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Why is it so hard to 'root' a smartphone?

OnePlus 6
OnePlus 6 (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Rooting, bootloader unlocking, jailbreaking; it has many different descriptions but they all mean the same thing when it comes to smartphones. It's how you open the phone's software so you have more control over the system features and functions.

Android users have it easier than most (which may not be a great thing all the time) because changing the Linux permission model that Android uses is as easy as placing one very small file in the system folder. But for many phones, it's still not very easy, and that's by design.

To get them out of the way, there are a handful of phones from companies like Google, HTC, Motorola and other lesser-known brands that let you unlock the bootloader without resorting to any chicanery. Going through the Android settings, you make the switch, agree that you know the risks, and from that point forward your phone will try to load whatever software is in the right place on the bootable partition. There are some side-effects, like Android Pay not working, but the phone is yours to install whatever you want and placing that particular file is now an option. Not always an easy option, but an option.

More: Best Phones for Rooting and Modding

Other phones don't work this way, choosing instead only to load a signed and trusted version of the operating system from the factory it's supposed to come from. Part of the reason is user (that'd be you and me) privacy and security. It's impossible to hide personal data from a user with root privileges, whether that user is a real person or another piece of software that wants all your stuff. While it'd be great if the companies making our phones only thought about our privacy, but other reasons phones are locked up have nothing to do with you or me and are just as important (if not more) to those very companies.

Your phone company hates it

Take a trip in the Android Wayback machine and visit 2010 with me. The T-Mobile G1 was the coolest new phone, ran Android, and almost took an entire cellular network down.

Android back then had an app called G Chat. It was the predecessor to Hangouts and every Android phone (which was really only one) had it installed. Back then Google didn't have much of a relationship with carriers and it seems like very little if any testing was done on how G Chat would affect T-Mobile's shiny and new fast 3G network. The app would spam packets of data almost non-stop, which was awesome for users who wanted a really fast messenger client but crashed T-Mobile in cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. It was a small bug, but had a big impact.

Cell networks are fragile things. So are some of the people in charge of them.

While users with root privileges didn't cause this, it did make carriers worried about having Android phones on their networks. Phones from HTC, Motorola, and Samsung were being released and nobody wanted a repeat, so carriers started "rigorously testing" and eventually requiring approval for Android phones on their networks. Part of that was a guarantee that users wouldn't be able to go back in and change the way things worked, which meant the software had to be locked down so these types of settings weren't able to be fiddled with.

Fast forward to today, and carriers are equally worried that someone might be "stealing" data by using it to tether a laptop or a tablet instead of using it directly from their phone, changing APN settings to get a higher priority, or even change settings so that SMS and MMS messages can be sent for free even if they aren't part of your ancient data plan that you should have probably changed by now.

Carriers have to worry about their network because if it breaks too often, customers will look elsewhere. We all know the honor system will never be an option when there's a way to get more than you've paid for, so locking down settings and permissions is a result. It also means that the carrier gets to decide which of its apps you can uninstall or change, and pre-installed apps can mean a lot of money for them.

Chip makers hate it just as much

The company who made your phone only made parts of it. Things like processors or modems or even storage devices are bought in bulk and used in the final assembly. Even Samsung, who manufactures many of the individual parts in a lot of smartphones, uses parts from companies like Qualcomm or Broadcom or Toshiba and even LG.

These companies are afraid you'll be able to muck around with the firmware they own and want your phone locked up tight.

There is a lot of money tied up in a company's IP and they want to protect it.

Most people wouldn't try to do something like alter a GPU driver, even if they could. But most is not the same as all, and tech companies are famous for doing everything they can to safeguard their intellectual property. If you get in there and crack some bytecode to reverse engineer a change, you might also be able to see how they do the things they do. There is a lot of competition among tech companies and if you did know exactly how one of them was able to do something they patented, other companies would be more than happy to talk to you about it and maybe even exchange some money or goods for that helpful information.

Knowing exactly how something works makes it very easy to do the same thing with enough tiny changes that you won't have to pay royalties. Tech companies love royalties, which can often mean a lot more income than selling products can. It's something they all want to protect, so they do things like not give license to distribute files and have things like software bootloaders hardened and encrypted.

Even Google doesn't love it

Since the Nexus One, every "official" Google phone has been easy to bootloader unlock. Google gives you the tools to do it, gives you the instructions to do it, and doesn't end your warranty once you've done it. But they would rather you not do it, too.

