Welcome to Life Of Android’s very first advice column where we’ll attempt to answer your questions on Google’s smartphone OS no matter how complicated or trivial they may seem.

We begin the series with a look at whether it’s worth rooting your Android smartphone but if you’ve got a query you want answered please email us or write it in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

“Should I root my smartphone and how can I do it?” from @saffithegeek

True story, Life Of Android once spent an entire taxi journey across London discussing whether our driver should jailbreak his iPhone and got a discount for our advice.

From this conversation we discovered two key character traits of most wannabe smartphone rooters:

    1. They think the grass is greener on the other side
    2. They probably won’t know what to do with their jailbroken handset

Warranty Issues
Rooting your smartphone is not a decision to be taken lightly, it will almost certainly void your smartphone’s warranty and you will have to wipe all your phone’s data and apps to complete the task. Also, there’s a huge difference between jailbreaking an iPhone and rooting an Android.

Whereas iOS is a strict ecosystem ruled by the almighty and sometimes overzealous Apple, Android is an open source OS meaning a lot of reasons why many iPhone owners would root their smartphone are already contained within the Android Market.

Aside from the insurance issues you may run into when rooting your Android, it’s also worth noting that performing this procedure on your smartphone, and making the most out of it, will require a certain amount of technical skill not present in every handset owner.

Benefits of rooting

After all those caveats and warnings, why would you want to root your Android? Well if successful done, you can tweak your smartphone’s processor to make it run faster, install apps on your handset’s SD card and tether your Android to your PC or laptop to gain internet access when no wireless connection is available.

There are plenty of other reasons, including the ability to port apps from different manufacturer’s Android builds, but these are the headline attractions. In other words, you can customise your smartphone until your heart’s content.

Top apps for rooted Androids

Assuming you’re committed to rooting your Android, now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and actually do it. If your handset’s manufacturer hasn’t put in hacker proof measures to protect against a potential root, you’ll find that internet modders have already done the really hard bit for you.

Find the one size fits all or handset specific root that is compatible with your smartphone, AddictiveTips run a routinely updated list, download the file and follow its accompanying instructions.

Then it’s up to you to modify your Android in according to your every whim and fancy. While we haven’t made a list of recommended apps for rooted Android owners, our more hack friendly cousins cousins at Android Police they’ve got a long running series on the subject which includes our personal picks of ROM Manager and Titanium Backup.

Essentially, whether you want to root your Android handset or not depends on how happy you are with the status quo. If you feel like you could do with a more open smartphone then go for it, if not then don’t bother voiding your warranty.

4

Comments

  • Seb G

    January 22nd, 2012 12:17 PM

    I think you missed a huge point of rooting an android phone/tablet… Ability to install ROM’s such as Ice Cream Sandwich roms on phones that otherwise wouldn’t be getting it.

  • James Carter

    January 18th, 2012 08:37 PM

    Ok then Robert. Cheers for that. Guess I’ll just wait till I get my X10.

  • James Carter

    January 18th, 2012 05:13 PM

    I’ve done a bit of research into roooting, myself. I’ve decided that I definitely want to root my device but I have a couple of problems.
    The app that would be best to use is Z4root, but for me to use this on my phone, I need to download the correct drivers. This is where my problem starts. Because the charging port/USB port on my phone is damaged, it’s extremely difficult to keep a constant connection to my PC. Is there a risk of bricking my device, if the connection fails while transferring the drivers needed?
    Any help would be appreciated.

    • Robert Leedham

      January 18th, 2012 06:02 PM

      If you can’t maintain a constant connection there is definitely a risk of the root failing during install and your Android being corrupted in the process. In our opinion, you’d be better off waiting until you gain a functional handset

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