So you have decided to root your Android smartphone. Although the concept of rooting is somewhat complicated, the actual process is not. Rooting is a process that allows you to access all the settings and sub-settings of your phone, which means you can install and uninstall everything you want. It’s like having administrative privileges on your PC or Mac. There are many rewards and some risks to consider, of course, and some precautions you should take first. Here are the steps to safely root your smartphone.
The following instructions should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.
Back up your phone
If you’ve ever interacted with an IT professional, you know that backing up your data is one of the most important things you can do. When rooting your phone, this is particularly important in the event that something goes wrong, or if you change your mind. You can back up your Android device in a variety of ways, using Google tools or third-party apps.
Choose an APK or custom ROM
Next, you’ll need to choose either an APK (Android Application Package) or a custom ROM (alternate version of Android). Since Android is open source, developers can create modified versions, and there are many, many versions available. An APK is used to distribute and install software on your device. Rooting programs include Towelroot and Kingo Root – check which one is compatible with your device.
After rooting your phone, you can stop there or choose to install a custom ROM, which will offer even more features. The most popular custom ROM is LineageOS (previously CyanogenMod), which was built into the OnePlus One Android phone. Other popular ROMs are Paranoid Android and AOKP (Android Open Kang Project). A complete chart with descriptions of custom ROMs is available online.
How to root the phone
Depending on the APK or custom ROM you choose, the rooting process will vary, although the basics will remain the same. Sites like the XDA Developers Forum and AndroidForums offer detailed information and instructions on how to root specific phone models, but here’s an overview of the process.
The bootloader controls which apps are running when you boot up your phone – unlocking it gives you this control.
Install an APK or custom ROM
The APK allows you to install software on your device, the most common being Towelroot and Kingo. Custom ROMs are alternative operating systems that share features with stock Android but offer different interfaces and more functionality. The most popular are LineageOS (formerly CyanogenMod) and Paranoid Android, but there are many more.
Download a root checker
If you’re using an APK instead of a custom ROM, you may want to download an app that verifies that you’ve successfully rooted your phone.
Install a root management app
A manager app will protect your rooted phone from security vulnerabilities and prevent apps from accessing private information.
Benefits and risks
There are more pros than cons to rooting your Android phone. As we said, rooting means that you have full control over your phone so you can see and modify all the settings and access apps designed for rooted phones only. These apps include ad blockers and robust security and backup utilities. You can also customize your phone with themes and colors, and even change button configurations, depending on the OS version you choose (more on that in a minute).
The risks are minimal, but include voiding your warranty, losing access to specific apps, or the death of your phone, although the latter is unlikely. It is important to weigh these risks against the characteristics that could be obtained by rooting. If you take the correct precautions, you shouldn’t have any problems.