To root my Samsung Galaxy Note II or not to root, that is the question

Root - for some reason we don't have an alt tag hereTwo years ago I got my HTC EVO 4G. Before I even had the money to buy it on December 26, 2010, I had read all about it on Good and EVO. I knew that I wanted to root it, and I had all the files and XDA threads bookmarked so I could do so as soon as possible.

There were a few reasons that I wanted to root it: First, the WiFi hotspot. I wasn’t about to pay Sprint $30 a month for a feature that I could get for free simply by rooting my phone. Looking back on the last two years, I can see that I used that feature a lot. My wife has a laptop, and on long trips we would turn on the WiFi hotspot and she could happily surf the web as we were driving (well, until Sprint’s 3G signal inevitably dropped out on us). I’m very glad I rooted my phone, if only to get the free hotspot.

But that wasn’t the only reason I rooted. I also wanted to be able to get rid of all the bloatware that came on my phone. Since the EVO was a flagship phone, Sprint loaded it up with bloat. But the day I got my phone, all that bloat was gone and I didn’t have to worry about seeing the little notification telling me I was out of space.

I was also all about customizing my phone. I mean, the whole reason I bought an Android phone was that so I could customize the heck out of it, right? And customize it I did. From ROMs to kernels to launchers to icons – you name it, I customized it. XDA became my most visited site, and I was learning so much. I learned the basics of nandroid backups and how to add a customized boot animation. I even went so far as to change out the word “Sprint” on my lock screen so that it said “Bryan’s Phone” using QPST.

Another reason to root my EVO was to get better battery life. I didn’t want an extended battery, nor did I want to deal with multiple batteries. Rooting allowed me to load custom ROMs that removed the bloat that would suck my battery dry. I could also switch out the kernel for one that was more battery-friendly.

But what about my Samsung Galaxy Note II? I have now had it for over four weeks. I have thought about rooting it, but haven’t come to a definitive answer yet. I would love to get rid of the bloatware on my phone, but it’s not as important to remove as it was on the severely space-limited EVO. Nor is the battery as much of an issue. If you read my review, you would see that the battery on the Note II is way more than enough to get me through my day, plus part of another if need be.

What would I lose by rooting it? In the few articles I’ve written so far about my Note II, I mention a lot of the really cool features that Samsung has added into its software. Would I lose any of those cool features by rooting?

Would rooting allow me to customize some things to remove some of the minor annoyances I have with the phone? I just talked about how great the camera on the Note II is. Rooting would allow me to remove the minor annoyance that is the shutter sound.  But I’m worried about adding some new annoyances just by rooting.

At this point I am open to rooting, but haven’t decided on going ahead with it quite yet. I would love to hear if you have an opinion on me rooting my Note II one way or the other. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Bryan Faulkner

Bryan Faulkner is a former associate editor at Pocketables. He loves to find new ways to use his tablets while working as the Tech Director at his local church. Mixing sound from the iPad is his newest obsession. He currently has a pair of HP TouchPads, an iPad 2, a decommissioned HTC EVO 4G, and a Samsung Galaxy Note II to tinker with.

Avatar of Bryan Faulkner

16 thoughts on “To root my Samsung Galaxy Note II or not to root, that is the question

  • I just used one simple rule for rooting. If I’m not gaining something that I will use right now and often then there is no reason to risk my device. Most customization can be done with available apps so to risk a device it would have to be something very special. Such as tethering.

    • Avatar of Bryan Faulkner

      That’s probably why I haven’t done it yet. I haven’t come across anything so important to make me want to do it right now.

  • Avatar of Justin

    There is a tweak available to make all apps compatible with multiwindow. That would be worth it to me.

    • Avatar of Bryan Faulkner

      I’ve seen that one. I really haven’t used multiwindow enough for that to be important to me.

  • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

    I was pretty paranoid about risking my Galaxy S II when I first got it, and took forever to root it. Since then I’ve had a couple of major system crashes that required me to restore to factory defaults, both of which happened when I was traveling. Thanks to being rooted, it was a matter of clicking a few buttons to start restoring apps, and then the phone was exactly like before within minutes of having reset it to factory. Now I’m paranoid about NOT having root.

