When you buy an Android device, it offers fairly limited scope for customisation.
Other than changing ringtones and backgrounds, you’re largely constrained by the presence of the Android operating system.
This hermetically-sealed OS governs everything from processor speeds to the availability of specific apps.
However, many people want greater control over their handsets.
And when those default customisation options aren’t enough, some consumers are drawn towards rooting.
A rooted Android phone gives the owner carte blanche to amend hardware settings, delete software and access programs Google has decided not to publish in the official Play store.
These are five things you can only do with a rooted Android phone:
- Delete bloatware.Hardware manufacturers tend to pack their handsets with proprietary software.
A Samsung Galaxy comes with everything from themes and print services to Samsung Gear and Samsung Pay apps pre-installed.
Although these programs may be disabled, deleting them isn’t an option. They continue to run in the background, draining system resources and slowing the handset down.
Rooting a device ensures unnecessary apps can be removed altogether, accelerating bootup and response times.
Programs like System App Remover get rid of most apps, while Greenify attempts to prevent background programs from depleting available processing power.
Greenify also offers greater functionality for rooted devices, compared to an installation on a stock handset.
- Overclock the CPU.Your phone is designed to operate at a particular speed, specified as optimal by the manufacturer for balancing performance and battery life.
However, rooting enables you to adjust the clock speed of a processor chip, so it can run more quickly or slowly.
Increasing clock speeds compensates for the gradual drop in performance that occurs on smartphones as they get older.
It also ensures high-definition graphics display more smoothly, while performance isn’t affected by the installation of more apps.
However, overclocking will consume battery power more rapidly.
This is why some people like to underclock their Android phones, extending the period of use provided by a single charge.
- Create full data backups.If your device is unrooted, data backup is a patchy and inconsistent process.
Once it’s rooted, you’re able to call on the services of apps like Titanium Backup.
This exists in something of a grey area – it’s available to download from the official Google Play store, but only works once the device has been rooted.
It provides comprehensive file and folder backups, though some users say it excludes certain data contained in paid apps.
Flashify creates a ZIP file of favourite apps, which may be transferred onto a flash drive and copied to another machine without any loss of data (or progress).
- Block adverts and websites.There are legitimate ad-blockers available in the Play store, though few are as effective as tools designed for rooted devices.
AdAway redirects connections to prevent adverts appearing within apps, games and websites, while Xposed prevents YouTube adverts appearing.
People keen to avoid a particular website (such as gambling websites) can block specific addresses from loading on their devices.
- Customise the display.This doesn’t just mean changing the desktop wallpaper.
It ranges from adjusting the screen resolution and installing new fonts to changing the boot animation and altering the functions associated with your handset buttons.
For instance, there might be a function you’d find more useful than having a button to view recently-opened apps.
These might seem like modest arguments in favour of owning a rooted Android phone, but they ensure the handset does exactly what you want it to – while looking completely unique.
Of course, there are plenty of other things you can adjust on a rooted Android phone.
These include hacking into games, changing app logos and installing software not approved for release in Google’s official Play store.
Even so, rooting brings risks.
It increases the risk of contracting viruses and malware, since unapproved apps are more likely to contain malicious code like Trojans.
Rooting invalidates your warranty, which is a problem if something subsequently fails or gets damaged.
And although you’re able to unroot a device, it’ll never be quite as secure as it was to start with.