In the Android vs iOS debate, Android often gets major points for its openness and flexibility—there’s plenty the Android platform lets users do that iOS doesn’t, and even the most basic, out-of-the-box Android devices can be tweaked and customized to your liking. Enthusiasts want more than just tweaking system settings, however, and that’s where tools like Xposed Framework and Magisk come into play.
With these tools, you can install mods that transform your device in crazy ways, allowing you to drop in features like Dolby Atmos, more emoji, or advanced control for your device’s wifi capabilities. You can use mods to trick out your smartphone out customized interfaces and, if you’re daring, boost your device’s performance beyond its defaults.
Android: First, you have to root
Before we continue, one quick disclaimer: You need to root your device to install Xposed. Rooting your phone isn’t difficult, but it’s still a risk since it technically voids your warranty. Though it’s easier to do now than it used to be, a mess-up could cause unpleasant malfunctions or even brick your device (though unlikely).
Other, less-scary side effects include tripping Google’s SafetyNet API, which is a security measure in the Android OS that will stop some apps/features from working, like the Google Play Store, Google Pay, Netflix, and—of course—Pokemon.
We’ll be using Magisk to hide the root from your system, which should keep these features intact, but it’s possible some may not work properly even if you follow the correct steps. The good news? It’s easy to uninstall Magisk and unroot your device if something stops working.
Android: Installing Magisk and Xposed Framework
At first glance, the long list of steps it might seem overwhelming, but the whole process is easy once you have everything properly set up.
Step 1: Prep your devices
Gather the proper materials. You will need:
- The Android device you want to mod
- A PC
- A USB cable to connect one to the other
With your tools in hand, it’s time to prep your Android device:
- First, enable developer mode by going to Settings > About (or however you get there on your specific device). Scroll down and tap “Build number” seven times in a row.
- Once in developer mode, go to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer options. Find and enable “USB debugging.”
- Next, download and install the latest Magisk Manager .apk file from Github (if asked, tap to allow the installation from an unknown source).
Don’t worry about opening Magisk Manager just yet. For now, we’ll move onto the PC portion of the guide.
Step 2: Install Magisk using TWRP and safely root your phone
- Connect your phone to your PC via USB.
- On your PC, download ADB, Fastboot, and the necessary drivers. The easiest way to do so is using this all-in-one installation package from the XDA Developers forum. Follow instructions on the download page, then return here when you’re done (it only take a few seconds, tops).
- Next, go to this page and download the correct version of TWRP for your Android device. Then, unzip and open the TWRP folder.
- Shift + Right click anywhere inside the white area of the TWRP folder to open a command prompt.
- In the command prompt window, type:
adb reboot bootloader.
- If your device is requesting to Allow USB debugging, tap “Yes.” Your device should reboot in bootloader mode.
fastboot flash recovery twrp-2.8.x.x-xxx.img, making sure to change the .IMG filename to match the .IMG file in the TWRP folder.
- Once the command completes, wrap up the PC steps by running the command
fastboot rebootin command prompt.
You can now disconnect your Android device, and we’ll move onto the last steps for installing Magisk.
- When your Android device reboots, open the Magisk manager app
- Next to “Magisk not installed,” tap “Install.”
- Tap “download Zip only.” Wait for the download to complete, and take note of its location.
- Shut down your phone. Then, boot into recovery mode. (The process for doing so varies between devices, but it usually involves holding the volume down and power button until the device turns on.)
- When the TWRP recovery mode menu appears, tap “Install.”
- Navigate to the Magisk .ZIP file location, and then swipe the bar to install.
- When the installation is complete, restart your device.
- After your device is back on, open Magisk manager again. You should see green check next to both Magisk and Magisk manager.
- Verify that your phone has been successfully rooted and passes SafetyNet’s check by tapping the hamburger icon in the upper-left corner of Magisk Manager. Scroll down and tap “Start SafetyNet check.” If you get green checkmarks, you’re all set.
Step 3: Install Xposed Framework
We’re in the home stretch. All that’s left to do is to install Xposed as a module using Magisk Manager.
- Go to the “Download” section in Magisk Manager.
- Scroll down and tap “Xposed.”
- Select your Android version from the list, then install Xposed.
- Reboot your device to complete the installation.
The fun part: Installing Android mods
Whew! If you made it this far, you’ve successfully rooted your phone, installed Magisk and Xposed, and you’re now ready to begin modding Android. Like we said at the outset, this is where it gets exciting. (It’s also easy.)
Open either the Magisk Manager or Xposed apps on your phone, and navigate to their menus for downloading modules. The installation process can be slightly different in each app, but both will require you to reboot after each module is installed.
If you’re curious where to start, here’s a quick list of some of the best Xposed and Magisk modules available, and you can consult XDA Developers’ lists of the best Magisk and Xposed modules for recommendations (note: be sure to check these modules are compatible with your version of Android, as support can vary).
- Amplify Battery (Xposed): Can enhance your battery life and device performance, and lets users track what apps and processes are draining the most power in real-time.
- Dolby Atmos (Magisk): Adds Dolby Atmos support to some Android devices that normally do not have it.
- Gravity Box (Xposed): This popular mod lets users customize many aspects of the Android OS interface.
- Tether Enabler (Magisk): Lets you override a manufacturer’s device tethering settings, in case you’re forbidden from doing so on your device (for whatever reason).
- Viper4Android (Magisk): Lets users customize and enhance a number of audio-related settings and features, including volume, speaker output, and Bluetooth settings.
- XUI System UI (Xposed): Another UI editor that gives you new animations to play with and lets you customize the system clock, lock screen, notifications, and plenty more.