    • Avatar of bucketachicken

      This. Titanium Backup, Data sync, Drop sync, etc. I love customization, themes, removing bloat, tethering, etc, but in the end, it’s about security and control over my data. Automated backups plus sync to drop box means no matter what happens, I can instantly restore exactly where I was. Datasync means I can play the same games on my tablet and phone and have the same save status.

      So in short, I root and always will, so that I am always 100% in control of my data, can make sure I don’t lose it, and can put it anywhere I want.

      That same reason is why I typically (barring the occasional bored weekend) don’t change ROMs all the time. Find a stable-ish one, usually AOSP or damn close, and stick to it.

  • Avatar of Paul E King

    Something to consider – I didn’t root my Sony S. Made the mistake of installing an OTA update which made the thing a nightmare.

    Now I can’t root it non-destructively. If I have to do anything, it’s a wipe. Can’t install Titanium to make backups, which if I had I could wipe the thing and flash the last known working version of their software.

    I can’t overclock, underclock, modify which governor the thing is using as it tries to save me battery at the expense of performance. I can’t install a firewall that I control, logging software to check and see if my giving something full internet access was a mistake or even revoke that one permission, which a rooted device is capable of doing… don’t think they need access to your contacts but have to do that to install? Turn that off.

    If you want security and control, root’s the way for you. You can always unroot later and accept what comes.

  • Avatar of Paul M

    I rooted my Note2 within 10 hours of receiving it!

    Two key reasons: titanium backup, and chroot into full linux environment.

    My experience with HTC phones in the past was that to get a phone rooted with S-OFF required a downgrade which meant a total wipe. Once rooted Ti Backup means you never have to worry about restoring a phone or specific app again.

    Since I didn’t want to have to go through a full wipe without Ti Backup working, I naturally rooted my phone first. I haven’t used Triangle Away yet.

  • After getting my S3 and discovering Tasker, I’m now a heavy Tasker user. There are a number of customizations/profiles that I wouldn’t be able to do without root, and now I wonder how I lived without.
    (Detect background processes, e-mail popup with sender & subject, read incoming e-mails in Car mode, full GPS control, custom lockscreen control, etc.)

    • Avatar of Claudia Abbott

      I have a Note 2, rooted. I have been getting into Tasker after much effort. In the last two days I have had two Tasker profiles working perfectly then suddenly just stop. I’m beginning to thing it won’t work on Note 2………………then there you are saying it works. Can you point me into the right direction?
      I’m interested in making my password disabled at home and WiFi on/off at home.

  • Avatar of Álvaro

    I rooted my Note 2 a week after I bought it. I was (am) totally new to Android, coming from iOS, so I wanted to know a little bit about the scene first.
    The UI was too big on me, huge icons, big text even with the tiny option selected. I decided to root so I could use 240 dpi; I opted for a stock ROM because I also wanted some of the Samsung stuff.
    Now I have a great looking UI and I am really making use of such a big screen.
    Other reasons could be certain Tasker tasks (i.e. send location according to pre-defined message from certain contacts which requires to query whatsapp databases).

  • I rooted my Note 2 and simply flashed a rooted stock rom. This way I can keep all the Samsung features that come with the phone while still able to flash individual mods that I like.

    Honestly I don’t think it’ll make a huge difference. The Note 2 is a great phone out the box and I haven’t bothered with any custom roms. But the stock rooted is a must for Titanium backup among other things.

  • Avatar of gregoreo

    totally root it!

  • I’m going to follow you and watch your progression on this.. Like you, my last phone was the OG EVO… I relied on GOODANDEVO… I waited a year into my contract to root… I wished I had rooted from day one… Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing or how I did it.. I used xda as my source for guidance and web links.. I am PC free over here, Mac OSX 10.7… So I have less options for rooting.. I have a few reason to root and I’m leaning that way… I just need a nudge and a little guidance…

  • I’m considering a method I found on YouTube (but wasn’t sure I’m allowed to post link)

  • I have the Samsung Galaxy Note II. SPH-L900. I had a Ford explorer and now a 2014 Grand Cherokee, both of which can read text when received and display it on my screen along with voice on what the text states. but with such a smart phone, it doesn’t have Multi-Access Profile(?) MAP. that’s why I would like to root my phone but I’ve never done this before. any thoughts? Plus I would like to activate the hot spot but don’t want to pay $20 per month that would not get used on a daily basis. thoughts appreciated. thanks


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