Should you root your phone?

3 min read
03 Dec 2017
3 min read
512 words
Our resident geek tells you why rooting your phone isn’t always the smartest move

Rooting out rooting’s charm

Should I root my phone?
— Sam Tamang

Dear Sam,
To answer your question, usually, the go-to response used to be, “Yeah sure, lemme teach you how to”. But a lot of things have changed over the past few years, and with that, so has this ‘go-to response’. Here are a few reasons why you’re probably better off leaving your phone as it is:

1) It’s 2017
With new breakthroughs happening seemingly every other day, there is little that a modern day smartphone can’t do. When Android was still in relative infancy, the first thing most tech enthusiasts did after unboxing their phones was to root it and to tinker with the software. But these days, even the nerdiest of nerds have little or no reason to root anymore. In fact, these days there seems to be a surplus of unnecessary features and gimmicks that you end up disabling on day one. Unless it’s something very niche that you want to do that happens to require root, there simply isn’t enough incentive to do it anymore. 

2) Security risks
Rooting an OS is achieved by exploiting a security flaw and installing an application (like SuperSU) to manage requests for elevated permissions (that are enabled once the security flaw is exploited). Allowing any app elevated permissions is a double-edged sword: while it can enable features not normally possible, it also opens the door to unwanted access, data leaks and theft, hardware failure, etc, if the developer has malicious intent. There is a reason why most apps (especially banking apps) these days have security measures where they are rendered unusable as soon as rooting is detected. Simply put: bad guy developer plus rooted phone equals you’re in trouble.

3) Voids warranty
Rooting a phone is akin to breaking the proverbial “warranty void if seal is broken” label. Most, if not all, manufacturers are not keen on honouring warranty claims for devices modified by their customers, including software alterations like rooted phones. There are a few companies that will allow it, but that too is mostly on a conditional basis, so be sure to read the fine print before you end up bricking your phone. With extended warranties and accidental damage and loss protection slowly becoming the norm in Nepal, it would be best if you stayed on the good side to begin with, in case you might have to claim a warranty in the future.
4) Not worth the risk
Ultimately, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, there is a lot of risk involved in the whole rooting process. Sure, rooting some devices is easy if you use one of those ‘one-click’ utilities, but what’s the guarantee that the utility wasn’t made by a ‘bad guy developer’ who just wants access to your data?