Personalizing your Android phone: Custom ROMs and Themes (Part Two)


This article assumes that you’ve already read Part One and have taken the leap by rooting your phone and installing a Custom ROM (such as CyanogenMod).

By now you’re probably loving the new speed and features that using a non-stock ROM brings with it. When I went from the stock T-Mobile G1 ROM to CyanogenMod ROM my speed and stability increased dramatically, not to mention all the updated bits from later versions of the OS that I got along the way.

But this article isn’t about upgrading from a stock-ROM to a Custom ROM, it’s about personalizing your phone through themes.

Applicability Note

For the rest of this article I’ll be talking about the G1, HTC Dream, HTC Magic. Other phones may have similar capabilities, but you’ll need to use this article as a jumping off point to search for your phone specifically.

Before you get started

As a matter of good practice, you should make a backup before you make any major changes. Yes, applying a theme is a major change. Luckily, with the recovery ROMs mentioned in the “how to root your phone” links from the last article backing up is easy. (We’ll cover recovery ROMs and backups using Nandroid in a future article.)

You’ll find that a theme’d ROM that looks good in the screenshots may not work the way you want it to, or may have something you don’t like once you start using it. That 3 minute backup will let you roll back to the way things were before, and will likely save your sanity. Trust me on this one.

Also, a particularly important thing to note is that each theme is built upon and therefore dependant upon a specific custom ROM. For example, if you are running CyanogenMod, you should only run themes that are based on that ROM.

What Themes are Available?

Themes are constantly being added and removed, and attempting to provide a definitive list here would be out-of-date almost immediately.


Instead, since we’re talking about CyanogenMod, the best way to find themes and easiest way to install them is via the CyanogenMod Updater app which you can download from the Market. In addition to being the easiest way to install the latest CyanogenMods on your phone, you can also apply themes from within the same app!


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So, what are you waiting for? Go and grab a theme, try it on for size, and let me know what you end up with!

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.