Should you root your new Android phone?

Congratulations on your new smartphone. I take it the reason you’re considering rooting your new Android phone is because you heard that it opens up more features to you…does it? In this piece, I’ll explain what rooting is, why you should consider it and why you should avoid it. You should then be in a better position to choose how to proceed.

What does it mean to root your Android phone?

The word ‘root’ (from Linux) is the equivalent of Administrator. It means gaining Administrator level permissions on your device. The benefit of this access level is that you can modify the Operating System (OS) of your smartphone as you please.

Why would you want to modify the OS?

Smartphones ship with certain restrictions intentionally put in place by manufacturers. It could be security, network or feature restrictions. Rooting allows you bypass these restrictions. Let’s say – for example – you buy a phone only to learn that certain features have been limited in your region / location. Rooting allows you tinker with whatever part of the OS the restriction originates from, lifting it in the process.

Some models ship with malware embedded in the OS. With root access, you can fish out and remove such malware.

What is bootloader unlocking?

You might have heard of  ‘unlocking bootloader’. Its often a precursor for rooting your Android phone. Unlocking your bootloader allows you flash / write unofficial images (parts of an OS) to your device. Not all devices require bootloader unlocked to gain root but its advised you do so if you intend to root to avoid issues.

What are the risks of rooting

Two very important risks to weigh are:

  1. Security: In the event that your phone gets hacked, the hacker can do more damage with root access. Some exploits depend on root access so rooting automatically makes you vulnerable to such attacks.
  2. Bootloop / Brick: Whenever you tinker with your device’s OS, there’s a risk of damaging it. This is what’s referred to as bricking i.e your device is just as good as a brick.

Can I enjoy my smartphone without rooting?

Definitely! The main reason rooting was a thing was that devices back then shipped with limited specs and several limitations (for marketing reasons) so root enabled the owner push the device beyond certain limits. Smartphones these days ship with several powerful features and apps out of the box so there are fewer reasons to need root.

Have you ever rooted your smartphone?

Are you pro or anti rooting?

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