When you think of generic hobbies, you imagine sports, music, food, and maybe a bit of bird watching, but there was once a large enthusiastic community of Android rooters, tinkering with smartphones to unleash the hardware’s fullest potential. Unapologetically, I was one of them.

Growing up in Tanzania, Africa, my friends and I spent countless hours going through xda-developers.com trying to figure out a way to root whatever smartphone we had in hand. From Samsung devices to LG, Huawei, Sony, and Chinese Android phones, there was never a challenge too big. There were many reasons why we did this, however, smartphone manufacturers have really stepped up the software experience making rooting a thing of the past. So the real question is, are there any benefits to rooting a smartphone in 2022?

What is Android Rooting?

Rooting is the process of obtaining privileged control over various Android subsystems at the root level. Having this type of access opens the door to new possibilities. It’s a way of breaking the predefined boundaries set by the operating system to achieve a certain task.

What are the benefits of rooting a Smartphone?

  • Overclocking

    Is the process of increasing the clock rate of a device, surpassing the intended speed set by the manufacturer. The whole purpose of overclocking is to increase the overall performance. (Note: Extreme overclocking can cause system instability and overheat.)

  • Customization

    Android phones are already impressive when it comes to customization, but customization with root is on a whole other level. You can tweak every aspect of the OS, including colours, shape and system files.

  • Battery life

    Can be improved by flashing a better-optimized kernel or a more efficient operating system. You can also use some of the root apps that focus on tweaking battery files to improve battery life.

  • Flash custom ROM

    Most custom ROMs tend to have more features than the stock ROM that comes with the phone. Another advantage of custom ROMS is the ability to use newer versions of Android on older phones. (Note: Custom ROMS should only be downloaded from reputable sources)

  • Removal of pre-installed OEM apps

    You can easily free up space and improve performance by uninstalling bloatware and system apps when you have root access. 

  • Ad-Blocking

    Almost every free app has ads now. Understandably that’s how developers make money. With root, you can block ads system-wide.

  • Flash Custom Kernel

    A kernel is the core program that manages your phone’s RAM, CPU resources, system memory, and hardware components. With root, a better-optimized kernel can be flashed to improve battery life, connectivity, performance and add new features.

  • Underclocking

    Is the process of decreasing a device’s clock rate to reduce power consumption, heat emission and improve battery life. I once owned a Motorola Atrix that kept overheating. I had to root it and underclock the processor to fix the heating issues.

  • Breath new life to old phones

    Most smartphone companies don’t release the latest Android operating system or security updates for their old devices, leaving them vulnerable to malware. With rooting, you can easily flash a custom ROM of the latest Android OS, improving security, battery life and performance. 

  • Root access

    You’ll have access to the core files of a device. It’s always advised not to mess with these if you don’t know what you’re doing.

  • Display options

    You change the resolution, orientation and DPI settings.

  • Backups

    With root, the whole OS can be backed up and restored without losing anything, including app files. Apps can also be backed-up using Titanium Backup which leaves no stone unturned. When you restore the app, it would seem like you never closed it.

  • Dual Booting

    Yes, with root access you can flash two separate operating systems on your phone. Why would anyone do this? I’ll let you answer that.

  • Power Apps

    There are a lot of apps that are not accessible without root. Some of these apps tweak system files to add new features and improve performance. An example could be an app that could use your phone to extend your home’s wifi. (Samsung’s latest phones already do this, but there was a time you needed root for this sort of feature)

  • Change boot animations

    Have you ever gotten tired of seeing the same animation when you turn on your phone? With root, you can easily replace it with a picture, video, message, logo or whatever you like. 

  • Anything is possible

    If there is a feature missing in your smartphone, rest assured it can be achieved with root. This statement is less relevant today, as phone manufacturers provide a software experience that is robust enough, with features that people used to root smartphones for. Some of these features include multitasking, themes and heavy customization.

I remember ordering the Korean version of the LG Optimus from eBay without thinking too much about cellular network incompatibility. Since it wasn’t the international version, I discovered the hard way that I couldn’t place calls, use the internet or receive text messages. At that moment I knew that I had to root that phone. With a bit of research and patience, I successfully gained root access, installed custom recovery and flashed the international ROM for that model. As expected, the phone’s connectivity was fixed and everything worked. This is just one example of how rooting can be beneficial.

Disadvantages of rooting

  • Brick your device
    When rooting a device, sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing. When a device is bricked, it’s completely useless. 
  • Void warranty
    You will lose the warranty of your android device if you root it. 
  • Security
    Manufacturers warn against rooting your device. This can expose your device to malware.
  • Stress
    Rooting involves research and working with multiple files. It can feel like uncharted territory for a novice.
  • Not all phones have a documented rooting method
  • Stock ROMs are good enough
    . Take a look at Samsung’s One UI. It’s feature-packed, secure and highly customizable. There really is no reason to root your device anymore.

Should you root your Android phone?

The simple answer is no unless you have a really old device that needs reviving. Features that were once achieved with root now come standard with new phones. Good battery life, customization and snappy performance are expected, making it unnecessary to root. If you also factor in security, warranty and risk, it’s simply not worth it.

Is rooting legal?

Rooting is not illegal, however, device manufacturers and service providers advise against it. If you do decide to root, make sure you understand the risks.

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Kenyon Ndezi is a recent graduate, writer, creator of kenyonndez.com; and the owner of Neonbuild.com, which is a company focused on building apps for small businesses and individuals. Follow along and get inspired!

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