More or less, I've been a rooting junkie since the first time I got my hands on an Android phone. My very first was the CDMA HTC Hero on Sprint and it only took me a few days to realize that there were limitations and that the out of box experience wasn't quite up to snuff. Within a week, I had rooted the Hero and kick-started my obsession with rooting, flashing ROMs and exploring all of the ins and outs of Android.
That was over two years and at least 40 Android devices ago. Since then, I've rooted and ROM'd every Android phone and tablet (the Kindle Fire, for instance) that has crossed my path. Some, I did it because I needed to in order to enjoy the device, others I did it because it was a tiny challenge (DROID X, ThunderBolt, Inspire). But I have spent a week and two days with the Galaxy Nexus now and haven't been remotely interested in rooting.
But why? What could possibly posses me, a rooting and ROM addict, not to root a Nexus of all devices? (To most Android purists and Nexus die-hards, that's like a mortal sin.) Here are just a few reasons why:
Unlocking the bootloader wipes the device
For starters, if you're going to root the Galaxy Nexus, you have to first unlock the bootloader. If you're going to do it at all, do it early, before you spend the time setting everything up. When you unlock the bootloader, in normal fashion, it wipes the device. All of your precious time spent setting up your beautiful Nexus will have been in vain. After a week with the Nexus, I finally have everything exactly how I want it – folders and widgets in the perfect place, all of my apps logged in and synced, etc. The last thing I want to or have time to do is start from scratch.
Overclocking and underclocking the processor
Battery life has been an issue with almost every Android phone I've ever owned – some obviously worse than others. The HTC ThunderBolt would only manage six hours per charge (without or without use) when I first got my hands on it. Exploring different ROMs and different clock speeds for the processor, I managed to squeeze at least a full day of use out of the ol' 'Bolt. Unlike most devices before, the Galaxy Nexus has been respectable in terms of battery life. Still, it's not mind-blowing or mountains better than devices of yesteryear, but at least I can leave the apartment without fear of it dying on me by noon ... or mid-afternoon, even.
Typically, when I buy an Android device, it isn't a Nexus. However, when I bought the Nexus One and Nexus S, one of the first things I wanted to do was root them and flash custom ROMs. I've always preferred stock Android over custom versions like Sense UI or TouchWiz. But even with stock Froyo and Gingerbread, pure vanilla Android just wasn't enough to keep me satisfied for more than a few weeks. The CyanogenMod efforts have always felt like an extended stock ROM. And while there are slightly tweaked Ice Cream Sandwich ROMs making an appearance in certain forums around the Web, I would rather just wait it out for CM9. Even then, I may continue to use purely stock Android 4.0 as long as possible.
Other flashable mods
If you've ever been part of the Android development world – either yourself a dev or just an end user looking for a better experience – you know that Android forums are always full of different hacks and mods beyond just full ROMs. Of all of the Android devices out there, the Nexus line has always managed to muster more development support, because it's ... well, a developer phone.
The only two things that I have come across that I would like to see in the form of a mod would be the ability to remap the volume up button to snap a picture from within the stock camera app and the ability to permanently set the User Agent String to Desktop. There is nothing I dislike more than snapping a picture by tapping an on-screen button. It's counterintuitive, even with image stabilization. And when it comes to today's smartphones, I hate constantly being redirected to mobile sites.
Native screen capture function
One of my main reasons for rooting in the past was to take screen captures without plugging into a computer and firing up ADB. But the ability to take screen shots in Android without root access was added in Gingerbread, though few devices and software took advantage of it. On the Galaxy Nexus, holding volume down and the power button for a few seconds will take a screen shot. I'm bad for taking hundreds of screen shots, and being able to without rooting or using another app is fantastic.
Maybe I don't want to root because I'm finally getting tired of setting my phone up every week and I know I'll fall into the habit of flashing a million different ROMs. But the point I'm trying to make is that with every update, Android is becoming more and more pleasing to use. And Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Nexus has almost entirely removed my desire to root. I am perfectly content with everything, as is.
Now, I'm not trying to say that I will never root the Galaxy Nexus. I fully admit that I will probably cave and root at some point down the road – possibly once a stable CyanogenMod 9 ROM makes an appearance. But for now, I'm perfectly happy with my unrooted, stock Galaxy Nexus.
What about you, guys and gals? Have any of you Galaxy Nexus owners taken the plunge and rooted yours? What for? Have you flashed any ROMs yet? Overclocked or underclocked? Or did you root just to ... root?