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What is Kernel?

A kernel is a part of Operating System which manages the operations of Software and Hardware. It also acts as a bridge between Software and Hardware. Everything that runs in an OS is using kernel for performance and other things. Without Kernel we are not able to use the operating system. Kernel affects device performance and battery life. So to get maximum performance and battery life you should choose the best custom kernel that suits best for your device.

There's an abundance of options in the Android smartphone market. Thanks to the developer-friendly nature of the Android ecosystem, there are also countless options to customize and modify your phone beyond the options offered by OEMs. Due to the fact Android uses the Linux kernel at its core, kernel sources are one of the cornerstones of a flourishing aftermarket community, allowing developers to build custom kernels, ROMs, and more.

Keep in mind you can't just take the mainline Linux kernel and expect it to boot on your Android device. Google has a common kernel tree for Android, and the SoC makers such as Qualcomm take that tree and build their patches on top of that. Next come the OEMs who get the trees from the SoC manufacturer and then they work on their specific hardware patches on top of that

take the device-specific sources, clean up all the debug symbols, add additional functionalities, (optionally) backport features from a newer kernel version, and finally wrap everything up in a flashable package.

Since the kernel has complete control over the system, it's important to choose a suitable custom kernel for your Android device. Below you can find some of the most popular custom kernels in the Android aftermarket development scene for several popular Android phones. Compared to the stock kernel, these custom kernels not only offer improved battery life and performance but are also famous for their stability and security among the community.

Sultan Kernel

If you’ve ever owned one of the first few generations of OnePlus devices and considered tinkering with it, the chances are you might have come across the work of XDA Recognized Developer Sultanxda. While the developer isn't supporting the current generation flagship devices at this moment, he's still maintaining his custom kernel named Sultan Kernel for the Google Pixel 4 and the Google Pixel 4 XL.

arter97 Kernel

Juhyung Park, AKA XDA Recognized Developer arter97 is well-known within the community for his work on custom kernels for a plethora of devices. Named after his forum handle, the arter97 custom kernel brings several improvements over the OEM kernel, including cutting-edge changes from Qualcomm than the regular tag, fully neutralized OEM "optimizations", better TCP network congestion control, among other things.

ElementalX Kernel

The ElementalX custom kernel project is the brainchild of XDA Recognized Developer flar2. The kernel is not only optimized for delivering a great battery life, but it also offers many customizations to tweak the performance of the device to its fullest. Some of the features which are common over various devices supported by ElementalX are wake gestures, Adrenoboost option, advanced color control, general upstream, and CAF fixes.

blu_spark Kernel

Maintained by XDA Senior Member eng.stk, blu_spark is one of the most famous kernels in the OnePlus community for its stability and efficiency. The developer has also ported this kernel to the Google Pixel 4a and brought the same set of optimizations, including advanced color control, WireGuard VPN support, and more

As mentioned earlier, the blu_spark kernel is available for several OnePlus smartphones. Head over to the developer's GitHub profile to check whether it’s available for your device or not. Official support threads are also available in device-related forums on XDA. Last but not least, the kernel offers integration with the famous Franco Kernel Manager app, so you can get an automatic updater as well as a great way to tune various kernel parameters.

Kirisakura Kernel

XDA Recognized Developer Freak07 has come up with the Kirisakura custom kernel with the aim to produce a proper replacement of the stock kernel by keeping most of the subsystems updated. Be it the Kernel Control Flow Integrity (Kernel-CFI) that a security enthusiast would want, or the latest CAF-State GPU driver for all your gaming needs, the Kirisakura kernel has got it covered.

Check your device's XDA forum to see if this awesome kernel is available for your device and if it is, you can start flashing it and tweaking it.

Optimus Drunk Kernel

Being an integral part of the Ground Zero Open Source Project, the Optimus Drunk kernel is available for a bunch of devices — both new and old — with a number of optimizations and features. You can get WireGuard VPN, granular color control, support for wakelock blocking, and many more functionalities with this custom kernel.

XDA Recognized Developer GtrCraft is maintaining the Optimus Drunk kernel for various devices and providing support for most of your doubts on their XDA threads. Be sure to check it out for your smartphone.

Installing a custom kernel is usually as simple as downloading the device-specific package and flashing it via a custom recovery like TWRP. Now go and check out our forums to find out the best custom kernel for your device!

Franco Kernel

Franco kernel is one of the best-performing and stable custom kernels for Android devices; it will boost up your smartphone’s performance.

It was developed and designed by recognized XDA developer Francisco Franco. It is a widely famous and adopted kernel due to its high stability and efficiency.

Farnco Kernel

This custom kernel can be used on a number of devices. This kernel comes up with various attractive features which make this kernel famous between testers and developers.

Some of its features include:

  • Display adjustment
  • Vibration Control
  • Sound Control
  • Better Battery performance

ElectraBlue Kernel

ElectraBlue is one of the good custom kernels; however, ElementalX and Franco Kernel are a little bit better than this in performance. Otherwise, it is one of the popular kernels for android. It provides you with better battery life and a stable smartphone performance.

Some of the features that make it most popular are:

  • Balance Support
  • Best battery performance
  • Spectrum Support
  • Android oreo & pie support
  • Sound control
  • Vibration Control
  • Fast charging support

Optimus Drunk Kernel

Optimus Drunk is one of the most famous and latest custom kernels, but right now, this is available for some the smartphones like POCOPHONE F1, MOTO G5 PLUS, etc. Soon it will be available for other devices too.

This custom kernel comes with numerous updated latest features, which can make your phone the smartest one, and your device will give its overall performance. Some of its features are:

  • Built with the latest GCC 9.2.0
  • Based on Derp and Lineage Kernel
  • MIUI supported
  • F2FS support with additions from the alter97 kernel
  • USB fast charge
  • Optimizations from other kernels

alter97 Kernel

This kernel is also designed and developed by recognized developers of XDA, and this custom kernel is available for several devices, either the latest flagship or any old device. It has a bunch of optimization and features.

alter97 kernel offers a lot of features, some of which are:

  • Systemless installation for the supported device.
  • This kernel supports the latest F2FS file system.
  • It is compiled with the latest tools.
  • It has an active user base for supporting its users if they face any problem while using the kernel, and this custom kernel itself has an explanation for many doubts of its user.

How to Check Installed Kernel on Android

All the OS comes with a pre-installed Kernel and to know which kernel is installed on your phone, then check out this guide.

  • Open Settings on your phone.
  • Go to About Phone > Android Version.

  • best custom kernels for androidIn the Android version, you will see the name of the Kernel and its version.

Now that you know how much it is important to have a good kernel on phone, check out the best kernels that will help you to maximize your phone’s performance.

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