RT Cunningham

Custom ROM Installation on a Samsung Galaxy S4 SGH-M919

custom ROM

Let’s forget the fact that a custom ROM for a cell phone isn’t a ROM at all. ROM is an acronym for “read-only memory“. It’s not even a ROM image because it isn’t a copy of a ROM computer chip. More on that later.

I still use the Samsung Galaxy S4 my younger son, Jonathan, gave me in 2015. The SIM card inside isn’t active – it’s the one from the Philippines. I only use the WiFi connection anyway.

The Decision to Install a Custom ROM

I would never have thought of replacing the stock version of Android on my phone if not for multiple occurrences of one message from the Google Play Store: Your device isn’t compatible with this version. That was the nail in the coffin for Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) as far as I was concerned.

My phone is a T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S4, model number SGH-M919. I used to receive software updates from T-Mobile. Those stopped around two years ago. I’ve thought about buying a new phone but I don’t use this phone for anything I can’t do over WiFi. Yesterday, I decided to install a custom ROM with a newer version of Android, for the very first time.

Preparing to Install a Custom ROM

There are tons of instructions on the web, most of them telling me to use a regular computer to install all the necessary software on the phone. I only needed my laptop to root the phone.

My previous experience in rooting another phone with KingoRoot due to insufficient storage space led me back to their site. I rooted my phone by USB but I could have downloaded the APK file to my phone and done it that way.

The Android version of ClockworkMod is called “ROM Manager” at the Google Play Store. I needed it to install the recovery software. After installing it and fiddling with it for a while, I installed the Android version of TWRP called “Official TWRP App” at the store. I used the ROM manager to install TWRP, if that makes any sense to you.

Once everything was in place, I needed one more thing. A custom ROM. I searched for hours to find a copy of the now defunct CyanogenMod custom ROM for my particular phone. That was a time-consuming mistake.

Installing a Custom ROM

I found the custom ROM I was looking for but I should have kept looking. What I found was CyanogenMod 13, which was for Android 6.0.1 – Marshmallow. When I searched for “custom ROM for Samsung Galaxy S4 SGH-M919”, I also found a link to LineageOS Downloads and mistakenly overlooked the custom ROM for my phone.

I installed the CyanogenMod custom ROM and then installed the Google Apps custom ROM from The Open Gapps Project (Gapps), once I found the right one. My phone has a 32-bit ARM processor. I picked the pico variant because I didn’t want all the cruft that comes along with the Google Play Store. When I finished with everything, the only problem I faced was Bluetooth. I couldn’t get it to stay on.

I revisited the LineageOS page this morning and found the custom ROM for my phone. After I installed it, and a different Gapps file, I found I was working with Android 7.1.2 – Nougat. I’m not too far behind anymore. I now have everything installed and Bluetooth works!

Choosing Apps for My Custom ROM

Some apps come preinstalled and I don’t have to worry about them. Apps like:

The “Browser” app is actually Chromium. I installed Google Chrome and it’s too bad I can’t uninstall Chromium. Some of the other apps I installed are:

I’m in the process of finding a Bluetooth app that will let me use the Bluetooth headset my older son, Joseph, gave me for Christmas. The original Bluetooth app worked just fine. The app included with this custom ROM doesn’t see it while scanning. Even if I can’t find a way to make it work, I can use the headset with my laptop, after I buy a cheap Bluetooth adapter for it.

A Custom ROM isn’t a ROM

This all started way back when Commodore 64 games were saved as “.t64” (for tape) and “.d64” (for diskette) files on other computer platforms. Those files were designed for emulators. People kept calling them ROMs when they were obviously nothing of the sort. But we can’t change people. Oddly enough, the new THEC64 Mini uses “.d64” files.

So… my custom ROM is actually a collection of software programs that have nothing to do with the actual ROM on the phone. Anyway…

It’s fitting that I finished everything today. I’ll be starting out 2019 with a phone that’s pretty much new to me. Well, at least as far as the software on it is concerned.

A Quick Update

I tried everything to get Bluetooth to see my headset. Nothing worked. The scan showed the car in the garage and the TV downstairs, but not the headset.

Strange as it may seem, it worked fine after I installed GBoard (Google Keyboard) and without any extra Bluetooth app.

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RT Cunningham
December 31, 2018
Cell Phones