Has Android gotten to the point where rooting and flashing ROMs aren’t as important?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Whether you decide to root your Android or not is a purely personal decision. There are known risks associated with rooting your phone, such as possibly bricking the device (that is, essentially making it useless - like a brick), possibly voiding your warranty, or getting so frustrated at the process that you throw your phone against a wall anyway (not a wise choice). However, the benefits to rooting your phone are just as, if not more enticing, than the reasons for not doing it. You can get rid of that pesky bloatware, speed up your phone’s performance, and further customize your phone more than any launcher can do for you. Root access can be fun and beneficial if you’re willing to forego the risks.
I’ve been rooting my Androids since my very first one. I don’t remember exactly how it got started, but I remember being so frustrated with an old Windows Mobile phone I owned that I had to find a way to either speed up its performance or something, because the performance on that thing was just awful. That’s when I first found out how to root and flash ROMs. So, when I got my first Android, I wondered if there was a similar process to make it work faster. Fortunately, there was.
The ability to root my Androids and flash ROMs onto them was probably the one saving grace from me hating Android for those first few years that I used them. When it came to using versions Eclair or Froyo, I can only remember describing the versions as “Good, but bumpy.” They were the earlier days of Android, where force closes and major lag were practically inevitable. Even some devices running on Gingerbread had its days where I was fed up. If I ever got too fed up, though, I would just start flashing ROMs until I found one I liked. It kept me preoccupied, because I was determined to find that perfect build out there that would solve all of my issues.
I took a break from Android once I got my hands on my iPhone 4S. I was amazed at how smoothly that phone ran compared to my previous Androids. As time went on, though, I noticed that my 4S was starting to act sluggish, and even Jailbreaking it didn’t help. When my upgrade time came around last summer, I ended up going with the HTC One. It had been nearly two years since I used an Android device, but the first thing I did was go home and see what kind of ROMs had been created for it thus far.
I’m not sure why I did that, though, because Jelly Bean seemed to have smoothed out all the kinks that made me start rooting and flashing ROMs in the first place. The phone was fast, responsive, and I think I hardly ever experienced a force close, if ever. None really stick out in my mind. Still, I ended up messing with ROMs anyway, and even ended up bricking my device for a few days because I didn’t know how to read.
These days I’m using a Moto X. A stock Moto X. For the first time for as long as I can remember, I don’t have the desire to root or flash a ROM to this device. There are a couple of bloatwares that I don’t particularly want, but for the most part I find that Motorola’s stock apps have been more helpful than burdensome. I’ve been using the phone for about a month now, and I have yet to experience any force closes here. The phone isn’t exactly snappy by any means, but it’s not slow, either. The battery life is sufficient and I find that the nearly-stock skin that comes with it is just fine design-wise.
Looking back, I didn’t really need to root the HTC One either. I just did it because I was used to it, and I do occasionally like messing with different themes and ROMs just for fun. But the reasoning behind rooting and flashing ROMs has changed for me. I started doing it because performance of Androids out-of-the-box weren’t that great and I felt that my phone needed it in order to really work well. These days, Androids don’t need it. Performance seems fine on these phones. Android has finally made it to the point where it’s a real, solid platform. Really, the only thing it needs now is to take a hint from Windows Phone and let us uninstall bloatware that we don’t want anymore. Otherwise, it seems like it’s purely a hobby for me now.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Do you still think it’s necessary to root your Androids and flash ROMs, or has it become more of just a hobby these days? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!