Rooting Your Phone: Your Complete Guide 
Smartphone manufacturers impose software limitations that prevent you from downloading certain apps or replacing system settings. Rooting your Android Phone allows you to take control of your device and unlock a wealth of customization options. With root access, you can:
- Download any app
- Remove pre-installed bloatware
- Improve performance
- Extend the battery life
Android rooting makes your device truly your own. But before you jump in, it's essential to understand the potential hazards:
- Broken or bricked phone
- Voided warranties
- Compatibility issues
- Security vulnerabilities
If you're determined to root your Android device, remember it's not for those with limited technical experience. Rooting is not a simple process and may involve some challenges. So do your research, take the necessary precautions, and be willing to face the potential risks. We outline rooting, the risks, and benefits, and how to do it.
What is rooting?
Rooting allows you to gain administrative or "root access" to your Android device. You can access and modify system files and settings that are typically forbidden. With this superuser access, you can make unlimited changes to your OS and get around any restrictions imposed on your device by your manufacturer or carrier.
Rooting an Android is comparable to jailbreaking an Apple iPhone. You dive deeper into the phone's sub-system and can customize its operating system - modify it or install apps the manufacturer wouldn't usually permit.
However, rooting comes with risks, such as voiding warranties and installing custom ROMs, a modified Android version. Before rooting your device, it's crucial to exercise caution, back up your data, and understand the potential benefits and drawbacks.
What are the benefits of rooting your phone?
With rooting, you have freedom over your devices and data and can tailor the software to your needs. While there are risks, the benefits include:
1) Remove bloatware and free up space.
With root access, you can uninstall any pre-installed apps you don't want or need. Removing bloatware boosts performance by freeing up RAM, processing power, and available storage space.
2) Improve performance and extend battery life
Rooting unlocks the ability to tweak settings, overclock your processor, and install custom kernels - modified versions of the device's operating system. Custom kernels can help enhance your device's performance or battery life, enabling you to tailor it to your needs.
With root access, you can optimize your device's performance, resulting in:
- Faster app launch times
- Smoother gameplay
- Better multitasking
Overclocking your device's processor gives a significant performance boost but may also increase battery consumption and risk overheating.
3) Unlock unrestricted app downloads
Android devices restrict app downloads to approved platforms like the Google Play store. While this is partly for security reasons, it also grants tech giants control and censors which apps you can access. Rooting your device removes these restrictions and allows you to download apps from any source.
After rooting, you can access AdAway, a free, open-source ad blocking app to block annoying ads that interrupt your browsing experience and drain your battery. Install Greenify to extend your phone's battery life by 4 hours daily.
Fully control your phone and enhance your Android experience by bypassing app store restrictions.
4) Customize your device to your exact preferences
You can modify themes, graphics, and other settings by gaining root access to meet your unique requirements. Most smartphones limit customization options to prevent damage, but rooting allows you to reclaim control over your device.
5) Access to the latest Android versions
Some phone manufacturers cease providing updates to newer android versions for older phones. Rooting allows you access to the latest Android updates.
6) Protect your data with backups
Our devices store significant personal data and losing that information can be a major problem. By rooting your Android Phone, you can back up any app's data and transfer it directly to another device. This backup process can be a lifesaver if your system crashes and you need to reinstall the OS.
With root access, you can use free apps like Titanium Backup to back up and restore your data. You can protect yourself against data loss and ensure your Android device is always ready when needed.
However, remember that rooting can come at a price – your mobile security.
What are the risks of rooting your phone?
Rooting gives you more freedom basically by breaking the manufacturer's security settings. So, your device is more vulnerable to malware and hacking. Here are some of the risk factors:
1) Voiding your warranty
It's legal to root your phone, but it can void your device's warranty, so you won't be eligible for free repairs or replacements. If you need to return the device for repair, you can flash the software backup you made to restore it.
2) Bricking your phone
Rooting your Android device can turn it into a useless brick if you:
- make a mistake
- use an incompatible method
- use outdated software
To avoid this, it's crucial to:
- Thoroughly research the rooting process or your specific Android model
- Stay up-to-date on the latest rooting methods
- Ensure the custom ROM you flash is specifically for your phone
- Follow the directions carefully and methodically
If you're unsure how to root your device, leave it to someone with more technical knowledge. It is better to avoid the risk of bricking your device.
3) Security risks
Rooting your phone increases its vulnerability to malware and hacking. Be cautious about what you download, as some apps can steal your data, install malware, and give hackers access to your phone.
4) Lose access to some apps
Some high-security apps like Netflix, Android Pay, or Pokemon Go will stop after rooting. They check whether your device has been compromised before letting you use them. You might be able to circumvent these limitations, but your mileage will vary.
