Introduction to Custom ROMs for Android Headunits

In the ever-evolving world of car infotainment, Android headunits have become a popular choice for enhancing in-car entertainment and navigation. These devices bring the versatility and power of Android OS to your vehicle, allowing for a personalised and connected driving experience. One of the most exciting aspects of Android headunits is the ability to customise them beyond the manufacturer’s settings through the use of custom ROMs. In this post, we’ll explore what custom ROMs are, their benefits, and how you can get started with them.

What is a Custom ROM?

A custom ROM (Read-Only Memory) is an aftermarket firmware that replaces the stock firmware provided by the manufacturer of your Android headunit. These custom ROMs are developed by independent developers or communities and offer a range of features and enhancements that are not available in the standard firmware. They can provide a cleaner interface, improved performance, advanced features, and additional functionalities. They are often used to bring later Android features to older headunits that were shipped with obsolete Android versions.

Why Consider a Custom ROM?

1. Enhanced Performance and Speed:

   Custom ROMs are often optimized to reduce bloatware (unnecessary pre-installed apps), which can lead to a more responsive and faster headunit.

2. Customization Options:

   They offer extensive customization options, allowing you to tweak the user interface, change themes, and add new features over those that were originally available, that suit your preferences.

3. Latest Android Versions:

   Manufacturers do stop updating the firmware for older headunits. Custom ROMs can bring the latest Android versions and security patches to your device, keeping it up-to-date.

4. Additional Features:

   Custom ROMs can add new functionalities such as advanced graphic equalizers for better sound quality, enhanced GPS accuracy, and support for more apps.

5. Improved performance:

   By removing unnecessary background processes and optimizing the system, custom ROMs can help improve the performance of your headunit.

Getting Started with Custom ROMs

Before you dive into the world of custom ROMs, there are a few important steps and considerations to keep in mind:

1. Research and Choose a Reliable ROM:

   Not all custom ROMs are created equal. Look for ROMs that have good reviews, active development, and a strong community. Websites like XDA Developers are great resources for finding reliable custom ROMs.

2. Backup Your Data:

   Installing a custom ROM will wipe your headunit’s data. Make sure to back up your important data and settings before proceeding.

3. Unlock the Bootloader:

   Most headunits come with a locked bootloader to prevent unauthorized firmware changes. You’ll need to unlock the bootloader to install a custom ROM. This process varies by device, so follow specific instructions for your headunit model found on the XDA site.

4. Install a Custom Recovery:

   A custom recovery tool like TWRP (Team Win Recovery Project) – is essential for installing custom ROMs. It allows you to flash new firmware, create backups, and restore your system if anything goes wrong.

Clockworkmod is another option to install a Custom Recovery –

5. Download and Flash the Custom ROM:

   Once you’ve chosen a ROM and installed a custom recovery, download the ROM and transfer it to your headunit. Boot into recovery mode and follow the instructions to flash the new ROM. 

6. Install Google Apps (GApps):

   Many custom ROMs do not come with Google apps pre-installed due to Google licensing issues. You will need to flash a GApps package separately if you want access to the Google Play Store and other Google services. The advantage of this is you can install just a few GApps, all of them or none at all, giving back ROM space or adding extra features as you see fit.

Popular Custom ROMs for Android Headunits

Here are a few popular custom ROMs that are well-regarded in the community:

1. Hal9k:

   Hal9k is based on later Android versions and is available for MTC(x), HCT(x) Rockchip PX5 (rk3368), PX6 (rk3399) and PX30 (rk3326) head units. A few of the advantages listed for Hal9k are:

  • High stability
  • Advanced functionality
  • Correction of existing errors and deficiencies in stock firmware

2. Malaysk:

   This ROM is available for some PX5 and PX30-based Android headunits with Android 8 or Android 9 and PX6 with Android 11 from the factory. Improvements over stock include:

  • Changed the Music and Radio application, adding translucency
  • Your logo in the Radio and Music application in the settings
  • Ability to change colour and gradient in the status bar

3. ExtremeMOD:

  In a different way to an Android Headunit mod, the ExtremeMod project targets the MediaTek-based Android head units to improve the stock software. Version 1 of the ExtremeMOD includes:

  • Rooted
  • Optimized for car usage
  • Speed enhanced
  • No updates or configurations are required.

Higher versions of the ExtremeMod project include hardware modifications to improve cooling and sound quality.


Custom ROMs offer a fantastic way to unlock the full potential of your Android headunit, providing enhanced performance, customization, and the latest Android updates. While the process of installing a custom ROM can be a bit technical, the benefits far outweigh the effort for many users. If you’re

looking to breathe new life into your Android headunit and tailor it to your exact needs, exploring custom ROMs might be the perfect next step. Always remember to proceed with caution, follow detailed guides, and engage with the community to ensure a smooth and successful experience.

Final Tips

Community Support:

Join forums and online communities dedicated to Android headunits and custom ROMs. They can provide invaluable support and troubleshooting advice.

Read Instructions Carefully:

Each headunit model may have specific instructions and requirements for installing custom ROMs. Always read and follow these instructions closely to avoid bricking your device.

Stay Informed:

Keep an eye on updates from the custom ROM developers. New versions often bring bug fixes, new features, and security patches.

By taking these steps, you can attempt to transform your Android headunit into a powerful, customizable, and future-proof component of your car’s infotainment system. Enjoy the enhanced driving experience that comes with a device tailored to your preferences and needs.

I am an staff blogger. I have been using Android on my devices for many years and have learned a lot about the features and best hardware to keep up with the latest Android versions. I also make the coffee ☕

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