Root Your Android Phone: What Is Root & How-to

You’ve likely seen or read something about rooting Android if you have done any research on it online. Root was the solution to many Android phone problems. Poor software became the standard. Applications that were not intended to be used ran rampant and wasted battery and data. The experience was terrible.

Every Android phone runs the Linux kernel, middleware, and software very much like a Linux distribution that would be installed on a computer. Rooting allowed us to attempt to repair them ourselves. Rooting gives you complete control over the entire operating system and allows you to make changes. Modern Androids have improved a great deal. The best Android phones and tablets you can purchase in 2019 will perform more efficiently than those available just a few decades ago. However, many people want to root their smartphones and seek out additional information.

Is root really what it seems?

Rooting an Android means that you are simply replacing a discontinued Linux feature with a new one.

Root, or at least how we refer to it here is the root, is the superuser. Android permissions are used by your phone to access file systems and files. When you log in you become a user. You can do specific things depending on the permissions you have granted. Apps you install are also given a type of user ID, and they all have permissions to do certain things — you see those when you install them on older versions of Android, or you are prompted to allow them on Marshmallow or higher — in certain folders with certain files. The root is also a user. One difference between root and superuser is that the root user has full permission to modify any file on the system. These include things that we would like to do (e.g., uninstall an application forcefully on us) and things that we do not want to do. This can make your Android unusable. If you are doing anything with superuser permissions you can do almost everything.

Rooting an Android device is just a way to add a Linux feature that has been disabled. Su is a small file that’s placed on the system. It can be run by another user by being granted permissions. This stands for Switch User. If you just run the file, it will switch your permissions and credentials from the normal user to the superuser. The file is now in your complete control. You can then add or remove any content and gain access to functions that you didn’t know existed on your tablet or phone. This is an important aspect of your phone or tablet that you need to consider before you even start.

All of the above describes how Linux-based systems work in practice.

The process for root access requests has been running since Android 4.3 was released. To ensure that this daemon, which is what these kinds of processes are known as can function properly, it needs to have special permissions. Both of these must be done by modifying files within the system folder.

When Android 5.0 was released things changed and the boot image — software that does exactly what you think it does: boot up Android on your phone — need to be modified so that the su daemon was launched. It is a systemless Root because it doesn’t alter the system partition.

You will have systemless root if you cannot build Android on your phone and make it work.

Systemless root work was stopped quickly when an easy way to root Android 5 phones by editing system files was discovered. However, Google has since patched it with Android 6 so that systemless root is no longer required.

Google has made it easier to protect our smartphones from hackers. Most people do not care that they are rooting their phones. It was also a win for all rooting communities since a non-systemic root is much better.

You can update faster to an Android version, you can remove it if your mind changes, and it’s much easier for users to hide the systemless root. This allows certain apps to not know that your phone’s rooted status and will continue to function normally. This means things such as Google SafetyNet or your bank app can still work in most cases.

A systemless root is the best option unless you own an older phone, or you just want to build Android on your Pixel or another open-source platform that Google supports.

Do I need to root my Android phone?

Yes. No. Maybe. Each of these answers is valid. There are many reasons why people root their devices. Some do it just because they can — they paid for the hardware and think they should be able to do anything they like. Some people want the ability to access new features, such as internet servers, and “fix” existing services. A person might purchase a phone for its hardware and dislike the software. Most people root phones to remove unnecessary features. Every one of these reasons — as well as any reason you might have that isn’t mentioned here — are the right reasons.

Many people desire root to lose their bloat.

It is important to understand that rooting your smartphone will change everything you know about Google’s security and that of the company who made it. Although many people don’t enjoy it, being able to access to an admin account was not part of the Android release. Once you enable this feature, the entire operating system as well as all applications on it is your responsibility. Some people find this more than they need or want.

Rooting may not be the right answer for everybody. You should research the root process in detail before trying to break anything. Although it is okay to have questions and not be an expert, if you don’t know enough and do not try to figure them out anyway, this can cause a highly expensive Android to become a useless piece of junk. It is important to understand that rooting many Android models can cause your warranty to be null. Rooting can cause you to lose access to services, including apps and network access through your carrier. This is a real risk because many users enter it blindly, allowing security to lapse. Not doing that is your responsibility — take it seriously!

You have complete control over your privacy and security by rooting the phone. It’s both a good and a bad thing.

There are many users that don’t really care about these things. Any Android phone can access almost all the functions we require from our pocket computers, regardless of how limited root access may be. Change the look, access over 1,000,000 apps on Google Play, and you can have full internet access and almost all services. It even allows you to make calls. You can make phone calls and be happy with your current situation.

Get ready to root

There are a few steps you need to take to root your device, depending on what method you choose. Many methods require that you either install the Android SDK or unlock the bootloader. It sounds complicated and scary, but this can be done easily. You will also learn the best ways to make things work if they don’t go according to plan. You don’t need to use the Android SDK if your goal is to root your phone. XDA user shimp208 developed Minimal ADB & Fastboot. It is a Windows tool that only includes the Fastboot and ADB components required for rooting.

The method of unlocking your bootloader varies depending on the phone. You can unlock your bootloader using the OEM unlock command. To unlock the bootloader of certain phones, you can use a Motorola or LG phone. Below are links to each vendor’s pages. They will explain how it works and provide details on who you can get it. Be aware that unlocking the bootloader of your Android could affect your warranty status.

How do I root my smartphone?

Your Android model will dictate how to root it. Over 12,000 Android models are available (and this is just counting those that have access to Google Play). They come from hundreds of manufacturers. Nearly all have been made so they can be difficult to root. That’s because if it is is easy for you to root your phone when you want extra access, it may also be easy for someone else to root your phone and get the same access — which means they would have all of your important private data.

