Top Best Phones for Rooting and Modding
According to researchers, 28% of the Android users are in favour of rooted Android experience. According to this statics, with over 2 billion Android devices out there in use, that works out on more than 500 million Phone and Tablets which are rooted. So, the root nation becoming more important and it gives great user experience.
Achieving Superuser status (root permissions) is not that easy all times, as many of the manufacturers lock the Bootloader of their devices and also add extra security layers to avoid users from rooting and making custom modifications. But, still, people find many ways around to break through these because an Android device is always been filled with so many positive features. Rooting an Android device generally allows users to uninstall Bloatware, block Ads, apply cool system-level mods and tweaks and so on. For many users, these are the points, why they want to buy an Android device.
If you are a modifier or if you just want to tinker your device, it is really important to select a phone that is easily rootable and has an active community of developers. So, we have listed some of the most popular devices that easily rootable and has a great development community for you to select the best device for the purpose. This is the list of top five on the market.
Key Comparison Points
Generally, when we speak of rooting and modifying an Android device, there are so many important factors that you should know first:
- Bootloader Unlocking:
usually rooting methods of Android take part through an unlocked Bootloader, and you can’t use something like TWRP custom recovery without having Bootloader unlocked. Some of the Android Phones lets you unlock the Bootloader just with a single Fastboot command, while some others will require for a code which you can obtain from the manufacturer website. The manufacturer code method either really simple to get the device Bootloader unlocked, but this has its one downside: As your OEM is shown to the manufacturer while the Bootloader is being unlocked you will probably lose the warranty coverage completely.
- Tamper Fuse:
Most of the phones on these days are packed with a Tamper fuse or flag which gets tripped once you attempt the initial modify on the stock firmware. If you send your device for a hardware warranty, the manufacturer will first read through the state of this fuse, at this point if you have made any modification they will likely deny warranty coverage. Also, some of the manufacturers even allow you to reset this fuse in order to restore the whole warranty coverage back to the device, and at the same time, some others might keep tracking whether you relieved a code for Bootloader unlock.
- Stock Firmware:
When you are trying to root and modify a phone, there is always possibilities mess up things such like getting your device with a soft-brick. At this point, you can simply download and flash the stock firmware for your specific model. This will allow you to restore things to normal.The Stock Firmware is a device specific part of the ROM that controls various hardware which introduced by Manufacturer.
- Kernel Sources and Binaries:
When the Kernel sources are published for the third-party developers find easy to create up their custom kernels. Generally, all the Android manufacturing companies are asked to publish the kernel sources, though some are still dragging their feet. At the same time, the manufacturers are not asked to publish their driver binaries. If they do so, there will be the bigger range of selections with compatible custom ROMs and custom kernels for those Android devices.
When you are are preparing to root and modify your device, a good program toolkit can come in handy to allow you restore the factory firmware, get through updates, and getting also let you get those device drivers. Also, some toolkits still let root and install the custom recovery on to your devices.
TWRP recovery is the ultimate one single recovery that is most important when it comes to the terms of modifying an Android device. Some phones are officially supported with TWRP, and for other devices, there are some unofficial versions of TWRP available, which still work really well, but with some minor bugs.
- ElementalX and Xposed:
The ElementalX custom Kernal and Xposed Framework are two of the extremely popular mods out there to get engaged with. The ElementalX offers you some great features such as double-tap to wake and all. At the same time, the Xposed Framework allows you to install modules on your device to change the core functionality and modify the behaviours. For now, the Xposed is supported only for those devices running Android Nougat or a lower version of Android. But, even if your phone is running on Android 8.0 Oreo build and if your device has a nougat build available, then you can simply roll back to Nougat 7.0 to enjoy the power of Xposed.
If you are willing to root your device without tripping the SafetyNet, the best option for you is Magisk. This does not only provide you popular mod which gives you systemless root but also offers a framework which simply allows you to install perform system-level mods and modules. To let you know how important this is here means, all phones on our list is with Magisk.
- Development Community:
When a great group of developers are digging with a specific device, it will always be great with awesome mods and development functionalities. Usually, if a device is supported by an active community such as XDA forum which always dedicated to the process, the supported mods will also be increasing with time.
- Custom ROMs and Kernels:
While using Custom ROMs you can always obtain some cool amount software features, change the User interface of the device, and even obtain better performance. On the other hand, the Custom kernels let you make changes on CPU frequencies to get with a perfect mix of performance and battery life together, and they will rarely add up some feature like double tap to wake the device and colour control. As the Custom ROMs and Kernels are the biggest types of mods to support an Android device. The phones on our list are supported with great kind of kernels and ROMs.
