KitKat-based CM11 for the Nexus 5 was on its 10th snapshot release this time last year. As of this morning there’s still no snapshot release for the Nexus 6.

Development on my other favourite ROMs has similarly stagnated. I’ve pretty much given up on SlimLP—I don’t mind using a beta but Slim’s killer feature, a dark system-wide UI, is nowhere to be found in any of the builds so far. I’m currently running the last official version of the Cyanogen-based Euphoria OS, published in August and still without a fix for Stagefright.

Currently the most popular Nexus 6 ROM on XDA is Chroma. It’s got Cyanogen’s Privacy Guard for those pesky app permissions, but dumps CM’s theming engine in favour of the Marshmallow-friendly Runtime Resource Overlay. Sounds like something I’ll have to investigate…

Nexus 9

An M1 snapshot of CyanogenMod 12.1 was published for the Nexus 9 on September 1st. That’s good news. But this HTC-made tablet isn’t only unique for its 4:3 screen ratio; it’s also the first Nexus with a 64-bit chip. Flashaholics will not only will have to find a flashable 64-bit Google apps package, but will have to contend with this ominous error message:

Android System
There’s an internal problem with your device. Contact your manufacturer for details.

Unless you enjoy futzing around with build.prop files you’ll probably want to flash this zip along with your ROM and gapps.

I’ve had good luck on my N9 with a new ROM, the unfortunately-named Dirty Unicorns. It has its own gapps and its own “internal problem” fix.

Google Apps

The best news I’ve found for modders in 2015 has been The Open GApps Project, where automated builds are posted daily for ARM, ARM64 and x86 processors. They’re legit enough for Cyanogen to link to them; that’s good enough for me!

So that’s the state of Nexus ROMs in late September, 2015. If you’ve a favourite ROM or some other insight to add, I’m all ears—er, eyes. 😉

Sources: Android Authority, CyanogenMod, Open GApps, XDA Forums (1) (2)

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