I have heard these two terms the most, whenever people talk about Android OS. One of them is Rooting or root access, and the other one is unlocking the Boot Loader. Are these two terms exactly the same ? If not, kindly let me know the differences. P.S I am a beginner to android, and already searched a lot on the google, but could not come to a conclusion. A specific answer would be really helpful. Thanks in advance.

  • @DanHulme Good resource. I just included your link in my answer.
    – nullmem
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


Root access: Administrative access to the entire file system including the ability to change system files such as installing system-wide ad-blocker by modifying the host file on your device, or uninstalling system apps, such as bloatware that comes pre-installed on your device.

Unlocked bootloader: Even though it is possible in some cases to obtain root access without an unlocked bootloader, unlocking the bootloader is required to permanently root a device. This is because your carrier can simply unroot your device with an OTA update. Typically devices sold by most carriers under a contract will have a locked bootloader, preventing you from installing other roms (another version of android such as CyanogenMod) or tampering with your device in any way. Obtaining bootloader access on these devices is generally obtained by using an exploit, so if you plan to root your device do not allow any more OTA updates from your carrier until you check the xda forums for what options you have for your device.

For generalized, yet more detailed information, start by checking out this excellent answer.

If you decide to root your device, start by reading - How do I root my Android device?

Also have a look at - I've rooted my phone. Now what?

However, make sure you always check the xda-developers forums for updated information on what rooting procedures currently work for your device before attempting any rooting procedure, as these things change all the time.

  • You need to have a unlocked bootloader to obtain root access on your device not necessary
    – samnaction
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 16:25
  • @sameer I just clarified this a little better in my answer.
    – nullmem
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 20:38
  • Almost all devices ship with the bootloader locked as a security precaution. The difference is that on most devices it's just a command to unlock the bootloader (which does a factory-reset) while carrier-owned ones often don't let you do that, needing an exploit to get around it.
    – Dan Hulme
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 20:56

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