Rooting your phone. I'm sure all of you out there must've heard about it, somewhere or the other.
So, what exactly is it, and what does rooting your phone do?
Let this be your guide to rooting, unlocking your bootloader and everything that revolves around it.
By default, your Android device comes with its bootloader 'locked' and the device itself without root access. Getting root access to your device, more commonly referred to as "rooting your device" allows the user to gain access to the Root Folder of the device, which would then enable deep, system level tweaks and other modifications that would otherwise not be possible.
The first step to rooting your device is unlocking the bootloader. What is a bootloader?
In very simple terms, the bootloader is the code that is executed before any operating system, or, OS starts to run / boot. Gaining root access requires this to be altered / unlocked, post which flashing custom ROMs, custom kernels and all the other good stuff is possible.
For this, you'll need appropriate software installed on your PC with the device-specific drivers. Thankfully, Samsung has made the process rather simple by doing all the hard work, developing the Odin Firmware Flashing Tool.
The phone's bootloader can be unlocked with ease using this tool.
First up, unlock developer options on your device by tapping on build number 7 times. You'll see a toast message that says ''developer options enabled''. Now, head back to settings, open up developer options and enable USB Debugging. This will allow your PC to 'speak' to your phone.
This is what Odin would look like on your PC.
Odin v3.12 on PC.
Click on the link below for detailed step-by-step instructions as to how you're supposed to go about it. Keep in mind, that this will wipe your system.
Once the bootloader is unlocked, we now need a custom recovery. Out of the box, every device comes with a stock recovery installed onto the recovery partition of the phone storage. The stock recovery allows for only a limited list of options to play around with, say, wiping the system cache or even the entire system storage, if required. What the stock recovery doesn't allow for, however, is flashing custom ROMs, side loading software, and kernels. This is where customer recoveries come to the rescue.
There are a few options out there to choose from, namely TWRP, Clockworkmod and Philz Touch recoveries. Out of these, TWRP (TeamWin Recovery Project) is the most widely used by far, simply because of its widespread availablity, simple but intuitive interface and efficient operation.
Here's a Galaxy S8 running the TWRP recovery.
So, where are we right now?
Unlocking bootloader : Check ✔️
Flashing Custom Recovery : Check ✔️
Wait a second, but Dhruv are we rooted yet?
Let me answer that for you.
You see, back in the day, unlocking the bootloader and rooting your phone were two separate things. However, nowadays, especially with Odin, the CF-Auto Root unlocks the bootloader and roots the device in a single step process, so you'll have your device rooted once you boot back into the OS.
Okay, so you're back into the system OS and are rooted. But how can you be so sure that everything went as planned and that you have root access? Is there any way to confirm the same?
Of course there is. There are many applications available on the Play Store to check whether your phone is rooted or not. Out of them all, SuperSU is the most used. Download the app, run the check. If all's well, you should see this.
SuperSU on a properly rooted Galaxy J7 Max.
Cue that checklist!
Phone root : Check ✔️
Now, we have a rooted phone with a custom recovery installed. You've now opened up the gateway to flashing custom ROMs, kernels and other fancy stuff.
Custom ROMs are a great way to enhance the customisability on your device, try out and experiment with various ROM ports, improve battery life in certain cases, amongst many other possibilities. They come as a boon to older devices that are no longer on the update hitlist, allowing for devices as old as the Galaxy Note 3 to be able to run Android 9 Pie.
I have tried out many custom ROMs in the past, but my all-time favourite is the Resurrection Remix ROM. With a ton of options for customisation, a clean interface and great battery life, RR is certainly one of the best out there you can try out. Other options include Lineage OS, Dirty Unicorns and Pixel Experience OS.
Okay, that's enough for custom ROMs (for now). Let's move on to custom kernels.
Before anything else, what are they?
A kernel is simply the bridge between the phone's software and hardware. It allows the device's software to communicate with it's hardware. Let's take a simple example.
Every time you click on the camera icon on your device, the kernel 'tells' the camera module on the device to fire up and act accordingly.
Why a custom kernel, you ask?
I got you covered on that front too.
By now, you might've guessed that the stock kernel that comes with the phone out of the box isn't going to allow for any customisations and modifications, just like the case with stock recoveries. However, with custom kernels, there are various possibilities for tweaks and mods. For example, they'd allow you to overclock your system CPU. Some kernels are oriented towards better battery life and screen-on-time (SoT).
There are many kernels available to try out, with the ElementalX kernel being the most widely used out there.
After all of this, it might seem like a dream to have your phone rooted with a custom ROM installed. But I haven't yet gotten to the risks involved and what all could go wrong.
First and foremost, rooting your phone instantly voids your device's warranty. Not just that, you'll lose the ability to use any banking facilities on your phone, like Samsung Pay, for example. You'll also trip your Knox Counter on your phone.
Here is a list of all the pros and cons of rooting your phone, so that you can take a call.