Android gets a bad reputation it doesn't deserve. (it's the users, not the software!)

Rooted phones can cause a lot of trouble. Trouble makes headlines when it's serious enough or popular enough. Companies like Netflix were hesitant to release their software for use with Android because they were afraid of "trouble" in the form of us all stealing movies that were optimized for a tiny screen and buffering over a cell connection instead of the full bitrate file that every computer on the planet has access to. That's as silly of a notion as it sounds, but it's true because Android had a bit of a reputation as being that thing hackers used in the basement to ruin the planet or something.

Google gives Android away because their first goal is to have as many eyeballs on the internet and looking at Google ads as possible. That means Android needs to stay crazy popular, which means it needs apps like Netflix. Nobody at Google cares if you root your phone and hex edit a single player game so you can have all the coins or a million lives. They do care about people who would hack Netflix, but more importantly, they care that Netflix thinks people with Android phones will hack them. Google wants Netflix to love Android as much as you and I do.

Your privacy is part of it, too

Everyone here at Android Central wants you to have a good time with your phone but also be able to keep private things private and secured. That means we're not very keen on rooting a phone being a trivial thing that anyone can do without knowing the risks. Google, Samsung, Motorola, LG and every other name attached to Android at any level feels the same way.

Everyone deserves privacy and some need a little help.

Corporations need to protect their bank account, but most of the time people running them and working for them want you to love using their products just as much if not more. After everything needed to protect investments and profit is done, they want you to think their product is safe to use. For Toyota, that means making a Prius or Corolla that won't randomly accelerate. For ZTE that means making a phone that's very hard for malware to crack into.

Some people just shouldn't have a rooted phone. We all know at least one of those people. To protect them means things are going to be hard for you, too. We may not like the reasons why it's so hard to root a phone, but we should be glad that the companies involved care about our privacy, even a little.

Updated June, 2018: This post was previously published, and has been updated with current information.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

