[Q] Can I root but still have most of Android/Samsung experience too?

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By NickyPicky, Junior Member on 3rd September 2014, 07:43 AM
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I am accustomed to using and working within the generic android environment. I generally like it. I am pretty much exclusively a Samsung guy but I just recently got my wife a G3. I have read all the things about how I can make my phone lightning quick without all the bloatware and I can be entitled to all the event driven programming that stock android allows me but I have to say, I 90% like what I get out of the box. Sure, there are little annoyances that come up but mostly what I want to gain is the 10%. I don't want to reinvent the wheel and put in a new launcher and then have to get accustomed to a whole new way of doing things. Or worse, my camera might not work as well etc.

I am mostly sold. I don't care about voided warranties. I am going to drop $800 on a Note 4 in the coming weeks when it finally rolls out and frankly I would like to really access the power of that processor and ram (whether it is 3 or 4 gigs - only Samsung knows right now). A big part of my buying the phone is the compatibility with the SPen. I am a business man so it would negate me buying it, to root it and then see the SPen go bye bye. In short, this phone is to be a simple tool for my business but I am afraid of what I am about to get.

Let me go back a bit. Last week, I bought my wife a G3. Another top of the line phone. I bought it and am considering the note 4 for the same reason, they can do split screens. I thought I might be able to do limitedly with the phone on the go what I do with my laptop, drag and drop from email to email, files. The note 4 is going to be a powerful phone but who knows if we are there yet. Regardless, from these forums and around the net, it seem the technology is there. So what is there to do? I like the bulk of Samsung's programming but it really angered me when I started toying with the LG G3 and I discovered that I could not open all apps in their duel mode. I mean what the H E double hockeysticks! How does LG know what I would find valuable to have open at once?

So, I am committed to the Note 4 because I know I will get top of the line. I am assuming that I am going to be restricted from using the phone like I want, like the LG and will be faced with: to root or not to root. What I am saying is, can I root the phone and still keep all the stuff I like? yes I know one of you nifty busy-bodies have not even gotten your hands on the phone yet to discover how to mess with it and get by knoks etc but do you feel my pain and understand my quandary?

It is not that I am afraid to root. I am adventurous at heart but I need to make money. I am a business man. I don't make money by the hour but by the opportunity. When I see something that can help me be productive, I try to implement it into my way of doing things. I like tinkering like you guys. I appreciate you but I only have limit time to do these things, otherwise they become distractions. So I don't have hours to figure out why my main camera is now only taking selfies on the face of the phone instead or why the SPen doesn't work. I want what I want but the move needs to make sense to me.

So the basic question is: if I go down this path (with any phone) can I root and still have touchwiz experience, for instance just so I can mess with the phone ever so slightly? A side question would be - am I going to find many disadvantages for the right of having full control of my phone such as having to update the phone or having bugs? I guess, the simple short question is: Do the challenges outweigh the benefits?

I have currently an old S2 that is working. I am using a galaxy LTE awaiting, the note 4. But, I assume I am going to get pretty angry when I find that an $800+ phone won't what a hack can make it do. I just don't want to lose everything else for the sake of one entitlement. So, I can practice seeing what it is like doing these things with my S2 or even my recent LTE. I just have not seen anyone bring this up. People go on about the romance of blanking out a phone for total freedom but they don't tell me much about how close the new launchers are going to be to what I am used to.

Thanks, community for all that you develop. You are cool. I only wish I had countless hours to mess around with this stuff but money has to be made. Believe me, I am looking for any excuse to have a "lightning fast" phone or to do some funky things like you guys do, but give me the war stories. Tell me if I have to decide to compromise. Recommend a launcher maybe. Yes I know the Note can't even be developed yet but it will someday. Anyway, thanks.
Last edited by NickyPicky; 3rd September 2014 at 08:00 AM. Reason: Written better
3rd September 2014, 03:13 PM |#2  
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I'm not sure you understand exactly what root does. Root gives you "root" level access, aka Superuser, aka Administrator access. Think of Android like a computer in a public library. Lots of things (settings, certain programs, certain directories mainly) are locked down and inaccessible by people who don't have the password or an admin account, because they don't want people messing around with them. Android is the same way. Many (most?) people think of smartphones as just that - phones. They don't think of it as a computer, even though that's exactly what it is, in every aspect of the word. Without restrictions, it would be very, very easy for the average user to completely screw up their phone.

