The benefits of rooting your Android device

News Richard Goodwin 18:18, 12 Oct 2012

Want to set your Android device free? Why not have a go at rooting it?

Whether you’re rocking a SIM-free Android handset or a network-branded device, rooting is definitely something you should be considering.

It’s simple enough to do, even if you’ve never done it before, and it will afford you a type of control over your device that you might not have thought was ever possible.

It also means no more waiting on networks or manufacturers for Android updates. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here, we’ll examine a whole myriad of benefits that are possible once you’ve gained full control over your Android device.

If you're not someone with a technical leaning, some aspects listed below might be outside of your comfort zone. However, it is worth looking at the fullest picture possible in order to best understand why rooting is the only real option for anyone serious about unlocking the true potential of their Android device.

Updates

This is the big one – if you’re sick of waiting on your handset’s network or manufacturer to get their backsides in gear and roll out the latest version of Android, then you’re not alone.

It’s a major problem experienced by nearly all Android users at some stage.

Case in point: Android Jelly Bean, despite being released several months ago, is only present on around two per cent of devices inside Google’s Android kingdom.

Ice Cream Sandwich fares slightly better at 25 per cent but it’s still not up to task, particularly when compared to Apple’s iOS 6 adoption rate.

Rooting your device gets you around this issue to a certain extent by putting you in control of the software that runs on your device. But it’s still not a catch-all solution, and older handsets may struggle to run the latest builds of Android.

That said anything from 2011 and onwards should be able to handle Android 4.x and above, even if networks and manufacturers have written off the idea.

Bloatware

Having full access to your phone’s file system with all the admin rights means you can remove unwanted system applications, also known as bloatware, from your handset.

This level of access allows you to go through your device's system files and delete anything you no longer require. You’ll be amazed by just how much rubbish is packed in there – even more so when you consider the limited memory present on a lot of smartphones.

Ramp up the power 

Rooting a device gives you the ability to overclock its processor. That means you can increase the clock speed of a 1GHz processor, in some cases, to as high as 1.6GHz, for example, which should translate into a pretty significant bump up in processing speed.

Combining overclocking with Custom ROMs can result in massive uplifts in the performance of your handset. We’ve heard reports of a Nexus S running with an overall increased performance of 250 per cent after a series of expertly implemented tweaks.

A bump of 250 per cent, we’d imagine, is rare and requires a lot of skill to achieve, but it does illustrate profoundly just what can be accomplished once your device is rooted.

It’s worth noting that a lot of top level modding such as this requires a very precise set of skill and knowledge, so we would advise anyone not comfortable with the science behind overclocking to proceed with caution. No-one wants to brick their brand new phone, after all. 

Root-only applications

With a rooted device you also get access to plenty of bespoke applications, which can seriously add to the performance and utility of your handset. Here’s a selection of some notable examples: 

  • DroidWall
  • Dual Mount SD Widget
  • Hexamob Recovery Pro
  • Keyboard Manager
  • LEDs Hack
  • Rot Call Blocker
  • Samba Filesharing 
  • Titanium Backup

Custom ROMs

Custom ROMs, much like Sense UI and TouchWiz, are essentially bespoke UIs for Android created by people who aren’t affiliated with Google and its hardware partners.

The emphasis with these is on enhanced usability and performance, rather than marketing and brand differentiation and bloatware. 

When looking into Custom ROMs you’ll want to get one that comes with the latest version of Google’s software but also features plenty of tweaks, performance enhancements, and additional features.

CyanogenMod is popular choice for many as it does all of the above and lots more, as well as giving you intelligent control over your phone’s features and themes. 

Improve Battery Life

A lot of Custom ROMs will improve your battery life via the removal of bloatware and unnecessary applications that hinder performance. There are plenty of power management apps out there, such as Superpower, but most work significantly better when combined with a finely tuned rooted handset. 

Rooting can’t work miracles for your battery life, extending it beyond its natural limits, but it can ensure that you get an extra few hours a day from your device. And sometimes that’s all you really need. 

Modification 

Getting access to exclusive software bundles like HTC’s Beats Audio technology and Samsung’s Siri clone, S-Voice, usually requires that you purchase the latest hero device from said manufacturer. 

With a rooted device this is no longer the case as you’re in charge of what software runs on your phone, not HTC and Samsung.

This means that once a hacker has extracted Beats Audio or S-Voice, a process that usually takes a couple of weeks, and posted it online you’re free to download it and run it on your rooted Android device.

Conclusion

Rooting your device turns you into its owner in the truest sense of the word, as it puts you in charge of every aspect of your phone.

And if that wasn’t enough to persuade you it also takes you out of a normal handset’s lifespan, allowing you to extend the longevity of a device via custom ROMs, tweaks, and up to date patches. 

Ready to root? Check out our guide on how it’s done. 

Enjoy your freedom!

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