66 Comments
  • It's interesting how companies want to control your hardware so much yet you can open up your PC and have root access without even having to jump through any hoops at all. Netflix doesn't block you if you want to modify your windows32 folder. Banking sites aren't going to block you if you are running Linux even though you have root access at will. For some reason companies treat phones differently. They treat you like you're leasing the device. Thankfully rooting on Pixel phones is incredibly easy. You toggle a setting on your phone and run about 3 adb/fastboot commands and you have a rooted phone with magisk installed. I will never own a phone that makes it difficult for me to have root control. Mostly because rooting my phone allows me to easily block ads which can be a huge security risk so to boost the security of my device I root it and install an ad blocker. Ads also chew through more data which costs me money. I do not pay for data to download shady ads. The other reason I like to root is for backing up my data. With titanium backup I can make true backups which are much, much more thorough than what Google calls device backup. When I back up a game, for example, I want my progress saved. When I backup my messaging app I want all my text messages saved. I don't need a service that basically saves a list of apps that need to be downloaded next time I reset my device.
  • Well to be fair, people recycle phones more often than computer. Essentially more people do lease phones with Carrier buy back programs. But I agree with everything you said. People should do what they want with their phone, Sadly more people don't know what the hell they doing rooting a phone, brick it, and then want a return. Plus company may not like the "hacking" of intellectual property.
  • "Plus company may not like the "hacking" of intellectual property."
    Companies don't own Android Google does, and even then it's just a modified version of Linus Torvalds and Dennis Ritche's Linux/Unix. Which I believe was made to be open source and "hackable".
  • I don't know much about Unix but Linux was definitly made to be open source. Its also not "hacking" when your allowed to do it and are given the tools.
  • Pretty sure Google doesn't own the hardware and patent. Pretty sure Qualcomm hates to have their hardware altered. I mean it clearly talks about that in the article...
  • The point about the chip hacking is a bit of a red herring; the drivers and such released by chip manufacturers are typically binaries, and are not easily "hacked" regardless of having root access. It's no different than attempting to do so with the drivers running on your PC. This is why custom ROMs are often problematic in one way or another on phones running a newer OS version than their phone officially supports, as they have to rely on the proprietary binaries that are built for the older OS since "hacking" those binaries isn't as easy as it's made out to be.
  • Yep. When my wife was still a teen and her mother had a new PC running Windows 3.1, she thought it would be oh so helpful to "clean up" unused files to save hard drive space (very much a premium). She would delete them one at a time until she read in the manual (yes, a manual, not a help file) about using the command del *.* which she summarily ran from the C:/ prompt. You can imagine the conversation with her mother when she got home from work. To this day, you can still do dumb things like this and Microsoft doesn't have any intention of locking it down. Arguably, you can do more damage to other systems at a much faster rate from a PC than from a phone. Therefore, it's hard to justify the hysteria surrounding rooted phones by the manufacturers and content providers. It's perception only and no one outside the modding communities does anything to convince them otherwise.
  • I don't think del C:\*.* will work with modern versions of windows..
  • It will, it's just that it won't take out the CONFIG.SYS (drivers) and AUTOEXEC.BAT (path and other environment variables) and prevent Windows from running – Windows keeps system settings in Hidden files at the root directories and sprinkled elsewhere in the hierarchy.
  • It's one of the failings of Android, that - at least with some phones more than others - you can root a device and/or go digging through the file manager and delete files that you really shouldn't. I've never been crazy about rooting, I've thought about it but never wanted to do it bad enough to look beyond the surface. As a result I've left Android alone and watched through many subsequent devices as the OS has matured and now rooting isn't even a thing for most people. You can probably chart rooting with the beginnings of Android and see it spike several years ago and fall every year since. I'd just as soon leave everything well enough alone. I don't demand exceeding performance from my device, I'm a lite user. But I did see once in the PC world what can happen when you go about deleting files you aren't entirely sure what they do. Had a laptop once that ran McAfee with the auto-update turned on. It hit the news that McAfee had sent out a bad update that recognized a particular file as a virus laden file and deleted it. Only problem was that it wasn't a virus ladened file at all but part of the Windows OS startup and deleting it kicks your PC into a bootloop. McAfee had royally botched it, caught hell as you'd expect and quickly had to send out a patch for their update that restored the file. You had to "catch" your PC during startup and then in Safe Mode follow their precise instructions to install the file and stop the boot loop. Thankfully I only used my computer sparingly, so I just left it off until the mess was all over and only later turned it on once I was sure McAfee had its act together and my PC would download an un-botched update. I had always respected the phrase, "look but don't touch" but McAfee's fiasco really brought it home. Couldn't imagine doing it to my Android device as it's not like we have an Android Store we can just pop in to and get some help, not like the Apple Store. I shy away from Apple products, but I do have to admit that it's nice to be able to pop into your local Apple Store with questions and for help rather than searching around on the web basically poking around and hoping for the best answer to your question or problem (which I've had to do on occasion). I've popped into an Apple Store with my elderly father and his IPhone and we were in and out with problem solved in about thirty minutes!
