For Android phones and tablets, it’s called “rooting”. For Apple iOS devices, it’s called “Jaikbreaking”. Either way, you’re hacking into the OS of your device to give yourself “root” privilege or commonly know as, “super user” access. People in the Android world will also install custom ROMs, which are customized versions of the Android OS containing various tweaks and enhancements. Using such ROMs can be an issue, since they can bring along some incompatibility issues themselves.
With my old Samsung Nexus S 4G smartphone, I did root it and install a custom ROM. This ROM was based on the released OS code for the Nexus S 4G, so I wasn’t deviating much from the original OS. Why did I do it? Primarily for enhanced performance and the ability to access certain features and functions. I’ve also rooted and installed custom ROMs on my Acer Iconia A500 Android Tablet and Amazon Kindle Fire tablet for similar reasons.
With my new HTC EVO LTE smartphone, I’m hesitant to go the rooting route. Everything is working ok as-is, and I don’t have any issues with performance. The one big problem with rooting is that once you do, you technically void the warranty. Also, you won’t get any automatic updates over the air when they are pushed to your phone. You can get around this by un-rooting your phone from time to time to get the updates, but that may require you to re-do the rooting process. That’s something that was always a hassle with my previous iPhone when I jailbroke it, and also my Nexus S 4G.
The only reason why I might consider rooting my phone would be to have the ability to use Sprint’s Hotspot feature. Currently, that’s a paid option, but if you root your phone there’s apps that will allow you to use it as a wireless hotspot for your other WiFi devices. Since this is an option that I would seldomly use, I probably will hold off rooting my phone for a while.