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Do you prefer the stock Android experience? Jun 3rd 2013, 15:35
When I owned Motorola’s original DROID, I spent a lot of time rooting the device, and then subsequently adding plenty of custom ROMs to the device. I changed everything I could about the visual aesthetics of the handset’s software, and tweaked everything I could. I spent a lot of time changing the way my phone behaved in certain situations, and I loved every minute of it. I was definitely on a custom ROM kick back then.

I did it with HTC’s DROID Incredible, too, maybe even more so, in fact. There were certain aspects of that particular handset that I just wanted to change so bad, that I knew the only way it could be done was to go out of my way and do it myself. So, I did. And, overall, the experience was better. Why? Because it was an experience that I had to put together, through custom ROMs and other tweaks, before I landed on an experience that I was looking for.

It wasn’t the one I got out of the box, so, I had to go to work and make it myself. Sure, it took work, there were some mistakes made and plenty of “holy crap” heart-stopping moments due to almost bricked devices, but in the end it was worth it. Rooting my Android phones has been something I’ve loved to do. Or, it’s been something I’ve felt was necessary, due to the software available on the device from the start.

Our own Anna Scantlin, over the weekend, published a sort-of introduction to rooting your device, and in that article I realized why I had stopped rooting my own devices, or going that extra step to add custom ROMs. It was just too much work. I realized, a few years ago, that I want my phone to just work the way I think it should right out out of the box. More than that, I want the phone to work the way that manufacturers tell me it will, based on their ads or their promises at events.

The trouble is, it’s almost impossible to say that a phone will work the same way for everyone that buys it. Sure, there’s an “average” that manufacturers will point to based on their testing, but we all know that doesn’t really work. Look at batteries, or just overall software experience from person to person. The results can be polar opposites, for seemingly no reason. After all, you’re using the same phone, right?

But, Anna’s article got me thinking. Her introduction to rooting and doing all that “fun stuff” was in-depth, and it showed exactly why I stopped doing it: too much work. And the truth is, I realized that I was getting excited about these phones, whether it had Sense or TouchWiz or whatever, and then I was buying it just to immediately get rid of it.

Times have changed drastically since then, though. The mobile landscape may not be all that different, but it has changed in some key areas. Specifically, “Google Edition” of phones is a thing now. Devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 and HTC’s One have been “Editioned,” and will be offered up as a stock Android experience soon through Google’s Play Store. For a lot of people, this is a dream come true. Of course, the price tag will automatically keep it out of the hands of many people.

The truth is, I think Samsung and HTC, and whoever else does this later on down the line, are offering up these options just to show one thing: That their proprietary user interfaces offer up more features, and therefore are better options. Basically, the manufacturers are trying their best to stop the clamoring for “stock devices,” because they know full well that their software is more “bang for your buck.”

At least, that’s what they think.

And the truth is, they might be onto something. But, it may be something they don’t really get to prove simply due to pricing. A lot of people may want a stock HTC One, but the majority of those same people may not want to pay more than $600 to get it. The same goes for Samsung’s Galaxy S 4.

I still hear people begging for stock Android experiences, and I understand where they are coming from. Stock Android is a great thing these days, so there’s no reason not to want it. But the argument that TouchWiz or Sense still adds to the overall experience is still sound. It’s still valid. That’s why HTC and Samsung continue to push the software, add or take away, and tweak what they feel needs to be tweaked: to make sure that their software is different from the stock experience, and different from what other manufacturers are offering.

For me, personally, I think I still prefer the stock experience over anything else, but that’s just because I really like stock Android 4.2. I like the overall look, and the features baked in. That isn’t to say that I don’t like the overall look and feel, along with the speed, of HTC’s Sense 5, but I just like the stock experience more. I’m not willing to go out of my way to root and add custom ROMs to my Android devices anymore for that experience, though.

