Warning: TechPP is not responsible for any damage that might happen to your phone during this process. You’ll lose all your data upon unlocking bootloader.
I was using the Nexus 5 for the past 2 years and it was a great phone. The real reason I fell in love with the phone was stock Android and the plethora of custom ROMs available. However by 2016, my Nexus 5 was starting to show its age. Performance wise it was still a beast but the battery simply didn’t last a day. Also, since I finally got an employee Jio SIM, I needed a smartphone that supports all 4G bands to make full use of the Jio 4G offers.
It was time to retire my Nexus 5 for good. My first choice was the Lenovo ZUK Z1, but since it didn’t support Band 5, I skipped it and went ahead with a 32GB Redmi Note 3. When I got my hands on the phone, I was underwhelmed by MIUI. My biggest gripe with MIUI was notification panel. Considering how much stock Android allows you to do with notifications, MIUI was a significant step backward. I’m pretty sure that MIUI has its own set of fans out there and there are some really cool features, but I was so accustomed to stock Android over the years that MIUI simply didn’t work out for me.
Being someone who loves to mess with his phone, I set out to XDA to see what custom ROMs are available for Redmi Note 3 that can replace MIUI. Initially, the selection was really poor with a half baked CM13, but as time has passed by, the number of ROMs and their stability has increased. In this article, I’ll explain how you can flash a custom ROM on your Redmi Note 3 (with suggestion for the Best custom ROM for Redmi Note 3).
Please note that Xiaomi has recently made it tougher to officially unlock the bootloader. If you have managed to get that done, skip step 1 and go directly to step 2. But we assume you probably don’t need this guide!
1. Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 with at least 50% charge.
2. Laptop or PC with Windows XP, Windows 7 or Windows 8. Windows 10 might not work. If you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, please disable driver signature enforcement.
3. Download and install Mi PC Suite.
4. Patience and a lot of free time.
There are three steps to flashing a custom ROM:
1. Unlocking the bootloader
2. Installing TWRP
3. Flashing the custom ROM.
The most difficult of these four steps is step 1. Unlocking the bootloader is the most difficult step here, once you do that steps 2 and 3 are child’s play. So lets get started.
1. Unlocking the bootloader
Unlocking the bootloader is a one step process in other smartphones but is a complicated process for Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. However I’ll mention the steps here –
A. Download the following items –
B. Enable developer mode – On your device, go to Settings and select About Phone, over there tap MIUI Version seven times, this would enable developer mode. Go back to settings and select additional settings, in additional settings select developer options. Once inside developer options, ensure that OEM Unlock and USB Debugging are enabled.
C. Use 7 Zip for Extracting. Extract the Global Stable ROM in a folder. Extract the Bootloader Unlock file and put this extracted bootloader unlock file in the extracted rom folder. You would be prompted if you want to replace file, select “Yes”.
D. Install ADB and Fastboot. Just run the .exe file. You would be shown a command window asking you if you want to install adb and fastboot systemwide, press y. You would be asked if you want to install drivers, press y for that as well. This process may take a few minutes, so please be patient.
E. Connect your phone to the PC and you would be prompted to allow USB Debugging, select “Always allow USB Debugging“. Open device manager on your PC and make sure that there is no yellow triangle near Android Phone.
F. Search for cmd.exe on your computer and run it. Type “adb devices” and press enter. If you see something like “f87gsjyx67 unauthorized” as shown below, then your device is connected to the computer properly.
G. Now type “adb reboot edl” (quotes not included) in cmd.exe and press enter. This should reboot your device in edl mode. In this mode, your device would be totally blank and a red light would be blinking on top.
H. Now open device manager again and you should see something like this under ports
In case you get something like Qualcomm HS-USB QLoader 9008 or Qualcomm HS-USB Diagnostics 900E, that’s perfectly fine as well.
I. Now run the Mi Flash tool you downloaded earlier. First of all, click on browser and select the folder where you extracted the ROM. There will be an arrow next to browse, click that and select “Advanced“. On the Advanced menu, you’ll have Flash Programmer, Raw XML File and Patch XML File.
J. For Flash Programmer, Raw XML File and Patch XML File, browse to the location where the ROM has been extracted and select:
- prog_emmc_firehose_xxxx.mbn (xxxx is some random variable) for Flash Programmer
- rawprogram0 for Raw XML File
- patch0 for Patch XML File
K. After this, press refresh on MiFlash tool and you should see your phone on MiFlash with some COM number. Press flash and wait for at least 5 minutes.
L. After MiFlash is completed successfully, do not remove your device, but boot into fastboot mode by pressing and holding volume down and power button simultaneously.
M. Again run cmd.exe. Type “fastboot oem-device info” (without quotes of course) and press enter. After that, type “fastboot oem unlock-go”. That’s it with this your bootloader in now unlocked. Proceed to the next step.
That’s it. You have now successfully unlocked the bootloader!
2. Installing Custom Recovery
A. Now that you have unlocked your bootloader, do not reboot your smartphone. Just type in “fastboot reboot” (without quotes) in cmd.
C. Move the downloaded patched boot image and recovery to a single folder on your deskptop. Rename the recovery to simply “recovery” and rename the patched boot image to simply “boot”
D. Press Shift and right click on the folder and select “Open command prompt here“. Once you do that, type in “fastboot flash recovery recovery.img” (without quotes) and then type “fastboot flash boot boot.img” (without quotes).
E. Now disconnect the phone and enter into recovery mode by pressing and holding volume UP and power button simultaneously. Once in recovery mode, it would ask you to allow modifications so as to make TWRP the permanent recovery, do that.
F. After this, just select reboot in the recovery and select system. Wait for a few minutes as your phone boots up for the first time.
3. Flashing the custom ROM
Once you flash TWRP successfully, you would no longer need your computer. You can now flash a custom ROM, right from your device.
Over the months I have tried lots of custom ROMs and I have finally settled on Tesamek CM 13 for Redmi Note 3. This ROM is very smooth and provides various ways to tweak the device. Battery life is also awesome and I have managed to get 8-10 hours of screen on time with 4G. If you’re familiar with CM, this ROM should be great for you.
Everything works smoothly on this, but there’s one important bug and that is that GPS might not work. It’s more of a hit and miss. It sometimes catches my location and sometimes doesn’t, so if you’re heavily dependent on GPS based app then I don’t recommend that you to flash this ROM. The procedure to flash remains the same for any other ROM as well.
1. Switch off the smartphone
2. Press Volume UP and power button and reboot to recovery
3. In recovery, select “Wipe” and do a standard Wipe
4. Select “Install” in recovery and navigate to the place where the ROM is stored and flash it.
5. After having flashed the ROM, flash the gapps.
6. Select Reboot in recovery and select System.
7. Your new ROM is ready to use!