Benefits of rooting your Android phone or tablet

by: Team AAFebruary 15, 2016
1.1K

Andy-Android-2

Rooting… a world relatively not every user dares venture into. We wouldn’t blame you if you are wary of doing this. It’s intimidating when manufacturers keep telling you tinkering with a phone can void your warranty and/or harm your device. And it’s true – you may be left on your own if something goes wrong and you decided to play around with your phone’s stock software.

With that said, we can also tell you there are plenty of reasons why rooting may be the best thing you can do to enhance your smartphone experience. Are you thinking of taking the road less traveled but need a little push? Here are some great reasons for rooting your smartphone.15

Disclaimer: Just be sure you do your research well and be careful if you decide to unlock your phone’s full potential by rooting. As mentioned above, these procedures can void your warranty and/or brick your handset. No one but you will be responsible, should it come to that. 

1 – Get rid of pesky bloatware

The first benefit of accessing administrator privileges over Android is full control over the applications installed on your handset. No longer do you have to suffer from the cluttered app drawers and reduced memory space taken up by pre-installed carrier and manufacturer applications, you can instantly cut the bloatware and keep only the apps that you really want.

Verizon Moto X

Even if you’re up to date with Android 4.1 or above (by now you likely are), which grants users the ability to disable these pre-installed apps if you don’t want to see or use them, you can’t permanently remove them. They’re still there eating up your memory space. Rooting is the only way to permanently get rid of these pesky apps, but please don’t uninstall something crucial or your handset may stop working properly. Apps like Titanium Backup are particularly helpful for organizing and culling this bloatware.

Oh, and that's Queen Cersei in the background

Oh, and that’s Queen Cersei in the background

2 – Real backups

This brings me nicely on to the next major benefit of Android, improved backup and restore options. Yes, the cloud can back up some of your settings and app downloads, but that is not really a true backup; it’s just a list of things for the phone to download and change. Want to keep everything the way it was? You will need to root.

As already mentioned, Titanium Backup is one of the most popular backup apps used by rooters, and this, or a similar app, is essential if you’re going to start tinkering around with Android software. But as well as acting as a safety net in case you uninstall something important, Titanium Backup can also be used to backup your user data… any and all user data.

titanium-backup

Even better, once rooted you can create complete backups of your entire handset using the ClockworkMod Recovery option, providing you with extra protecting in case of a major malfunction. Recovery can only be accessed before booting into Android, but it provides additional backup options in case, for whatever reason, Android fails to boot properly or experiences a crippling error. This makes ClockworkMod Recovery an essential tool for those looking to install custom versions of Android.

3 – Don’t wait around for manufacturers and carriers for updates

Once you’re fully backed up you’re ready to move up to one of the other major perks of rooting, installing different versions of Android.

We all know manufacturers are often pretty slow at delivering the latest Android offerings even to their flagship handsets, let alone aging devices. Some are getting better at it, but this is still an ongoing issue for many users. So if you’re not a Nexus device owner, rooting opens the door to much faster Android updates, thanks to the developers who put time into porting the latest updates to various handsets.

android update 2

Pretty much every semi-popular handset has a decent following of developers working on porting the latest versions of Android to their handsets, most of which can be found over at the XDA Forums. The only sacrifice here is that you won’t receive official manufacturer versions of Android, so you might not enjoy all the features your phone came with, but if we were really too worried about that we probably wouldn’t be rooting  in the first place.

4 – We can’t forget those custom ROMs

If stock Android isn’t your thing, there are also tons of other customized ROMs offering unique features and improvements to the default Android experience.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the biggest names, like CyanogenMod, Paranoid Android and MIUI, to name just a few of the most popular ones. Many custom ROMs are actually at the forefront of innovation on Android, offering several features that aren’t available anywhere else.

cyanogenmod nexus 5 boot screen aa 2

root-android-galaxy-note-3See also: Root and custom ROMs: are you still doing it?162

But as well as these big third party developments, you’ll also find a lot of smaller developers tweaking away at the core Android experience, offering ROMs with vastly superior battery life or overclocked processor speeds. Not to mention that most custom ROMs are updated to the latest version of Android very quickly too, bringing you the best of both worlds.

