Even though you bought and paid for it, your Android device prevents you and your apps from gaining root (aka administrative) access to the operating system. However, if you follow a few simple steps, you can root your phone or tablet. With that access, you can install a custom ROM, uninstall bloatware, undervolt your device for longer battery life or run special rooted apps that give you new capabilities such as the ability to shoot screen videos, grab your laptop's Internet connection or remote control your phone from Windows.
Here are instructions for rooting today's top Android devices.
Rooting Guides for Android Devices
By Avram Piltch, Online Editorial Director — Last Updated: November 14, 2013
Google's $229, 7-inch tablet offers a lot of functionality for a very reasonable price, including a 1920 x 1200 screen, long battery life and a powerful quad-core process. Unfortunately, because it has a pure version of Android, the Nexus 7 doesn't have some special features like a multi window mode. However, in a few simple steps, you can root your second-generation Nexus 7 and install a custom ROM that gives added functionality.
How to Root the Nexus 7 (2013)
Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 offers a ton of features out of the box, but once you root it, you can install a custom ROM in lieu of the phone's heavy Sense UI, add any app you want to the phone's very-limited list of split-screen-capable apps or get rid of the annoying crapware that your carrier polluted thephone with. With a rooted Galaxy Note 3, you can even make any app you want appear in a floating "Pen Window."
How to Root the Galaxy Note 3
Google's Nexus 5 offers a sharp HD screen, a powerful processor and a pure version of Android 4.4 KitKat. However, it doesn't come with root access out of the box. By following a few simple steps, you can gain the ability to add extra features to your Nexus 5 or change it to another ROM.
How to Root the Google Nexus 5
The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with a glut of interesting software, including the S Health for keeping track of your exercise, S Translator for holding foreign language conversations and Optical Reader for scanning in business cards. But what if you want to save storage space by permanently deleting the apps you don't use? With a few simple steps, you can root the Galaxy S4 and remove unwanted software, customize the multiwindow menu or change to a custom ROM that doesn't have the heavy Samsung Touch Wiz skin.
How to Root the Samsung Galaxy S4
LG's G2 smartphone features a full HD, 1920 x 1080 display, a 2.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and a sharp 13-MP camera, but this 5.2-inch high-end phone doesn't give you administrative access out of the box. With a few simple steps, you cna gain full control of your LG G2 to install custom ROMs or dump any apps you don't like.
How to Root the LG G2
When you buy the Moto X (from AT&T at least), you can customize its color scheme, but you can't replace its ROM or remove bloatware. However, if you root the phone, you can upgrade to the latest version of Android or install custom versions of the operating system such as CyanogrenMod.
How to Root the Moto X
The Sony Xperia Z is made to withstand up to 30 minutes under water and still maintain its Bluetooth connection. However, it's also not made to allow you access to all parts of the file system or to change your ROM to something like Cyanogen Mod, unless you root it.
How to Root the Sony Xperia Z
With an HTC One, you can take great low-light photos, watch movies on a brilliant 4.7-inch screen or keep up with your social updates on its BlinkFeed home screen. However, you'll be running out of juice pretty quickly with the device's non-removable battery. If you root the HTC One, you can undervolt its CPU for longer endurance, remote carrier software or install a clean ROM without the HTC's heavy Sense UI.
How to Root the HTC One.