How We Selected These set of Phones
To prepare this list of top 5 Phones for rooting and modding we made up some rules and conditions to make the selection process easy. According to our rules and conditions, the iPhones are the biggest selection of iOS 10. But, the iPhone does not be entered in the list because the jailbreak methods are available occasionally and Apple has always been blocking those exploits somehow faster than developers create Jailbreak and tweaks. So, considering these reasons the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X cannot be considered here in the list.
Next, we cut off those devices which are rootable only through kernel exploits such as Towelroot, as these kinds of rooting methods are usually being blocked very fast. This means the devices should have a traditional root method available to get it rooted to take part on the list. At this point, many devices simply left off the competition, such devices like the Galaxy S8 and all, as the latest Samsung flagships require some serious process to get them rooted.
Generally, traditional root methods come around unlocking the bootloader of the device and flashing a custom image such as TWRP Recovery or something else. According to this reason, we have included devices that are only with an unlocked or unlockable bootloader, and we cut off those devices that do not have a Fastboot interface in order conduct flashing process.
There were two absolute stunning devices that could have easily take part in the list, the Google’s Pixel 2 and the OnePlus 5, but we avoided both these phones because of their siblings the pixel (first generation) and OnePlus 5T are the bit more root-friendly and has a great support with mods. This is because the developers have already spent some time with those previous devices and they worked more on them. Also, the Pixel 2 and all have some new levels of security measures to pass through, which makes trouble for root development, namely the device is with a new fastboot unlock method and functioned with a dedicated encryption chip in it. So, here we still recommend you the first-gen Pixel if you are in favour of root-friendly Google device.
With all that, some other latest devices such as LG V30 and left off this list because they are with lack of development considering the date. Actually, it takes some time for a development community take place with developments, so if you are willing to buy a new one like this, it is always better to wait for some time and watch for the developments to take part.
Apart from all those things, our team has spent time on testing those current-generation smartphones which are available for sale in the United States. Anyway, the carrier based phones like those phones which are sold by AT&T and Verizon does not have bootloaders in them and they cannot be unlocked, so the list of phones here are all the SIM-unlocked variants of the company which are basically sold by the manufacturer directly to the consumers. Along with that, the most considered point is the devices are with an active development community, is what left us with the following phones.
With the ending of Nexus line up, there was a space in the market for phones with high-end specs at midrange price tag. The OnePlus now fills this space with its OnePlus 5T, which is extremely powered with a Snapdragon 835 flagship chip with some high-end specs. The OnePlus company also promises to keep its price tag under cost on the markets by taking care of the costs of marketing and shipping, directly sending to the consumer. So, in the end, you really get with a great modding value for your money.
The OnePlus 5T is a modder-friendly Android phone by its design, as the manufacturer of OnePlus always being embracing Android development community, simply starting from its Cyanogen-based ROM for the OnePlus One. There are even much more things been great with OnePlus: a company does not void warranty for unlocking the bootloader, and also unlocking the bootloader is either as simple as providing a single Fastboot command once you have enabled OEM unlocking.
The OnePlus 5T is an ultimate software-based tamper flag device, this one great because you can simply reset the device in order prevent from the manufacturer knowing that you have made modifications to your device. If you ever need to do that so, you can simply download and flash the factory images for the OnePlus 5T directly from the official OnePlus website, the device will immediately be restored to stock state.
All the general key binaries of the device have been published, including the binaries related to Dash Charge feature, so the custom ROMs simply as feature-rich as stock firmware. The OnePlus company has also posted the kernel sources of OnePlus 5T, this means definitely there are plenty of custom kernels available for the device.
The major kernel developers have still not enough time to bring up their wares into the OnePlus 5T yet, but in really quick we are expecting that to change. Anyway, the ElementalX developer has come up with his most popular version of custom kernel for all the OnePlus phones on sale unless for the OnePlus 5T, so it is highly expected for a release for OnePlus 5T. As the new OnePlus 5T is extremely modder friendly, it has one of the best active community take part with development processes, this means there will be more and more custom ROMs, and as well as root mods and apps at the same time.
As OnePlus 5T comes packed Android Nougat (with a planned update to Android Oreo), the Xposed Framework is available to make extreme level modifications. On top of all that, you have the possibilities to use Skipsoft toolkit to get the OnePlus 5T rooted, flash TWRP Recovery, install Magisk and so many things.