5 – Overclocking and underclocking

Remember when all phones were slow? Well, not all, but they all needed that extra push. A very popular thing to do among root users was overclocking the processor to make things more snappy. Even mid-end smartphones are pretty fast now, so there is not much of a need, but some of you may still want to speed things up.

But even if overclocking is no longer as popular, you will find that altering processor speeds is definitely convenient. Got a super powerful phone and want to save battery? Why not underclock the processor? Sometimes we don’t need all the power our specs have to offer, and we could really use saving resources.

Processor chip on circuitboard Shutterstock

6 – Apps that do more

As rooting opens up administrator type privileges on your handset you’ll instantly have access to all the core files on your handset. File browser apps can take full advantage of this, allowing you to move stuff around on your internal memory if so require.

App wise, we’ve already touched on Titanium Backup, but there are far more apps that can make use of root permissions, and simply aren’t available with a non-rooted device. Fans of custom ROMs can even use a ROM manager to install and update their operating system without the need to flash zip files from Recovery.

apps-worth-rooting-for

best root apps for androidSee also: 13 best root apps for Android108

Rooting is sometimes criticized for compromising handset security, but security apps, such as Cerberus and Avast, use root functions to bury themselves deep down into the operating system, making them hard for would be thieves to remove. These apps can also be granted permissions that aren’t available on unrooted devices, such as access to GPS data even when the device is locked.

There’s also additional gesture apps, data syncing software and even theme managers to customize the look of your handset.

7 – Dress to impress

My final reason for rooting your handset is the wider range of customization and theming options, after all who doesn’t want their home screens looking snazzy.

Looking good there Android.

Although there are options to tweak themes and whatnot that don’t require rooting, usually through third part launchers such as Apex and Nova, rooting gives you access to the important files needed to make changes in folders that are usually hidden from users. Access to the /system/fonts folder allows users to install and replace custom fonts. You can also flash zip files from Recovery to install themes too. But if all that folder browsing isn’t for you, there are also a some great root-only theme applications to choose from.

Wrapping up

As you can see there’s plenty of stuff to do with your rooted handset. If those aren’t enough reasons to root your handset, then I don’t know what is. Why do you root your device?

  • MasterMuffin

    It’s most definitely a launcher, probably Buzz (or maybe themer)

  • xxxninja

    me too. can anyone confirm if it is buzz as mastermuffin suggested?

  • mike

    There are more options… the #4 option should be inner changeable for custom or stock roms IMO. Theoretically you could root, reap the other benefits, and remain on your stock Rom or back up a stock version and still recieve ota updates (which will usually defeat root). For touchwiz there are a few advantages to rooting and remaining stock rom wise. Also the danger in “bricking” devices is usually in flashing new roms anyway, not sure why for beginner’s this isn’t a good option.

  • dodz
  • Marty

    The big downsides are the lack of security and no Tap to Pay. Though Android Pay certainly leaves a lot to be desired. It’s very unreliable. So maybe no Tap to Pay isn’t a very big deal.

    • Abd

      Lack of security?
      You can install xPrivacy for security features that you can never ever get without root. Also one of the top reasons to root is to install Xposed Framework.

      • Marty

        The boot loader being unlocked opens the device to security concerns.

        • Android Developer

          isn’t there an option there to put password?

          • Marty

            Not sure, but a locked BL is stronger than a password…in my opinion.

          • Android Developer

            both are the same, no? you can go to “download” mode and flash the recovery you wish, no?
            I don’t remember how it’s done. Did it only a few times so far…

          • Marty

            Not with a locked BL. And when I’ve flashed a custom recovery on a late model device…like a Nexus 5, 6…it requires the system win formatted before the recovery will work.

          • Android Developer

            oh… so it’s now more secure. ok.

