Would you root your Android device to get the newest software?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: July 22, 2012

As companies start rolling out announcements regarding smartphones getting upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, it’s pretty easy to get lost in the irony that they’re getting updated to a version of Google’s mobile OS that’s already “old.” But, there’s nothing really wrong with being one version behind, right? I can understand why it would be hard, though, when the next version up is so good.

In all honesty, when these staggered updates start happening, I’ve never been super eager to get that latest version of Android. Having the phone do what I need in the version I had at the time seemed good enough.

It’s different with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, though. All of the changes that Google has introduced into the new mobile operating system, specifically Project Butter and Google Now, I think it makes perfect sense for people to want to have the current version of Android, and not one version behind.

We’ve seen Google roll out the update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to Nexus devices already. The Nexus S is even flaunting the new software. The Galaxy Nexus GSM model landed the update right when Google said it would, too, so that’s a good thing. It would seem that the devices that should be running Android 4.1 are running it. Except the CDMA-based versions of Nexus handsets out there in the wild.

While the GSM-based models are getting their updates, those who managed to pick up the Galaxy Nexus for Verizon or Sprint, or still have the Nexus S 4G for Sprint’s network are still waiting to hear when their update will be coming. These are the only Nexus devices that are tied directly to a carrier here in the States, so it isn’t surprising that we haven’t heard exactly when they will get updated. If we look at past behavior, especially when it comes to Verizon, we can imagine that the Android 4.1 update will take several months before it finally starts rolling out to owners.

We won’t get into whether or not we’re talking about a “real” Nexus device here, because I think that conversation has been run into the ground. The simple fact is that the Galaxy Nexus, and Nexus S 4G, is tied to a carrier if that’s how you bought it. Because of this, it has to go through the process of seeing a software update. Just the way it is, unfortunately, and instead of wishing that the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus S 4G wasn’t tied to a carrier, the hope should just be that the testing process goes quickly.

So here’s my question to you, if you do have a Nexus S 4G or Galaxy Nexus tied to a carrier: are you going to wait for the update?

For me, after I started playing with the Nexus 7, I couldn’t wait to start using Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on my daily driver. On my phone. So I got a Galaxy Nexus for Verizon, and then I started doing some digging and common sense reflection. Verizon’s update is coming, yes, but there’s no telling when. It may take months. It could pop up here in the next few days, but I wouldn’t bet on it. But I got the Galaxy Nexus specifically to use Android 4.1, so it would seem that I really only had one choice.

I did something that I used to do a lot, especially with the original Motorola DROID, and even more with the DROID Incredible by HTC. I rooted the Galaxy Nexus, and then I found the best custom ROM built around the AOSP for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. After that, I loaded it up on the phone, and I haven’t looked back since. It’s everything I thought it would be, thanks to the Nexus 7, but better because I have a cellular connection everywhere I go and can actually take advantage of Google Now when I want to.

As I’ve stated in the past, I am an impatient person when it comes to my technology. I’ll readily admit that when something new is announced, I want it. If there’s a way to get it, I’ll get it. I am not personally a huge fan of having to root a device and add custom software to something I think should be running it “stock,” but I can’t fight the reality anymore. I can’t just keep hoping and wishing that the update will come soon, when the past is a clear indicator that “soon” isn’t anywhere in the equation.

Are you going to root your Nexus device, if you’re tied to a carrier? Are you that interested in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to make that jump? Have you already rooted it? Or are you someone who can sit by and wait for the official update? Let me know in the comments!