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Home / Tips and Tricks / The best phones for rooting and modding in 2019 «Android :: Gadgethacks

The best phones for rooting and modding in 2019 «Android :: Gadgethacks

According to a Kaspersky survey, 7.6% of Android users have their phones. That may not sound like much, but with more than 2 billion Android devices, mathematics accounts for more than 150 million rotated phones ̵

1; more than the total population of Russia, Mexico or Japan – so root nation is an important demographic that deserves it to be cared for.

However, the status of Superuser is not always easy to achieve. Many manufacturers lock their device boot loaders and add additional security layers to prevent users from rooting and installing a custom restore. Yet people still find ways to get around these obstacles because rooting allows them to remove bloatware, block ads, and apply cool mods and system-level tweaks. For many people, this level of customization is the reason why they chose an Android device in the first place.

If you are a mud or you just want the option to tinker with your device, it is important that your next phone is easily rootable and has an active development community. So we have sorted some of the most popular devices on the market and created this list of the four best phones for rooting.

Table of Contents

Comparison Table

Main comparison points

How we chose these phones

To make this list, we have some basic rules. First, every phone had to be rootable, so multiple devices were excluded. The largest phone model that was excluded by this rule was the iPhone. The problem with Apple's flagship is that modding requires jailbreaking which is currently unavailable in iOS 13. Unlike rooting, jailbreaking is usually achieved by an exploit that continues to remove Apple, even for older versions of iOS. So while modeling your iPhone is possible (under the right circumstances), the inconsistency of rootability removes it from our list.

Second, we disqualified devices that could only be rooted through kernel exploits such as Dirty COW or Towelroot, as manufacturers usually block these methods shortly after their discovery. There are phones that use root techniques that will always work, so you don't have to rely on sketchy hacks.

Traditional root methods revolve around unlocking the device's bootloader and flashing custom images such as TWRP Recovery. For this reason, we have only included smartphones with unlocked or unlockable boot loaders and we have excluded phones that do not have a Fastboot interface for flashing said images.

We have also included only one model per OEM. Two models, namely the OnePlus 7T and Google Pixel 3a, all share the same benefits as other models on the list, but were excluded because of this rule. In those two cases we chose the phone with the better hardware.

Apart from that, we limited our tests to current-generation phones available in the United States. As brand phones providers usually have locked boot loaders, all phones on our list are the GSM-unlocked variants of the phone, which manufacturers sell directly or through an online e-commerce website such as Amazon. Finally, we compared how active the community was on websites such as XDA to see if there were enough ROMs, kernels, and custom recovery options for the device, and we simply chose the phone with the more active community when we needed a tiebreaker had. [19659005] Phone 1: OnePlus 7 Pro

Since the OnePlus One, OnePlus has released phones that embody the Nexus line-up. You can expect every new phone they release to get full support from the rooting community, thanks to the timely release of kernel resources and driver binaries. They are also one of the few phones that does not invalidate your bootloader guarantee, making experiments so much easier.

Due to the support of OnePlus, customizing their phone is as simple as possible. Their official forums are a port of information that is specific to each model and will usually answer almost any problem that might arise when you try to root your phone or add custom software. Like every phone on our list, there is also an active XDA community where you will find all the software you need to root your phone, install a custom recovery, and more.

Strictly seen from a root perspective, there is not much difference between OnePlus and Google. Both have an active community and are supported for years after their phones are released (the original Google Pixel still receives official custom ROM support from Lineage OS). The biggest advantage of OnePlus is that pound by pound the 7 Pro is a better phone than the Pixel 4, so it's in the hands of more developers.

Image by Stephen Perkins / Gadget hacks

The OnePlus 7 Pro was in some respects an answer to all compatible OnePlus users who have had in recent years. Do you want a higher resolution? To check. Do you want a huge battery? To check. Do you want all this plus the best specifications for a price of $ 100 + cheaper than the competition? Check again. The OnePlus 7 Pro is the best overall phone they have ever released, and that includes the recently launched OnePlus 7T.

For a starting price of $ 669, the OnePlus 7 Pro is a great option, even if you don't want to take root. But what makes rooting possible is the ability to keep your phone longer. Whether you don't have the money to upgrade every year, don't want to upgrade to avoid e-waste, or just love the phone, rooting makes it easier to keep your phone for three or more years. You can still get monthly security updates through custom ROMs long after OnePlus has left support.

As with the previous version of OnePlus smartphones, the 7 Pro has a software tamper flag that lets OnePlus know that you have changed the software. However, by flashing the factory images of for the 7 Pro, you can reset your phone to inventory status and reset the flag.

