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Cell phones can do virtually everything these days. Like I've stated many times before, I avoid using my computer at all costs. I will try every route possible on my tablet or phone before booting up my PC to do a simple task. But no phone is perfect – each manufacturer and its respective platform have flaws and limitations of their own. In the end, it boils down to which combination is best suited to meet your needs – which one has the most manageable set of flaws that you can live with without pulling your hair out.

Keep in mind that when I say “flaws,” I don't necessarily mean gimp buttons on a hardware keyboard or a flimsy battery door that nearly breaks every time you have to open it. Problems like these are certainly prevalent and I suggest avoiding manufacturers with a history of outstanding hardware problems. Instead, by “flaws,” I'm talking battery life, software hiccups, lag, etc. More often than not, issues like these (and many of the limitations) can be fixed by altering the software, or “hacking” and “modding” your phone. Many users take to these methods to open up the capabilities of their phone and to customize it to cater to their needs. For example, if a phone does not allow Wi-Fi tethering by default (thanks to wireless providers prohibiting it), one might hack their phone to enable it and avoid the monthly fee.

I'm sure every mobile platform out there has some third-party developer working on mods, but Android and iOS are the most widely known for their heavily supported development communities. The two methods of “hacking” these operating systems are more popularly known as “rooting” (Android) or “jailbreaking” (iOS). In most cases, people throw around these terms and go through the process without ever truly understanding what they've done or what to do after the fact.

Rooting your Android device is a very raw and poor description of what is actually happening. Essentially, you are gaining access to the root directory on your phone. Think of it as granting yourself administrative privileges over your device by installing an application called Superuser – you can do things and allow processes that would not otherwise be allowed like toying with CPU settings and removing carrier installed applications. To root your Android device, you first have unlock the bootloader and (optionally) flash a custom recovery.

The process of the jailbreak is quite different but the goal is the same. Jailbreaking your iOS device allows the user to install packages (themes, patches and apps) that are not normally available through the App Store.

Although the main concept behind jailbreaking and rooting are very similar, what can be done afterwards is largely different. Being open source, the possibilities with Android are much more vast. Not only can you install patches, themes and applications that would not normally be available, you will also be allowed to flash entirely customized software, otherwise known as a ROM. The user has much more control over what can be done, depending on the level of development support for their specific phone. Custom kernels, ROMs and various other tweaks can drastically change battery life, performance and appearance. All of this varies with every Android device available; however, there are some widely supported ROMs that generally yield the same experience across all supported devices like CyanogenMod or MIUI.

Hacking a jailbroken iOS device is an entirely different ballgame. Although the possibilities are great, you are limited to what is available in the third-party application and tweaks catalog, Cydia. (You can, of course, add different repositories for extras that aren't initially found in Cydia, but it's generally more of the same plus some pirated applications.) Such tweaks range from different ways in which you can arrange your home screen icons and the look of the icons to how notifications work. You can tweak and theme your jailbroken iOS device seven ways 'till Sunday, but it will always be the same software with a slightly different look.

Despite the comparative limitations of jailbreaking, it does have its advantages. For instance, installing a tweak or patch on iOS is virtually no different than the process of installing an application. In the end, you're only using a third-party application catalog. And if you install something that is draining your battery or having adverse effects on performance, it's typically just as easy to undo the change as it is to install it. Modding an Android phone, however, can be a rather laborious process and requires some computer knowledge and setup beforehand. And if you don't create backup image fairly often, installing a glitchy patch may lead to you wiping the slate and starting fresh.

As always, dealing with unauthorized or unsigned software can be risky and can lead to other issues, especially if you don't know exactly what you're getting yourself into. I always recommend taking your time, reading thoroughly and doing research before you jump into something all willy-nilly. Slow down, learn of any problems you may run into, know the solutions (if there isn't a solution, you can avoid running yourself into a corner by reading ahead) and skip anything you do not understand.

Also know that I am not encouraging you to root or jailbreak your phone, nor is PhoneDog responsible for any damages to your phone that may occur in the process. If you partake in rooting or jailbreaking, you are doing so at your own risk.

Knowing what your device can and can't do, and if you can mod it to do what you need is important. After all, phones are a staple in the way we live our lives. My suggestion is, if you want an open playground to run free and try all sorts of software customization and crazy performance tweaks, dip your toe into the Andriod pool. If you prefer to tweak the look and feel of your phone and don't care to delve into super nerdy realm of kernel tweaking and ROM flashing, stick with the more simplistic yet functional iOS device. Who knows, you may not even need to mod anything to accomplish what you need. When in doubt, always ask around first.


