Saturday, June 8, 2013

Rooting an Android Phone: Benefits and Risks

For Starters
Whenever we get an Android device, there are lots of restrictions put to the user by the phone/device manufacturer. Though, Android is an open source platform, the device manufacturer provide the device with many already loaded software which we may not need or even the manufacturer may disable a few features so as to keep the cost of the device low.
Rooting an Android means gaining administrative privileges on the system or you can say, gaining root access on the system. When we buy an Android phone and use it, we are basically just a guest user of Android OS. We cannot make any changes to the system files of the OS, because we cannot access the Android root folder.
When we have gained root access on our phone, we can browse the Android root folder and make changes to the system files on our phone. And hence we can make all kinds of changes, even those restricted by the device manufacturer, which is why after rooting your phone, its warranty is null and void. There are many powerful applications available for users to use after rooting the Android phone, which we cannot use on a non-rooted phone.
Manufacturers mostly stop providing updated OS for the device after a few years of its launch, which may deny the user of experiencing new features provided in new OS and may leave the user unsatisfied. But if you rooted your phone, you can install an alternative OS, a developer-made version of OS, popularly known as Custom ROMs that would offer you to install latest Android OS on your phone even though the manufacturer has denied support for it.
After rooting, we can also over clock the processor inside the device, thus getting better performance from our device. By over clocking, we can use some apps freely which otherwise would work very slowly on our device. If you desire a powerful device, you can install a Custom ROM with inbuilt over clocking features.
Here now, I'll be sharing benefits and risks of rooting your phone and where you can find great Custom ROMs.
Rooting?
Rooting is a process that provides users with full control and access to an Android device. Rooting is often done to avoid/override the limitations done by the device manufacturer. Once root access is achieved, we can replace or change applications, system settings, run special apps, etc.
After rooting, we will be able to install Custom ROMs, replace our original OS with another version of OS that would give us more control over the device and its settings. That's popularly known as "Flashing a Custom ROM".
So, how to root my Android phone?
The process of rooting an Android phone is different for different devices. The most common method is to flash a kernel with root access.
Rooting voids the device warranty, but even after rooting if you flash a stock ROM, everything's back to their original state. So don’t worry.
Why?
After rooting, you can remove any unwanted applications and games that the device manufacturer installed before you purchased the phone. And thus you can free up some space on your Android phone for some more applications that you may need.
After rooting, you can update your phone to latest version of Android faster than your phone manufacturer provides it to you. From the time Google announces a new Android version to the time your device manufacturer provides it for your device, it would take around a few months or longer.
After rooting, you can make complete backup of your device to restore it later on your phone. We can add many features to our phone that were disabled by manufacturer or not provided by manufacturer. We can also improve the battery life of our phone by fiddling with the new controls of the phone.
Risks?
The biggest risk in rooting an Android device is that it will void the manufacturer's warranty. If you've flashed a custom ROM on your phone and there's a problem with your phone, then the manufacturer won't be happy to help you or may even charge you more.
Anyways, there's always a "RESTORE" option available, you can always flash a Stock ROM, and make the device as you got it from the manufacturer, back to "ORIGINAL STATE", and the manufacturer/service centre guys won't be able to figure out if you ever fiddled with your phone.
WARNING! If you make any mistake in steps to flash a ROM/Kernel, there's a chance that you will BRICK your phone, which means that your phone would be no better than a brick on the road.
You should be reading everything about a particular custom ROM/Kernel, before flashing it, so you know what you should be doing in case you run into a problem. If you are a member of any forums related to this, read all the replies to check if there are any problems with the ROM with your particular device.
Places to Find Help
I am member of following forums:
I would also recommend you to join these forums for getting help about rooting and custom ROMs.
Read all the details in these forums about what you're going to do, and understand it before doing it.
Custom ROMs
Custom ROMs are firmware, made by other developers, for Android devices that provide features that are not found in the stock Android OS. They are often built from the official files of Android or kernel source code.
Popular custom ROMs are CyanogenMod, Paranoid Android, MIUI , AOKP  (Android Open Kang Project).
There are many other custom ROMs available, you can check the above given forums for many more custom ROMs.
CyanogenMod is the most famous of all the Custom ROMs. They support many numbers of devices and the ROM they provide looks similar to the Stock Android OS.
Special Applications
There are many apps that would require root access and provide you with extra device management and functions other than what the Stock OS provides.
Even if you don't want to install a Custom ROM, after rooting you can install these special applications to get better functionality from your phone. Applications like ROM Toolbox Lite, Titanium Backup, ROM Manager and ES File Explorer.
Take a Backup
It is always better to take a complete backup of your phone before getting to Flashing ROMs/Kernels. They'll help you in case you get a problem with the ROM/Kernel you flash. It is always better to take a backup and test it before flashing a Custom ROM.
Finally
Rooting and flashing may seem a bit too complicated, but don't worry, there are huge number of users in the forums who will be happy to help you out of trouble. Even though, the process of rooting differs with the device, it isn't as complicated as it may sound.
At last, it depends on you and your usage, if you want to root your phone or not.
Being able to try out new features and new OS versions has always fascinated me and hence I rooted and am running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on my Samsung Galaxy S2 even though Samsung officially provided only Android 4.1.2 for my device till date.
I am enjoying it. What about you?
Leave comments if you have any difficulty in rooting and flashing a Samsung Phone..!! ALL THE BEST...!!