Is there a difference between jailbreaking and rooting?


Last weekend was, at least for me, filled with so many technical questions from family members that I almost had to jump out of my window. Some of those questions had to do with iOS and Android, obviously, but then one of my more tech-savvy cousins asked me a question:

"Calob, Android is supposed to be open, right? I have this Verizon Fascinate and I like it and all that, but why did I have to root the thing to do this one thing?"

Boom. I love Android, but I'm starting to feel like the openness is starting to go a little too far.

HTC and Motorola can do whatever they feel like to Android, including locking down the bootloader. According to Google, that's totally fine, since Android is open. But when that happens, the openness goes away for the people that it was made for: the consumer. 

In my mind, unless you buy a Nexus device, you're buying into a platform that is almost as locked down as iOS. Obviously you can sideload apps as much as you want, but skins and unremovable bloatware is still all over, kind of like on iOS. And to get them both to the way you want, you have to do unnecessary steps. That just doesn't seem like an open platform to me.

I believe there's a happy medium, like letting skins and bloatware be removable, as well as keeping the bootloader completely unlocked. As an Android user, I honestly can't believe that this isn't how it works. 

What are your opinions on Android's openness? 

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Calob Horton

Calob Horton is an associate editor at Pocketables. He loves all technology, no matter which company it comes from. This unbiased view of the tech world allows him to choose the products that best fit his personal needs and tastes: a Microsoft Surface Pro, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and a third-gen iPad.Google+ | Twitter | More posts by Calob | Subscribe to Calob's posts

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7 thoughts on “Is there a difference between jailbreaking and rooting?

  • Avatar of Buzzkill Lightyear

    As a matter of fact, Android is quite open. See, people have long associated “open” with the Linux model, where the expectation is that end-users can (or must, as detractors would say) tinker with things to get things exactly how they like.

    However, Android’s license (Apache License) lets everyone do as they wish. Not just the end-user, but the manufacturer, the carrier — EVERYONE (cue Gary Oldman). So the fact that AT&T blocked sideloading on it phones, or Sprint can bundle all sorts of crapware on its phone, or Motorola ships its phones with locked bootloaders — that’s them exercising THEIR rights. Just because THEY make your life more difficult doesn’t make ANDROID any less open.

  • Rooting is a lot more difficult than jailbreaking given the different models and firmware available. Another example of android fragmentation and the carrier-centric model.

  • LOL, Rooting is so easy for most phones. Just google root and your phone name.

  • what you said is so absolutely perfect that the writer of article should get access to your knowledge before posting a non-sense article!

  • I have and there are a myriad of steps involved. For my phone there are no less than 42 steps, and that doesn’t include flashing a custom rom! Jailbreaking an iphone took 2 steps – download firmware version and click one button.

  • Avatar of fiveseven808

    Unless you have some mystery phone, there’s a few programs out there that’ll root most phones in two steps like superoneclick.

    Failing that, you can do it in three steps via ADB on all android phones IIRC.

  • Avatar of fiveseven808

    If I could like this comment ala facebook, I totally would.

    Maybe a new “open” license should be created to better fit the public’s view of an “open” commercially unfragmented model?


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