Do you want unlimited control over your phone? Android rooting opens up a world of possibility, but it can also void your warranty, leave you with a broken smartphone, or worse. With a rooted phone, you can remove bloatware, speed up your processor, and customize every element of your phone software’s appearance.
What is rooting?
Rooting is the process of allowing users of smartphones, tablets and other devices running the Android mobile operating system to attain privileged control (known as root access) over various Android subsystems. As Android uses the Linux kernel, rooting an Android device gives similar access to administrative (superuser) permissions as on Linux or any other Unix-like operating system such as FreeBSD or macOS.
Rooting is often performed with the goal of overcoming limitations that carriers and hardware manufacturers put on some devices. Thus, rooting gives the ability (or permission) to alter or replace system applications and settings, run specialized applications (“apps”) that require administrator-level permissions, or perform other operations that are otherwise inaccessible to a normal Android user. On Android, rooting can also facilitate the complete removal and replacement of the device’s operating system, usually with a more recent release of its current operating system. (WikiPedia)
Why would you root?
Gaining root access on Android is akin to running Windows as an administrator. You have full access to the system directory and can make changes to the way the OS operates. As part of rooting, you install usage manager (SuperSU is the main one right now). These tools are basically the gatekeeper of root access on your phone. When an app requests root, you have to approve it using the root manager.
There isn’t an over-abundance of must-have root apps, but there are enough to make it worthwhile. Some apps will let you automatically back up all of your apps and data to the cloud, block web and in-app advertisements, create secure tunnels to the internet, overclock your processor, or make your device a wireless hot spot. Some of the best apps for rooted devices can give you an idea of what you’re getting into.
Why wouldn’t you root?
Rooting your phone or tablet gives you complete control over the system, and that power can be misused if you’re not careful. Android is designed in such a way that it’s hard to break things with a limited user profile. A superuser, however, can really trash things by installing the wrong app or making changes to system files. The security model of Android is also compromised to a certain degree as root apps have much more access to your system. Malware on a rooted phone can access a lot of data. Again, you need to be careful what you install.
For this reason, Google does not officially support rooted devices. There’s even an API called SafetyNet that apps can call on to make sure a device has not been tampered with or compromised by hackers. A number of apps that handle sensitive data will do this check and refuse to run on rooted devices. One of the most prominent examples of this is Android Pay — it cannot even be opened on devices that fail the SafetyNet check. If losing access to high-security apps is a big deal, you might not want to mess around with rooting.
Root methods are sometimes messy and dangerous in their own right. You might brick your device simply trying to root it, and you’ve probably (technically) voided your warranty doing so. Depending on the company, you might still be able to get a device repaired if you damage it attempting a root, but that’s not a guarantee.
How to prepare your Android device for rooting
One of the easiest ways to root an Android device is by using an app, and a number of rooting apps have garnered attention over the years — KingRoot, Firmware.mobi, Kingo Root, BaiduRoot, and One Click Root. They will root your device in the time it takes you to brush your teeth. But some only support devices running older versions of Android. If you’re looking to root an older device, you may need to check CFRoot’s older site.