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I have been thinking about installing a new ROM, like CyanogenMod (most probably), but thought it would be a mess to return to stock ROM if I messed it up, plus, last time I checked, not all features are guaranteed to work (camera, tethering, ...).

Now, my question is not about how to backup the old ROM, because I found another solution: as my phone is rooted, why not remove the stock launcher, the stock music app, stock browser, all the Samsung Software Update and Holy Quran and Samsung Apps and Swype and all the apps Samsung forces me to use? These are easy to back up (in case), and I can replace them with a browser of my choice, ADW Launcher (CyanogenMod's one), music player of my choice, keyboard of my choice, etc.

So what does a custom ROM offer more than just custom launchers and widgets and looks? Or is my option "utopia"?

Note: I'm not sure if that matters, but I'm on a Samsung Galaxy Fit GT-S5670, Rooted Android Froyo 2.2.1

Another Note: I read this question and its answer, but the answer there only states things that could be done with a home replacement app...

UPDATE It seems nothing can't be done with apps. It's just easier and faster and more stable to use a custom ROM, that is if the ROM for your device is stable enough.

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The question you linked has all of the answers. How could you add a kernel to support better overclocking with home replacement app? –  Sachin Shekhar May 21 '12 at 19:44
    
possible duplicate of What are the advantages of a custom ROM? –  Al E. May 21 '12 at 19:55
    
See also: android.stackexchange.com/questions/1874/… –  Al E. May 21 '12 at 19:56
    
@SachinShekhar Ok, if you feel that all the others are also relevant, then I'm sorry: close this question. Please do consider to update that community wiki. –  jadkik94 May 21 '12 at 20:41
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Technically, as a root user, you can achieve every exclusive thing what a custom ROM offers. But, its not always as easy as replacing home launcher. What if you need to replace kernel for better overclocking support...

A custom ROM is actually pre-cooked out-of-box firmware packaging (with specialized feature). Remember, popular custom ROMs (like Cyanogen Mod) are generally backed by an expert developers team or community. So, even if you have expertise of doing every such things in your rooted device, its very difficult to match a team or community. And, don't forget those nasty bugs and security loopholes...

The main advantage of custom ROMs: Those who have expertise of doing everything with rooted device, generally cook their own ROM. It's because custom ROMs can be deployed to multiple devices. Think how you would port your customizations to other devices... Its a big hassle than cooking own ROM.

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Thanks. If I understand correctly, the issue is not with what you can't to do, but how to make it all work out seamlessly. Correct? –  jadkik94 May 22 '12 at 22:38
    
@jadkik94 Yes, you've got it right... Easy deployment is also an advantage of Custom ROMs.. –  Sachin Shekhar May 23 '12 at 4:16
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Two major cons to simply using a different launcher Vs. a whole new ROM:

  1. Custom ROMs often offer a later version of Android than is available for your device from a manufacturer or carrier. No amount of launchers will give you the newer functionality of latest OS versions.
  2. Very often removing manufacturer/carrier "bloat" is not as easy as deleting some APKs from /system/app directory. In cases of custom UIs such as Samsung's TouchWiz, or Motorola's BLUR, or HTC's Sense, many of their apps which replace stock core functions (e.g. Phone/Dialer, Contacts, etc.) are interwoven with the system and each other in such a way that simply removing them may cause crashes or other system instabilities. Installing 3rd-party replacements does not resolve anything, since these apps are always running in the background, using up valuable resources.
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Thanks for the answer. Good point for (1), but I don't think this applies for my phone (unfortunately). As for the second, I was considering to replace these with the "pure native" Android apps for that (from the source). Would that do the trick? –  jadkik94 May 21 '12 at 20:43
    
Even if you find the "pure native" versions of core system apps, chances are that you won't be able to completely replace the ones that came with your phone. That is if they work at all with the version of OS currently on your phone. –  Chahk May 21 '12 at 21:40
    
The comments on this answer suggest otherwise... and the wiki on Cyanogen Mod too (but not for all apps). As long as they have the same package name, I guess they would work. Confusing... anyway, maybe I'll try it out and see what happens. Thanks again. –  jadkik94 May 22 '12 at 22:45
    
Then again comments on this question support your point... –  jadkik94 May 22 '12 at 22:50
    
I have personally experienced general system instability while trying to "de-bloat" a Motorola Charm (MB502) phone. For example, removing a seemingly unneeded app "Happenings.apk" started causing FCs while trying to edit contacts. –  Chahk May 22 '12 at 23:17
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I have noticed in various ROMs some features which I have never seen implemented in applications (not as smoothly). Some concrete examples:

  • Whisper Systems has a ROM that implements "selective permissions", which supply "blocked" applications with dummy data if a permission is denied. It also has "Full disk encryption for your phone" which encrypts the whole device partition.
  • CyanogenMod also has something like that implemented at the core, but an application can do almost the same.
  • I have seen MODs that add options to the menu that shows when the power button is pressed (reboot, reboot in recovery, data transfer, ...). This, I guess, can't be done with an app.
  • Better overclocking support, although it can be done with an app but does not support all devices after all...
  • Boot animation is often changed/removed with custom ROMs.
  • Customized notifications bar (transparent or not, more or less options, different icons near the clock, ...) and UI (dialogs for example and other form elements, etc.)
  • Customized unlock screens, screen on/off animations, ...

This what I have seen so far.

EDIT To my surprise, as @SachinShekhar pointed out in the comments, ALL this can be achieved with applications, so disregard this answer, I'm leaving it for further reference, if someone turned out to not know about all this... (like me)

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For Selective Permissions, you can use Permission Fix app. –  Sachin Shekhar May 23 '12 at 4:20
    
I alter boot animations with ROM Toolbox Pro app. –  Sachin Shekhar May 23 '12 at 4:22
    
ROM Toolbox Pro app can customize notification bar too. –  Sachin Shekhar May 23 '12 at 4:23
    
There are many apps in Play Store for custom unlock screen.. –  Sachin Shekhar May 23 '12 at 4:24
    
@SachinShekhar Wow! I'm shocked... –  jadkik94 May 23 '12 at 7:14
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