In the mobile world, you have two types of users:
1 – The type that takes things as they come, and is happy about it.
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2 – The type that looks at bleeding edge and still wants more.
Disclaimer: rooting your phone will void your warranty, damage your reputation as an upstanding member of society and maybe even insult your family. In no way, shape or form do we condone any action that goes against the principles of any agreement that you might have signed to not modify your phone’s software. Read further at your own risk.
Personally, I’m an Android owner and proud resident of group #2. As such, when I bought my Droid, it wasn’t long before I started looking into ways to modify the UI and the phone’s software.
A friend of mine sparked my interest in the practice known as rooting. If you’re not familiar, rooting your phone is the process of flashing the phone’s memory to run a (sometimes) customized software. iPhone users call this practice jail breaking, just for clarification. There are some pretty huge benefits, and that’s what we’ll talk about today.
I won’t go into details of how to root your phone, as Google can quickly show you all sorts of resources. Instead, I’ll just tell you about the benefits and potential risks.
1 – Improved Performance
One of the biggest issues for me, when I got my Droid, was the performance. It was quick, but not as smooth as I’d have liked. Depending on the ROM that you choose, the maker might have included some performance tweaks including overclocking the phone’s CPU. Alternately, there are applications available in the Android Market that will allow you to overclock, but your phone must be rooted in order to use them.
Obviously there are some risks here. If your phone’s CPU gets clocked too high you can experience damage, or even outright failure, from overheating. Approach any overclocking with caution.
2 – More Application Choices
The Android platform can do a lot of things. However, there are still some limitations, imposed either by the manufacturer or perhaps by your carrier. A rooted phone will bypass those limitations and allows you a wider variety of application choices.
One of the most annoying limitations is the lack of ability to take a screen shot. But a quick search of the Android Market shows applications ready to do just that…if you’re running a rooted device.
This is just naming one of numerous examples. There are firewalls, backups, cache file managers and many more.
3 – Breaking the Fragmentation
A major complaint of many Android device users is OS fragmentation. Across all users, there are many different versions of the Android OS in use. Rooting a phone will allow a user to use a ROM that includes the latest features even if their own carrier hasn’t pushed that update yet.
There are limitations here. Some phones are not capable of running the latest editions and you will need to do some investigation to find out what your phone can handle. At the worst case scenario, as long as you’ve done a backup prior to attempting to root, all you’ll have to do is restore if things go boom.
4 – Options
Maybe it seems like we’ve already covered this, but by that logic, this entire article is about options. But in this case, I’m speaking of some very specific ones.
I want the option to run custom ROMs that I feel are a better match for my needs than what the manufacturer or carrier have provided. I want the option to run my phone at its full speed. I demand the option to have full access to a device that I purchased.
This is the real strength of rooting. I keep a couple of ROMs handy at all times: the one that I prefer and a backup of Android 2.1 with no modifications, in case I need it. I toss them onto the Micro SD card in the phone and I never have to worry if something goes wrong with the software. Having the option to change things that I own at my own will is a pretty cool piece of mind.
5 – Because you can.
Nope, this isn’t a cop-out #5 reason and no I didn’t run out of ideas. This is just a basic fact. You own an incredibly cool, highly capable device. Why wouldn’t you want to see its fully ability? Honestly, following popular tutorials online will walk you step by step through what is an already simple process.
Now here’s another of those “peace of mind” things: if you screw it up, all you have to do is load something different. There’s very little chance that you’ll actually break anything to the point that it can’t be easily repaired.
So give it a shot, but be forewarned that rooting will void your warranty. Of course, stock ROMs are available for easy download…you know…just in case.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.