Image by Stephen Perkins / Gadget Hacks

Although some of his predecessors have a more active community, few phones have been released last year that offer more options than the OnePlus 7 Pro. There are a large number of ROMs and kernels to install to change the way your phone works. There is official Team Win Recovery Project (TWRP) support for the 7 Pro, so flashing changed software is easier. It has official Magisk support, the favorite root utility, and works with most of its modules.

If you want one of the best options for rooting and live in the US, look no further than the OnePlus 7 Pro. If you live in a market that didn't get the 7 Pro, you probably have the 7T Pro, which is essentially the same phone, but with a slightly better SoC and faster wired charging. And if you want to save a little money that still uses the latest components, buy the OnePlus 7T. You really won't be disappointed.

Image by Stephen Perkins / Gadget Hacks

Purchase an unlocked OnePlus 7 Pro directly from OnePlus for $ 669

Phone 2: Google Pixel 4

Bij switching from the beloved Nexus line-up to the Pixel, Google tried to bridge two worlds. They wanted to make a phone that appeals to the daily user and at the same time focuses on the heart of a mud. In the process, it embodied the essence of its biggest competitor, the iPhone, which offers good but not great performance, a fantastic camera and a premium price tag. It became a phone that suited the needs of the many, while modders still had the flexibility to make more of it.

Let me start by saying, unlike other phones on our list, it does not matter at all which of the Pixel 4 models you choose. If you want a better battery life and a larger screen, choose the Pixel 4 XL. However, if you want the same experience for a lower price tag, choose the Pixel 4. The phones are interchangeable with only battery size, screen size, screen resolution and overall dimensions as a difference.

Image by Jon Knight / Gadget Hacks

Despite Google's focus on security with the Titan M security chip, rooting is still not hindered. Google has done an excellent job protecting this chip against outside threats while tampering with users.

In addition to OnePlus, no other OEMs have been as friendly to the modding community as Google. They are one of the few companies that release the kernel resources on Day 1, a requirement of all OEMs. Although most of them adhere to this, they take their time with it, while Google releases them day one. This helps the community to work on mods earlier, for example TopJohnWu to get Magisk to work on the Pixel 3 within a few days after the release .

At the time of this writing, the Pixel 4 is very new, so currently there is very little with regard to mods and ROMs. However, as no major changes are reported, we expect the same level of active development from the community as with any of its predecessors. And based on Pixel 1, 2 and 3, we can expect a very active scene for root development.

Image by Jake Peterson / Gadget Hacks

The main reason why we recommend the Pixel 4 is the easy to unlock bootloader. Every model, except Pixels sold by Verizon, can be unlocked by a single Fastboot command. Unlocking the boot loader also does not invalidate your warranty and can be easily undone using the factory images that Google publishes once a software update is released.

The Pixel 4 supports Project Treble, making custom ROMs even easier to build. Combine that with the release of kernel sources and driver binaries, and developers have all the tools they need to make ROMs especially for you, giving you a custom look that you want for your Pixel 4 (and 4 XL) ).

Image by Jon Knight / Gadget Hacks

Ultimately, the reason we couldn't rank the Google Pixel 4 higher is that it is not better (general) as a phone then the OnePlus 7 Pro. Yes, it has a top level display (just like OnePlus 7 Pro) and a leading camera, but that's where the benefits end. OnePlus 7 Pro is cheaper, has better cooling, faster charging, more RAM, and at the same time offers the same level of support from the rooting community.

If costs are your primary concern, there are always the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. These phones do some minor sacrifice in terms of performance, have a headphone jack, a comparable performing camera and come in for around half the price. And these phones meet the same dedication to rooters as their comrades with higher specifications.

Buy an unlocked Pixel 4 directly from Google for $ 799

Phone 3: ASUS ZenFone 6

The biggest surprise on our list is the ASUS ZenFone 6. This phone apparently came out of nowhere with its flagship specifications against a true midrange price. It even has a headphone jack, unlike the previous two options. But what was a bigger surprise was the support of ASUS for rooters and modders.

In a big victory for muds, ASUS released both the kernel sources and a special tool to unlock the boot loader for the ZenFone 6 days after the announcement of the phone. The specialized tool came in the form of an APK (known as Unlock Device), which you load on your ZenFone 6. After installation, follow the instructions of the app and your bootloader will be unlocked, which will open your device for modding. [19659003] ASUS was also aware that having an unlockable bootloader and published kernel resources was not enough without support. The company decided to try out a development program by sending units to major developers in the modding community, including developers at LineageOS, OminiROM, Proton kernel, TWRP and more. With the kernel resources, the special unlocking tool and their phones in the hands of developers, the ZenFone 6 managed to get a pretty active modding community with many ROMs to choose from.