I want it out of the box, and as an option from manufacturers like HTC and Samsung more often. I think these “Google Editions” are a good first step, but I think it will be more interesting to see these handsets offered side-by-side their skinned counterparts right from the get-go. I don’t want to have to look at my already purchased One and shake my head in sadness, because I can’t have that stock version due to my early adopter problems.

But, do you prefer the stock Android experience? Do you go out of your way to get it? Or are you someone who has grown to like the proprietary software skins from our smartphone manufacturers? Let me know!

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Vine for Android officially launching in Google Play Store today [UPDATED] Jun 3rd 2013, 14:30
Vine for Android officialTime to start planning some six-second masterpieces, Android users, because Twitter just announced that Vine is coming to the Google Play Store today. Vine is an app that allows users to record videos up to six seconds in length and then share them with friends. The app has been an iOS exclusive since it launched in Apple’s App Store in January 2013, and since then the service has amassed 13 million users.

As a result of the iOS version of Vine having been available for several months already, Twitter says that the Android app won’t be perfectly in sync with the iOS version right away. However, the company is promising rapid updates that will bring features like front-facing camera support, mentions, hashtags and the ability share to Facebook. The app is launching with a zoom feature that’s currently only available to Android users, and Twitter is teasing that it’s got other features planned “that could exist only on Android.”

Many Android users have been clamoring for their own version of Vine ever since the iOS version launched earlier this year, and while we’ve known that Vine for Android was in the works, there was never much said about when the app might actually be released. The wait is finally ending today, and the good news for Android folk is that the app features a Holo design that looks pretty nice. Vine requires Android 4.0 or higher for installation. The app hasn’t gone live in the Google Play Store as of this writing, but you’ll be able to find it using the Google Play link below once it does.

UPDATE: Looks like Vine is officially live in the Google Play Store. Hit up the link below and get to downloading!

Via Official Twitter Blog, Google Play: Vine

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Samsung ATIV Odyssey, LG Optimus F7 tipped to be U.S. Cellular-bound Jun 3rd 2013, 12:50
U.S. Cellular Samsung ATIV Odyssey leakU.S. Cellular teased earlier this year that it would soon launch its Windows Phone 8 device, but since then the carrier has been silent on what it’s got planned. That hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from revealing U.S. Cellular’s upcoming hardware ahead of its official announcement, though, as some promotional documents have revealed exactly which handset USCC has up its sleeve.

According to images shared by Engadget, U.S. Cellular will release the Samsung ATIV Odyssey in the near future. Some renders of the device, complete with U.S. Cellular tattoos, have appeared in leaked materials that recently found their way online. The ATIV Odyssey launched on Verizon earlier in 2013, and U.S. Cellular’s model looks to be fairly similar to that device. U.S. Cellular’s ATIV Odyssey is listed as featuring a 4-inch 800×480 Super AMOLED display, 5-megapixel rear and 1.2-megapixel front cameras, 8GB built-in storage, a microSD card slot, 4G LTE connectivity and Windows Phone 8.

As I mentioned before, the ATIV Odyssey will be U.S. Cellular’s first Windows Phone 8 device, and it’ll actually be the first new Windows Phone device of any kind on USCC since the ZTE Render’s launch in September 2012. It’s kind of a bummer that Windows Phone fans on U.S. Cellular have had to endure a bit of a new hardware drought, but thankfully it looks like that’s about to come to an end with the LTE-capable Odyssey. While there’s no word yet on exactly when the Odyssey will be hitting U.S. Cellular shelves, the look of all of this leaked documentation suggests that a release isn’t too far off.

Windows Phone folk on U.S. Cellular aren’t the only ones with new hardware on the way, as Engadget has posted some additional promo material that has revealed a new Android phone that’s USCC-bound. The images show that the LG Optimus F7 will soon be making its way to U.S. Cellular, complete with a 4.7-inch 1280×720 display, 8-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 4G LTE and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. As with the ATIV Odyssey, it’s not yet clear when the Optimus F7 will be making its official debut on U.S. Cellular, but these promo materials certainly make it feel like U.S. Cellular is prepping for a launch in the near future. Until then, you can find our hands-on with the ATIV Odyssey here and the Optimus F7 right here.

