Is It Worth It to Jailbreak or Root Your Smartphone? [Ask the Writers]

One of the bigger questions surrounding smartphone ownership is if you should jailbreak or root it. This practice is done against the advice of the makers of the smartphones, whether it be Apple, Samsung, etc. They ship the phones (or tablets, for that matter) to you as is, and that’s how they expect them to stay. Many owners seem to have other ideas, though.

Of course, there was a point when jailbreaking or rooting seemed like almost a necessity. When the iPhone first appeared on the scene, for the whole first year, third party apps didn’t exist. Jailbreaking existed so that people could have a way to load third party apps onto the phones. Think of the smartphone in your pocket right now and imagine if it had no third party apps! Now it’s different, though, as they all come shipped with so many more options. We put this question to our writers here at Make Tech Easier, asking if they feels it’s worth it to jailbreak or root a phone.

Even though I had one of those original iPhones, I still never considered jailbreaking it. I just couldn’t do it. It would have invalidated my warranty. I wanted to know my phone was covered if anything happened to it. However, I respect the practice and believe it’s necessary to the mobile community. Some of the apps developed by Apple were copied from the apps in the cydia store. If they weren’t doing that, the apps and features we are allowed on our phones wouldn’t be nearly as advanced as there would be no big drive to create all that.

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Looking at it more pragmatically, Miguel breaks it down, saying if you own a small business it’s not worth it to jailbreak or root your smartphone, as “the inbuilt security on the phone is no longer useful in situations where an app can potentially gain full access to the kernel.” It doesn’t matter how many more options you gain if you lose the security. If you’re using the phone purely as a consumer, he feels it’s only worth it if “you’re smart about what you do with the phone.

Trevor feels somewhat similarly. He doesn’t see the point to jailbreaking or rooting if “you are just rooting to say it’s rooted … especially if it is your everyday phone with a warranty.” There’s no point to doing it and breaking the warranty if you don’t have a use for it in that condition. However, he had a device once that was very limited on space, so he rooted it to remove the apps he didn’t use to install apps that would be more useful to him.

This is very similar to the way Emmanuel views the practice. He feels most people jailbreak their iPhones because it’s the “cool” thing to do or “so easy.” Yet he advises against it and wouldn’t do it to his iPhone 5 with security as one of the major reasons. He’s one who did it during the days of the original iPhone, when it was a sixty to seventy step process, but he’s “lived and learned” and advises against it now. It seems to him that many who do it to the iPhone do it to make it seem more like an Android, and if you “want an Android so much, get one.”

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Bertel admits he doesn’t generally root his devices anymore. He thinks it’s most worth it when “an Android phone has stopped receiving updates from its manufacturer/carrier and a consumer wants to extend the life of the phone (or tablet).” That’s a point well made. In this era, the major devices are getting huge updates every year, and occasionally even more often, and sometimes the companies stops adding the enhancements to the older devices. Yet, if the device is still in great working condition, you may want those features still.

It’s the chance to have as many choices with her phones as she wants that attracts Ruji to the practice of rooting her Android phones. She doesn’t do anything “too crazy,” no CyanogenMod or custom ROMs or anything,” but she enjoys the ability to tether, take screenshots, and use root-only apps such as DroidSheep and Shark.

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Damien unabashedly admits to jailbreaking and rooting both his iOS and Android devices. For him, it makes the phone “an even better phone that it was originally and opens up plenty of possibilities that were not possible without jailbreaking or rooting.

Our writers seem to be breaking down the jailbreak or root process into one factor. You have to make sure it is worth your while. It can lead to a greater use and enjoyment of your smartphone or tablet, but you also suffer consequences, such as a loss of security. If you have a good reason to do it, proceed with caution. If you have already done it to a device you own or owned, weigh in and comment below, letting us know your thought process into it and how you feel after you have jailbroken or rooted your device.