Image by MKBHD / YouTube

All this work has paid off. Proton Kernel has succeeded in adding a 75 Hz refresh option for the phone (the phone comes with 60 Hz out of the box). There is official LineageOS 16 support (based on Android 9 Pie) and unofficial LineageOS 17 support (based on Android 10). OmniROM has also made an official ROM for the telephone and there is a working Gcam-mod for even better photography. Although the community is not nearly as active as OnePlus and Google, ASUS has laid the foundation for building the confidence of the modding community, which will only grow if they continue to provide this level of support to the modding community.

In addition to its active community, the ASUS ZenFone 6 is the best value of any phone on our list. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, 6 GB (or more) RAM and a 6.4-inch 1080p screen. It has one of the highest screen / body ratios thanks to motorized cameras, which allow you to use the rear camera as the front camera, a 5000 mAh battery, fast charging, stereo speakers and much more. And this is all for $ 499, $ 170 cheaper than the OnePlus 7 Pro. It's only $ 20 more than Google Pixel 3a XL (another great option for modders), but with much higher performance.

Image by HardwareCanucks / YouTube

However, the ZenFone 6 does not come without compromise. The first is that ASUS cancels your warranty when you unlock the boot loader. This means that if you encounter problems that are not due to your phone (such as defective hardware), you can no longer send it back to ASUS for free repairs. Another problem is that, unlike the first two phones on our list, you cannot restore your phone to its original locked state after you have unlocked your bootloader. You will no longer receive OTA software updates. You can update your phone manually by flashing with the firmware that ASUS offers on their website.

The second problem with the ZenFone 6 is that, despite its efforts, the community is not as large as the first two options on our list. ASUS has never shown this level of dedication before, so modders don't give it the attention it deserves. As the months pass, however, support will continue to grow, giving you more tools to improve your ZenFone 6.

Image by HardwareCanucks / YouTube

Despite a few setbacks, the ASUS ZenFone 6 is still a very worthy member of our list. Their dedication to the modding community is commendable, especially at a time when OEM support is declining. In terms of value, there is no better phone on our list. Unless you want a specific ROM, kernel or mod that is currently unavailable with the ZenFone 6, this is probably your best option if you consider costs.

Purchase the ASUS ZenFone 6 from Amazon for $ 499.99

Phone 4: Moto G7

Although Motorola is struggling in its flagship series of phones, there are really few phones when it comes to budget devices. For a price of less than $ 300, the Moto G7 series gives you good to great midrange performance at an affordable price. And in recent years, Lenovo (the parent company of Motorola) has increased the value of the phone by allowing it to be rooted and modified.

With an MSRP of $ 299, it is by far the cheapest on our list. Although it lacks performance, it is not far from the other options. The Moto G7 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632, a solid midrange option that offers sufficient CPU and GPU performance for most people. It is linked to 4 GB RAM, so Android 9 Pie will work well. It also has a 6.2-inch 1080p display, a 15 W fast charger and dual cameras.

Image by GSMArena Official / YouTube

With roots, you can take this phone to another level. To unlock the boot loader, you must visit the official Motorola website to generate an unlock code, which you then send via Fastboot to unlock your boot loader. To generate this code, you must enter some information about your phone so that Motorola can track whether you have changed the device or not. Motorola also indicates that

Unless you have a Developer Edition device, your device will no longer be covered by the Motorola warranty after you receive the unlock code.

– Motorola

Since you have to request the code, Motorola can track that you have unlocked the bootloader and invalidate the warranty long before they even worry about breaking a tamper fuse.

Binary files for drivers & # 39; s and kernel sources are published on the Github page of Motorola. As with all phones with Android 9 Pie (or newer) out of the box, Project Treble is supported, which causes minimal problems when developing custom ROMs for this device.

The result is a phone with good but not great modding support. There is officially adjusted recovery from TWRP. Root is possible with Magisk, and there is even an unofficial port of LineageOS 16 (based on Android 9 Pie). The problem is that it's just about. There are no additional customized ROMs or kernels. There is a CPU & VM tweak that improves battery life and performance, but that's it.

Image by GSMArena Official / YouTube

The biggest disadvantage of rooting the Moto G7 is the lack of stock firmware that is officially supplied by Lenovo. While it is possible to find stock firmware images from a third-party website, it will take more work to find them, and due diligence on your part to ensure that you download the correct firmware. All in all, the Moto G7 is an excellent choice, especially if you want to view the costs.

Buy the $ 249.99 Moto G7 Unlocked from Amazon

This article was produced during Gadget Hacks & # 39; annual Tweaks & Hacks Celebration week. Read all Tweaks & Hacks Celebration stories.

Cover image by Dallas Thomas / Gadget Hacks

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