U.S. Cellular LG Optimus F7 leak

Via Engadget (1), (2)

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ASUS Fonepad Note FHD 6 features stylus and 1080p display, new MeMO Pad tablets also outed Jun 3rd 2013, 11:05
ASUS Fonepad Note FHD 6In addition to its new Transformer products, ASUS this morning took to the Computex stage to introduce a few other Android-powered products. The first device is the Fonepad Note FHD 6, ASUS’s take on the ever-growing phone/tablet hybrid category. As you might’ve guessed by the name, the Fonepad Note FHD 6 sports a 6-inch 1920×1080 display of the Super IPS+ variety, and ASUS also says that its 450 nits of brightness allows the display to be seen in bright sunlight.

Along with its high-res display, the Fonepad Note FHD 6 features a 1.2-megapixel camera and a set of speakers on its face. Engadget notes that there’s also an 8-megapixel around back, and sandwich inside the Fonepad Note FHD 6’s body is a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 processor. Rounding out the spec list is 2GB of RAM, 3G connectivity and a stylus that can slot into the Fonepad Note itself.

Moving on to the straight-up tablet category, ASUS today expanded its MeMO Pad family with two new models. The MeMO Pad HD 7 and MeMO Pad FHD 10 feature a 7-inch 1280×800 and 10-inch 1920×1080 displays, respectively, along with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and 5-megapixel rear/1.2-megapixel front cameras on both units. Also included with the MeMO Pad HD 7 is a quad-core processor, while the MeMO Pad FHD 10 features a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 chip buried inside of it. Rounding out the spec lists, we’ve got microSD slots for both units as well as 8GB or 16GB of built-in storage for the MeMO Pad HD 7 and either 16GB or 32GB of memory for the MeMO Pad FHD 10.

As for the all-important pricing and availability information, ASUS is currently being less-than-forthcoming when it comes to the Fonepad Note FHD 6 and MeMO Pad FHD 10. The situation is different with the MeMO Pad HD 7, though, as ASUS says that the unit will be available starting in July 2013. Pricing for the MeMO Pad HD 7 will be set at $129 for the 8GB version and $149 for the 16GB model.

With both its new Transformer devices, the Fonepad Note and the new MeMO Pads, ASUS unleashed a wave of new Android hardware during its Computex presentation. The Fonepad Note FHD 6 is one of the more interesting products introduced today, and I’m sure many folks are looking forward to seeing how it stacks up against Samsung’s own stylus-toting Note. Stay tuned to PhoneDog for more on this new herd of ASUS products, including more concrete launch information that’ll hopefully be along soon.

ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7

ASUS MeMO Pad FHD 10

Via ASUS (1), (2), Engadget

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New ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity official with 2560×1600 display, Tegra 4 processor Jun 3rd 2013, 10:30
ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity Computex 2013Today ASUS helped to kick off Computex 2013 in Taiwan, and it did so with a handful of new Android-powered products. ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih kicked the keynote off with a quick introduction of the new Transformer Pad Infinity, an updated version of the device that the company debuted in 2012. While the two products share the same name, the new model features a much beefier spec list, including a bump up to a 2560×1600 resolution display. The full spec rundown for the refreshed Transformer Pad Infinity is as follows:

  • 10.1-inch 2560×1600 IPS display
  • 1.9GHz quad-core Tegra 4 processor
  • 32GB built-in storage, SD card slot
  • 2GB RAM
  • 5-megapixel rear, 1.2-megapixel front cameras
  • 4K Ultra HD output over HDMI

The new Transformer Pad Infinity wasn’t the only dockable Android unit introduced by Shih, as he also announced the new Transformer Book Trio. The “Trio” in this products name refers to its ability to serve as a laptop, desktop and tablet. The Transformer Book Trio is powered by both Windows 8 and Android Jelly Bean and features a fourth generation Intel Core i7 processor inside the PC Station Dock/keyboard and a 2GHz Intel Atom processor buried in the tablet display. Speaking of the display, the Transformer Book Trio’s IPS screen measures 11.6 inches in size and features a resolution of 1920×1080. Storage is listed at 750GB for the PC Station Dock and 64GB for the tablet.

