Saturday, 25 May 2013



Good evening, Synapse Circuit Readers! Many of you have been asking me about how to root your Android handsets... Believe me; it’s not that difficult to do! The InterWeb is a great source of knowledge! Some of you have also been asking me what are the benefits of rooting... Ok, I’ll tell you...

Well, in a nutshell, rooting or jailbreaking (the term used for rooting the iPhone) an Android device means that you are able to get to the core of it. It’s rather like being able to get into your cable TV box, remove the crap channels and replace them with the channels of your choosing.

The trouble with a lot of handsets is that they come with a bunch of unwanted applications that take up a great deal of room on the often limited internal storage... Then there’s the skin that is placed on top of the Android operating system... Sometimes they are quite useful and there are times when they slow down the whole process... It can feel like you’re interfacing with treacle! Apps like Facebook can take minutes to launch instead of seconds. Being able to install a custom version of Android with no weighty skin is a delight! Did you know that that you can sometimes push the central processing unit (CPU) a little further? Yes, you can turn up the speed of the CPU which will do wonders to improve the overall speed of the handset or tablet. That’s what I did to the ZTE Blade 3 and it is so much more responsive!

When you root your device you’re able to use apps that are root specific such as the No-frills CPU Control that I have used to improve the speed of my rooted handsets.

Another good thing about rooting is that everything becomes so efficient that it uses less battery power! Yay!

Custom Android modifications... There are many custom versions of Android out there and the most popular one is Cyanogenmod. I personally have found that Cyanogenmod is the most reliable. But do experiment with other ROMs. I will link you to Cyanogenmod and others at the end of this blog.

What lead me to rooting was when I noticed that my Galaxy S and S2 were performing very sluggishly after official updates... I looked for solutions... I learned that the trouble with some official operating system updates is that it has to work with the manufacturers’ requirements and with the network provider... You can, as I did, force an official update through the manufacturer software such as Samsung’s Kies but when the network isn’t ready for such an update it causes problems and slows the handset down considerably or even stops it from working altogether!
The downside to rooting your handset and replacing the ROM is that you can lose all your data. So, the best thing is to backup your data. I use my Gmail account to sync my contacts and any data that is precious to me I burn to a DVD from using my handset like an external drive.

Another point to consider is that if you happen to like the user interface on top of Android then you will lose it through the installation of a custom ROM. The good news is that you can get back that experience through widgets. I have always said that the likes of Samsung should offer up their interface innovations as widgets. There again you can find a lot of what Samsung’s TouchWiz does in the form of apps / widgets that can be downloaded from Google Play Store. So, if you love your manufacturer skin you had better think hard!

However, the great thing about Android handsets is that they are so very customizable without having the need to root! You can download what is known as “launchers” that are very much a skin that you get to populate with app shortcuts and widgets! There are many great ones out there. On my HTC Desire I am using the latest free version of ADW Launcher that replaces HTC’s Sense skin. My HTC Desire works beautifully now! I was thinking of selling it or giving it away! But it’s a quality handset with a nice solid build, it’s so fulfilling that I have restored it! I’ve done the same for my first Android handset, HTC Hero. There’s quite an improvement but the Hero’s touchscreen is a load of crap and without the trackball it’d be useless! It’s a shame.

The trickiest aspect of rooting old handsets is finding the right apps that will work for that particular version of Android. It was murder to find the right apps to make the whole process work! But if you look hard enough you’ll find them! When I went to look for the files to help me root the HTC Hero all the links to the bits and pieces of software were no longer available so I had to Google them!

Oh, not forgetting the right version of the custom MOD! Let me clue you in to what you need generically...

First up you will need some software for your PC / Mac that allows you to perform the root by connecting your handset to the computer via USB port. You will find the rooting software is very easy to find for your particular handset. Rooting software comes in all kinds of different flavours: Odin, Super One Click, Revolutionary and a few others. In some cases you can download an app that does the rooting without the need for a computer!

After you have successfully rooted your handset you need a recovery MOD. What a recovery MOD does is to provide the means or a bridge to install the custom ROM. But don’t worry... When you follow how to root your particular handset you will find out what the recovery MOD does... You have to put your handset into a recovery mode to perform a factory reset that erases all the data on your handset – it does leave your photos and videos intact but I would back them up anyway!

On modern handsets once rooted you can download the Clockwork Recovery MOD directly from Google Play Store. Once installed you can launch it and “Flash” a recovery MOD. It’s easy!

The custom MOD comes as a ZIP file which you do not extract. I use Cyanogenmod and versions exist specific to handset manufacturers. As a result you can place Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 on your phone if there isn’t an upgrade for it.

Be aware that you may not be able to install the latest version of Android depending on your handset. The rule of thumb is the more powerful your handset is the likelihood of installing the latest version of Android is high.
You place the custom MOD ZIP on the SD card and that’s where you’ll install it from in recovery mode.

Oh, you should be aware that some custom ROMs may be in an experimental stage and not everything will work! But you will find out!
This is the Google Play Store installation and they are specific to each version of Cyanogenmod pertaining to the different version of Android i.e. Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.
The GAPPS comes in a ZIP file and you place it on the SD card too!
That’s all there is to it!

Take it easy! Again, there are many, many tutorials up on YouTube and in written form online for you to follow!
I would like to think that I have given you more of an idea of what rooting is and the process that you should be able to follow the tutorials easily! Just take it step by step! You don’t have to understand programming in order to do it – although understanding what is principally happening helps you to pick up the process more readily and thus speeds up the process!


At Cyanogenmod you will find various Android versions for a multitude of handsets and tablets.


They are very similar to Cyanogenmod but they support fewer devices.


You might come across XDA Developers a lot when you are searching for specific custom ROMs, rooting apps, etc. They have a forum that can help you find the answers that you are looking for!  They are a great resource.


Just be performing a search you may be able to find a custom ROM for your handset. For example, I looked on the Cyanogenmod site for a custom ROM for my ZTE Blade 3 and only found an Ice Cream Sandwich version 4.04 (Cyanogenmod 7) and when I did a search I found the latest Jelly Bean version – even though Bluetooth isn’t working yet.

Happy Rooting!

Take good care!

Next blog will feature a review! Stay tuned!

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