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98 Reactions to this post

"Have you rooted your device?"


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Anonymous how do i root my Pantech Breakout 4G on Verizon?
Ateeb Tallaat Khan No too scared
Smiley Garcia How can i root my hauwei ascend 2
Ismael Vargas ROOT my MT4G s-off overclock to 1.2mhz
Aaron Early www.xda-developers.com/
Andrew Brown Yup, launch day eco, rooted a couple months later. Its like getting a new phone every time I flash a new rom. Love it!
Tony Shane Smallwood Yep, rooted vibrant- running the latest bionix
???? ???? ??????? Hell yeah! hTC thunderbolt running sense 3.0 & android 2.3.4
Dinesh Parkash superuser makes super use of android....
Ladytoybox Reviews Rooted HTC sensation with @coredroid ROM its so much better
Mohnim Mazhar Yes I have
Taynia Dejesus No but, I want to. Just don't know how to do it
Fudge Sohumble Deshields Do u like that rom for ur droid x
Jose Pablo Islas What? There is still such thing as unrooted devices?!
Jonathan Carrillo Ujum DROID x
Jermain Filicia How can I root my BB torch 9800 and my nokia n900? Please help me! And what are the benefits of it?
Suryo Lee rooted my samsung galaxy S2 just 5 menit after i open the factory box
Kenny Jackson ADR6400L on CM7
Enrique Calderon G1 CM6, HTC G2 MIUI, CM7, DEFY MIUI, CM7 , LG G2X EAGLESBLOOD 2.3.3!
Ben Broyles Fascinate / glitch kernel / miui / oc'd 1.3 gig and loving it!!!
Thibaut De Raes Rooted Samsung galaxy spica, rooted htc desire, rooted samsung galaxy s2
Per Kristian Sørpebøl Rooted my desire hd the first week.
Nawf Side LOL the first day I got it, LG thrill 4G :D
Keaston Brooks Been rooting and flashing Roms since my first android phone the Droid Eris two years ago. I'm typing this on my nook color running cm7. I think root and custom Roms make the android OS leap years better than any OS! Who can't. Wait til ice cream sanwhich and cm8!!!!
Steve Moore Yes. The Sprint Hero was my first.
Zach Cline Anthony there's no such thing as the best rom. It's all personal preference. Most people that are rooted flash a ton before they settle on one that they like.
Corey Walker Nexus one rooted running cyanogenmod 7
Prabhath Jay first thing was rooting and flashing a custom rom
Dan Cooke Yes both Droid and Charge!
Fudge Sohumble Deshields Whats the best rom
Zach Cline Gilbert what does your friend have?
Zach Cline Erik you don't have any business rooting.
Gilbert Ramirez Lomeli How. U do the. I wana. root my friends phone but I. Need. A app or program. The. Will root. Any android
Erik Isaksen Oh I have an original Cliq w 2.1
Erik Isaksen Thought bout it but nada clue how to go bout it nor what rom to use ... suggestions?
Nick Kathrein Yes, Nexus One
Zach Cline Also - For the people that question was root does,It does nothing initially , Your device stays the same unless you start flashing different roms to it, Or if you start tweaking things like the CPU , Getting rid of bloatware, Changing your boot logo/animation . It just basically lets you do whatever you want.
James Vincent If I didn't I would still be juggling apps due to low internal storage on this phone... link2sd FTMFW
Armando Sanchez Nah. My devoce is fine as is.
Adam Van Weelden There's no point in having these amazing devices if you can't use them the way they're mentioned to be used.
Jacob Hobbs Yeah I have a BlackBerry Storm 2 And I Can do whatever on this thing
Adan Soriano If you dont know what root is or what the benefits are you dont need it.
Shivam Patel Anyone know how to root the Motorola xoom?
Adan Soriano Yes, dhd cm7 nightlies.
Markus Bartosch Yeah : D Desire cm7
Gerald Dawkins I haven't yet, I have the sensation and just enjoy it stock, will soon. Rooted g1 and vibrant constantly.
Francis Mogote oh, and MIUI FTW!!!!!
Francis Mogote absolutely
Samuel Claudio Yes, I have the sensation Rom on my mytouch 4G.
Fudge Sohumble Deshields @what's a great rom for ur phone
Zach Cline @ Don daman- Oh jeez. You don't have any business being rooted.
Eric Casanova Cm7 on hd2