All of these points can be applied the same way to the 2017’s older flagship, the OnePlus 5. But, Anyway, the OnePlus broke all the sales record with its new release, the 5T, so here we are strongly recommending you to buy the latest model as if there are more users mean there will be more development in requirement. Somehow, if you can manage with an older device means, you can save some amount of money still with a great support from developers for the modder-friendly phones by offering great quality custom ROM support.
With each and every benefits I have mentioned, the phones only $499 to afford, so the OnePlus 5T is one of the most affordable flagship smartphones in Android market, and it is an excellent combination when it is an extreme modder friendly device. The phone is either packed with great processing power to work on any of the supported mods you fill into the device, and you will always have the smooth feeling which you normally get with those $1000 phones in the market. So, the OnePlus 5T is more expensive but still with a less price tag.
The Google Pixel phones are always sold very well and at most points, the Google was trouble keeping the devices in stock to fulfil the unlimited demand. Also, the Google Pixel’s marketing campaign always tries to keep the device positioned as an iPhone alternative. Almost an everyman device with no mistake. The Pixel is most likely to its predecessor the Nexus – a modder’s dream phone with deep inside specs.
To make things clear, we are always recommending you the first-generation of Pixel phone here. Because the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are made with new kind of a bootloader unlocking method which a bit trickery, risky and less reliable at the present time, Also, they are integrated with a new dedicated hardware encryption chip inside which may definitely trouble the root developers and makes some issues with the device. Along with that, the company also has functioned an anti-rollback measure which prevents you from flashing those old firmware files which is a really cool thing when you trying to get with a feature that is no longer available on a newest Android version. When these issues have been sorted out by the development community, then the Pixel 2 will get to list.
You might think why the Pixel ranks on our list of the best phones for rooting and modding. Yes, it has many reasons why it is, starting with its simply unlockable bootloader. Each and every model of a pixel, except Pixels sold by Verizon, can be simply unlocked by enabling some kind of setting and then sending a single fastboot command. Since bootloader unlocking is not going to void the warranty, you are safe to modify your device software according to your wish.
The Pixel either has a tamper flag, this means once you have unlocked the bootloader of your device or installed a custom firmware into it, there will be some amount of data left behind which will let Google know that you have made changes on to the device software. Anyway, this tamper flag only based on software. So, with a simple fastboot command you can reset it, and then Google will no longer be able to know about the modifications that you made with your device’s operating system.
Generally, Google publishes all the factory images of the Pixel as soon as a new version of Android is released for it, so if something goes wrong while trying to install software mods, simply you can flash the stock firmware to get things back to normal. Most of the driver binaries are published for Pixels, so these things make it ultimately easy for the developers to create custom kernels and custom ROMs for Pixel.
When it comes to the custom kernels for Pixel, there are two of the extremely good kernels available: ElementalX and Franco Kernel. The Franco Kernel provides an excellent mix of performance and battery life for the device, while the ElementalX is all about adding up great features such as colour control and an automatic power saving CPU profiles.
As the stock interface of the Pixel is very much similar to the AOSP Android, there are so many custom ROMs available for the device. Also, the pixel has a very active development community which works really great, so you can expect for more compatible root apps and modification tool for the device.
As the Pixel is always supported with the latest Android versions, the Xposed Framework and all won’t work if you are up to date with the Android version. Anyway, you always have the possibilities to download and flash the older firmware versions to get back to Android Nougat, here you have fully supported Xposed frameworks for you. All the tasks here are really simple to be done with Skipsoft toolkit.
The developer of Magisk, John Wu has purchased a Pixel now, and as a result, he has solved out all of the issues with the Pixel’s A and B partition layouts. This simply means that now Pixel offers support with the Magisk, even though there are a handful of Magisk modules that are not supported for the Pixel’s new partition layouts.
Apart from all those minor problems and issues with Magisk support, the device cost is the huge downside when it comes to the Pixel. The 32 GB unlocked Pixel get to you by spending on a $549 (even it has been a year long since the initial launch), and it gets high from here. This price tag may sometimes make you hesitant to avoid such an expensive toy, this is why we still recommend you the Pixel over its large brother, the Pixel XL. If the price is not that an issue for you, you get with the XL variants, which start from $569. It is either extremely good inch by inch by the same as the usual Pixel line because all those things we have said in this section here is applicable for this large model either.
