The Android community is generally divided into two types of users. One who enjoys Android as offered by the OEM and the other who digs into the admin rights (also known as rooting Android) and wants to get the maximum out of his smartphone. Neither of them is really right or wrong here, rather they are just two ways to enjoy Android. Today, I will be focusing more on the second type of user. Rooting Android has always been taken as kind of an illegal activity as it is something that no smartphone manufacturer wants you to do. Well, to be clear early in this article, there is no law in India that prohibits rooting and Android device. However, it certainly comes with some disadvantages. I will discuss that later. First, let’s understand what rooting an Android device actually means.
What is Rooting?
Similar to what Jailbreak is to iPhones, rooting an Android device means that you are gaining access to the root files, commands, and folders which your OEM has erstwhile restricted. To break this down in more simple terms, rooting gives you the administrative rights to your device wherein you can fiddle with any aspect of your device. Android in itself is a pretty open operating system, but, rooting takes it to an all different level. Once you cross this line, you can do literally anything with your device. You can remove any kind of bloatware from your device. You can install a custom kernel or even a custom ROM to fiddle with both software and hardware. You get access to various root-only apps that can actually turn you into the captain of your device.
How do you Root Android?
Well, there is no one method that works for every Android device. That would be kind of cruel to the developers. However, rooting an Android generally involve three steps – Unlocking the Bootloader, Installing Custom Recovery, Installing the SuperUser (SU) file package to your device. Now there is no hard-wired method so your device might need an extra step in order to gain root access. The ideal thing you can do is head on to XDA and search for the method for your device. OEMs like HTC, LG, Samsung etc. are known to put an extra layer of security but there are workarounds for that too. Also, before you decide to risk rooting your device, you should be familiar with Android SDK or ADB (Android Debug Bridge) and Fastboot to be precise. These will help you shell out different commands through your PC that allows you to unlock the bootloader and install the custom recovery. I will not delve into the detailed steps here as it is bound to be different for different devices so let’s keep it for some other day.
Why should you root your device?
Now let’s figure out if you really should root your android device. There are a bunch of reasons in favour and I will be putting out these first.
1. Uninstall Bloatware: The first and perhaps the most sort of reason is the ability to uninstall system apps which are forced on you by the OEM. Android devices from Samsung, LG or Chinese companies like Oppo, Vivo etc. are known to come with some pre-installed apps which can’t be uninstalled unless you turn into a superuser or in short root your device.
2. Root only Apps and Functionalities: The second advantage is kind of where you begin to realize your power once you root your device. There are a ton of root-only apps on Playstore that let you perform a full device backup without any hassle or you can access the root drive of your device. Further, apps like Greenify comes with a root only mode where it adds up the battery saving powers it already possesses. Then there is Xposed Module which is one separate world of modules to further fiddle with your Android device.
3. The world of Custom ROMS: For the unintended, a custom ROM here means a custom version of an Android OS tweaked by developers generally for better performance and battery. Further, you can then play with custom kernels that help you underclock (for better battery life) or overclock (for better performance) as required.
Why should you not root your device?
No rose is without a thorn so there are some highly weighed disadvantages that come with rooting as well.
1. Voids Warranty: Well, this is rather the most talked about disadvantage of rooting an Android device. Although there might be some exceptions, rooting an Android device voids warranty. However, what people don’t know is that you can easily unroot a device and bring it back to the stock state before it is sent for repair.
2. No Official Software Updates: Once you step into the boat of rooting, you will no longer be able to install the official software updates fed directly by the manufacturer. Even if you are able to get the OTA notification and manage to install the latest update, it will overwrite all the root files and you will then have to repeat the whole procedure. It is always recommended to flash the update manually after you are on a rooted Android device.
3. Risk of bricking your device: Honestly, it is not that hard to root an Android device. However, it can get tricky if you don’t know what you are doing. One mistake and you can end up with a half-bricked or even fully bricked device. While there will be data loss, there may be no coming back in some cases. So it is extremely important that you fiddle with the stuff you are familiar with.
4. Security at Risk: Now, it is not that easy for someone to peek into your rooted Android device, however, it does make your device more vulnerable to security threats as hackers will be then able to obtain the admin rights without any hassle. So rooting actually comes with a big responsibility, if you ask me.
So is it safe to root your Android smartphone?
Of course, it is safe to root your device unless you are trying to be cool with absolutely no idea of what’s going on. Rooting Android opens up a different level of functionalities which you can never imagine with a stock build. If I am to answer this question, I would advise you to first read up everything required to root your device before you finally pull the trigger. All the best!
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