The Evils of Rooting your Phone

imagesSome people love to “root” their phones, which allows them to access restricted areas of the Android OS and install special apps and possibly custom ROMs. I normally don’t like to mess with my phone, but I have rooted my last two phones for different reasons.

The first phone I rooted was the Samsung EVO LTE, and I did so because I was having a lot of issues with the the radios and battery life. I ended up installing a custom ROM created by some developers which tweaked the OS to add some needed improvements, and that seemed to help my situation. Of course, when you root your phone you will no longer get over-the-air updates from the cell carrier. In the case of the EVO LTE phone, that was fine because Sprint wasn’t releasing any updates for it.

After the EVO LTE, I switch to AT&T and got an HTC One phone which I loved. I used this phone for about one year as-is with the stock setup, and eventually decided to root it because of battery life issues. This time, I only rooted it and installed some battery-saving apps (one called “Greenify”), and I didn’t install a custom ROM. This helped tremendously, as the Greenify app automatically put apps running in the background in “hibernation” mode which reduced the battery drain. Again, the big issue with rooting is that you won’t receive OTA updates, and AT&T was about to send out a major update for the new Lollipop OS upgrade. As such, I wanted to unroot my phone, which turned out to be a giant hassle.

Eventually, I was able to unroot my HTC One phone and get it back to stock condition, and that allowed me to get the OTA update for Lollipop. The only thing I was unable to do, was remove the “TAMPERED” notice on the boot recovery screen. This is an indication that I’ve unlocked the bootloader at one time in the past, and most likely voids my warranty.

A few weeks ago I upgraded to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone, and I have no intentions of rooting it. The phone works very well as-is in the stock configuration, and I don’t have an immediate need for rooting. Also, Samsung phones have something called “KNOX” which is a mechanical fuse that will be tripped if you root your phone. Once the KNOX fuse has been tripped, there is no way you can reset it via software. And a tripped KNOX fuse means you’ve voided your warranty.

So in summary:

  • Rooting your phone isn’t always easy, and it can be very hard to unroot it in some cases.
  • If you root your phone, you will probably not receive any OTA updates from your cell carrier.
  • Rooting gives you full access to the Android OS, allowing apps to do much more and give you more capabilities.
  • Rooted phones can install custom ROMs which have been enhanced and tweaked by developers.
  • Rooting your phone often means you’ve voided your manufacturer warranty.

My advice, is that you don’t root your phone if you’re an average Joe user. Leave the rooting for those who like to live on the edge and have lots of time to mess around with their phones!

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