You knew this was coming didn’t you? Yeah I just had to.
On the second week of my stay with the Galaxy S4, I gave it the root treatment. I’ve held out writing about it for that long since I was monitoring its behavior post-root vis-à-vis its behavior pre-root to see if there are any negatives that arose. Good news: it’s all good. You can go ahead and try it out too.
For us in East Africa we don’t have to deal with the issue of locked bootloaders so it is even easier.
Reasons for rooting
The Galaxy S4 comes with the latest Android version so rooting on this device is for other reasons not to seek an upgrade. My reason for rooting was that I know the S4 has a lot of power under the hood. The Exynos 5 processor with its 8 cores is one hell of a beast. Plus the ability to run several scripts that I can’t live without. To fully utilize it and access its raw power, I just had to go the root way and I have no regrets. Unless you’re a power user, you can use the device the way it is. Then there are those annoying ads that always pop up in the notifications dropdown (I have no problems with in-app ads since that is the only way that I can say thank you to the awesome app developers as it contributes to their revenues). The only way to get rid of those is by rooting and putting AdFree, AdAway and AdBlock Plus as my door guards. They’ve done a good job so far. I no longer have annoying pop ups everywhere I turn. Rooting also allows me to access Android’s elusive core data files which I can tinker with to enhance my device and also do away with some things like camera sounds (I find having to lower my device volume in order to take photos silently quite a bother).
- Samsung Mobile USB drivers. You can get these by simply installing Kies or installing them directly. See my previous blog posts on how to root the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and also the Galaxy Mini to see how this is done and where to get them.
- ChainFire’s root script. Find it here.
- Odin (it is bundled with ChainFire’s root script. Simply extract the .zip file you downloaded from the link in step 2 and you’ll find Odin).
Take all the necessary precautions. By rooting, you go against a number of things (see my previous rooting how-tos to read of the dangers and risks involved). I won’t be held responsible should things not workout for you.
The procedure outlined here is only for the international version of the Galaxy S4 with the Exynos 5 processor (the GT-I9500) and is intended for use on this particular device alone.
The information below is just for what you may as well call educational purposes. You can just skip to the next page but if you’re curious as to the goings on of the queer S4 rooting process, you can read on.
Why Use CF’s Root Script When There Are Other “Good” Ways of Rooting the S4 All over the Internet?
This is the most reliable method of rooting the Galaxy S4 that you’ll come across. Why? I’m not really interested in flashing a custom recovery and a custom ROM on my beautiful device. Android 4.2.2 is the latest and the greatest. There’s no need to go around flashing ROMs. So far there are only two Galaxy S4 ROMs for the international version that really stand out: Wanam Lite and Omega. Still, I won’t recommend them. The S4 being Samsung’s flagship this year means that it will get the best support all year long (you saw this with the S III and earlier on the S II). If you wish to be able to still get OTA updates despite rooting without flashing additional scripts or having to re-flash the stock recovery, using ChainFire’s script is the best. It does not alter your stock recovery or flash a new kernel (there’s Adam’s kernel as an alternative kernel for the S4 in the custom world). All you get with ChainFire’s script is simply superuser access, root access. You should have this in mind before deciding to root using a method that also alters your recovery or flashing that pre-rooted firmware. There’s still no fully official ClockworkMod Recovery for the GT-I9500 so until that one is out, you may want to tread carefully.
Another thing: there’s KNOX, Samsung’s security feature on its devices to make it easy for the guys in your firm’s IT department to take control of your device’s enterprise/corporate side while not interfering with your personal side. CF’s method does not come in between this arrangement so you’re still safe. It just gets you the superuser privileges by getting through that thick line which had previously made it almost impossible to repack the firmware with su and make it flashable via Odin.
Also, ChainFire’s script for the S4 doesn’t include a custom recovery because the device has the kernel and recovery separate.
What About the Binary Flash Counter?
After rooting you’ll realize the device status changes to custom in the Settings. This means the binary counter will increase every time you flash a custom ROM. Worry not. Since we’re using CF’s rooting script, it’s even easier. You can simply use Triangle Away to reset the binary counter to zero. It’s not such a big deal. In fact if you don’t intend to flash any custom ROM now like yours truly then you have nothing to be worried of at all. There’ll be no counter to increase; you’ll simply Triangle Away (not yet available for the GT-I9500 as of the time of hitting publish) just to boost your confidence and ego.
I believe with that detailed explanation you’re well abreast with the goings on as of this stage so let’s dive into the murky waters. Move over to the next page for the procedure.