  • It may seem like if you manage to hose up the files in your Android phone, you are screwed; but there is a way to reinstall your OS on any phone. For some reason, they don't like to make those tools public (much like they've done with new PCs that don't ship with restore media), but carriers typically have them, and if you look into the phone development communities you can usually find them there as well. Your phone really is no different than a tiny PC with a wireless modem and audio communication (phone) software. The only thing that really makes them different is the unnecessary locking-down of the phone devices.
  • When you back up your messaging app with Titanium Backup, that probably isn't backing up your text messages, which are kept in a system database separate from the app if it's a third-party app. You should notice that you can easily change your default text messaging app any time you like. Obviously the system isn't figuring out what arcane method each arbitrary app is using to store the database and converting the database between formats.
  • Yes, and no. The SMS messages are separate, so you do have to select to back then up separately from the app, but Titanium can get both.
  • I'll never understand why save games are "hidden" in the 1st place. They should all be dumped in user documents to be easily accessed by the user.
  • If I could get rid of the 45 million bloatware apps from Samsung and Sprint without rooting, I wouldn't even consider it. Until the manufacturers and carriers realize people don't want all that crap, or want to pick and choose what they do have, people will continue to root.
  • You will never get rid for the bloatware when it's a partition storage that will always have the bloatware.
  • Not true. Rooted, you can easily remove it all which was the entire point of my comment...
  • The bloatwear should not be allowed to be system software. Just preinstalled and uninstallable.
  • One of the reasons I root my phone. Get rid of crap and put in apps and software I want and be able to I stall them to the system partition.
  • It's not that they don't realize you don't want the crap... they're not dumb. They get paid to put those crap apps on your phone, or those apps tie into their own offerings, so it means a drop in revenue if they remove them (or allow you to remove them). That crapware's there to stay.
  • The Essential Ph-1 is the first phone I haven't rooted (yet), and a big reason is because it didn't come filled with garbage apps from multiple companies.
  • The only thing I miss from my rooting days if total permissions control and removing bloatware apps. I'd rather not have every other game or app deciding that it NEEDS to run at startup. Oddly enough, when I was rooting, killing that permission didn't affect the app at all.
  • With every new version of Android, my list of reasons for rooting got shorter, and my motivation to jump through the necessary hoops diminished. With my latest phone, I decided to try running without root and see if I missed anything. So far, no. I can even block ads if I want.
  • What do you do to block ads? Please guide.
  • OGYoutube as since 1 year that original YouTube gives me so many ads that it was really awefull to watch in the app... It was a nightmare. Now with that new app (no root needed) it replaces YouTube and I feel breathing back again.
  • Try Samsung Internet browser and install one of the many content blockers (Adguard, etc)
  • Titanium Backup
    AdAway
    Viper4Android
    Substratum If you can get me these four things running without root I'd be good. Yes I know Substratum works on Oreo but you have to tether it to a PC. <<< Enjoying my rooted OnePlus 5T on Oreo. :)
  • AdAway: DNS66
    Works like a charm and doesn't even appear on battery stats.
  • Backing up/restoring my phone needs root, I could probably live without most of the other benefits. Google just let us back them up already... And before anyone mentions either ADB backup from Windows or Helium Backup, neither has worked reliably since I first tried it many years ago. I try them occasionally to see if anything has improved, I have never completed a backup without hanging and when trying smaller restricted backups even restorations would generally fail.
  • Interestingly, most of the rooters here talk about ad blocking (removal of bloatware is a nice perk - but ultimately not very important, as long as it can be disabled). Ad blocking is stealing in a way. Oh, I do it - but it's still 'wrong'. Still, the REAL reason to unlock a bootloader is to get a device with a useful life that approaches the useful life of the hardware. I.e., it's the software updates, stupid. If the various players you mention really don't want you to root, they should insist on 3 or more years of upgrades. And if they won't, we should vote with our wallets and support devices that remain rootable. A typical desktop PC is good for up to 10 years. These days, a smartphone can cost twice as much, and you still get only 2 years of support - if that...
  • It is not necessarily 'wrong' to block all Ads. Some are annoying/irritating intrusive. Some are tracking spyware. Some are malware period.
    I always like to have the Option available to allow vetted reasonable Ads. Because to a point it is the reality of the Marketplace. And that I can live with if I must.
  • Apps may be disabled, but they are still taking up valuable storage space, if they cannot be removed.
