Despite the relative openness and flexibility of the OS, a smartphone running Google Android isn't as powerful and customisable as it could be. However, we show you how to root your handset and unlock all of its potential.
Step 1: Download a rooting app
To get started rooting your phone, you need the appropriate app for your device. If you're using a Droid, Droid X, Milestone, or Nexus One, you'll want Easy Root. HTC users with a Desire or Wildfire will want to use Unrevoked. With either of these apps, your first step is to download the app directly from the developer's website and put it in the root folder of your phone's SD Card.
Easy Root downloads as an APK file that's ready to run from the phone, so you could just download it straight onto the device and tap it in your file manager app to run it.
Unrevoked downloads as a zipped file with several files inside it. If you have an unzip utility on your phone, you can download and unzip it directly on your device. Otherwise, you'll need to unzip it on a PC and copy the appropriate file to the phone. Because Unrevoked comes in a few phone-specific files, it's generally best just to copy the correct file from your PC in the first place. The documentation on the Unrevoked site clearly explains which file to use for your particular phone.
Step 2: Install the app
Once you've placed the APK file for your rooting app onto your phone's SD Card, locate it with a file-management app such as Astro File Manager and tap it to start the installation. Follow the prompts to allow the installation. Once this finishes, the rooting app will appear in the phone's App Drawer. Launch it.
Step 3: Root it
Easy Root's interface is as simple as it gets. Tap 'ROOT ME!' to root your phone. This is the moment of truth. With your newly installed rooting app launched, tap the option to root the phone. (You may first have to tap past a warning or disclaimer screen.) Once you tap the button to root your phone, the app will spend a few seconds running a script that alters the system's user permissions to allow superuser access and install a customised recovery image on your phone's System partition. It will then present you with a screen that says you have root.
In some instances, running Easy Root or Unrevoked on a supported device and following all the instructions exactly can still result in an unrooted phone. If this happens to you, don't lose heart. The developers of these apps are highly responsive to user questions and feedback, and if you take care to document everything you did and all of the relevant settings on your device, you stand a good chance of getting the help you need to root your handset. Or, at the very least, you could provide valuable information that the developer can use to update the app and make it work on phones like yours. Just remember: Rooting is a precarious business for everyone involved, and these developers have put a lot of work into their projects with very little promise of reward. So be nice, even if you're frustrated.
Step 4: Reboot
Restart your phone to enable the new root permissions on your device. Congratulations - your handset should now be rooted.
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