To ROOT, or not to ROOT?

Rooting your Android device gives you "Superuser" permissions. Source: TechWorld

I’m sure many of you already know and understand what it means to root an Android device, but for those that don’t, I will try to explain in layperson’s terms what rooting an Android phone actually entails and what the benefits and potential risks are of doing so. So if you’re one of those people who has been introduced to the term (maybe through a geeky friend like me), but don’t quite understand it, this article was written for you. Hopefully I can help you decide if rooting your Android device is something you should/shouldn’t do. Hit the break and let’s get started.

First off, it’s important to understand what rooting a device actually means. To put it simply, rooting an Android device is the same as jailbreaking an iPhone. The process basically allows you to gain “root” access to all of the files on your device, more specifically, to the ones that you’re not supposed to have access to. By doing so, you’ll be able to change certain aspects of your device that you originally couldn’t do (more on this later). So what are the benefits and risks of rooting your device? Here are some of the main points that I think will interest an average user:

Benefits of rooting your Android device:

Regulating your phone's processor using the SetCPU app. Source: Android Zoom

  • Speeding it up – Is your phone really slow in performing common tasks like opening/closing apps, loading a website, or navigating throughout the phone in general? Well, one of the biggest advantages of rooting your device is gaining the ability to adjust the speed of your phone’s processor, which can be thought of as the phone’s engine. By doing so, you’d be able to push the processor speed up and beyond the cap set by the manufacturer, which ultimately results in faster performance. Similarly, you could also turn the processor speed down when you want to, which will result in better battery life.

  • Increased battery life – As I mentioned above, you’ll be saving a lot of battery life since you’ll be able to control your phone’s processor speed. There are apps out there that help regulate the processor’s speed depending on what the device is doing. So if you’re doing a lot of web browser and running multiple apps, the processor’s speed will automatically be increased to provide enough juice to ensure a smooth experience. Likewise, when you’re not doing much like simply keeping your phone in your pocket during work or something, the processor’s speed will be lowered. This regulation will ultimately result in better battery life.

  • Software updates – One of the biggest complaints that most Android users have is that it takes so long for them to get the latest version of Android on their devices. Well, by rooting your phone, you will have the ability to manually install newer versions of Android onto your phone at a much quicker rate since they are put out by members of smartphone communities as opposed to the manufacturer. Don’t be scared, these firmwares are usually based off of the official versions made by the manufacturers. So basically, no more waiting months and months for the latest version of Android. In addition, software updates put out by these developers usually include many bug fixes that official versions sometimes lack. An extremely popular aftermarket firmware that is very well made is CyanogenMod, which supports many devices and is used by thousands of Android users.

  • Installing apps that require root – There are a handful of apps out there that require your phone or device to be rooted in order to work. Apps that have very useful functions like taking screenshots of your phone’s screen or uninstalling apps that you normally can’t uninstall (carriers and manufacturers usually preinstall many apps known as “bloat” onto their devices. Many of these apps are never used so they simply take up precious memory from your phone and worst yet, you typically can’t uninstall or get rid of them.

Risks of rooting your Android device:

  • Voiding your warranty – By rooting your device, the manufacturer warranty will be voided. They void it because you tampered with aspects of your phone that you shouldn’t have, which may have caused problems to the device that they don’t know about or how to fix. This is why they void the warranty.
  • Possibly damaging your phone – Hear me out before you completely write this article off. Rooting is somewhat of a technical process that requires lots of care and attention. When you root your device, there’s always a chance that you might mess up during a step and possibly damage your phone or even cause it to stop turning on. That is why you probably don’t want to do this unless you have at least some technical knowledge and feel that you can follow directions extremely well. Many people are scared away by this risk, but honestly, the instructions on how to do many of the things involved with the rooting process are very well written. They have been tested numerous times by many users who have successfully completed the task. Just be careful and do a lot of research before attempting the process and you’ll be fine. The Android community is also very helpful and you can find advice and technical support on various community websites like xda-developers.com.

So there you go. I don’t know if this was enough to help you decide if you should root your device or not, but in my opinion, the benefits are vast and definitely outweigh the risks. The risks don’t really apply anyways unless you’re careless and didn’t do enough research or follow instructions correctly, so mistakes are completely preventable. If you’re interested in the things that rooting allows you to do, maybe you should start digging up more info on the process for your specific device, which you can find on the XDA-Developers website linked above. Or, find a nerdy friend who can do it for you! Good luck!

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Posted on May 7, 2011, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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