Rooting an Android smartphone or tablet is effectively the same as 'jailbreaking' an iPhone. It gives you full, or 'root', access to the phone’s hardware and software. Even though Android is technically an open operating system, there are still limitations set by the manufacturer. Updated on 05/12/13.
Rooting an Android smartphone or tablet: Why root a smartphone or tablet?
There are many possible advantages to rooting an Android smartphone. These include improving performance, installing apps only compatible with rooted devices and installing the most up-to-date or customised versions of Android such as 4.4 KitKat. You might just want to uninstall pre-loaded software you don't want.
Rooting an Android smartphone or tablet: What are the risks?
However, there are some risks that must be taken when rooting an Android smartphone. It is highly likely that rooting your handset will void any warranty, although rooting can sometimes be reversed. Another risk is breaking the device and potentially rendering it unusable also known as ‘bricking’. You may also reduce your level of security.
Rooting an Android smartphone or tablet: How do I do it?
Rooting your phone might seem like a scary thing to do but it’s actually quite simple and straight forward. There are a number of downloadable tools which will perform the root to choose from. Not all tools will support all Android devices so check if your device is supported. Some popular ones include SuperOneClick, Unlock Root, Z4Root and Universal AndRoot.
If you're happy with the risks and the process, then here's how to root your Android smartphone or tablet.
Backup your device. Just in case something does go wrong it’s best to backup to avoid losing important data such as contacts and media files.
Find, download and install your chosen rooting software. For our Motorola Atrix we used SuperOneClick.
Install the driver/software for the handset on your PC. Depending on the make and model this can sometimes be done by plugging the phone in via a USB cable or a download from the internet.
Enable USB debugging on your device. This can be done in the Development section of the Applications settings menu.
Connect thehandset to your PC with a USB cable.
Run your chosen rooting software and in most cases press the Root button. The software might ask you to select the device that you wish to root. Do so and click Continue.
The software will perform the rooting process which might involve several reboots of your device. If the rooting was successful you should receive a notification on your PC. You now have root access to your handset’s system.