You can find models that are specifically designed to block unauthorized access and rooting (like the BlackBerry KEY2), as well as those made for developer access. The majority of phones are somewhere in the middle, but carriers have full control when they get involved.

We can’t possibly cover all methods to root each device, as there are over 12,000 models. But we will help guide you and assist you.

Rooting your Samsung phone

Samsung once offered “developer versions” of popular models. But due to weak sales, they stopped producing them. We have only ourselves to blame — it’s just not worth making something that nobody is buying.

Samsung is also able to make very lucrative deals for carriers. However, most carriers are against rooting phones. Recent models from AT&T or Verizon are notoriously difficult to exploit, and all the U.S. versions of the Galaxy S9 are locked up and encrypted. They might never be rootable. Unlocked models outside North America are not affected by this.

Knox is a problem when you try to root.

Odin is a tool that can root almost all Samsung smartphones. Odin is a simple firmware flashing program that pushes image files to storage. It can also overwrite already existing images. Also, you will need to have the right USB drivers for Windows. Heimdall is the name of the program that takes images from a Mac or Linux computer. They both work essentially the same and carry the same risks — if you try and flash the wrong image or a bad image, your phone isn’t going to be able to start. Although this can often be fixed, there are always risks to your tablet or phone. Your warranty will also be voided if you do.

Many Samsung smartphones come with Knox security enabled. Knox is part of Samsung’s exclusive “Samsung Approved For Enterprise”, feature that separates work and personal environments. This allows them to both co-exist on one device. Knox may present problems when trying to root a phone with it. There is also a software counter to show you if the firmware of the device has been altered. Samsung has the ability to cancel your warranty very easily by messing with these things.

We recommend that you visit the XDA Forums to learn more about rooting Samsung smartphones. * Galaxy Note 10 * Galaxy S10 * Galaxy Note 9 * Galaxy S9

XDA Forums is a community of individuals, some of them from the mobile sector, that are committed to hacking mobile phones. You can learn a lot about topics like rooting your device, and I always go there when I have questions.

Rooting your LG smartphone

There are many ways to root your LG phone. Many international models are bootloader-unlockable, so it is easy to transfer the files via a custom recovery. Others are more secure and will require special techniques. We see that carriers are very influential in rooting new LG phones.

In the past phones such as the LG G6 could be easily rooted, even though they were made by a carrier. The days of easy rooting are over. This is now a risky process. Check the XDA forum for the model you are interested in, just like with Samsung smartphones.

Rooting your Huawei phone

Huawei may not sell many smartphones in North America but it is the biggest smartphone maker in the world. It offers great phones like the Mate 20 Pro.

The company previously permitted bootloader unlocking through an authorized program. This was discontinued in May 2018, as it wanted to provide a better user experience for its customers and avoid any issues with those who flashed illegal software.

Rooting your Huawei smartphone is possible if you read the XDA manual.

Rooting your OnePlus phone

OnePlus has always been one of the more developer-friendly manufacturers, and all of the company’s phones except the T-Mobile branded OnePlus 6T can be rooted exactly the same way a Pixel phone can be — by unlocking the bootloader through the standard Android commands and transferring the correct files to the phone itself.

T-Mobile OnePlus 6T is an unusual device due to carrier influence. However, the T-Mobile OnePlus 6T has remained the same. XDA Developers offers a detailed tutorial to root and unlock your OnePlus 6T.

Rooting your Motorola (Lenovo) phone

Motorola offers some models a generous bootloader unlocking policy. You can find it on their developer website. You can use the Android SDK tools to unlock your bootloader and flash a custom recovery. This allows you to flash any system images to your phone.

You might need to use exploits, or commercial rooting software, if your Motorola phone doesn’t fall under the bootloader unlocking policies (see the list here). MOFOROOT or the relevant Section at XDA Forums is a good place to look.

Rooting your Pixel phone

Learn how to set up and configure Android SDK before you can root your Pixel phone. There are plenty of one-click scripts or toolboxes that will unlock your bootloader and get you ready to flash (or even flash it for you) a custom recovery, but there’s a great reason to learn how to do it yourself — you are able to fix most anything if it goes wrong by using the Factory Images.

Google supports the unlocking of your bootloader. They also provide detailed instructions for how to proceed, including how to flash third-party images, and how you can go back. Google recognizes there are valid reasons for flashing experimental images on the reference/developer device. Therefore, unlocking your bootloader won’t affect any warranty. Use the Google tools to take advantage of these opportunities!

You can easily transfer files to your phone by flashing third-party recovery images. Anyone who is interested in experimenting with Android’s software platform would benefit from a Pixel smartphone.

Other phones

Over 12,000 Android models are available today from hundreds of manufacturers. Each model cannot be listed on one page.

Many of these phones include a method that unlocks the bootloader. You can root many of these phones with programs you have installed on the computer. If you are interested in learning more, check out the forums specific to your phone.

However, commercial root apps can be effective. Before you buy them, make sure to review their pros and cons.

These apps work by exploiting a flaw or glitch in the software. They are identified as viruses by many security programs, which can lead to compatibility problems with the software. While not every smartphone can be rooted using an exploited app, most can. This is a good place to check to ensure your device supports it.

Also, it’s a smart thing to ask questions about the motives of any company seeking access to sensitive data. These apps may seem unsafe, or they could be following unsafe practices. Many people who have downloaded the app and used it are happy with their results. Since we have not been involved in any way with the design or testing of these apps, we can’t comment on them. They exist, and we are there to let you know.

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