I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Should I root my device?". I asked myself the same question with all three of my Android devices and ended up rooting two of them. Quite honestly, I don't think rooting is for everyone which is why I'm going to help you decide. I will discuss the advantage and disadvantages of rooting your Android device.
Advantages Of Rooting Your Android Device
You can download non-US apps on the Android Market. This advantage only applies for those who are currently outside of the United States. By rooting your phone or tablet, you can use an app called Market Enabler to download apps even if you're outside the US. What it does is fake your provider and fool the Android Market into believing that you're in the United States even if you're halfway across the globe. Market Enabler is a "root only" app which means your phone needs to be rooted for you to use it.
Overclock your device. Overclocking means your device can go beyond preset hardware speeds. The SGS2 for example is clocked at 1.2 Ghz. If you root it, you can bump up its speed to 1.6 Ghz although 1.4 is the most stable for this phone. Basically, overclocking will make your device faster. But there needs to be an overclock kernel available for your phone/tablet.
Gain access to the Android Market and other Google services like Google Maps and Gmail. This only applies for owners of devices like Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet. These devices run on Android but you can't use any of Google's services with them. If you root them however, you can finally use them to use Google Apps and download apps via the Android Market.
Use "Root Only" Apps. "Root only" apps only run on rooted devices. They allow you to use functions you can't use with a regular device with no root. Below, I have a picture of those I personally use.
Root only apps does all sorts of things:
- Screen capture. While this can be done with physical buttons (in some Android phones) and regular apps (like No Root Screenshot It - but you'll have to pay for it), take screenshots can be done for free with root only apps. I use Screenshot ER Demo.
- Backup your phone's ROM and data then restore them later on. This is great for users who want to flash custom or original firmware on their devices but are unsure if they're going to keep them. I use CWM which comes pre-installed with CF Root. Before, I only used ROM Manager but it's incompatible with CF Root.
- Backup your apps and data. After flashing a new ROM on your phone, you are most likely to start from scratch. Instead of downloading apps from the Android Market all over, you can download root only apps which perform this. I use Titanium Backup. After flashing a ROM on your Android device, you can restore apps from your old ROM. Even better, app data can also be backed up which means you don't have to log-in or start from Level 1 in a game you've almost finished.
- Extract the APKs of your apps. At first this doesn't seem much but wait til you hear this... You can share paid apps to others! But this doesn't work all the time because some apps have been protected against this sort of piracy - usually apps that require internet connection when first launched. I use MyAppSharer.
- Freeze bloatware or delete system apps. I haven't tried deleting system apps yet but I have frozen bloatware. They say it speeds up the phone but if you have a dual-core device, I don't think this is necessary. I use SystemApp Freezer.
- Turn off phone, reboot it, and use your LED flash as a flashlight with a widget. I use Extended Controls and all three functions require a rooted phone.
- Force apps into SD card. The problem with many apps is that you can't install them in your SD card. If you have a low-end to mid-range device with limited internal memory, you have no choice but to cut back on what apps you install in your phone. But if you root your phone and install apps like App2SD, you can "force" apps to be installed in your SD card. Now you can install as many apps as you can in your device.
Disadvantages Of Rooting Your Android
Breaks the warranty of your device. Phone manufacturers and carriers make it clear that rooting will void the warranty of your device. Good news though. This is only temporary in most cases. If you unroot your device or install an original ROM on it, the root will be gone and you can fool your manufacturer or carrier into believing that you didn't root it at all! But if your device has a flash counter (like my SGS2), you can never get back its warranty unless the tech guy is stupid enough not to notice it.
No more streaming on Amazon. This only applies for owners of Kindle Fire. Even if you unroot your device, you still can't use Amazon to stream videos.
Low security. Your device gains a lot of features when its rooted because its security is bypassed. Every time you allow Superuser to allow an app, that app bypasses your phone's regular security. But really, merely allowing non-Android market apps to be installed in your device (even if it's not rooted) places it in just as much security risk. Just be careful with the apps you install in your device and make sure it doesn't have malware.
You can brick your device. I'm not really sure what happens to your device when it gets bricked but all I know is this - it's bad. So bad that you can't use your device when it happens. But if you know what you're doing, I don't think this is possible at all. I've rooted my devices but nothing happened. I think it's more dangerous to flash ROMs.
Should I root my Android phone/tablet?
Despite being biased towards the advantages of rooting your device, consider this - do you really need them? If you do, then I suggest you root your device. If you can live without these advantages, then don't root your phone until you find a good reason to do it.
I owned a Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 before and rooting it allowed me to maximize my phone's memory and install more apps. As for my Samsung Galaxy S2, I rooted it so I can do backups before flashing a new ROM. My Samsung Galaxy Tab is the only device I didn't root because I don't need it yet. But when the ICS for SGT P1000 turns beta, I'll be sure to root it so I can do backups before flashing.