If you have an Android phone, you’re probably already aware that the platform is designed with you in mind - that is, you can customize a lot of aspects of your phone without having to do much more than download an application or two or visit your Settings. What you might not know, however (or perhaps may know but aren’t sure how to go about it) is that, should you want to customize your Android even further than a simple font change or a fancy launcher, you can actually dig deeper into your Android for an even more elaborate customization experience. In order to do this, you’ll have to do what they call “rooting” your Android.
It’s a pretty common term within the mobile tech community. In Layman’s terms, rooting your Android gives you access to all of the stuff that could potentially mess up your phone if you tamper with the wrong stuff in the wrong way. To spin it in a more positive light, though, it’s also a way to make your typical Android experience into a totally radical one if you’re into that sort of thing.
The question each Android owner needs to ask him or herself is, of course, whether it’s worth the risk or not.
I first started rooting phones back when I had Windows Mobile. Back then, I would root out of necessity because the platform was slow, laggy, and pretty terribad if I recall correctly (at least the phones I had). Windows Mobile was another platform that could be rooted and be customized in order to run smoother and more quickly. After I successfully rooted my Windows Mobile, I couldn’t stop customizing stuff on it. I was pretty obsessed at the time with always trying to make my phone perform better.
When I switched to Android, I was pleased as punch to learn that rooting and deeper customization was an option. After you get past what I considered to be the scariest part (successfully rooting the device) the first time, every other time after that was pretty easy.
I’ve been talking about deeper customization, but exactly how deep are we talking here? Without rooting, you can change your launcher, your font, your wallpaper, your ringtones - you know, things like that. With root access, however, you have the power to change a lot more. You can increase the speed at which your phone performs (overclocking), remove or change the skin on your Android if you have one (think: trading TouchWiz for stock Android on a Samsung device), and my personal favorite: getting rid of that pesky bloatware once and for all.
But of course, as you can imagine and as I’ve previously mentioned, gaining root access doesn’t come without its risks. If you don’t read a developer’s instructions (sometimes to a T) things can go south pretty quickly and you might end up with a “bricked” phone. There’s nothing too fancy about the term “bricked” either; it just means your phone no longer holds any greater purpose than to serve as a brick. Or a fancy paperweight. Your choice.
The good news is, should you “brick” your phone, it’s hardly ever irreversible. I’ve learned that lesson a time or two myself. It’s frustrating to undo, and it’s sometimes hard work if you’re not sure where you went wrong, but most of time it’s able to be fixed.
So now you have to ask yourself whether rooting your Android is for you or not. If you’re the type of person who absolutely loves to customize your phone and you would like to customize your Android to its fullest potential, I would say rooting is definitely something you should look into. If you’re not comfortable with the risks, then I’d definitely be more cautious about it. However, if you’re still interested in rooting despite the risks, you might consider purchasing one of the less expensive Androids on the market and use it as a test device first. Once you get comfortable with the process, you could then use what you learned and then take it to the next level by rooting and customizing your daily driver.
I like to encourage Android users to root their devices if it’s something that interests them. It’s a great way to keep your Android interesting and can even extend its expected life (we all know how some updates can really fudge up our phones).
Readers, what are your thoughts on rooting Androids? Is it something that you do, something you’d rather not do, or something that you’re interested in learning? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!