  • I think all devices should come prerooted. Just flip a setting and install the root manager of your choice and its rooted/jail broken. I will never buy a device that can't be easily rooted and will dump my cell company for one that supports my device of choice in a heartbeat.
  • "Rooting, bootloader unlocking, jailbreaking; it has many different descriptions but they all mean the same thing when it comes to smartphones."
    - Technically this isn't true. It's possible to be rooted, but still have a locked bootloader, and vice versa.
  • Unless you are tech savy - know what you are doing and your phone is old/out of warranty, I would not recommend rooting it. You wouldn't want to accidentally brick it.
  • Like most things one wishes to understand, research is the key. Knowledge is power. Practice makes perfect. Do black belts quit training because they heard a guy may broke a bone in practice? Would you buy a car at full price, yet not have access to the engine? After you bought the car, would you not drive it because you may accidentally 'Brick it'? It's just a phone dude...you're doing too much. I would never buy pay $800+tax for a computer lacking full admin rights. I root mine out of the box. I purchased a phone, not a battery killing, full-time location transmitter/ data theft device. When done, I now have the Android experience without the bloat and 24/7 communications with Google servers. HTC understands me perfectly.
  • I unlocked the bootloader and rooted my Moto X Pure Edition, before it was a month old.
    I unlocked the bootloader and rooted my Moto Z2 Play, before it was two weeks old.
    I knew the risks and accepted them.
    Please mind your own business.
  • I don't understand the ad comments... What phone had ads!?!?
    Or are you talking about ads in browsers and apps?
  • Phone's with games that are free to download, but are paid for by ads the user doesn't want.
  • I hate when people that complain about ads in games. BUY the game. The developer needs to get paid! Personally I don't use any app with ads. If I can't purchase the app/game and it's only supported by ads then I simply won't use it no matter how much I like it.
  • You can buy the game and still have ads showing
  • Maybe so but nothing I ever bought.
  • Magisk allows you to achieve root and still have things like Android Pay work. I've rooted the stock 8.1 ROM on this Pixel XL,and the phone still passes Safety Net checks.
  • Ad blocking is easy without root. But I do really miss Titanium Backup on my non-rooted phone.
  • I think each phone should have the ability to unlock the bootloader and root. It should be up to the individual if they want to go that route. With that said, I'm now using my first phone in years that isn't rooted. Pretty much all my phones since the Galaxy S2 to the OnePlus 3T were rooted for various reasons. Using the Essential Phone I never really felt the need to root. I'm content on Oreo beta with Blokada for ad blocking and Andromeda for rootless substratum.
  • Again this website shows why its revenue is falling, out of touch "writers"
    Some phones are easy to root and many Chinese brands include it in their firmware, some are easy to root, some are hard to root some can not be rooted.
    A generalized lazy statement assuming all phones are difficult to root is shoddy and subpar writing. You guys need help.
  • 1. Do you know for a fact that this website 's revenues are falling? 2. You must be new around here to make such a brash statement about one of the most respected writers on this site. Jerry is one of the last writers I would picture as lazy or careless in his writing. He usually speaks his mind and does a fantastic job of explaining in simple English a lot of tech mumbo jumbo to the uninitiated that make up the bulk of the site's traffic.
  • Then why did Jerry make the statement that rooting and unlocking the bootloader is the same thing?
  • Aside from Titanium Backup, GPS control was a big one for me. I only want it on while I am in the car with the navigation app open. Once I get out of the car, GPS can stay off. Part of that is my office building is an effective Faraday cage so it was a horrible battery drain.
  • How about an article on the positives on rooting? All these manufacturers outside of Google don't support their phones long enough, leaving users "at risk" just as much as rooting itself might have if infaltrated by rogue app etc. Then when they do update, it's halfassed introducing bugs and problems they will never fix. Not to mention all the bloatware, crippling settings or blocked settings. Like tethering. If I'm paying for a set amount of data why the hell are you going to tell me how I can use it! There's a lot of positives to rooting, but I do agree it should not be easy enough for anyone to "flip a switch" when they have no idea what they're doing.
  • You are correct. I always have an unlimited data plan, and my carrier wishes to charge $29.99 per month just to enable a switch on my device. Free wifi tethering is one of the reasons I root, just to stick it to Sprint.
  • The more secure the better I say. Locked bootloaders are for a very good reason
  • I haven't rooted either of my current devices, a Pixel XL and an Asus zenpad 3s 10. Both do everything I want and continue to get updates. I did root my old tablet because of the lack of OEM support. By rooting I was able to get over 5 years of OS and security updates. That was my main reason for rooting.
  • This has me curious...In searching for a updated phone I came across a ZTE Axon 7 running Lineage OS 14.1 on Ebay. From what I've read it appears to be one of the better ROM's but I'm completely unfamiliar with it since my ancient GS3 runs Touch Wiz and the even more ancient Android 4.2.2. I guess my real problem though is that my computer is an iMac so it would appear updating Lineage to an Oreo build won't be possible. Also curious if Lineage will support apps like Juice Defender, Swiftkey and other Play Store apps.
  • LOS is one of the more well known ROMs since it was CyanogenMod which pretty much everyone has heard of. LOS won't prevent you from using Play Store apps.
