Feb 10th, 2015 publishUpdated   Sep 26th, 2016, 4:59 pm

rooted

If you’ve been using an Android phone for a while you’ve no doubt heard the term “root.” Android users love to talk about rooting and customizing their devices. Rooting your device opens it up to a world of possibilities. You may think Android is customizable out of the box, but it pales in comparison to what a rooted device can do. Still on the fence? We’ve got 5 reason why you should learn how to root your phone.

What is Rooting?

First things first: what does it mean to “root” your phone? The process of “rooting” your phone is to obtain root access. This allows you to dive much deeper into your phone’s system. It gives you access to everything in the operating system. That may sound very complicated, but rooting is only what you make it. You can do as little as use a couple of apps that require root access, or go all the way and flash a custom ROM. Anyone can do it, and there are several reasons why you might want to.

Why Root?

Boost Speed and Battery Life

battery

Android phones have been getting more and more powerful throughout the years. Still, some people want more power, and everyone wants better battery life. Rooting your phone gives you access to a whole new world of apps. These apps can help keep your phone running lean and mean.

Greenify is an app that attempts to keep your phone running smooth and easy on the battery. It’s a lofty goal, but with root access it can happen. Greenify helps you identify and put the misbehaving apps into hibernation when you are not using them, to stop them from lagging your device and leeching the battery. It works without root, but if you have root it can do the job even better.

A custom kernel is a more advanced way to get better performance and battery life. The kernel is responsible for helping your apps communicate with the hardware of your phone. Basically, the better you can make software and hardware work together the better your phone will perform. Some manufacturers don’t do a great job at this, but with a custom kernel you can fix their mistakes.

Backup your phone like never before

nexus 6 nexus 5

Android’s built-in back-up features are pretty good (and even better in Lollipop), but there is a lot more you can do with root. Imagine setting up a new phone and all your apps are exactly like you left them. Signed in, game progress synced, and ready for you to start using again.

With DataSync you can do exactly that. It allows you to sync your apps and all the data that goes with them to the cloud (or local storage). You can use the data to sync game progress between devices, make it easier to set up a new device, and more. If you own multiple Android devices, or get new ones often, this is an indispensable app.

Customize EVERYTHING

tinted

It’s no mystery that rooting your phone opens it up to tons of customization possibilities. Android is already more customizable than most OS’ by default, but when you root your phone it can do so much more. Xposed is an app that allows you to tweak nearly everything in your phone. You can essentially create your very own version of Android.

Xposed uses “modules” to customize certain things. For example, you can install  module that adds a “reboot” option to the power menu. Other modules can allow you to download location-restricted apps from the Play Store, choose the color of the nav bar, use apps in floating windows, and so much more. If that’s not enough customization for you there is one other thing you can do…

Flash a custom ROM

Paranoid Android VSenn

A custom ROM is the ultimate customization. You’re replacing the version of Android that came with your device with something completely new. Custom ROMs come in all shapes and sizes. Some look completely radical, while others are just slightly refined versions of stock ROMs. The choice of custom ROM will depend on what device you have.

Three popular ROMs that we like are CyanogenMod, Paranoid Android, and Android Open Kang Project. Each of these ROMs work on a wide variety of devices and offer unique features. CyanogenMod has become popular for being a refined and feature-rich version of stock Android. Paranoid Android takes Google’s design principles and extends them even further with tons of new features. AOKP similarly adds new features for power users.

Check to see if your device is supported by these ROMs by visiting their websites (CM, PA, AOKP).

Automation to the next level

tasker

One of the best things about Android is the ability to automate things. Apps can easily hook into the OS and communicate with each other, which makes the automation so powerful. Apps like IFTTT can do a lot of cool stuff without root access, but you can do even more if you decide to root.

Tasker is another automation app that can do a lot without root access, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Open it up to root access and you have a world of possibilities. Tasks such as toggling 3G, GPS, changing CPU speed, turning the screen on, and others require root access. You’ll never have to remember to turn on WiFi or dim the screen again.

How To Root

Lollipop charging

Now that we’ve got you interested in obtaining root access we can talk about how to do it. There is no one end-all and be-all way to root every phone. Each and every device presents different obstacles and quirks. The good news is that most phones nowadays are relatively easy to root, especially if you have a Nexus device. If you don’t have a Nexus, but you have a popular flagship, you should be fine.

The first thing you’ll want to do is head to Android Forums and find the forum for your particular device. You should find some sort of guide for rooting that device, like this thread in the Nexus 6 forum. Here are guides for some of the most popular devices right now:

The actual rooting process may be slightly different from phone to phone, but there are a few things everyone should do before they get started.

  1. Back-up and save everything you want to keep.
  2. Enable USB debugging in the Developer options
  3. Depending on what you’re doing, you may need to download the Android SDK

The most important thing you can do when rooting your device is to follow all the directions to a T. Don’t skip steps or try to do things differently. Rooting a device is not difficult, but if you make a mistake it could result in a bricked device. No one wants that. Once you have the power of root there is nothing you can’t do. Welcome to a brave new world of Android tinkering.

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