Q&A: Should I root my Samsung Galaxy S4 and install Titanium Backup to remove pre-installed apps?

samsung-galaxy-s4Question from Marcia N.:  After using nothing but iPhones for years, I recently decided to give the Samsung Galaxy S4 a try after hearing a friend rave on and on about how great it is. And you know what? He’s right. I really do love it.

That being said, there’s something that really bugs me about the Galaxy S4. It has a ton of pre-installed apps on it that I’ll never use and are just taking up space in the internal memory, yet they can’t be uninstalled! What’s up with that?

Anyway, my friend told me that he “rooted” his phone and installed an app called Titanium Backup which he was able to use to remove some of the pre-installed apps. I’ve heard horror stories about phones being totally destroyed by rooting them and I’m really nervous about it. Should I be?

Rick’s answer:  Yes Marcia, you should be. Why? Because in almost all cases rooting a phone immediately voids the warranty, leaving you without any recourse whatsoever should the phone develop a hardware problem during the warranty period. 

The rooting process itself is a lot safer than it used to be, and depending on how you go about it you might even be able to “unroot” the phone later if you so desire. But unrooting likely won’t be an option in the event of a hardware failure. This means you won’t be able to get your phone fixed for free because of the void warranty.

Aside from the obvious risks involved with voiding the warranty, the real danger in using a rooted phone is two-fold:

1 – Unless extra precautions are taken, rooted phones are much more likely to be infected by malware than unrooted phones.

2 – Rooting your phone gives you (and any apps you download) the unfettered ability to do pretty much anything you (or the apps) want to do to your phone’s operating system, including make a change that renders the device completely unusable.

Bottom line: While I agree that all of those pre-installed apps are annoying and not being able to remove them is unconscionable, I believe that rooting your phone just to get rid of them is too big a risk for the average user. I would advise against it.

Whether or not to root a device is one of those topics that invoke strong opinions on each side of the issue. I’m firmly on the “Do Not Root” side. But there are countless individuals who know more than I do who believe that every device should be rooted just as a matter of principle (it’s YOUR device they say, so you should be able to do ANYTHING you want with it).

In theory, I completely agree, but as a practical matter I don’t. After all, standing on principle is a noble thing, but trying to make a phone call or browse the Internet with an expensive “brick” can be pretty frustrating.

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