ASUS is known for its Transformer line of dockable Android hardware, and these two new models look like they ought to please fans of the series. The Transformer Pad Infinity features a pretty bleeding edge spec list that includes a high-res display and shiny new Tegra 4 chip, while the Transformer Book Trio could be an option for consumers that want a Transformer device but need to have access to Windows 8 in addition to Android. There’s no word yet on when either of these new products will be hitting store shelves, but stay tuned and I’ll update you once ASUS has more information to share.

ASUS Transformer Book Trio Computex 2013

Via ASUS, The Verge

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Samsung intros 8-inch and 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 3 models [UPDATED] Jun 3rd 2013, 09:40
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8-inchJust a hair over a month after first introducing the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3, Samsung today took the wraps off of two more members of the Galaxy Tab 3 family. The new 8-inch model features a 1280×800 screen resolution as well as a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, both of which are slight steps up from the 7-inch unit. Also included with the Galaxy Tab 3 8-inch are 5-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras, 16GB/32GB storage, microSD card slot, 1.5GB RAM, 3G and LTE connectivity options, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and a 4,450mAh battery.

Moving up in the screen size department, the second Galaxy Tab 3 model announced today features a 10.1-inch display. This one’s also got a resolution of 1280×800, but its dual-core processor is clocked slightly higher than its 8-inch sibling, coming in at 1.6GHz. There’s also 3-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras, 16GB/32GB storage, microSD card support, 1GB RAM, 3G and LTE support, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and a 6,800mAh battery that powers the whole package.

Samsung says that both of these new Galaxy Tab 3 models will begin launching globally in June. There’s no word yet on pricing for either unit, though, so you may want to begin saving now just to be safe. Both of these new Galaxy Tab 3 tablets look to continue Samsung’s mission of offering products in a range of screen sizes, with the 8-incher serving as an in-betweener for the family while the 10.1-inch model is available for consumers that want a big screen slate. Between the 7-inch, 8-inch and 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 3 units, which screen size do you think that you’d prefer?

UPDATE: Reuters reports that the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 3 is powered by an Intel chip, confirming a rumor from last week that Samsung has opted to use Intel inside its new Galaxy Tab family member.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1-inch

Via Samsung, Reuters

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I’m not convinced of the latest Motorola X Phone rumors Jun 2nd 2013, 16:55
Motorola just spilled more details on an X Phone in what seems like an emphasis to remain as vague as possible, and I wish they hadn’t because it all doesn’t add up. To be fair, these details seem leave much left to the imagination, so they can’t be taken too seriously. But they’re concerning nonetheless.

Motorola’s Chief Dennis Woodside claims the device would have a set of sensors causing it to act differently when taken out of a pocket, or traveling in a car. Though far from a necessity, it sounds like Motorola is taking it upon themselves to incorporate the X Phone into our daily lives. But I’m not convinced. It honestly sounds a bit gimmicky in the sense that we haven’t had this functionality before, so its future remains uncertain. Dare I say Woodside’s claims make sound no different than an S feature within TouchWiz, or widget inside of HTC Sense?

In fairness, the idea isn’t new. Samsung’s TecTiles powered by NFC operate in a similar fashion. In my opinion, TecTiles sound much better on paper than in practice. In terms of a daily routine, tapping a pad is easy and painless, but it wasn’t ever widely adopted in my lifestyle. One of its main shortcomings resides with the action in activating the features programmed into the TecTile. It means you had to first program it, and then tap the tile. I found myself presetting certain functions without ever reaching the tile. Sometimes I just forgot about it.

