CyanogenMod offers many the same benefits of standard rooting, just in a more inclusive format. And because you have lots of security functions it is thought to be safer, as long as the build you are using is stable. Wikipedia says, there are more than 50 million users as of March 2015, which serves as a testament to its popularity.
CyanogenMod is also open source, so developers can analyze the source code to apply patches, address bugs, and add the latest and greatest features. This replacement mobile operating system is not riddled with cumbersome bloatware, though. There are some tweaks, but they seem natural. Updates don’t rely on the manufacturer’s (usually comparatively slow) timing, either.
So what’s not to love?
Method 1: Basic Installation Instructions (Using kite)
Even though these instructions are general, the file you will use is not. Take care to select the correct one. The file klte is fitting for a lot of Samsung Galaxy S5s and carriers, but not all. Verizon and Sprint are discussed below. Please proceed directly there instead if these are your carriers.
Even they aren’t, if you have a phone whose carrier is outside of the U.S., is U.S. Cellular, Vodafone, or your phone is a Duo, you will need to use the other files that are especially intended for your phone. You will then follow a similar or identical process.
Download the CyanogenMod custom ROM file to your computer.
Step 1: Download it, but don’t unzip the files. CM Firmware does not include Google Apps.
Step 2: Plug in your phone’s USB cable and connect your Samsung to your computer.
The original works best!
Step 3: Transfer both the CM and Gapps package to your Galaxy’s SD card.
It’s best to separate the files. In other words, don’t keep the file within a file.
Step 4: Disconnect your S5 from your PC and turn it off.
Your phone must be off to perform the next step successfully.
Step 5: Boot your phone into recovery mode by pressing and holding the Volume Up and Power buttons.
You should see the Samsung logo on the screen.
Step 6: Select the Wipe Data/Factory Reset option.
All will be lost if you didn’t do your backup. This includes apps, call logs, settings, messages, etc.
Step 7: Choose Wipe cache partition.
Step 8: Select Advanced then Wipe dalvick cache. Now go back to recovery mode.
Step 9: From recovery mode select, Install zip from SD card.
Step 10: It will ask you to browse the zip file. Locate the CM ROM you downloaded in Step 1, select it, and choose Yes.
Wait for the installation to complete.
Step 11: Reboot your phone.
Wait while your phone does its thing.
Step 12: Now boot into recovery mode to install the Google Apps package.
It’s the same stuff; different file. Select Install zip from SD card.
Flash the Google Apps Package.
Step 13: Select the Reboot option from the main Recovery Menu.
If you are stuck in a bootloop, repeat steps 7-12.
Do give your phone some time to reboot; it will take longer than normal.
Method 2: Verizon Installation Instructions (Using kltevzw)
You are going to need an unlocked bootloader. A locked bootloader checks the system at start up, and gives instructions not to load any unauthorized operating system. If you have the Verizon Developer Edition, your phone already has an unlocked bootloader. Installation of TWRP Recovery is highly recommended before attempting this procedure.
Step 1: Download the CyanogenMod package specifically intended for your phone onto your desktop.
You can find the download here.
Step 2: Gapps (Google Apps) must be downloaded if you want Google Play. You can find it here.
Step 3: Attach your Samsung to your computer via USB cable.
Step 4: Transfer the CM ROM and Gapps package to your device’s SD card or internal storage.
Save it somewhere you will remember.
Step 5: Boot into Recovery Mode.
Turn your device off. Hold the Volume Up, Home, and Power buttons simultaneously. Release only when the Samsung logo appears.
Step 6: From Recovery Mode, select Wipe and Factory Reset.
Step 7: Go back to the main Recovery menu and select Install.
Step 8: Navigate to your phone’s SD card and select the CyanogenMod zip package; flash/install.
Be patient and wait for installation to complete.
Step 9: Go back to the main menu and click Reboot System.
Step 10: To install Gapps, repeat steps 5-9, only using the Gapps file.
Method 3: Sprint Installation Instructions (Using kltespr)
Some PRL (Preferred Roaming List) update issues have been reported on Sprint phones that have CyanogenMod installations, at least in the past. PRL tells your phone which radio frequencies to search for and in which areas, as well as which towers the device is allowed to connect to. As you can imagine, PRL problems can be very annoying.
One solution is to backup your CM install, download stock ROM to update the PRL, and then restore your CM install. Hopefully, you will never have the need, but we wanted to give you a heads up just in case.
Step 1: Download the CyanogenMod build for kltespr.
Step 2: Obtain Gapps if you will want any access to Google Play. You can find it here.
Step 3: Attach your Galaxy to your desktop.
Step 4: Transfer the CM12.1 kltespr and Gapps to your phone’s memory card.
Step 5: Reboot into Recovery Mode. Your phone must be off before you hit the key combination.
Step 6: Select Wipe Data/Factory Reset.
Step 7: Locate and choose the CM file you transferred earlier and select Install zip from SD card.
Step 8: Reboot.
The stock ROM may try to overwrite your custom recovery during this step. To intercept and prevent this from happening, boot immediately into Recovery Mode. If this happens before you have a chance to stop it, you will need to redo the steps and catch it before it reboots the next time.
Step 9: Repeat Step 7, only choose the Gapps zip this time. This installs the Google Apps package.
Step 10: Reboot once more.
Now that you have successfully completed your installation, it’s time to take advantage of all of the features you won’t find in any other mobile operating system. Find the theme that fits your phone and install new apps—but don’t forget to keep things private by setting app permissions. “10 Best CyanogenMod Themes For Android” identifies some of the best themes.
Set up profiles for certain settings. For instance, when you are at home, you might want to hear every notification, alarm, or someone calling. But you might not want your boss to hear these things from your phone while at work. You can set a profile for each of these scenarios.
To learn about more features that make your life easier, read this article. When you are ready for an update, check out “How To Update CyanogenMod For Any Android Phone”.
What is your favorite feature or theme on CyanogenMod? Have you experienced any issues with any of the builds? Tell us about it in the comments below.