    • i_say_uuhhh

      Can you explain to me unreliable? Do you mean as in how safe it is? Or how unstable it is?

      I’ve used it about 8 times so far and no problems on getting it to work at all. Security wise, not sure but I check my Bank Account at the end of each week and so far no funny transactions.

      • Marty

        It’s unreliable in that sometimes…not every time, but definitely often…the transaction won’t process and lately I’ve been getting “Settings” force closes when trying to do a transaction. Sometimes when I hold my phone to the receiver, it vibrates over and over like it’s trying to initiate the transaction but won’t.

        When the process does work, I have to do a pattern unlock twice. I open my phone, put the phone to the receiver, the receiver prompts me to do my pattern unlock, then I put it back to the receiver and it works.

        And this isn’t just on one phone. I have a bunch of Android devices that this happens on. And it happens at different stores, but mostly I use AP at Seven Eleven and On Cue.

        • i_say_uuhhh

          Oh wow. I’m sorry to hear that. I guess I’m pretty lucky thus far. I’ve used in from places like Petco to small hole in the walls that didn’t know they had an NFC terminal and it has never messed up once. I do notice at times it takes longer than other times but for the most part on my use with it, it’s worked great on my 6P.

          • Marty

            I think it’s more location-centered for issues. Maybe the IT pros for SE and OC aren’t too “pro”. And the thought…because my mind tends to work that way…has occurred to me that the Android Pay competition might be paying these trouble locations to have these operational issues in some regions.

            Whatever the problems boil down to, Google needs to get on top of them and fix them. I know I’m not the only person having these issues with AP. Google’s support forum shows significant numbers.

  • Marc Perrusquia

    I can never get titanium to work, that’s why I just use 1 rom on each phone, and just dirty Flash new versions to stay up to date. Does anyone have a link to an alternative or guide to using titanium that’s actually recent. All the guides I’ve found are several years old. I’d love to just keep jumping from rom to rom but retain my data.

    • Marty

      Try Helium.

    • Arman

      I’ve had the same issue.

  • a

    Rooting has become somewhat unnecessary lately…
    The big upside used to be getting more out of your phone, and having a better design.
    Now with the latest versions putting more emphasis on design, and non-rooted phones being highly cusomizable, design has become a non-issue.
    In addition, get-more-out-of-your-phone advocates don’t have much of an argument, since modern phones are powerful enough with enough memory that tinkering is simply not worth the effort.

    I got a G4 out of the box, and it’s better than what weeks of rooting, tinkering and flashing would get me. Root- thanks but no thanks.

    • Android Developer

      i agree, but there are other advantages too.

    • Ira

      I will have to agree with this. Back when I bought my N5, I was just so excited to go for rooting and custom ROMs because my Sensation XE had so much stuff available, I just wanted more and more – and what better phone than Nexus, for that kind of stuff?

      This stopped once I got a job and could get a premium smartphone with little-to-no compromises, aka Sony Z2. This time around, custom ROMs weren’t as much of a hit on Z2 and phone was on contract + little bit more tricky on Sony phones, so I stuck with locked bootloader and just root. Come 5.1, I gave up on root completely because Banking Apps got so much more convenient for me and been enjoying complete Stock experience.

      Now I’m back to Nexus, 6P to be specific, and I’m liking Stock. Banking is one reason, but also because I don’t really need root. Bloatware is almost none on it (one or two GApps I don’t personally use), satisfied with stock DPI (something I didn’t on Z2), and for adblock I have Adguard which just sets up local VPN and block them that way – without the need to access host file (which requires root, another reason I had root on my Z2).

      Root and custom ROMs aren’t as “necessary” anymore. For older handsets / cheaper phones, sure – because who knows when device support will end these days – but or many newer (premium) phones, the changes aren’t huge. Mostly being able to min-max things and some features which are handy but not by any means a must-have.

      • memememe

        You can root the device, do the hostfile, then unroot.

