So you’re interested in joining the ranks of the Android modding community. You’re at least interested enough that you sought out and found this article, or need to do so in order to get the most out of your spy and monitoring software. I’m going to introduce you to the number one tenet of Android modification; anything you do to your device is 100% YOUR responsibility. I claim absolutely no responsibility if you void your warranty, your device stops working, stops booting, explodes, runs away, or steals your girlfriend. If you e-mail me complaining that I messed up your phone I will laugh at you. To reiterate, everything you do is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY! This means it behooves you to thoroughly research whatever you want to do, make sure you read ALL the information, and make absolutely sure you never do something you don’t fully understand! Also, triple and quadruple check that whatever you’re doing to your device is for your EXACT Model. Many devices have different variants and very similar name; if you make alterations designed for a device with a different hardware set than what you’re actually using there is a very good chance you will brick your device.
Bricking is named such because once you’ve done it, your device will be about as useful as a common brick. I.e., you’ve just turned you’re 600 dollar marvel of technology into a paperweight. I’ve done it; it sucks! ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING! TRIPLE AND QUADRUPLE CHECK IT’S THE CORRECT DEVICE MODEL!
Now that the scary part is over. What is rooting? The best way I can explain this is by using the example of Windows operating system. Many of you will be familiar with the pop up imaged here which you’ve seen while installing software on your windows PC. The pop up is asking you to grant “Administrator Privileges” before making a change to your system. It’s a pretty simple way to add an extra roadblock to anyone trying to install malicious software onto your devices.
By default, you do not have this option on your devices; you cannot grant these administrator privileges. You technically are not an administrator on your own phone! I was outraged when I first realized that! Rooting your device in essence makes you an admin on your device. A “Super User” as we say in the Android world. This lets you make changes to the system files and the “Root” folders of your file system, i.e., top level files. This is where rooting gets its name. What does this all mean? It means you now have complete control over your device. Rooting your device opens the door to everything from being able to back up your applications, to extending battery life, to tweaking the looks and performance of your device, to completely changing the operating system for a custom version of android (known as modding), to deleting that hated bloatware! (You know the stuff! Those annoying apps that come pre-loaded on your phone and eat up tons of space!). You can overclock your CPU, change the colour of your notification bar, theme your device, control application that launch on their own, and even change the animations when your device is booting up (I have the Marvel Studios Intro Logo). In short, the possibilities are vast, too vast to cover here. Check our “Advantages to Rooting” article and follow the mantra, “Do Your Research, Do Your Research, Do Your Rease…”
Some companies make this rather easy for you, even providing simple Play Store applications that will root your device in one tap. Others are quite complicated and involve some risk and a lot of research. It can get as complex as rooting through adb commands or flashing a firmware with Odin. Rooting DOES technically void your warranty but rooting is often reversible meaning you can just unroot and claim your warranty anyways. There are exceptions to this rule, notably, Samsung users who are subject to Knox Security if they have firmware 4.3 or higher. Knox can be (and I plan it to be) an article all its own; long story short, it is a security feature that gets tripped when you try to modify your phone. There currently is no way to reverse it; so if you trip your knox flag your warranty is gone. You also won’t be able to use the Knox enterprise features.
The real answer is I couldn’t possibly tell you here alone how to properly root your phone. There are simply too many phones, too many methods, and too many variables. Any article not written specifically for your device, that says otherwise, is bull**** and cannot be trusted. Not when you’re $600 baby is on the line! What I will do is teach you the proper way to go about figuring out how to do it along with some best practices in the following sections.
First and foremost, this is your new bible. This is the ultimate resource for Mods, Roms, questions, fixes, downloads, and anything else you need to know about your Android. It is a community of developers, coders, modders, and some newbies like yourself. There’s also XDA News, XDA TV, and XDA Wiki. For your own good, I’ll explain a couple of the forum rules.