A feature set that would activate automatically as the X Phone rumors suggest sounds like a better way to implement these functions, but I still have a slight hesitation when it comes to practicality.

Presumably, Google is ready to capitalize on its geolocational services which are also imminent in Google Now. For the X Phone, you’d definitely be getting a valuable feature set, but I’m not so sure it really makes sense. What this rumors suggests is that Google Now could easily be updated to incorporate similar functions based on location. A device marketed with features that would be available within an app could post challenges for a device based on the same set of features.

Before you run off and call this a Google phone, we have to remember how Google is differentiating its Motorola Mobility business unit. When Motorola Mobility was acquired, Google assured it would operate it with a firewall firmly in place. As such, that means Android development would remain separate. Google services updates would be issued separately and be updated like any other OEM would. Essentially, Google kept the home field advantage for its software services. Yet Motorola is still under the control of Google, so their hardware influence should be evident.

And judging by constant location-based system function updates are concerned, I’m hoping they’ve considered any potential battery drain. If rumors are true, the X Phone sounds like it would require a large battery to keep any geolocational services running smoothly. But as stated, if Google has any influence on the design, it will most likely be a non-removable battery which means I’m hesitant of how this device will be marketed.

Personally, I’m interested in the X Phone because of Motorola’s hardware. Their build has always impressed me as has the battery life of some of their devices. To a certain end, I hope Motorola’s influence in design prevails over Google’s suggestions seeing how solid Moto has been in the past.

Yet some aren’t as convinced of their build. Maybe that’s where Woodson’s claims of a device that “knows you” comes in. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the rumors unfold.

What do you think of the latest set of rumors surrounding Motorola’s X Phone? What feature would you liek to see in the X Phone? Are you concerned about battery drain of a device that prioritizes with location-based services? Let me know in the comments down below.

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Apple rumored to be testing AirDrop wireless file sharing feature for iOS 7 Jun 2nd 2013, 16:15
Apple AirDrop Mac officialThe list of changes that are rumored to be coming in iOS 7 includes integration with Flickr and Vimeo, a new look for Apple’s built-in apps and a flatter overall design. Now it looks like we can add another feature to that list, as a new report claims that Apple is currently testing Airdrop wireless file sharing support for iOS.

According to sources speaking to 9to5Mac, Apple is currently testing iOS 7 software that includes AirDrop Wi-Fi file sharing, similar to the feature that’s currently offered on its Mac computers running OS X 10.7 or higher. The tipsters claim that AirDrop is built into the iOS share menu and would enable the transfer of files from one iOS device to another. It’s said that the feature may work between an iOS device and a Mac as well.

In addition to its report on Apple’s testing of AirDrop, 9to5Mac notes that the company actually worked on an AirDrop file sharing tool for iOS in 2012. The company ultimately decided to postpone the feature, though, and so it’s possible that Apple could opt to push AirDrop back once again.

Wireless file transfer between iOS devices may not be as big a change as iOS 7’s rumored flat design, but the feature could serve as a quicker and easier alternative to other sharing methods (like email). The ability to transfer files between iOS and Mac hardware would be an especially nice addition that would be faster than loading up iTunes and performing a sync in order to move a few files around.

Apple will officially introduce us to iOS 7 at its WWDC conference, which runs from June 10 through June 14. What do you iOS folk make of this rumor? How frequently do you think that you’d use AirDrop if the feature were to make the cut into iOS 7?

Via 9to5Mac

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Should Samsung continue the inspired by nature design into its next wave of devices? Jun 2nd 2013, 12:05
It wasn’t long ago that Apple’s iPhone began receiving criticism of its design. Many would even argue it’s just recently reached a tipping point. Yes, most believe Apple’s main struggle was on the software front, but that hardware is definitely held back as a result. And in terms of build, there’s a new kid on the block facing the same issues: Samsung’s Galaxy brand.

Android has claimed its first victim in requiring a hardware redesign. No Android manufacturer comes close to the amount of criticism that’s been thrown at the South Korean company’s designs.

