Should you root your smartphone? Benefits and Risks

Why Do People Root Their Smartphones?

Rooting your smartphone allows you to install apps that cannot normally be downloaded. It also allows you to install ROMs, giving your phone a much different experience than an original one.

But it’s not always easy. Sometimes it can damage your phone’s operating system and apps. You can accidentally do more harm than good.

You may or may not have heard of the term “jailbreaking for iOS.” Rooting is much the same, except for the fact that Apple expressly forbids you from tinkering with your iPhone software. The Android robot, being its kind, open-source soul, suffers from no such inconveniences.

You see, when you buy an Android phone, you are the FULL owner of the phone, and you should be able to do whatever you please with it. Yes, that includes feeding it to the crocodiles. (Don’t sue me if you lose an arm in the process!)

“But why should I spend time and effort getting admin access on my phone? Will it automatically make breakfast for me every morning?”

It will do one step better than that. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it will give your aging phone a new lease of life. Simple root access will let you remove all the bloatware that comes with your phone by default and hogs up precious memory and space.

Don’t listen to FM? No problem, uninstall it.

What’s that pesky news app that came with my phone doing there? Hold on, let me just nuke it. Ditto for the default file explorer/browser/music player.

We probably are using a third-party app for these functions, downloaded from the Play Store, while the “uninstallable” (uh, did that sound correct?) stock app just sits there, gathering dust and staring melancholically at us.

If you’re feeling adventurous, and want to replace your old OS with a swanky new one, there are custom ROM’s in all shapes, sizes and colours.

Benefits of Rooting the Smartphone

Many experts are still wondering why you would root a mobile phone. It is all because you would get a lot of benefits from doing so. One of the benefits of rooting your phone is having the ability to unlock the phone. If you use a locked phone, you may only use the phone’s basic features. If you root your phone, you can unlock the full features of the phone.

You will be able to use the phone for a lot more purposes than if you have a locked phone. However, even though you will get the benefits, it is not as simple as you would think. The rooting process is not as easy as you may think. Rooting your phone is not something that can be done quickly.

  • You can hook up an Xbox controller to your phone and use that to play games via USB On-The-Go, which also lets you plug in an external HDD or a mouse/keyboard.
  • You get the latest Android version before your phone manufacturer releases it to the public. Depending on your device and the size of its developer community, you can have several ROM’s to choose from, each with optimizations and/or modifications to improve your phone. You could also choose the vanilla version of Android that ships with the Nexus phones.
  • You could have HTC’s Sense UI on a Sony phone or Samsung’s Touchwiz on a Nexus.
  • You can fully customise the look and feel of your phone’s UI, like replacing the standard battery icon with something cool, like a Batman logo, which glows according to the charge remaining, or a circle, which gradually shrinks. This is just an example of what you can do.
  • Overclocking. I have overclocked my 1 GHz processor to 1.4 GHz, with options for 1.6, and even 1.8 GHz. This is another everyday use for rooting, but it can be harmful in the long run. It depends on how you want to dig your smartphone’s grave. Using a teaspoon or a shovel? This is achieved by giving elevated permissions to certain third-party apps to add higher frequencies to the frequency table.
  • It’s possible to use your SD card in such a way that it masquerades as an extension of your phone’s internal storage for those apps that cannot be moved to the SD card.
  • Some ROM’s allow you to use a Tablet UI on your phone, which changes the density to mimic a higher resolution display.

Risks of Rooting Your Smartphone

The risks that come with rooting a mobile phone are nothing but an increase in functionality. That is the only thing you will need to worry about when you root your phone. You would be able to access more apps than you usually could. You would be able to use more apps.

However, if you are not careful, you could end up harming your mobile phone. You would be able to unlock the phone without the right codes. You may end up deleting some of your data without any precautions. If you would not want to take risks, you should leave the risks alone. You should always use caution when rooting a mobile phone.

  • You can brick your phone if you’re not careful. Make sure you’re familiar with the steps of the guides available on XDA forums before you embark on your quest.
  • You MAY void your warranty. If your manufacturer’s warranty covers only hardware issues, then I don’t see why it should be much of a problem.
  • You should do tons and TONS of research beforehand.

Many manufacturers have recognised the huge potential for alternate aftermarket modifications to Android and have started actively supporting the developer community. Steve Kondik, the creator of CyanogenMod, the most popular custom Android OS was hired by Samsung. Sony, including others, have a section on their website that guides you through the steps needed to unlock your bootloader.

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