In an article today from PC Magazine entitled, “The tethering police are coming, unroot your phones” (pretty sensationalist title, ‘eh? I mean hell, look at the picture in the article), author James Kendrick talks about how AT&T are going to start charging customers who use unauthorized WiFi tethering, such as the MyFi program on jailbroken iPhones or those of us who have rooted and unlocked the tethering option included in Android. I was originally going to simply write a news piece about this, but it got my thinking of why I rooted my phone in the first place…
First off, let’s talk about this article. I might a bit…defensive in this, but putting “unroot your phones” in the title smacks of…ignorance, to me at least. It assumes, I feel, that the only reason one roots one’s phone is to get free WiFi tethering…and sure, while that’s nice, it’s not the only reason to root. Also, what would unrooting do anyway? You could root your phone and never use WiFi tethering. Problem solved, or so I’d think. Let me ask you something, loyal reader. Knowing that eventually all carriers will adopt this policy (it’ll happen, just give it time), will this alter the way you use WiFi tethering on your rooted, if you use it at all?
I’ve used WiFi tethering only a little bit. Mostly 5-10 minutes here and there to let my girlfriend play Words with Friends on her iPod Touch. I don’t use it too much because it’s a huge battery drain, but even so, I’m glad I have access to it should I need it. It bugs me that, while this feature comes stock with Android, carriers restrict our access to it…and it’s lifting those restrictions that’s at the root (heh heh) of rooting in the first place, or so I think.
For me, I rooted my phone to lift those restrictions and gain full access to my phone. I wanted to do full NAND backups. I wanted to flash different kernels and ROMs. I wanted to slow down my CPU for more battery life, and have access to awesome root-only programs like ShootMe and Root Explorer. The main reason I wanted to root was to have more choice. The beauty about Android is that it gives you so much choice in so many things…but what if I don’t like HTC’s Sense (which I don’t) or Motorola’s Motoblur? If I didn’t root my EVO, I’d have those choices taken away from me.
So for me, rooting was all about freedom of choice. Freedom to choose my ROM, my kernel, my theme, my font, and even my option to tether. Sure, free WiFi tethering is what spurns many people to root, but I doubt it’s the only reason. Rooting allows us to have full control over the devices we paid hundreds of dollars for. Sure, it voids the warranty, and sure, we know the risks, but we also know the rewards. While I initially rooted my phone to slow down the CPU for better battery life, I’ve done so much with it since then that I can’t even imagine having an unrooted device anymore. I’d feel like my phone was trapped in a cage or something.
So what about you? Have you rooted your phone? If so, why, and what do you get most out of rooting? If not, why not? I look forward to discussing this with you in the comments.