If what you really want is to have the latest build or running non-market Apps on your Android device then you need to consider rooting or "jailbreak". And we're going to show you how to do it.
If you've had an Android phone or tablet for a while now, or you know someone who has and they're right into technology, then you've more than likely heard about 'rooting' your device. Basically, rooting your Android gives you access to everything on your device; thus allowing you to optimize performance, modify the software, and delete all the 'bloatware' that's not wanted.
Of course the greatest advantage of rooting is that you can now install the newest build of Android on your terminal. As an example, let's say you have a Galaxy S7 phone and you've just heard that Samsung isn't going to update it to Nougat OS. But it doesn't matter if you root your Android because very soon there will be a Nougat ROM to flash onto your device.
It's important that you understand that rooting is not just for the hardcore hackers and coders of the world. Millions of people worldwide run rooted Android phones and the reason it's so popular is pretty clear: rooting improves battery performance, it removes bloatware, it gives you a lot more control over your device, and lastly, it takes you out of the where's-my-update loop. And isn't that what owning an Android device is supposed to be about?
What is Android Rooting?
Simply put, rooting is jailbreaking for Android devices; allowing users to go deeper into the sub-system of their phone. Basically, you'll have access to the entire operating system and have the freedom to customize almost everything on your Android. When you have root access you'll be able to circumnavigate any restrictions placed on your device by your carrier or the manufacturer. You can replace the firmware, underclock or overclock the processor, and you can run more apps.
The process of rooting requires that you back up current software and install a new modified version of Android.
So, Why Rooting?
There are three main disadvantages to rooting your Android device:
Possibly voiding the warranty: There are some carriers and manufacturers who choose to use rooting as a reason for voiding your warranty. Remember that if you do change your mind you can always un-root. If, for example, you need to send your Android back for repairs, just flash the original backup ROM you created and absolutely no-one will suspect that it was rooted.
Bricking the device: Tampering with your device always means there's a risk of bricking your device. Just be very careful to follow instructions precisely. Ensure that the guide you're following works for your specific device and that any ROM you install is designed especially for your device. Bricking really shouldn't ever occur if you do lots of research and take heed of feedback from other users.
Possible Security Risks: There is a chance that rooting could introduce some security risks. You could create a security vulnerability on your device depending on what apps or services you use. An example of this is that Google won’t support the Google Wallet service if you’ve rooted your device.
What Are the Risks?
As with anything else there are always going to be potential risks when rooting your device. So before you begin, here's an overview of some things that MIGHT go wrong, and your rights as a consumer if you've rooted your Android device.
- This is the nasty one: you could turn your device into a brick. There's always the potential for things to go wrong when you mess around with technology. A bit like what happened to Regan in The Exorcist, except now this is the mortal soul of your smartphone on the line. The only way to avoid a disaster is to make sure you're meticulous in following the steps; ensure that the ROM you use is sanctioned, and don't overclock your CPU;
- Viruses and Malware: The best way to avoid your phone being compromised by bugs, hackers, or malware, is to keep it official when you're downloading content. Try to stick with reputable app stores, like Google Play. Ignore anything Russian or Chinese. If it normally has a financial cost and someone is offering it for free, there's probably a catch: stay safe and stick to Play;
What You Need to Root
- Obviously you need your Android smartphone;
- The USB cable that came with the phone;
- A PC running SuperOneClick or Kingo Android Root: click on the download link and install. For the sake of this guide we'll use Kingo to root our device;
Interestingly, XDA Developers built SuperOneClick, and it can root pretty-much any Android phone: it features heaps of supporting content, like articles, videos, and guides.
How to Unlock the Bootloader
To begin with you must unlock your bootloader in order to root your Android device. Basically, the bootloader is a program that determines which specific applications run while the device is in the startup process. Once you've unlocked it you'll be free to customize your device. Fortunately, many manufacturers are allowing users to do this, although they may ask you to register an account.
Don't worry if you're using a device from another manufacturer (like Samsung) - it can still be achieved. Just do a quick search on the XDA Developers Forums.
- So you've already downloaded Kingo Android Root onto your Windows PC. The next step is to find Settings on your Android device (phone or tablet) and turn on USB Debugging. When you can see 'USB Debugging' ensure that 'Developer Options' is switched on: Settings - About Phone - Developer Options - yes to USB Debugging. Approve this setting by tapping OK.
- Next step is to connect your Android phone or tablet to your PC with the USB Cable.
- Both SuperOneClick and Kingo Android Root will recognize your phone. Once this has happened, choose the 'Root' button, and you're almost done: the whole process will only take a few minutes and there will be some re-boots along the way.
All done! You've just rooted your Android device, providing a huge range of software and customization options. To gain access to current ROMs, guides and tweaks, have a look at becoming a member of the XDA Developer Forums. It's the perfect place for all this kind of information.
Here Are Your Options for Your Newly Rooted Device
So you've successfully rooted your device and it looks like both you and your phone have survived. Well done!. The next stage is the exciting one: finding great tweaks and mods for your phone. And the best place to look is the XDA Developers forum. Here you'll be able to find everything you could possibly need. You're probably wondering what you can do with your phone now that it's rooted? Well, we're really glad you asked:
You Can Install Custom ROMs
Installing a custom ROM will be your first step. Now that your device has been freed there are so many options available to you, so have fun. In our opinion CyanogenMod is the best in the business. It's very stable, is constantly updated, and always uses the best build of Android. If you're new to the rooting game this one is definitely worth a look.
It Gets Rid of Bloatware
If your Android was bought under contract it's probably loaded with useless software installed by carriers and handset makers - otherwise known as bloatware. Get rid of all this garbage, and we recommend using Titanium Backup to do this - it's very easy to use. Goodbye forever, bloatware!
Take Your CPU To The Speed Limit!
If you're interested in performance boosts then having root access to your phone or tablet is going to open up a lot of doors. If, for example, you need more CPU power for game playing, all you have to do is download Set CPU (or similar) and set it up to push the CPU into overdrive once you've booted up Dead Trigger 2.
Longer Battery Life
Similar things can also be done with customized kernels. Some are interested in maximizing a specific handset's performance and getting more life out of old hardware - great if you're using (say) the HTC One S or the Galaxy S3. Others are more about conserving power and are created to improve battery life, and thus the efficiency, of your Android device.