  • Wait! Hold on! Who said locked down bootloaders can be unlocked? Presently my phone is a Honor 5, but that's not the phone I'm referring to.
    I have another, sm-N915A,
    Which is an AT&T Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. Which was a great phone... until issues arose. Battery life, so I changed to a 6300mA. Then came SIM card issues because of the added space. A peice of sponge taped in solved that. BUT, then came the calls going straight to voicemail. Nothing could fix that. Oh, I did every reset, and the carrier default reset would cure that for about an hour.
    Ok, now I am getting sick of this crap.
    Let me clear up, this AT&T is legitimately unlocked and using Metropcs.
    However, the bootloader cannot be unlocked. Odin appears out of the question. This from the devs. Kingoroot has had 12 continuous hours of attempts with no luck.
    The reason given from sources is the locked down bootloader courtesy of AT&T. thanks alot MaBell
    So, WHOEVER, ANYONE that has a solution...please
    Inform me. Post it. Advertise it. Just get that out there.
    Have a great day.
  • For anyone who wants to root, I say, read, read & read some more! XDA Developers .com is a great place to start. But, start out with an old device, in case you brick it. Especially learn how to protect that device, once you do root. Because, after you do, most of all protections are gone. You'll need a very good firewall, just for starters. You'll need to know just which apps to give Super User permissions to, and tons more info.
  • I use AF Wall, as it even blocks data coming from the kernel. Blocks on a system level, no VPN firewall nonsense for me. Nothing gets in (Or out, in the case of Google Play Services constant data grabs).
  • But is it really necessary today to root phones..balck with the OG Moto Droid I ran liberty ROMs
  • "necessary", no. Desired, yes.
  • Yes there's still necessity to root even though it's far less than it used to be. Some of these phones come loaded with a lot of bloatware we don't want, in fact done of it actually puts us at risk.
  • I miss rooting my devices. Currently sprint LGv30+ and a Samsung tab S3 (wifi only)
  • "Android gets a bad reputation it doesn't deserve. (it's the users, not the software!)" Please, Android is such a pain to use. I'm getting regular app crashes and freezing my device. Sometimes my phone resumes after a few minutes, but most of the time I force a restart. I also have to regularly run Greenify to shutdown the background processes Android leaves running. Every day I use Android makes me miss the speed and reliability of Windows Mobile.
  • My attitude has always been "It's my damn phone; I'll do with it as I please." I'm a responsible adult; I pay my bills. If I brick it, I need to buy another one. I concede, however, that there are undoubtedly way too many people doing it who haven't got the foggiest notion of what they're doing --- but that's no different than the rest of life.
  • If you want to root... Go ahead. I'm amazed at the blind trust users give to rooting software or installing anything not from Google Play store or Samsung, & my carrier. But sure, you can use antivirus software... And running it defeats the purpose of rooting... It's a data and memory vampire. Bloatware: I agree it exists,and we should be able to uninstall non core Android apps...but I disagree it has a performance impact.. An imperfect solution is that we can disable permanent apps. Storage? Bloatware was a storage problem in 2007, not 2017 for premium phones. Bloatware numbers... This might surprise you: All Bixby stuff: 206.71 MB
    Samsung other : 155.21 MB Google: Google, obviously, is by far the worst offender for permanently installed apps. Chrome Broeser: 431 MB
    Other Google: 200.71 MB 3rd Party:
    (Microsoft Word, Excel power point) 700 MB Facebook 349.77 MB Carrier: 163.34 MB Total fixed, optional apps: bit over 2GB.
  • @NorthernArbiter "If you want to root... Go ahead". -I do/ did. Every Android device is but a pretty, 24/7 data theft scam right out of the box. I fix that immediately with root. "I'm amazed at the blind trust users give to rooting software or installing anything not from Google Play store or Samsung, & my carrier". 1. Serious modders never use rooting software. We use TE or laptop...ending with Odin installing the recovery, while fully understaning the entire process of gaining root the entire time. With the advent of Magisk...it's not even that deep to gain root bro. 2. "Blind Trust" is an adult who carries their most personal data around with them on a device they have not the minimum of desire in understanding how it operates, nor what's at stake because they 'Blindly Trust" the stranger who sold it to them. Those people deserve targeted ads, poor battery life, 24/ 7 surveillance, and 1 gig+ of data per month taken from them by Google, Samsung, and their installed apps. And that's okay., but, not for me. "But sure, you can use antivirus software... And running it defeats the purpose of rooting... It's a data and memory vampire". 1. No, Google Play Services, Sync, Facebook, Google Apps, Hangouts, and Google Drive running, all while Location is turned on is the actual data vampire. You have your monsters mixed up. 2. Through root, I simply use a root-level firewall which blocks the transmission of all data in and out as I see fit, on a system level. No need for antivirus software, just don't download/ view/ open stupid things. "An imperfect solution is that we can disable permanent apps". 1. Yes, but the perfect solution is to banish it all from your device...permanently. That freed memory is better suited for cat videos, agree? Hiding the offending app(s) is not a solution. It's a humiliating compromise for 'Blindly" accepting the lack of admin rights. I don't have that problem. *No way I pay $800+tax for a computer lacking full admin rights. Reason #34 as to why no iPhone. Root isn't going anywhere, ASOP/ Linux is open to all. Just not the Google parts.