How to root your Android device
The android rooting process will vary depending on your brand and software version. Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. If you're considering rooting your device, you'll need to research the specific steps for your device and software version.
8 Steps guide to root your Android device
1) Backup your phone
Rooting will wipe all data from your phone, so back up everything before you start. You can use your google account or a third-party app to backup. Always backup your current ROM before you flash a new one. Also, ensure your device is fully charged before you begin.
2) Turn on USB Debugging
Enabling USB Debugging allows your phone to communicate with a computer running Android SDK to do advanced operations like rooting. Once enabled, you can use a rooting tool to send instructions to your device without touching it, making the rooting process quicker and easier.
- Go to your Settings menu.
- Scroll down and tap on About phone.
- Find the Build number option and tap it seven times quickly to enable developer options on your device.
- Go back to the main settings menu and scroll down to find Developer options.
- Tap Developer options and find the USB debugging option.
- Toggle the switch to turn on USB debugging.
3) Unlock your bootloader
A bootloader is a program that loads the operating system when you turn your device on. It locks the device to the manufacturer's approved operating system. Unlocking the bootloader allows you to install custom operating systems or modify the device, but it will wipe your data, void your warranty, and pose security risks.
- Allow bootloader unlocking in Developer Options → OEM unlocking
- Connect your device to your computer via USB.
- Download and install the Android SDK Platform-Tools for Windows on your computer. Install the adb and fastboot options.
- Open the command prompt. Type cmd in the Windows address bar and press Enter to load it.
- Boot your device to bootloader mode by entering: adb reboot bootloader
- In the command prompt, type fastboot flashing unlock or fastboot OEM unlock to unlock the bootloader.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to confirm that you want to unlock the bootloader.
4) Install custom recovery software
You'll need to install a custom recovery tool like TWRP to install custom firmware and back up your device.
- Connect your device to your computer.
- Open Windows command prompt.
- Enter the necessary commands to install the custom recovery tool onto your device.
- Once installed, you can use the custom recovery tool to install custom firmware and back up your device.
5) Install a custom ROM
Installing a custom ROM involves replacing your standard OS with a modified version. Custom ROMs are created by independent developers and offer:
- improved performance and battery life
- new features
- latest Android OS version
- custom skins
How to Find a Custom ROM
Custom ROMs are device-specific, so you'll need to download a ROM made explicitly for your device. Also, multiple variants exist for the same device based on country.
To find a compatible custom ROM, you must know its manufacturer codename. Knowing the manufacturer's codename is essential because it helps ensure that the custom ROM you choose is compatible with your specific device. Google "manufacturer codename for [device name]" or check the device's page on Wikipedia.
Once you have found a custom ROM suitable for your device, you can download it onto your phone and use your custom recovery tool to install it.
How to install a custom ROM:
- Backup your device to avoid data loss before installing a custom ROM in case of any issues.
- Find and download the appropriate custom ROM for your device from a trusted source, such as XDA Forums.
- Transfer the downloaded .zip file to your device's internal storage. Don't extract it.
- ROMS doesn't include Google apps, so you must install a separate GApps package or via the adb sideload method in the Windows command prompt.
- Boot TWRP into your phone's recovery mode. Search your phone model on the LineageOS wiki. You'll need to find the unique button combination that reboots your phone into recovery.
- Select TWRP's Install option to choose the custom ROM file you downloaded.
- Wait for the installation process, then reboot your device to enjoy the new features and improved performance offered by the custom ROM.
6) Choose a rooting app
The simplest method is to use a root app that lets you root your phone with a single click via Windows or Android.
Kingo Root is a free root app that works on either Windows or Android to help you get root permission.
7) Download Root Checker
Download an app such as Root Checker to verify if your device has been successfully rooted. Running this app will quickly confirm if your device has superuser access and is successfully rooted.
8) Install a root management app
Installing a root management app helps manage security risks from rooting as they give you more control over which apps have access to your device's root permissions.
Magisk Manager is a popular open-source app that allows you to manage your phone's root permissions. With Magisk, you can grant or deny individual apps access to the root, ensuring your phone is secure. This extra layer of security can give you peace of mind when using rooted apps on your device.
Rooting gives you complete control over your Android device, allowing you to customize it to your specific needs, install apps unavailable on the Google Play store, and improve performance and battery life.
However, it's important to remember that rooting comes with risks. You could lose access to certain apps, void your warranty, or even "brick" your phone if you're not careful. It's essential to carefully weigh these risks against the benefits before proceeding.
If you decide to root your phone, do your research, and follow the proper steps to minimize any potential issues. With the right precautions, rooting your phone can be a great way to unlock its full potential.
Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.