You have heard this term root and its sister rooting. If you own an Android device then you hear these words almost on a daily basis. If you use any Linux-based system then you must also be familiar with the term rooting. Rooting your Android device is a gateway to very many things that your device should be able to do. Rooting is not without risks either.
Before you learn how to root your Android smartphone, you need to understand what rooting is and the risks involved.
So, what is rooting?
Rooting is the equivalent of jailbreaking in the iOS world. You must have heard of iPhone users talking of jailbreaking. It is the iOS term for rooting. In Android it is called rooting because after the process is complete you have access to your devices’ root. This is because the Android OS kernel is based on Linux and the Linux term for gaining advanced/privileged access (via su/sudo) is called gaining root access. Thus rooting or to root an Android device means obtaining elevated superuser rights/privileges/permissions so as to be able to tinker with your Droid’s software and how it communicates with its hardware.
Advantages? Well, they are many. You will be able to install custom ROMs, install customized themes, better battery management, tweak the device kernel and get superuser apps that can overclock or underclock your device speed. Furthermore rooting can also enable you to update basebands on your phone (baseband: controls the radio on your device that monitors the call and signal quality). And backups too. After rooting, it is possible to backup your whole phone using apps like Titanium Backup) and also to delete the apps that shipped with your phone. The best part I like about rooting is that you will be able to install applications like AdFree and AdAway that block all those annoying advertisements that pop up when you are using free apps.
Disadvantages: You may void your warranty. Most manufacturers and service providers don’t allow rooting and thus proceed to read this article at your own risk. The other thing about rooting is if you get it wrong then you may end up bricking your phone (bricking: screwing up your phone so badly that your phone can no longer function as expected and thus becomes useless. Once you brick your phone, there is no choice but to buy another.) You can also end up bootlooping your device i.e. it boots, reboots, boots, reboots, in an endless cycle. However it is very hard to run into bootlooping and device bricking if you follow instructions well.
I have written previously on how to root the Huawei U8150 IDEOS and today as a result of overwhelming inquiries from readers of those previous IDEOS related posts, I have a quick solution. There are many ways to root an Android device (more so a smartphone, I have never rooted a tablet though I am told the method is still the same).
Here is how to root any Android device:
NB: This method uses Unlock Root which is able to root up to 250 different devices including the big boys like HTC, Sony Ericsson (Sony Mobile these days), Samsung, and Motorola as well as upcoming players like Huawei. Confirm compatibility of your device on their website before attempting to root your Android device. Only Android versions 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 are supported. I suppose Ice Cream Sandwich and Honeycomb (for tablets) support is in the works.
- On your PC, head over to http://www.unlockroot.com and download Unlock Root. Unlock Root is only available for Windows PCs. It should work well on Windows 7. At least that is what I have tested. (Though it is reported to work equally well on Vista and XP, I recommend Windows 7. No, don’t risk with Windows 8 yet though it should still work). It is a small application (around 9 Mb as at the time of publication of this post) and thus won’t leech your data.
- Install the USB drivers for your device (Many USB drivers install automatically, like for Sony Ericsson and Huawei devices, when you connect the device via USB. However others have to be installed manually. For Samsung users like me, make sure you have Samsung Kies installed on your PC as it is the one that has Samsung drivers. Even if your device installs drivers automatically upon connection, make sure you download the drivers and keep them for backup purposes. To be sure, download them from your manufacture’s website).
- Enable USB debugging on your Android smartphone. You do this by going to Settings > Applications > Development then check the “Allow USB debugging” option.
- Connect your smartphone via USB to your computer. Make sure not to enable USB connect. Just connect.
- Install Unlock Root (the one you downloaded) on your PC by running the downloaded .exe file. It launches immediately.
- Wait for your device to be automatically detected.
- Choose your device from the list of auto detected devices.
- Click Root
- Sit back and wait while your device is rooted.
- Now reboot your device. Check that your device has the superuser app installed. Make sure you can see either of these applications named “Superuser” in your applications drawer/list
Now that you have followed all the steps here correctly and seen that you have the superuser app, you have to verify that you really have full root access.
Verifying That You Have Root Access
- On your device, connect to the internet via 2G/3G or wifi and head over to the Android market (these days it is called Google Play Store). On the Google Play store, download and install this app: Root Checker Basic.
- Run the app and verify root access. If it displays the message like this one below then you are good to. Enjoy your rooted device.
It’s as simple as that. Try it out.
One more thing, below the Root button, there is a small button. Use that button if you want to unroot your phone i.e revert to a non-root user status.
As I had highlighted before, there is an alternative method of rooting (this is however NOT FOR ALL ANDROID DEVICES but I have only tried it and it worked on two devices: the Huawei U8150 IDEOS and the Samsung Galaxy Mini GT S5570. Read about the alternative method on a friend’s blog here).
Let me know in the comments below, by contacting me on Twitter and by filling my contact form on how it goes, whether you encountered a problem etc.