And that is why Android comes with these restrictions (which carriers exploit to install unremovable apps). Rooting your phone removes many of these restrictions, which is also why rooting typically voids your warranty. You might want to root to get rid of useless bloatware like NFL Mobile or Verizon Navigation or Samsung's browser because you only use Chrome. But it's just as easy to (accidentally or stupidly) delete a core Android program, and now your phone is stuck in a crash loop and you've got a $700 battery powered paper weight.

That said, root gives you Superuser access. And that's it. Root doesn't change anything, for better or worse.

It's what you do with that access that matters. Freezing/deleting bloatware that would otherwise be constantly running in the background can improve your phone's performance. You can install the Xposed framework to clear up your notification panel and status bar, add functionality to your buttons, and port features from other brands to work on yours. Tasker is a very powerful (and very confusing) app that you can use to make your phone do things automatically depending on where you are, when it is, etc. You can block ads within games and browsers. You can do back-ups of your apps and data and share them between devices, or when moving from and old phone to a new one. With root sometimes you can bypass restrictions imposed by the carrier because they want to milk you for more money (like wifi hotspot).

I'm also not certain you understand what a launcher is. The launcher is merely the interface. Homescreens, app drawer, dock, icons, etc. I honestly don't know what a 3rd party launcher like Nova, Apex, or Go does to S-Pen functionality on the Note series. But it's merely a different interface, which can be disabled or uninstalled without issue.

What you might be thinking of is the ROM itself. ROM is a bit of a misnomer (meaning Read Only Memory, like a CD_ROM or DVD-ROM), but in the Android world, the ROM is what we have taken to call the operating system. For example, a TouchWiz ROM is heavily modified, and very different than the ROM of a Nexus, which is 100% "stock" Android. Then you have custom ROMs like Cyanogenmod. Installing a different ROM on your Note 4 will absolutely kill your S-Pen functionality, unless it's based on the stock N4 ROM (for example, stock, but debloated, streamlined, and tweaked a bit) and retains those features that Samsung built into it.

With a launcher you can make one phone's homescreen and app drawer look like another's. But when you go into the settings, they'll look different, because that's the ROM, not the launcher you're looking at.

One thing to nota bene is that Samsung has become increasingly restrictive about root and unlocked bootloaders. An unlocked bootloader is required to flash a different ROM (although running different ROMs in Safestrap is usually still possible). Samsung flagships from AT&T and Verizon are notoriously restricted. Google "towelroot" to find out just how restrictive they're getting. Of the "big 4" US carriers, T-Mobile is undoubtedly the least restrictive. With AT&T and T-Mo you also have the option to buy an "unlocked" device, but you won't get the pay-over-time benefits of a subsidy or payment plan. "Unlocked" refers to carrier compatibility, not the bootloader (although carrier unlocked phones are typically easier to unlock the bootloader). But if you subsidize a phone from VZW or AT&T, particularly one from the Samsung Note or Galaxy S line, it's entirely possible that root might never be achieved, or might take a long time. We're talking about rooting a phone that isn't even out yet, and we have no idea what kind of "security" measures are in store.

Root is a powerful tool, but the most powerful tool for your phone other than root is knowledge. Read, read, read, read, ask some questions, and read and read. Find some "for dummies" guides and read those. Watch some youtube videos. The problem with XDA, if there is one, is that stuff like this doesn't have a learning "curve" so much as a learning "sheer cliff made of buttered ice". Lots of acronyms, jargon, technical terms, and other gibberish. Grab some coffee or Red Bull, and start learning.
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