What is AOSP?

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Probably the most common question I get these days is, “what is AOSP?”

Well, AOSP stands for “Android Open Source Project”.  Basically, AOSP refers to Google’s Android operating system.

Now, what does AOSP mean for rooting and custom ROMs?

You probably have seen “AOSP” ROMs versus TouchWiz, Sense, MotoBlur, etc…etc…

AOSP ROMs refer to custom ROMs that are built from the original Android source code.

TouchWiz, Sense, or MotoBlur ROMs on the other hand are also built from the original Android source code.  But there is a difference.

AOSP ROMs keep the “open source” concept whereas TouchWiz/Sense/MotoBlur ROMs are highly modified versions of AOSP by companies like Samsung, HTC, and Motorola.

Hense, when someone refers to an AOSP ROM, they are referring to a ROM based on Google’s open source code, not Samsung, HTC, or Motorola’s.

To keep it simple, just think of it this way.  AOSP ROMs will come with all the features that Google made available to their original Android operating system.

On the other hand, TouchWiz/Sense/MotoBlur ROMs have additional “branded” features added such as Samsung’s Smart Stay, Smart Rotation, Multi-window, etc…etc…

How to tell an AOSP ROM from TouchWiz/Sense/MotoBlur ROM?

AOSP ROMs usually ship with its own “vanilla” launcher that looks like Android original launcher.  This may include launchers like Trebuchet (for CyanogenMod) or just Android Jelly Bean launcher.

Of course, some non-AOSP ROMs also ship with Nova launcher, which may fool you into thinking that its an AOSP ROM since Nova launcher mimics the Android “vanilla” launcher.

Another way to tell an AOSP ROM from TouchWiz/Sense/MotoBlur ROM is by the size of the custom ROM zip file.

Most AOSP ROMs such as CM10.1, AOKP, or ParanoidAndroid are less than 200MB on average in size (size of ROM zip file).

TouchWiz, Sense, or MotoBlur ROMs are usually bigger than 500MB on average and most near 1GB.

Why the big difference in size?

Well, that’s how much bloatware Samsung, HTC, and Motorola adds on to the existing AOSP code.  Everything including UI, features, sounds, and carrier-dependent apps add up to more file size.

That doesn’t necessarily mean non-AOSP ROMs run slower but in most cases, AOSP ROMs do run faster than non-AOSP ROMs since they don’t include the extra stuff.

Is AOSP ROMs better than non-AOSP ROMs?

AOSP ROMs may be better than non-AOSP ROMs but that all depends on your preference.

For example, if I installed an AOSP ROM like AOKP on a Galaxy Note 2, my phone would probably run faster.  But the downside is that I would lose all Samsung features like Multi-window, Smart Stay, Smart Rotation, TouchWiz, and anything that was added by Samsung.

If you enjoy some of the Samsung features, AOSP might not be the best for you as it will not let you use some of the features your phone came out of the box with.  On the other hand, you might enjoy AOSP more if you decide that you don’t need any of those Samsung features.

So, it all depends on the user, you.  Whatever feature you want, either AOSP or non-AOSP ROMs will have it,  you just have to decide what you want.

Personally, I enjoy both AOSP and TouchWiz.  There’s always advantages to running AOSP or non-AOSP and it just depends on the situation.

My advice?  Try both AOSP and non-AOSP for a week and decide for yourself.

And if you don’t have time to root and install custom ROMs on your phone but you want AOSP, you can get a Google non-branded phone like the Nexus 4.


What you Should Know about AOSP ROMs

  • Most AOSP custom ROMs DO NOT support beyond 32GB of microSD card external storage.  This means you cannot use your 64GB microSD card.  Also AOSP ROMs mostly support FAT32 so make sure you format your microSD in FAT32 format.
    Starting with Android 5.0 Lollipop, most AOSP ROMs now do support exfat and above 32GB of micro SD card, so you won’t have any problems with it.  In fact, Lollipop AOSP ROMs now also support built-in App2SD!

Some examples of most popular AOSP ROMs

  • Lineage OS ROM – CyanogenMod ROMs were the original AOSP ROMs developed to give you pure Android experience.   CyanogenMod has been rebranded to Lineage OS ROM.  Many of the first AOSP ROM builds now are offered through Lineage ROM, which is the closest you will get to running your Android device to stock Google Android like Nexus/Pixel devices.  While Lineage OS ROM does not have a ton of features, it brings new doors to other developers to add new features such as the Resurrection Remix ROM.
  • Resurrection Remix ROM – One of the most popular custom ROMs that support many customization/features out of the box.   There are many official and unofficial builds of Resurrection Remix ROM for many different devices and this is very good AOSP ROM to start with.
  • Dirty Unicorns ROM
  • CrDroid ROM

35 Responses

  1. Ov says:

    Thanks alot, you are really doing a great job, love this site so much

  2. Cameron says:

    The only thing I need to know is will FoxFi work with this rom?