As something to be said in the end, always remember that the Verizon variants of the Google Pixels are with a locked bootloader, which cannot be unlocked. So, considering this in mind, we only recommend you to buy the Pixel device straight from Google if your hope is to do some rooting and modding stuff with your device.
Moto G5 Plus
Motorola practically found the budget smartphone space with their Moto G lineup. The initial release was in 2013, which phone was coasted less than $400, but still, the smartphone was refined in looks and extremely balanced in performance, this definitely raised the bar in the budget segment. As it being like that, the Moto G5 Plus keeps the competition with phones which are costing twice as much, this comes through one of the best buys for the value on the market.
As the Moto G5 Plus is starting at $229 simply it cannot be ignored at any point here. Think something like this: You can buy a Moto G5 Plus and brick it, then buy another, and brick this one either, and again buy a third one and lose it somewhere else, then again buy the fourth one and you are still spent less than buying a base-model iPhone which is now iPhone X.
It is extremely a simple process to unlock the Moto G5 Plus bootloader as you can do it through the Motorola’s official website to create an unlock code. Anyway, the company will get to know as soon as you have got the code to unlock the bootloader, from here onwards your device will be completely parted from Motorola warranty. Normally, the account-based bootloader unlocking method also confirms that Motorola has the possibilities to keep track of what happens with the device, whether or not it is being modified with the firmware, avoiding the statement of what the tamper flag state at. So, here you have to be comfortable with completely losing your warranty if you are moving forward to root the Moto G5 Plus.
The Driver binaries and kernel sources of the phone are published on Motorola’s Github page, so it is much easier for the developers and there will be no problems in creating custom firmware files. ElementalX is fully supported with Moto G5 Plus, and TWRP recovery is either officially supported, so all of the basic needs are covered here.
According to development communities, the Developers seem to be more attracted with Moto G5 Plus, as it is low in price and it is packed with a near-stock version of an Android. Also, the device’s XDA forum is either ultimately active with tons of amazing custom ROMs, kernels, and other mods available to give you a wide range of freedom. The Moto G5 Plus is now running on Android Oreo, this is not supported with Xposed. But, you can simply roll back to the previous version of Android, the Android Nougat to get compatible with Xposed framework and get access to those stunning Xposed Modules.
Still, there are some downsides when considering rooting and modding of the Moto G5 Plus. At first, there are no better toolkits available for the device to be mentioned, so most of the initial modding actions have to be done with command prompt. Also, the stock firmware downloads for the G5 Plus is hard to be found, as Motorola has no official factory images download page available for their devices. With all mentioned factors, the Moto G5 Plus is still a solid pick if you are planning to mod your next smartphone.
LG G6 the LG’s first 2017’s flagship was not soled as it is expected to be, but that does not mean the phone is not worth on the market. The bezel-less phone of the Korean manufacturer has received a great acclaim from all the great reviewers on the market, and also as the latest iteration in the whole series which has some of the best-selling Android phones in the market, the LG G6 has been a solid piece followed by the fans who have already owned the previous LG devices and have been extremely satisfied with it.
Basically, the LG lets you simply generate a code which is used while attempting to unlock your device’s bootloader through the Fastboot command method. This process will definitely void the device warranty, but to be considered, the LG at least gives you the option to do it so. Also, there are most of the variants with carrier-branded of the LG G6 which are integrated with double-locked bootloaders, so we recommend you to afford the US997 SIM-unlocked version only, this variant can be purchased directly from LG.
Anyway, the kernel sources of the LG G6 are published, and for the moment only CAF (Code Aurora Forum) driver binaries are available for the developers. The CAF drivers are generally provided by the device’s CPU manufacturer, here the Qualcomm, but they are still some generic drivers, so most of the optimizations with the usual G6’s official firmware will not be available in the custom kernels of the device. This is what helps explain why ElementalX is not yet available for G6, this is one of the significant downsides with LG G6.
Now back into the perfect sides of the device, the TWRP recovery is officially available to fully support functionalities on G6, and then Magisk is supported, this means you can obtain full systemless root on your device if you want to pass through the SafetyNet. As still, the G6 runs on Android Nougat, installing and getting benefited with Xposed is ease of process.
As always, the LG offers a really a useful toolkit which is called as LG Bridge, this will allow you to download the stock firmware files in case if you want to restore your phone with just a few clicks. On top of all those things, some of the third-party root toolkits such like Skipsoft and all offer full support for all the SIM-unlocked LG G6 variants, so, it would be really easy to get started with modding and making changes on your device.