        I agree with your overall experience. I also done with custom room & rooting now because the original ROM (of Samsung, Sony, LG, Nexus) is already great enough.

    • ASYOUTHIA

      If be happy not rooting if LG supported more than a few apps in dual window

    • excalibur1812

      Unnecessary, my butt. I am an LG person, too with 14 LG phones. However, I was intrigued by the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. So I bought one. AT&T version. Unfortunately, no root exists for this version. It comes with massive tons of bloatware which are completely unnecessary. Also, can’t install certain apps that require root, like Titanium Backup, Ad-free amongst others.
      You obviously haven’t rooted if you don’t think it’s necessary. The benefits far outweigh any risk. And I don’t have to worry about voiding my warranty because I bought it off-contract for almost $1,000. Most irritating device ever. The intrigue wore off very quickly. I will never again buy a xevice that cannot be rooted.

  • Anthony

    Always used to until my banking apps decided to no longer work with rooted phones. Miss changing my DPI, Boost my volume, block ads and more… I rely heavily on banking apps btw as I run a business so they take preference over rooting..

    • excalibur1812

      Switch banks.

      • Sergio Arroyo

        lmfaoo

    • Gustavo Santos

      Can’t you disable root in the SuperSU app before entering the bank app?

  • Jon Q

    it’s all good until you end up in a boot loop and brick your phone. oh well, part of the game

    • excalibur1812

      Boot loops don’t brick your phone. If it boots, it can be recovered.

      • Jon Q

        i’m new to the world of rooting, but i’m happy to say i did recover and my phone is back up and running.

  • RH

    I stopped bothering with rooting, custom roms etc over 2 years ago. It’s just not worth the time, effort or trouble.
    My phone has become a “toaster oven”…I just turn it on and use it. It’s a tool, not a toy to tinker with every evening
    after work. As long as my device is stable, I leave it alone. I don’t have enough time to play with it.
    I don’t buy from carriers anymore, so I don’t have any “bloat” or locked out features to deal with.
    I use to flash my device back in the day, (Dell Streak, Galaxy Note 1), but I don’t bother anymore.
    I got off the “flagship” train, because they are overpriced, I don’t play video games, don’t care about
    squeezing 0.01% more performance etc. I’ll take a mid spec stable device that works, over all these overpriced
    flagships.

    • peerpressure

      What’s your current phone? Which one have you found that works the best?

      I’m in the same situation. I buy mid-priced phones, and have stopped worrying about rooting once the experience didn’t equal the time spent.

      • Arman

        Just get a oneplus one, really cheap now and works great with 2 days battery life if they still sell it.

        • peerpressure

          Ahh, had one, sold it because the battery life was atrocious. Had to charge twice a day. It was really good on JB (getting 2 days of battery), but Lollipop killed it. I factory reset it and tried everything i could think of.

  • thumper

    THE ONLY REASON TO ROOT is to get RID of Ads.

  • A.M

    I root cause I need xposed framework & block ads + bloat then I get to try out other OS but I always seem to go back stock don’t like the L or MM ROMS

  • Rohit Raja

    Manufacturers are actually offering near “rooted” features nowadays that you wouldnt really need to root anymore. It was quite the necessity during 2010-2011-2012 period.

  • Alexandros Vourlakos

    AdAway, CPU control, Greenify, any bloatware deleter, system-wide file manager, coolify, customization (like unicon) and xposed.

  • Uninstalling system apps that came with the device, hardly has any advantage over disabling them, since no storage will be freed to store user data/apps.

  • Eddie Hicks

    If you plan to root don’t purchase a phone from Verizon. They lock the boot loader so tight no Dev can find a way to root. I have a Samsung S6 and it is the first phone I’m not able to root. Rooting is not for everyone but for those that want to should be able to, even knowing that it will void your warranty. I pay big money for my phones and should be able to do whatever I want with them and not being locked out by Verizon.

  • sh

    can i convert my 3G phone to 4G with rooted phone??

  • Iffinu Haddabrayne

    too bad it’s a PAID root app installer… spam