Does an unlocked phone require rooting?

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  1. Ravi Joshi

    Ravi Joshi Member

    Hello, I have a google nexus one, unlocked. Does it require rooting - like all other locked phones do?

    The 'about phone' says it is 2.2. How do I know if it is FRF85B or any other latest?
    The build version is : 2.16.405, Kernel version is

  2. Soupdragon

    Soupdragon Well-Known Member

    Scroll to the bottom of the "about phone" screen - your build number is the last item.

    You don't have to root your phone if you don't want to.

    Current ota update is version 2.3.4 so your phone needs updating (unless you want to root in which case it seems easier to do from older versions, i.e.super one click doesn't work on gb).
    Ravi Joshi and alostpacket like this.
  3. mparker762

    mparker762 Member

    If you want root access then you'll have to do something to your system - unlocked simply means that the bootloader is unlocked, allowing you to flash unsigned roms. The standard android rom from google does not include the software you need to run as root, but it doesn't try to stop you either. Which means that rooting a nexus phone is a pretty simple exercise, and can be done using the standard tools.

    You can root by flashing cyanogenmod or one of the other pre-rooted roms. You can root your current stock system by flashing the su application, which is the application that is used to run apps as root. Just download the for your 2.2 system (do a search on xda-developers) and flash it. You'll also want to download busybox from the market and install that, since many of the root programs like Titanium Backup also use that as well. Actually I think that Titanium Backup installs busybox if it's missing, so that may be the way to go.
    Ravi Joshi likes this.
  4. Ravi Joshi

    Ravi Joshi Member

    Thanks folks. That was helpful.
    My question was also about, does an unlocked phone really needs to be rooted in order to gain su access? My impression was it wasn't - since the phone wasn't tied to any carrier.
  5. Soupdragon

    Soupdragon Well-Known Member

    As I understand it the terminology is this...

    An "unlocked" phone is one which is free from carrier restrictions i.e. you can buy and use a sim card from whichever network you like (in the UK, at least).
    The Nexus One was always unlocked; it was sold that way, so if you were referring specifically to a Nexus One then "unlocked" may well mean that the bootloader is unlocked. (as mp says above).

    Then there is "unlocked bootloader" - probably best to do your own search if you aren't sure what the bootloader is (xda has a 101 guide, but the clearest explanation I found was Ryan's on

    "Rooted" and having superuser rights/admin are the same thing.
  6. mparker762

    mparker762 Member

    There are a couple of flavors of "locked" which is what may be confusing you. There is the carrier lock, where the phone is tied to SIMs for a specific carrier. Have an AT&T carrier-locked phone and pop in a T-Mobile SIM and you get nothing. The websites you see advertising "unlocked" phones are advertising phones that have had the carrier lock removed. AFAIK none of the Nexus phones have a carrier lock, you can use a T-Mobile Nexus S on an AT&T network, though of course you don't get 3G access because the frequencies are different. But voice, 2G, and WIFI works fine.

    The other flavor of "locked" that you'll see bandied about around here is the bootloader lock. This prevents the bootloader from using unauthorized ROMs. The Nexus 1 and Nexus S both have a bootloader lock, like every other Android phone out there. As shipped, they will only install official ROMs from Google. However, there is a program that ships with the Android SDK that will remove the ROM lock from a Nexus phone. It will void your warranty, however.

    Once the bootloader is unlocked (at boot your phone will show a picture of an opened lock) then you can proceed to root your phone. su access *is* rooted, it doesn't really have anything to do with the carrier lock or bootloader lock. su is the program on unix and variants(Linux, BSD, Android) that switches you into the root account. There's a minor complication on Android, which is that many of the programs that say they require root actually need a bit more than that, they often need an auxiliary program called busybox installed as well. Busybox provides utilities for root programs, and can be downloaded for free from the market.

    A lot of people aren't clear about the distinction between the unlocked bootloader and root access, and refer to them interchangeably, which adds to the confusion. If they're using something like an HTC or Motorola phone and can't get root access without a fork bomb exploit, then they probably unlocked and rooted their phone at the same time using a one-click rooting program, so they probably don't even realize that there is a difference between the two. But they are definitely two different things, you can have a phone with an unlocked bootloader but not be rooted, and you can have a rooted phone with a locked bootloader.

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