Last updated on December 9th, 2018
Installing an aftermarket operating system is one of the best ways to extend the life of your device. Given how today most devices have hardware that is pretty good, really it’s up-to-date software which makes all the difference. Here I’m going to go over, step-by-step, how to pull off an Amazon Fire 7 5th Gen custom ROM install. We’ll also be rooting the device in the process. Let’s start!
Why you should install a custom ROM on your tablet
These days, the specs of most quality tablets are pretty decent. Especially when it comes to general browsing and media consumption. Past a certain point, you just don’t benefit that much from a better camera or more RAM.
However, that doesn’t mean that a device won’t end up under-performing after a year or two. And the vast majority of the time it’s because the tablet no longer gets the official operating system updates pushed to it. Besides the fact that the device gets bloated with unneeded data and junk.
The best easy way to fix that – and leave you with a device that feels new – is to do a factory wipe. But if you’re motivated, better still is to install a custom ROM (Read Only Memory). Basically, that just means a newer and more up to date operating system.
This is possible thanks to Android being open source. That means anyone willing to can read, update, and make Android’s newer code compatible with your Android device – even long after the manufacturer has dropped support for it. And the best part? It’s generally free!
Though it’s a bit tedious in some cases, installing a custom ROM isn’t that hard. Here I’ll explain how to install a custom ROM on your Amazon Fire 7 tablet.
And by the way, I’m not responsible for any bricked devices. Do this at your own risky. But considering that this is a cheap and pretty much obsolete device, the (small) risk is well worth it.
What you’ll need
Amazon Fire 7 5th Gen Tablet
To do this, you’re going to need an Amazon Fire 7 5th Gen Tablet. When it came out, it was a steal. I got mine for under 50 bucks. The only thing that really sucks about it is the stock Fire OS firmware. Thankfully, we can fix that.
Before continuing, you’ll want to make sure that the Fire OS firmware that comes with your device is 5.3.1 or below. You can check it in “Settings > Device Options > System Updates.” That’s what this process is supposed to work with.
If the stock firmware is Fire OS 5.3.2, it’s my understanding that you can only downgrade to 5.3.1. – Any lower might brick the device. Also, if your device has an OS that is less than 5.1.2, than the process may be different – probably easier – due to other custom recovery options. In that case you should double-check elsewhere first or be aware that there may be some hiccups.
You’re also going to need to choose a custom ROM to install. The two main contenders for this device – at the time of writing this DIY – are Lineage 12.1 ROM or AOSP Nexus ROM.
I personally chose to install Lineage 12.1. It’s feature-packed with many of Android’s most user-requested functions. Once you get used to it, it’s hard to go back to stock Android. It has plenty of users and popular support making it a trust-worthy option. Whenever available, I always go with a CyanogenMod-based ROM like this one. Click above to see the info page, or the next link to go directly to the Lineage 12.1 download page for the Amazon Fire 7 5th Gen.
Then there’s the other option. AOSP Nexus ROM is a pretty much bare-bones version of Android. I tested it but didn’t find it as interesting. It’s lacking many of the better features that Lineage integrates, and is in general a more basic ROM. However, if you’re looking for the slimest version of Android for whatever reason, this is the one to install. If you’re interested, here’s the download page.
For either custom ROM, the file needed is a single ZIP file. Pick the latest one with a good amount of downloads from the download page. It may very well have had updates since the writing of this post.
Other files you’ll need to download
- OpenGapps – This is needed to install the Google Play store and other basic Google apps. For the Amazon Fire 7 5th Gen tablet, you should pick the ARM platform, Android 5.1 and the Nano Variant.
- RootJunkysDL Amazon Fire 5th Gen Super Tool – This is a tool that’ll help by doing a lot of the work for us.
- RootJunkysDL Amazon Fire OS 5.1.2 Downgrade SuperTool – We’ll need to downgrade the tablet to 5.1.2 prior to the ROM install. This is what we’ll be using to do it.
- SuperSu ZIP (Latest) – I’ll use this to root the custom ROM.
- Computer – We’ll be doing some of the work from a PC, so you’ll need that, too.
- MicroSD Card – It’s generally the best idea to put the files on a MicroSD card rather than store them on the device. It just makes the install process easier. It’s a good idea to keep around a cheap 16GB Micro SD card for things like this.
- Quality Micro USB Cable – While it’s hard to believe, there can be big differences between micro USB cables. Definitely make sure to use a quality micro USB cable for the process. It can be the difference between a successfully installed custom operating system and a bricked device. Personally, I tend to use Anker cables just to make sure.
Amazon Fire 7 5th Gen Custom ROM Install – How-To
Step 1 – Download all the files
Go to the step above and download all the files first. You’re also going to want to put the custom ROM, OpenGapps and SuperSU on a microSD card and insert it into your device.
As you might imagine, the tablet’s battery should be near full before starting. Check now and let it charge if it isn’t.
Step 2 – Activate Developer Options in Fire OS
The first step is to open the “Settings” app. Go into “Device Options” and tap the serial number seven times. Now the “Developer Options” menu will appear. Enter it and enable USB debugging and/or ADB.
