One of the advantages of Android is that you can root your phone to gain system access to be more ‘in control’ of your Android smartphone or tablet. But what exactly does rooting entail? And what’s the use of it? Android Planet explains the whole story about the Android root.
What is root?
Android is based on the kernel of an open source Linux operating system. The term root also occurs in Linux, where the ‘root user’ has all the rights to perform actions. This also applies to Android: with root, you have all the power over your Android device. Normally an Android user does not get all rights. This offers more security within the mobile operating system because the user can do less ‘damage’.
Root is usually activated on Android via two apps: SuperSU . These apps use the obtained root rights to provide other apps with root. Imagine: you install an app that asks for root rights. Then SuperUser and SuperSU can assign this. SuperUser is the general root app that comes with the alternative Android version CyanogenMod, SuperSu was developed by a Dutch person and has been using the undersigned for several years.
Please note: installing these apps is of no use, you must first root the device, after which the root apps can use all these rights and give other apps the option to get more rights.
What can you do with root?
Because root gives the user more rights, it is possible to do ‘more’ with Android. We intentionally keep that term so broad, because root rights can be used enormously for apps and services. Consider, for example, performing a general backup of apps, including for example your savegames or other important content. Or the ability to completely disable system apps that you actually don’t want? This feature is particularly useful with Android devices with bloatware or unwanted apps from manufacturers.
An important option for root rights is the possibility to install alternative kernels. For example, you can improve the speed and battery life of your smartphone via a kernel. For example, via an alternative kernel, it is possible to adjust the clock speed of the processor, colors of your screen or the power of the GPU. These are fairly technical parts, so it is advisable to only flash another kernel if you really understand this. There are several developers who release their kernels for multiple devices and flash the kernel via a root app. Then it’s a matter of rebooting, after which the kernel is installed.
The difference between root and a custom recovery
Root is different from a custom recovery. A custom recovery is an alternative version of the recovery section within Android, also simply called the ‘recovery’. You can use the recovery if your device crashes and you want to reset your device in the ‘bios’ of Android. You usually activate the recovery by pressing a combination of buttons when the device starts up. You do not boot in the system, but in the recovery. A custom recovery, in contrast to a normal recovery, also lets you flash software.
A custom recovery (photo below) is usually used to install alternative Android versions, such as CyanogenMod or Paranoid Android. These Android versions are often supplied with root rights and a corresponding root app, which means that the software already has root right away. You don’t have to root an Android again.
In fact, a custom recovery uses root rights. The difference is, therefore, that root is a general word for the administrator rights, and those apps, as well as a custom recovery, can make use of these root rights. In addition, rooting Android usually means root rights within the operating system, while custom recovery is not part of the operating system.
Is rooting legal?
Rooting is completely legal, but with many manufacturers, you lose the warranty if you send a rotated smartphone for repair. For example, the undersigned sent his Galaxy Nexus to Samsung because of a broken SIM card tray, and the repair was not reimbursed because the smartphone was rooted. Samsung sent me a photo of the Superuser app as proof. It is, of course, possible to install the stock firmware without root before you send the phone in for repair.
In addition, most Android updates no longer work. The update system recognizes that the device has root rights, which means that the update process is not always executed. Some root apps have the option to temporarily unroot the device, making the update process a success. However, many complain afterward that they have to reinstall root.
How do I root my Android device?
A logical question with a less logical answer. After all, rooting your device differs per manufacturer and often per device. In the meantime, there are already some tools available that are largely universal, but these are not recommended because it is always better to have a tutorial on the XDA Developers technology forum to follow. Here gather those who want to get more out of technology, and there are many Android users in particular. Each device has its own forum, where you will often find a tutorial at Development, General or Q&A. Read it carefully, understand every step and prefer to try it first on a device that you do not need every day. With some devices (such as the Nexus line) it is very easy to root, with other devices (such as HTC smartphones) it can take some effort and Android knowledge. But the most important thing is: always read well, search the forum well and start prepared – so always back up your important files first.
The 5 best root apps for your Android
The Franco.Kernel is known for its excellent speed performance and long battery life. The kernel is actually the powerhouse of the phone and controls the connection between the hardware and the operating system. Franco.Kernel, for example, ensures that the number of processors and the clock speed is not screwed up too quickly, but the kernel can also have an effect on the sound, the vibrator, disk, and screen. Think of a kernel to the frequent updating of drivers that often always bring improvements. With the Franco.Kernel updater you can adjust all settings of the kernel to your liking and flash new kernels.
Flashify is the all-rounder for the root user and those who “flash” their smartphone or tablet or install other software and kernels on it. With Flashify you can easily flash alternative recoveries, kernels and boot images directly from Android. When the flash is complete, the device will restart and the changes will be made. Flashing of new software is also supported.
But the app can do even more. This way Flashify is able to make a backup of your current recovery or kernel that can be saved on Dropbox afterward. In addition, users have the option to share the backup file via other apps via the built-in sub-function of Android. However, the free version is limited to three flashes per day.
Titanium Backup is the best backup app for Android. The app is often updated, has many different options and is extremely stable. To use Titanium Backup, you do need root rights. If you often change rom and have to restore many apps, the paid version of Titanium Backup is also a good option. With the paid version you can restore all your saved settings and apps in one go. Even savegames and your settings for Twitter notifications, for example.
Greenify makes your Android device run faster and more energy-efficiently by slumbering apps when they are not needed. Greenify, which must be given root rights, keeps a close eye on all your running apps and knows exactly when an app is no longer needed or can run quietly in the background. Note: Greenify is not a task killer, but a fully-fledged app that cleverly puts all your unnecessary apps to sleep. With Greenify, the user also gets a handy insight into what delays the smartphone or tablet and where some extra energy can be saved.
Like the old trusted Windows Commander, Solid Explorer has two screens where you can work in and drag files to other folders at the same time. From the app, you can directly upload files to Dropbox and you have the option to add favorite locations on your memory card. An excellent file browser, which can reach the deepest folders of Android via root rights. Consider for example the important system or data folder, where you can adjust important app or system files. The trial version is free to download, the paid version must be purchased after 14 days.