According to AndroidBeat, Samsung’s key executives met in a room in Seoul this week to discussion “Design 3.0.” The report wraps up with Samsung professing a desire to make their products “stand out,” and for them to elicit “positive values.”

To be fair, every device gets a reboot at one point or another. Fashion changes, and so do our preferences in the midst of so many options. Then there’s the bit about technology advancing to the point of craziness as evidenced by rumors of an HTC device made of liquidmetal.

I certainly agree that a meeting of the minds is necessary and a good thing. Likewise, it’s normal and I don’t think we can make too much out of it. However, the South Korean company is coming up on year three of the “inspired by nature” theme seeing how this year’s devices so far have also flaunted its characteristics, and it’s only expected that they react to the criticism.

If there’s anything holding the Galaxy brand back, it’s their designs.

Samsung’s plastic designs, home button, and menu and back buttons have highlighted the South Korean manufacturer as needing a revamp for a little while. To the same effect that I’ve never gotten my hopes up for Apple’s WWDC events because you can historically count on their biennial refresh cycle, I’ve pretty much labelled Samsung’s designs as hopeless. I devoted an entire editorial to the fact that Samsung’s designs have worn out their welcome.

Since the Galaxy S III hit the market last year, the “inspired by nature” mantra left many wondering if Samsung would ever be able to deliver a fit and finish comparable to the best of the competition. Sure, you’re more than welcome to defend the removable batteries and expandable storage in exchange for plastic and a half-baked build, but the fact remains that Samsung knows what to do and how to fix the problem – they simply won’t.

Take Samsung’s laptops as an example. Their Series 5, 7 and 9 lines are aluminum and retain the same post-modification principle rampant in mobile. Swapping SSD and RAM is a jiffy with these laptops, and the build will not leave much to be desired either, as they all offer some variation of an aluminum exoskeleton. By mimicking these devices, Samsung’s next wave of mobile devices will nearly be perfect, and I don’t think many will have much left to detest.

I will admit that Samsung’s designs have a special place for the right consumer. Their plastic build might not be the sturdiest, but it is proven to address a few key areas, I just think they should take note to HTC and Nokia’s polycarbonate. The weight, width, and manageability of the Galaxy S 4’s design first comes to mind. It’s pretty awesome they’ve managed to keep it the same size as the Galaxy S III with clear growth in the battery and display fronts. And then there’s the metal-esque ring around the edge of the S 4 which lends its hand in eliminating that flimsy feel which plagued past Galaxy devices.

Likewise, Samsung’s TouchWiz UX is at a peak. While Apple has taken a hiatus from software revamps, the user-friendly Android offering has emerged as a serious contender in 2013. Yet not even TouchWiz has been enough to detract from how I am reminded just how familiar TouchWiz has gotten. Many argue its edging very close to becoming the face of Android which is a good or bad thing, depending on your tastes.

I’m interested to hear what you think needs to change with the next designs of Samsung’s devices. Should they continue what has worked? What changes would you recommend? Sound off in the comments below!

Image via The Verge.

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To root or not to root? That is the question Jun 2nd 2013, 11:45
Often times when I write my articles here at PhoneDog they’re directed at an audience that presumably knows all the ins and outs of the industry; how they work, who makes the top phones, throwing around terms like ‘gigahertz’ and ‘random access memory’, and rooting and jailbreaking. While many people that read this site already know all about this stuff, a lot of people are just starting to learn about this complex industry and at times some of the terms and discussions can seem a little intimidating.

Today I’ve decided to write a little introduction to rooting (and jailbreaking) to help those who might be new or on the fence to this concept decide whether extended access into the deeper realms of their phone is right for them or not. So with that being said, are you ready, readers? Let’s get started.

