How to Root your Android Phone or Tablet (and Unroot It)
Is the allure of being a superuser tempting you? Android rooting opens up a world of possibility, but it can also void your warranty, or even leave you with a bricked device. Yes, when it comes to rooting your Android, you’ll want to know the benefits as well as the risks.
Manufacturers and carriers have a vested interest in dissuading you from rooting. The act of rooting can be inherently dangerous. Even so, for the careful user, the risk is minimal, and the potential benefits are well worth it. This guide will walk you through the necessary steps to root your phone. Some devices can be rooted in minutes. Others take a little research. One thing is clear: rooting your phone can be one of the best ways to tap into the deep potential of your Android device.
What is rooting?
Rooting is jailbreaking for Androids, and allows users to dive deeper into a phone’s sub-system. Essentially, it’ll allow you to access the entire operating system and customize just about anything on your Android. With root access, you can also get around any restrictions that your manufacturer or carrier may have applied. You can run more apps, you can overclock or underclock your processor, and you can replace the firmware.
The process requires users to back up current software and flash (install) a new custom ROM (modified version of Android).
Why would you root?
One of the most obvious incentives to root your Android device is to rid yourself of the bloatware that’s impossible to uninstall. You’ll be able to set up wireless tethering, even if it has been disabled by default. Additional benefits include the ability to install special apps and flash custom ROMs, each of which can add extra features and streamline your phone or tablet’s performance. A lot of people are tempted by the ability to completely customize the look of their phones. You can also manually accept or deny app permissions.
You won’t find a lot of amazing must-have apps when you root, but there are enough to make it worthwhile. For example, some apps allow you to automatically back up all of your apps and their data, completely block advertisements, create secure tunnels to the Internet, overclock your processor, or make your device a wireless hotspot.
Why wouldn’t you root?
There are essentially three potential cons to rooting your Android.
- Voiding your warranty: Some manufacturers or carriers will use rooting as an excuse to void your warranty. It’s worth keeping in mind that you can always unroot. If you need to send the device back for repair, simply flash the original backup ROM you made and no one will ever know that it was rooted.
- Bricking your phone: Whenever you tamper too much, you run at least a small risk of bricking your device. The obvious way to avoid it happening is to follow instructions carefully. Make sure that the guide you are following works for your device and that any custom ROM you flash is designed specifically for it. If you do your research and pay attention to feedback from others, bricking should never occur.
- Security risks: Rooting may introduce some security risks. Depending on what services or apps you use on your device, rooting could create a security vulnerability. For example, Google refuses to support the Google Wallet service for rooted devices.
How to prepare your Android device for rooting
Three rooting programs that have garnered some attention in the past few months — Towelroot, Kingo Root, and KingRoot. They will root your device in the time it takes to brush your teeth. However, these rooting programs are only compatible with Android devices running something earlier than Android 5.1 Lollipop. For example, King Root claims it will root more than 100,000 devices, and even some running Android 5.0, but the majority of newer devices running Android 5.1 and higher don’t make the list.
Here’s Kingo’s list of compatible devices, and the following links by manufacturer are what KingRoot can handle:
If you’re looking to root newer phones running Android 5.1 or higher, like the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S7, the above methods will not work. While they might have worked on Android 5.0, Android 5.1 is a completely different story, since a modified kernel needs to be flashed in order to achieve root. The kernel is the core of the operating system and it controls the hardware. Android cannot run without it.
We have instructions below for rooting a Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge running Android 5.1 or 6.0, as well as the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge running Marshmallow. You’ll also find instructions for rooting Nexus devices running Marshmallow.
The bottom line is that you will see many developers touting how their one-click tool takes care of all Android devices, but there simply is no such tool.
If your phone is not compatible with either of the above applications, you’ll have to spend a little time researching ways to root on Android forums. The best place to start is XDA Developers Forum. Look for a thread on your specific device and you’re sure to find a method that has worked for other people. It’s worth spending some time researching the right method for your device.
Preparation for root
Back up everything that’s important to you before you start. You should also always back up your current ROM before you flash a new one.
You’ll want to ensure that your device is fully charged before you begin.
You’ll also need to turn on USB debugging, as well as OEM Unlocking.
Open Settings on your device. If you do not see Developer Options toward the bottom of the Settings screen on your device, follow these steps to activate them.
- Tap on About Phone and find the Build Number.
- Tap on the Build Number seven times and the Developer Options will appear on the main page of the Settings.
- Tap on the Back key to see the Developer Options.
- Tap on Developer Options.
- Check to enable USB Debugging.
- Check to enable OEM Unlocking.
Installing the Android SDK tools
Some Android rooting methods require you to install ADB and Fastboot. Follow our instructions here to download and install them.
Unlock your bootloader
Before you get started, You will also need to unlock your bootloader. Bootloader is a program that determines which applications will run in your phone’s startup process.
Unlocking your bootloader will allow you to customize your device. Manufacturers have responded to a demand for customization. Many of them have provided methods to help you unlock the bootloader on their website, though they are generally provided for developers, and they usually require you to sign up or register an account first.
- Motorola bootloader unlock program.
- HTC unlock bootloader page.
- Sony’s unlocking the bootloader instructions.
Some manufacturers and carriers don’t allow bootloader unlocking, but you can often find a way around that with some searching (try the XDA Developers forum).