Zach Cline @Larry- Think of it as being the administrator on your laptop. It gives you root access to your devices system. Which means you can basically do whatever you want. Some people get into flashing custom ROMs which i never cared for. Others root to remove or freeze bloatware and to tether without paying the $20 a month extra verizon charges. Some of the stuff you can do is cool, But it's mostly a pain. If you get into flashing roms you always have to make sure things are up to date because nine times out of ten something doesn't work right, And you'll have to flash updates better known as nightlies that address the rom's bugs. In my opinion it's not worth it. If you don't know what you're doing you can screw your device up badly. I don't know how many comments i've seen on youtube from people that root and have no clue how to unroot or sbf. Two things you have to know how to do if you want to be rooted.
Fudge Sohumble Deshields Whats a gd rom for droid X
BigChuck Rossetti Motorola Droid 3 rooted with all the bloatware removed.... stripped down to basic Android 2.3.4 .... always chillin with 220mb of free ram... dual core runs like NASCAR at Talladega.... smokes anything out there
Mike Nguyen Htc sensation...
Enrique Calderon Every single one of them!
Nick Maass Mark Fisher its time to upgrade.
Gerric Culanay yup, mytouch m4 slide running tasteless vemon rom.
Anthony Scott Pancurak Rooted using HTC sensation with no issues.
Ethan Hoang rooted = making the device truly yours
Brett James Burgoyne Rooted my G2 some time ago
Mark Fisher Jr. How can I get a htc g1 rooted to android 2.3?
Rodrick Darling Rooting, roms, all that is the truth....... If your careful and follow directions nothing should fail and you can always revert back for warranty issues ( rootd hackd hd2 )
Anonymous Larry it gives you full control over your device to rom many third party apps or changes roms and even control the processor speed.
Christopher E. Truty Rooted evo 4g running Evo Deck ROM
Anonymous I got a Samsung captivate running the I9000 2.3.4 rom with tons of custom rom add ons from speed to unique boot screen.
Juan Carlos O yeah!! The powerfull htc hd2...with androiid 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, wiindows phone 7, ucuntu and honeycomb!!! XD
Tonio Johnson Yep. Can't use all my apps without good old root.
Larry L Roe Can some one explain what does it doe when u root yo phone
Gerson Vasquez Nope, don't find it necessary.
Michael Miller Yup. Droid x.
David Hilgendorf Yup! G1, Cliq, Droid, Droidx, DroidX2 and soon to be BIONIC
Andrew Podesta Vibrant/bionix1.3.1/overstock 1.5.2/voodoo control plus
Angel Miguel Peguero yes thats the only way i can get wifi tether lol 4 free
Ming Ye Yes, I did. CM7 is awesome!
Derek Lombardi Rooted my G1 back in the day..Custom HTC Hero ROMs were all the rage back then... Rooted my Nexus One Jan 7 2010.. Didn't even make it 24 hrs.. When the N1 gets replaced by the next Nexus device.. that too.. will have superuser access.. I dont know how people get on without having root access.. It should be standard... Fastboot OEM unlock
Foo Joon Sunn CM7 is the only correct way to run android
Brian Jones Even though she would never use the exploits, I've rooted my wife's G2x as well, just because I can lol
Diego Segura Yep. LG Optimus V.
Orlando Maravilla Yup galaxy s 4g
Brad Wilson Droid charge rooted rinning froyo no rom tho=same sluggisg preformance compared to newer phones, tethering like a boss tho, tethering on the charge tho tends to overheat my batt after awhile
Andres Pereda Hell yea, i rooted my EVO 4G 30 minutes after i got it
Facebook user Be careful of rooting. You really need to know what you are doing. We buy used cell phones and have had numerous issues with rooted phones that have messed up some basic functionality of the phone. Unfounately we can't use or pay for these phones. Jail breaking an iPhone isn't much of an issue.
Sam Rick Of course I did.that's the beauty of android.
Gerard Anaya Yup. Dell Streak rooted.
Chris Mcnug Michniewicz Yes tbolt running 2.3.4 over clocked to 1.6g
Asher Enciso samsung moment rooted ftw BABY! haha its been a looooong time




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