- Read all the Info!: Don’t expect to half assedly read the instructions and then have somebody save you when you screw up. Read all the info, someone took the time to write it likely so you wouldn’t make a huge mistake. Read Everything! The results of not doing so could be disastrous (See bricking)
- Search on your own!: Find a thread that fits your problem or explains what you want to accomplish and (See Rule Above). Once you’ve read the entire OP (“Original Post” or “Original Poster” depending on context) if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for SEARCH. I promise you, if you ask a question that has already been answered and someone else finds the answer easily, you will be inviting a shitstorm of wrath onto yourself. Search Twice, Ask Once.
- Don’t Private Message users for help: 3 Reasons for this, 1: Developers don’t have time to answer all your private messages. This is not their full time job, though they probably have one; along with a family and a life. They do this for fun, or to learn and provide the fruits of their labor for free, to our benefit. 2: Another user may be able to answer your question. 3: It may help other users in the future.
- Never Ask for ETAs: It gets to the point where some of these roms or features become necessities and many of us eagerly await updates to our favorite roms as eagerly as the mainstreamers await the latest Android update. With that said, it is considered extremely poor etiquette to request ETA’s from developers. You can basically see above but again, Real Jobs, Families, Lives, Giving away their work for free. Be patient and show your appreciation!
- I seriously cannot stress this enough. RESEARCH EVERYTHING! If you’re doing things you don’t understand you can do serious damage to your device. Double and triple check you’re doing it the right way. The EXACT right way.
- Make sure it’s for your phone! The only time I ever bricked one of my devices was a Galaxy S4. I installed a rom intended for the SGH-i9500(International Version) instead of my SGH-i9505 (T-Mobile). Seems like an honest mistake right? Well, when my phone wouldn’t turn on anymore my heart sunk into my stomach. I was able to restore with the help of a seedy back alley phone technician (I felt like I was in a movie, I walk into the apartment and he’s sitting in his living room with a desk. On the desk an old looking computer, a hands free magnifying glass, a soldering iron, and a mountain of half disassembled cell phone. You hear someone trying to console a baby in a nearby room. In line in front of me is a taxi driver holding ten Galaxy S4s, presumably getting them unlocked. It was a good experience though! He fixed my phone in about 15 minutes for 20 bucks!) but I had essentially turned my S4 into a paperweight.
- Eventually, stuff WILL go wrong. You may get through a couple of things problem free but if you become an experience modder, on a long enough time line, stuff goes wrong. Make sure you’re comfortable with troubleshooting and always have an exit strategy if something goes wrong.
- Tied to the point above, Always make a backup! Once you’re rooted and have a custom recovery you can make a backup of your entire operating system. This means you can restore your device to the exact moment of the backup down to all your apps and settings being retained. It is obviously highly advisable that you make a backup right away at the beginning so you can always restore your device if the worst should happen.
- Pay it Forward! The Android community is very open and helpful. When you have a question others will answer, some will make guides or articles, and developers create awesome new software for free! One day, the time will come for you, as it has for me, to pass that knowledge on and continue the trend.
- Don’t root or modify a device for a friend! Not what you were expecting to hear, I know. Also, kind of contradicts the last point but trust me, I know from experience! It’s really cool to introduce people to all the cool things they can do with their Android and it’s nice to help out a friend but unfortunately, it’s a real hassle as well! Chances are, if you’re doing it for your friend this means they’re not that tech savy. They’ve already broken the first two rules, you’re responsible and research everything. If you do this for them you’ve just volunteered yourself for phone calls, troubleshooting sessions, questions, and other misc tech support duties. It will happen. Also, if something does go wrong you’ll feel terrible, or worse yet, be stuck with the bill.
While you will ultimately have to decide for yourself whether rooting is worth it for you. I can tell you that in my experience rooting opens the door to a whole new world of possibilities. You’ve all heard the saying, “We only use 10% of our Brain”? Well, that’s nonsense, we use our whole brain, but many of us are only using 10% of our phones and tablets. Rooting is unlocking the remaining 90%, not unlike Lucy. And who doesn’t love Scarlett Johansson?!
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