What are the best Android phones for rooting and modding?
People have been rooting and modding Android phones since the dawn of the Android ecosystem. The reasons why are plentiful. But most do it because it gives them greater control over their handsets, access to better and more up to date software, and because it extends the lifespan of a handset dramatically.
Unsure about rooting an Android phone? For a primer on what you have to do make sure your register yourself an account over at XDA Developers – a forum dedicated to this kind of thing.
A lot of Android phone makers deliberately lock the bootloader on their handsets and this makes rooting them difficult – sometimes impossible. But do not fear: there are plenty of other options out there that can be rooted and most are widely supported by active communities and updates.
In this piece we're going to be focusing on the "I want to save money and get out of the upgrade cycle imposed by most phone makers" angle. Essentially, we're going to point you in the direction of a series of phones that you can buy now, for a lot less than current flagships, and begin rooting and modding them right away.
Despite Google's efforts during the past several years, Android still has a serious problem with fragmentation. Hardware producers focus on new hardware and often leave their older handsets out in the cold when it comes to the latest build of Android.
This is the major difference between how Google and Apple do things.
However, if you go the custom ROM route you can update your Android phone's OS regularly, adding in new features and security measures as you see fit.
You can also drastically extend the lifespan of your phone too; the removal of bloatware and nefarious updates designed to cripple older phones and force adoption of new handsets is all too real in today's phone space. By installing a custom ROM you effectively stop this from happening.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is perhaps the best example of what can happen when a company, Samsung, in this context, tries to cripple a handset with CPU-taxing updates that render the phone useless when installed.
All of the phones on this list are older handsets, meaning not only are they cheaper but you can also access easy-to-install custom ROMs for them. OK, enough of the chitchat: what are the best phones for rooting and modding?
Google's Nexus 5X – The Mac DADDY!
This is easily your best option to begin your journey into rooting Android. Why? Simple: the Nexus 5X is made by Google and is very easy to root – Google provides you with most of the tools to do it! Plus, if you really screw up and the phone stops working, you can download an image from Google and revert it back to its factory settings. Simples.
There is also a large development community around the Nexus 5X, so you're in good hands when it comes to downloading and installing custom ROMs or if you have any questions about what you're about to undertake.
The Nexus 5X doesn't cost a lot and is the perfect phone to cut your rooting-teeth on. If I were you, I'd get a Nexus 5X to practice on while running your current phone alongside it. That way you get to learn as you go without affecting you access to a mobile phone.
OnePlus 3 & OnePlus 2 – The Next Best Option
If you're looking for a phone with decent specs and a low-ass asking price the OnePlus is the place to go. The Chinese upstart has made a name for itself by producing some of the best Android phones in the business – and then pricing them at frankly insane price points.
There is an active community around both phones, but the OnePlus 3, mostly because it is available without invite, is arguably the more popular of the two with Android enthusiasts. Either handset is easy to mod, though, and both can be picked up for next to nothing.
On a budget? Go for the OnePlus 2. Feeling flush? The OnePlus 3 is the one for you – it has better specs, improved hardware and a very decent camera.
Nexus 6P – The KING
Now that Google's Pixel phones are here you can expect to see some pretty hefty price cuts to Google's old flagship, the still-awesome Nexus 6P. This handset was one of the finest Android ever released and it was a truly fitting end to Google's Nexus brand.
More expensive than the Nexus 5X, but still a bargain for the specs, design and hardware, the Nexus 6P can be picked up online for A LOT less than its Pixel counterparts. If you're looking for a brilliant handset to begin your rooting journey with, the Nexus 6P is just about one of the best places to start.
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