There are many root instructions for Android smartphones, but what does “root” or “root access” actually mean under Android? We explain the term to you and show you the main advantages and disadvantages of rooting.
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Change / add system backups & system settingsDelete pre-installed apps & upgrade functionsCPU / GPU adjustments & interface adjustmentsdisadvantageMostly loss of warranty (warranty remains in effect)Malware with root access does more damageA faulty root process destroys the device (Brick: Soft-Brick, Hard-Brick)
Android is based on the open source Linux kernel and is itself an open source system. Many terms such as “root” therefore also come from the Linux / Unix area. Basically, “root” refers to a user who has full access and write access to the system. A root account or root access is therefore often compared with administrator rights under Windows, even if there are some differences in the details.
As soon as the user has admin rights or root rights, he can in principle change the entire system under Android. This includes, among other things, profound user interface modifications (UI customization) as well as changing system settings. Via root it is possible, for example, to install a system-wide equalizer, increase the maximum volume and adjust the entire menu navigation yourself. Pre-installed apps that are supplied by many manufacturers can also be removed via root access.
Since Android is an open system, you can not only make a few modifications – you can also exchange the entire Android system for a different version. These custom ROMs are often based on the “Android Open Source Project” (AOSP) and offer many features that are not provided by the standard system. Every developer of a ROM (ROM Cooker) sets his own priorities, such as improved battery life, more speed or alternative operating concepts. The installation of a custom ROM does not require root access, but an unlocked bootloader.
The administrative rights on Android are root apps like SuperSU and superuser regulated, that is, any other app that root access requests must be manually released by one of the aforementioned apps.
But rooting the smartphone does not only have advantages. Before you root your cell phone, you should also be aware of the disadvantages: There is already a danger during the root process, because if you make a mistake you can destroy (“bridge”) the device. A distinction is made between a soft brick and a hard brick. A soft brick is basically just a software error that causes the smartphone to no longer start properly. The problem can be solved simply by installing new firmware. A soft brick is the most common type of brick. The hard brick is very rare, but all the more fatal, because here the system has been destroyed to such an extent that access to the smartphone is no longer possible – and it can therefore no longer be saved.
Since the Android system is open due to root access, the risk of malware also increases. Although the user has to release the root rights manually, a careless tap of the finger or a supposedly harmless root app can lead to malware infiltrating itself – and causing much more damage through the root privileges.
For many users, the most crucial point is the loss of the guarantee – but the guarantee remains unaffected. To differentiate: The warranty is a legal obligation that the seller must comply with if the customer discovers a defect in the device that already existed at the time of purchase. The guarantee is a voluntary service that guarantees the customer the functionality of the goods for a certain period of time.
If the customer discovers a defect that did not already exist at the time of purchase, the guarantee therefore applies – and you often lose this by rooting. A general statement cannot be made here, however, as the manufacturers proceed very differently. HTC, for example, explicitly mentions that the guarantee remains in effect if the defect was not caused by rooting. However, many other manufacturers are silent on this point or mention that rooting will invalidate the guarantee.
In case of doubt, it only helps to give it a try and – as far as possible – to “unroot” the mobile phone before sending it back, ie to remove all traces of root access.
advantagesChange / add system backups & system settingsDelete pre-installed apps & upgrade functionsCPU / GPU adjustments & interface adjustmentsdisadvantageMostly loss of warranty (warranty remains in effect)Malware with root access does more damageA faulty root process destroys the device (Brick: Soft-Brick, Hard-Brick