  3. Trent Blakley says:

    This is one of the best articles about aosp and touch wiz I’ve read yet. Great job.

  4. weston says:

    is the pacman rom an aosp?

  5. Scott says:

    Quick question. Is there a “pure” ASOP rom out there? I’ve found that most/all of the custom roms I’ve tried have bugs in them and something doesn’t end up working quite right. I don’t want any tweaks; I just want pure Android. Is that out there somewhere?

  6. Vinh du says:

    Where can I find the best non aosp rom for my galaxy s4? Thanks.

  7. Joshua Kerr says:

    I LOVE this site. Absolutely. Simple, pleasant informative, embedded youtube vids. I’ve been flashing roms for awhile and never knew really what the difference was on AOSP and non. Now that I know, I am definitely going to try one out. I’ve been avoiding them… just because. Now I see it wouldn’t hurt to try it and add a few Samsung things I do like.

    What I’m really waiting for is a fully functional S4 camera for the S3…. included in a rom of ANY kind I’d do it. Front and back facing camera function. Time…. only a matter of time….

  8. Sisyphus_Adroit says:

    Great article! Simple, brief and lucid. Keep up the good work

  9. K23 says:

    first of all thumbs up for all the explaining work and all, so others can get into these topics.
    Two question:
    1. do You happen to know what happens to S-pen related features / functionalities / software (like e.g. S-note) when You install AOSP on note II ? (I personally use N7105)
    2. similar question about the camera: it’s performance depends a lot on the software driving its hardware, so how does changing the ROM from original samsung’s to AOSP affect the quality of pictures from note’s II camera ?

    (and if it goes to AOSP I was thinking in particular about CyanogenMod)

  10. Robert says:

    Are there any 4.2.2 roms that have wifi calling for note 2 tmobile ? So far my favorite rom is Tweaked rom 2.3 I have never had a bug with it yet thank for all your work.

  11. Geordie says:

    Should have talked about the 4G and LTE, there is no information for why it doesn’t work or how to fix it on the web, illusion is my favorite rom, but I only get (R), and one time I got (DC) whatever that is.

  12. Gary says:

    Is it possible to put a custom boot animation on aosp ROMs? Such as the illusion ROM for the att galaxy s2.

  13. Gary says:

    Is it possible to insert a custom boot animation on aosp ROMs, such as the illusion ROM for the att galaxy s2?

  14. VITO says:

    QUESTION: is it possible to have a touchwiz rom running on android 4.3? for sprint?

  15. VITO says:

    I really like touchwiz but I also want muliti lock screen widgets and group txting. is this possible to have?

  16. Anondo Goldar says:

    Can you suggest any kernel for AOSP roms cause i am eager to overclock my n7100 to achieve better performance

  17. saboor says:

    can i install the android 4.3 in Afghanistan plzzz let me know, if i can from where is can find the CWM6-ROOT-NOTE2.tar or the version for my galaxy note 2
    many thanks,

  18. arjun says:

    hi, i am using indian brand smartphone named karbonn s1. I want to know that can i boot other phone custom rom into my phone. I am looking for Huawei G510 model rom. Which is developed by cynogenmod and other. please reply me.

  19. bryan gibson says:

    How do I root my s4 active 4.4.3 usen asop please help me

  20. Joseph Everhart says:

    Can I make my Galaxy S3 keep the same Touchwiz UI while having a custom ROM to customize Status bars and activate Nav. Keys? I want to be able to have the same Touchwiz UI but with the ability to have my own customs.

  21. jedics says:

    I was wondering if you know of any custom roms for the s4 that support most of the functionality of the camera that touchwiz has?

    I want a super minimal black look like slimroms but not if the camera doesnt work as well anymore, I dont mean any of the gimmiky stuff, I just want to take decent photos in most situations.

    Or is there a way to make touchwiz have a dark look to it like slimroms?


  22. Prestige27 says:

    What about if I am using a Samsung Galaxy Gear 2? Is there any way I can use an AOSP ROM and still get full connectivity with my Gear 2?

  23. Sumit Kumar says:

    please send me a link to download custom rom for samsung sgh-i527 to android 5.1.1 & gapps file

  24. Krister Halvarsson says:

    Help, soft bricked GT-I9305OKDTLA, could realy need some instuctions, please.

  25. latinlatif says:

    Android 5.1.1

  26. FFree says:

    Very Clear..and importan..thanks…thanks…thanks..

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Max Lee

Max Lee is the founder of HighOnAndroid.com. Max makes Android tutorials and review videos for people who want to get high on Android over at his YouTube channel and Korean YouTube channel.