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Nexus One: To root or not to root…

February 23, 2010 | by Ed Clark

Android, Google, HTC-Nexus One

Nexus One: To root or not to root…

That is the question. Having just replaced my G1, I immediately reviewed the process to achieve root on my new Nexus One, and checked out some of the custom ROMs available at the Nexus section of the xda forums. But I also kept using my new phone and marveling at how amazing it was–how quickly it switched between apps, how competent the updated Google apps were (like Gallery and the Email app), how nicely the apps and widgets worked together. And I started to wonder: Should I root my new phone?

I believe that rooting a G1 is a must. The G1 ROMs available are so much faster, and enable so many useful features, that you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least try them. Among the advantages are: apps to SD (critical if you install a lot of apps, like I do), faster clock speeds, better memory management, and special apps to maximize the performance and improve the look and feel (themes, multitouch, etc) of your phone.

But these advantages are not as clear for the Nexus One. There is more space available for apps, and many of the apps I had installed on the G1 were performance-enhancers–apps that are less necessary on the N1. Want multitouch? It’s part of the latest update, and it works very well. Want speed? It’s fast, plenty fast for me (especially after moving from a G1). Want the latest features? The N1 has the latest OS version, and so gets all the latest stuff by default–Google Earth is only available for Android 2.1 devices on the Market, for example. And when Flash 10.1 finally comes out, it will only be available to folks with 2.1 and hardware strong enough to handle it. Sounds pretty good for N1 owners.

Here’s a brief (probably incomplete) list of what rooting your N1 can offer you:

  • Apps to SD card
  • Themes
  • Useful apps that require root (e.g. CacheMate, Titanium Backup, Wireless Tether, etc)
  • Ability to install unique features from other phones (Sense UI, Desire ROM, etc)

Apps to SD used to be a huge motivation for rooting, but it’s not nearly as critical on the N1. In fact, an informal poll of users of the popular Cyanogen Nexus ROM showed that the vast majority–36 of 43 respondents–do not even use this feature even though it is available to them. The last two features have the most appeal for me, but not enough to override my satisfaction with the basic Nexus One image at this time. Maybe things will change over the next few months. In the meantime, I suspect that it will take the next generation of hardware and a new update to the Android OS before I am tempted to root again.