Jailbreak or Root? Breaking free from the shacklesAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Ever since getting one of my first Windows Mobile devices, an HTC Touch Pro, I had been interested in increasing its performance as I was tired of just how much lag the UI on the device was causing – not to mention it was running Windows Mobile. Windows Mobile on its own had enough problems to justify any tweaking, but with Sense included it slowed the device down considerably and could easily be confused for a jar of molasses. Thus came the day I discovered how to root a device.
After I learned how to root a device it seemed like I couldn’t enjoy a device in its entirety without rooting it first. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting a new device as much as the next phoneatic, but what I love more is that I know if I get tired of a device there are an infinite amount of ways to change it up. This has significantly helped reduce the number of times I have walked into a store “just to look” and walk out with a brand new device and a huge hole in my pocket. Rooting became my new hobby, and I was changing ROMS as often as I changed clothes.
When I switched from Android to iPhone, I was skeptical because although I had heard the term ‘Jailbreak’ before, I had never taken the time to really figure out what all this jailbreaking entailed. I had zero experience with iPhones and the entire concept was new to me. Although I loved the smooth and seamless transitions I experienced with my iPhone 4S, something I had never encountered with any of my Androids, I was disappointed at just how much I couldn’t customize my iPhone. There’s only so many times I can be satisfied with changing my wallpaper and the brightness of the screen. After a bit of research I decided it would be worth the try. Jailbreaking certainly helped in what I could customize, and it is a whole new world from what iOS initially allows you change. For that, jailbreaking is very worth it in my eyes.
After experiencing both, I’d have to say I prefer rooting Androids to jailbreaking iPhones.
Despite all that’s good with iPhones, I still feel quite constricted regarding the design of the phone even after a jailbreak has been performed on the device. On iOS 5 the coolest thing I did with my phone was add a Sense clock to my home screen that kept me updated on weather in my area. There were a lot of cool things I saw that you could do with a jailbroken iPhone, but it seemed to take a lot more effort than it ever did with a rooted Android. I grew tired of customizing my iPhone before complete customizations could be made, and for that I can’t blame anybody but Apple for making it difficult for its users to be able to make our phones more personal to us. If a Marimba ringtone goes off in a room full of iPhone users, how many people would stop to look for their phone? Darn near everyone, I’m willing to bet. At least Apple could throw us a bone here and make it so we change a little more than just the wallpaper.
While jailbreaking might be difficult to use for customization, it does have one thing going for it. It is much easier to jailbreak an iPhone than it is to root many Androids. After you download the jailbreak software you just plug in your phone and click a button. With Androids, a lot of the times the “One Click” option isn’t available and you have to put in codes and all sorts of crazy things to get rooted, which increases your risk of doing something terribly wrong and bricking your phone. So if you just want to use your phone as a free WiFi hotspot then jailbreaking would seem to be the most convenient.
Both jailbreaking and rooting have their pros and cons, but ultimately I don’t think I’ll ever be able to own a smartphone and not end up tweaking it in some way. I think after you experience the freedom that first time it’s hard to go back.
Readers, how do you feel about breaking free? Do you prefer to jailbreak or root? Are you always tinkering with new builds for your device, or do you prefer to leave it as it is and play it safe? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!