To be considered, the main reason why the LG’s G6 takes its position in the list of best phones for rooting and modding is because of the fact that is a real active development community for it, so you are not going to miss any of a cool mods and root apps for you get benefited with. When it comes to Custom ROMs and kernels, the selections are merely decent, but this because of the device is still new at the moment and it will change with time, so better give it some time.
Always, keep in mind that none of the above-mentioned things can be done with a carrier-branded variant of the LG G6, as generally there are many extra security measures in it and you will probably not be able to break through them to unlock the device’s bootloader. In fact, almost all the development communities are still struggling to get a root for carrier variants of the G6, so as always, we suggest you to buy directly from LG so you can root and mod your LG G6 according to your taste.
Huawei Mate 9
Even if Huawei was the third largest smartphone brand on the planet, most of the America consumers never heard of the company until the company make the partnership with Google to produce the Nexus 6P. But now, there is no without knowing the brand name in the US market. So far, number one smartphone choice from the Chinese manufacturer has been Huawei’s Mate 9, and when it comes to rooting, it is extremely an awesome option.
The Huawei Mate 10 was already launched in the US, but it has not still reached the line when it comes to root development. So, when it comes to rootable option, the Huawei Mate 9 is the best choice to get with. But, if you can be patient for some time until the Mate 10 gets with full support, then mate 10 would be the best option for you.
Huawei is either like some other brands, allows you to unlock the Mate 9’s bootloader by providing a code-based system, anyway, this makes the manufacturer informed that you have done it so. So, once you have done, your device warranty will be completely gone. This is basically the case with almost all of the smartphones out there, so this is always the important thing which you should be aware of.
The kernel sources and binaries of Huawei Mate 9 are published on the Huawei’s official website, which is to be thanked the device’s modder-friendly SoC, the HiSense Kirin 950. The ElementalX kernel is not yet supported for the Mate 9, but some other amazing custom kernel options are fulfilling the space here. Unfortunately, the TWRP Recovery is either not available at the official version, but still, there is a supportive unofficial version of TWRP to do things, so you can flash those custom parts to your device.
As the Mate 9 still tends to run on Android Nougat, the latest version of Xposed is fully compatible with some amazing frameworks for you. Also, you have the possibilities to apply some other root-level modules by simply flashing Magisk into the device, this work really cool with the latest firmware updates as it is mentioned here.
The Mate 9 is also supported with an active development community like the other devices on this list and it especially offered with a decent amount of custom ROM support, even though most of the custom ROMs are based on Huawei’s EMUI skin. What this means is, while getting with most of ROMs, you will never be taken far away from the stock interface which basically packed with the phone, but still, some of the many great root mods and themes for the Mate 9 should help on to get part from this.
When it comes to the selection of custom kernels for the Mate 9 it is decent at its best, as most of the selections are simply a modified version of stock kernels. But somehow this ties back the options of custom ROM support. As most of the custom ROMs for Mate 9 are based on EMUI, so you will have to get with a kernel that matches. There aren’t any of the notable toolkits to provide support for Huawei Mate 9, but for that, the phone comes packed with a full functional Fastboot interface in it, so you will never have to worry of those things.
If you are interested with the Mate 9’s ROM selection and if you don’t mind of those EMUI, then there are lot more of root mods to provide support to help scratch your itch to tinker your device. When you consider things with Huawei’s up-and-coming status and the Huawei Mate 9 is at a reasonable $499 price tag, the Mate 9, of course, a solid buy on the market.
As with this amazing list of best phones for rooting and modding, your next phone is all about installing custom firmware, then there are two devices that stand on the list just for you: The OnePlus 5T and the Google Pixel. The OnePlus 5T gets the first priority as it is a bit cheaper and either with a slightly better Magisk support, also, the OnePlus 5T ticks with all of the other major boxes. Anyway, the Pixel is the one which has a great development support among all the other choices, so both of these devices are almost on an equal stand here.
The rest of choices are a step behind when it comes in the terms of rooting and modding, with the main factor, all the other devices will lose warranty coverage once you have unlocked the bootloader on any of the Moto G5 Plus or LG G6 or Mate 9. Even though if you are personally willing to get with these risk, all of these devices makes out a compelling case for themselves, as the G4 Plus is being a super affordable option, the G6 is the one with the best-looking design out there, and at the same time the Mate 9 is being a great all-rounder around all these.
Once you have decided which one is best for you, then it is your choice to afford it to start rooting and modding it as of your wish.