Step 3 – Plug in the micro USB cable
Now, plug in the micro USB cable and wait for your computer to recognize it. Keep an eye on the screen since you might get an authorization message. If so, accept it.
I personally either already had the drivers installed, or they were recognized automatically. If you have any issues with the drivers, check here.
Step 4 – Open the RootJunky Firmware Downgrade Tool
Given how Amazon really doesn’t want you to install a custom ROM on your device – market share, advertising, DRM and all that – you’re going to have to downgrade the OS first.
Open the “Downgrade to Fire OS 5.1.2 SuperTool” on your computer. If you’re on windows it’s the .bat file. Follow the instructions but stop once you reach the Amazon System Recovery screen on the Amazon Fire 7 tablet.
Step 5 – Wipe your Amazon Fire 7 5th Gen device
Before downgrading the OS, you want to wipe the device to start with a clean slate.
Select “Wipe data/factory reset” and let it complete. Then select “wipe cache partition”. That will erase the files on your device to remove any bloat and leave your tablet like new. It might help fix issues with FlashFire if you have issues with that app crashing later on.
Finally, click on “apply update from ADB” and follow the instructions on the downgrade tool on your computer again.
Now you’re most likely going to have to wait a good 20 minutes until your device is running on the stock Amazon Fire OS 5.1.2 firmware once more.
Step 6 – Boot up the device and root it
The device should have booted up and shown you the original Fire OS set up page. Skip all of that and don’t do anything yet. Especially avoid connecting to WiFi for the moment.
Now open the SuperTool. Then, click on “Root your Amazon Fire 5th gen” – option 6 in the screenshot above – and follow the instructions. You’ll have to select the “5.1.2” option since that’s the firmware you just installed. Shortly after you’ll see an app called KingRoot installed on your device. Open it and then connect to Wi-Fi. KingRoot will complain if you don’t, since it needs to get the rooting strategy from the web.
Your device will probably reboot a few times – quite a few, actually – and then with some lucky KingRoot will show you that the root is complete. If it fails, don’t worry, reboot your device and try again. Eventually it should work. Once your Amazon Fire 7 tablet is rooted via KingRoot, immediately disconnect from Wi-Fi. If you don’t, you might have some issues later if the device self-updates.
Once KingRoot has rooted the device, follow the instructions in the SuperTool. It’ll swap the KingRoot app for SuperSu.
Step 7 – Install FlashFire via SuperTools
Next we have to install FlashFire. Just select the option to “Install FlashFire App or Xposed Framework” in SuperTools. It should be option 5. Then select the menu item for FlashFire. After a minute you should see FlashFire installed on your device.
Note – You might find that FlashFire consistently crashes every time you open it. After the “Checking for pro” screen. Apparently that is due to the dev dropping the support, or something like that. Following the instructions above should avoid that by installing the “old” version (v0.53) in SuperTools. If FlashFire crashes for you, you should downgrade the firmware and start again. Or try installing other versions of FlashFire. Eventually it should open up okay.
Step 8 – Install the custom ROM via FlashFire
Finally the moment of truth. Installing the custom ROM on your Android Fire 7 tablet.
Open up FlashFire and click the plus sign to start adding actions. When you first open up FlashFire it will probably ask you for root access. If so, grant it.
Step one is to add a “Wipe”. This will clean up the device again before installing the ROM. Make sure System Data, 3rd Party Apps, Dalvick Cache and Cache are checked.
Next, click “Flash ZIP/OTA” and select the custom ROM. In this case the ZIP file corresponding to Lineage 12.1. The default options selected by FlashFire should be fine. By the way, the file is probably on the micro SD card. In FlashFire you can select the external storage at the top of the menu. It’s easy to miss.
Now click “Flash ZIP/OTA” and select the OpenGapps ZIP file.
The last file to add is one for rooting the new ROM. I believe this might not be necessary, but since it’s what I did I’m weary to rely on CyanogenMod’s alternative. Select “Flash ZIP/OTA” once more and click on the SuperSu ZIP.
Finally, move “Wipe” to the top of the stack (drag it). For some reason FlashFire seems to always move it to the bottom.
Once that’s done click “Flash” and let the app do its magic. It takes about a good 20 minutes or so for all the files to flash and your device to finally boot up into the ROM of your choice.
Congratulations, your custom ROM is now installed
Finally, the job’s done! The Amazon Fire 7 5th Gen custom ROM install is now complete. Hopefully your device booted right up into the set up screen. The only thing left is to install all the apps and configure the tablet to your liking!
On the other hand, if it doesn’t work, just run the downgrade tool and try again. Eventually it should work.
While this custom ROM install definitely helps keep the device up-to-date, the physical protection helps a lot, too. In case you’re curious about how my Amazon Fire 7 looks, here it has a Moko Heavy Duty Case installed. I generally use mine in the garage to consult the hive-mind. It’s definitely spared the device from death by blunt force a few times. I also installed a tempered glass screen protector. After nearly three years, the thing still looks new.
Anyway, thanks for reading! Hopefully you found this useful. If you did, consider subscribing for similar content in the future. In the meanwhile, check below for a few other posts you might find interesting.