First and foremost I would like to debunk a huge misconception I often see associated with rooting and jailbreaking – it’s not illegal to do so. While in recent months we have discussed how it had become illegal to unlock phones in the U.S., it is a completely different subject than jailbreaking and rooting (although it is notable that since those articles had been written, the laws have changed and it is now once again legal to unlock your cellphone in the U.S.) However, while not illegal, some companies consider gaining such access to your phone worthy of voiding any warranty you may have had on your phone. If warranties are important to you I would suggest that you double-check with your manufacturer first to find out whether they’re root-friendly or not. If you have an iPhone I will go ahead and save you some time and confirm that Apple considers jailbreaking worthy of voiding your warranty.

But if you like living on the edge and don’t necessarily care about voiding any warranties, now we delve in to discussing whether rooting or jailbreaking is right for you. But what do the terms ‘root’ and ‘jailbreak’ really mean?

In technical terms, Android rooting is defined as “… the process of allowing users of smartphones, tablets, and other devices running the Android mobile operating system to attain privileged control (known as ‘root access’) within Android’s subsystem.” iOS Jailbreaking is defined as “process of removing the limitations on Apple devices running the iOS operating system through the use of software and hardware exploits – such devices include the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and second generation Apple TV.” In Layman’s terms, this all basically boils down to meaning “You can do really cool things with your phone that you couldn’t do before.”

A fair warning: It does require a bit of knowledge to be able to customize the different aspects of your device. While a stock version of your gadget generally provides the tools of what you can and can’t customize for you, root and jailbreak are a little riskier in that you have access to parts of the phone that the software didn’t intend for you to have access to. Following instructions to the T is very important, especially at the beginning, to ensure that your phone doesn’t fall victim to the dreaded ‘brick’ (which is generally reversible – many devices aren’t truly bricked – but some devices can be). This plays in to the fact that by decided to root or jailbreak you are not only risking your warranty, but you are also risking losing functionality in your device entirely.

If you’ve decided to go ahead with the root or jailbreak at this point, a quick web search should point you in the direction you need to go in order to find the tools necessary to root or jailbreak. Often the tools require you to do very little other than downloading the program and running it with your device connected to the PC, but again, reading the instructions can only aid you in this process to make sure nothing goes wrong.

So now that you’ve got that root access, how exactly do you begin tweaking? Most of time after you’ve rooted or jailbroken your device visually nothing has changed. On iOS the work has pretty much already been done for you – once you’ve jailbroken, a new app called Cydia has been installed on your phone. Open this up to begin your journey to customization wonderland!

Android is a little more complicated in the fact that you have access to developer-made ROMs, but you have to find them across the web and install them onto your phone using the bootloader (which you can generally access by pressing a sequence of hardware buttons). ROMs basically change the entire interface of your phone once installed, and can cause your phone to ‘overclock’ (increase performance) or ‘underclock’ (increase battery life). You can often tweak these settings by simply installing an app that allows you to adjust the settings.

While I mostly just wanted to touch on the basics of what you can do after rooting or jailbreaking, I also want to touch base on what you sometimes can’t do. This mostly pertains to Android devices whose OEM’s put custom functionality, apps, and skins over the top of stock Android (think Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense). Installing certain ROMs, unless specified by the developer, can sometimes take away the functionality of such skins. This is particularly important to take note of if you’re using a Galaxy Note device, where S Pen functionality may not always be supported. ROMs can and will often override key functions in the device that makes the device “unique”. If the ability to keep these functions is important to you, make sure to read the description of the mod before installing.

I have been rooting and jailbreaking my devices for several years now, and although it was difficult at first it has become almost second nature to me at this point. I enjoy being able to customize almost anything I want in my devices, and feel that manufacturers should give users the benefit of the doubt by offering this root access from the get-go (and some do), but until it becomes universally accepted (if ever) it’s up to you, the user, to decide whether you want to go through the process of rooting or jailbreaking your device for further personalization of your gadget.

Experienced readers, now is your chance to shine! What suggestions do you have for new rooters or jailbreakers? Are there certain tweaks you would recommend? Any tips you would like to share? Share your mods and recommendations in the comments below!

Images via Businessweek, GSM Nation

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