How to root an Android smartphone or tablet

So you want to root your Android smartphone or tablet? Well here's our guide on how to root Android devices.

Before you jump to the step by step guide, make sure you read through our guide to rooting because it's not something you want to do before you fully understand what it's all about and the risks involved.

How to root Android devices: What is rooting?

Rooting an Android device is the process of gaining privileged or full control of the sub-system or operating system. This gives the users root access and hence why it is known as 'rooting'. It's a bit like having a VIP pass at a gig, you can go anywhere you like.

Rooting an Android smartphone or tablet is effectively the same as 'jailbreaking' an iPhone.

How to root Android devices: Why root a smartphone or tablet?

Even though Android is technically an open operating system, there are still limitations set by the manufacturer or even your network operator if the device isn't unlocked. This means there are some benefits to rooting your smartphone or tablet.

You might want to improve performance tweak settings, replace system applications or remove apps which have been forced upon you. There's also the face you'll be able install apps which you otherwise wouldn't be able to. We said it's like jailbreaking but it is different. Be aware that if you want to install an app from an unknown source, you can simply tick a box that allows you to in the settings menu – you don't have to root your device.

Rooting also means you can replace the operating system, either with a newer version like Android 4.4 KitKat, a stock Nexus-type version (without user interfaces like Samsung's TouchWiz or HTC's Sense), or a customised version like CyanogenMod.

How to root Android devices: What are the risks?

It's really important that you are aware of the risks involved in rooting before you go tinkering. For starters, you're almost certainly going to void any warranty you have and that's not the worst of it.

You may find your device playing up, loss of functions or at the worst you totally brick it. This essentially means you've killed the device making it unusable. If you don't brick your Android device then you're likely to lower the level of security.

If you are going to install software or apps which aren't 'approved' then there is risk involved there. You've got to trust the developer that it won't bring any harm or brick to our device and it isn't malware.

How to root Android devices: Who should root?

Considering the risks involved with rooting our advice is that you should only do it on your device if you're confident with the technicalities and the process. If you're unsure about the whole thing then it's probably best to leave things well alone.

If you're keen to learn then perhaps buy an old and cheap phone to practice on before moving up to your main device. Also get someone to help you, if you have friends who know what they're on about in this area.

How to root Android devices: 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.

Rooting does vary from device to device so check out XDA for help and advice and Android Central's large list of devices. It's best to do a bit of research on your model before proceeding – check whether it's easy to reverse the process or not.

If you're happy with the risks and the process, then here's how to root your Android smartphone or tablet.

Step One

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.

Step Two

Find, download and install your chosen rooting software. For our Motorola Atrix we used SuperOneClick.

SuperOneClick download

Step Three

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.

Step Four

Enable USB debugging on your device. This can be done in the Development section of the Applications settings menu.

USB debugging

Step Five

Connect thehandset to your PC with a USB cable.

Step Six

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.

Handset Selection

Step Seven
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.

  SuperOneClick Root