The Google Nexus 5 is running the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop software update. The Google Nexus range was the first to see Lollipop since they are a Google company. If you want to try out new custom ROMs based on fresh Lollipop installments, or just tweak your device with better battery performance, less bloatware or new themes, you should open it up with root access by following the guide below.

Android 5.0 Lollipop comes with heaps of new features that make it better than KitKat. They include the new material design user interface, tangible interaction, tap and go for NFC payments, Android Beam, Android RunTime, new notifications with several different features, a smoother ROM experience and more.

What Is Rooting the Android Operating System?

When you buy a new smartphone, you might not know it, but the Android operating system is in a “locked” state. For the most part, it will not make much difference to you: most apps are still available to use, and there are benefits to this locked state such as better security. When you root the Android operating system, you are gaining full administrative rights over the OS.

Why Would You Want to Root Android?

Gaining full administrative rights over the operating system has some perks to some people. For example, out of the millions of applications available on Google Play, some of them will not be able to run on your device unless it has root access. Until you have a specific need for wanting Android rooted, you probably want to leave Android as it comes out of the box. But if you need to unlock an app, then that is when you want to look into rooting methods. Using more apps is only one example of why you may want root access, here is the full list of benefits:

  • Unlock more applications. Some of the apps available for Android cannot run unless you have root access. This is because the app’s features cannot run without the root permissions because the features require the full system access before they can be useful.
  • Better battery life. Smartphones are great, but they have one caveat, which is each time you recharge the battery, it loses some of its overall lifespan. That means smartphones, in general, do not make great investments, and if your weekly paycheck is low, you will want to limit the number of smartphones you go through. One of the ways you can do that is by removing bloatware and creating a better battery life.
  • Bolster performance. If you are the budget-conscious shopper, you may want to increase the device’s performance. This can be done by removing the bloatware as well. The more processes you have running, the more memory that is used. By removing some of the apps, it can help lighten the load on your hardware.
  • Customize Android with themes. With root access, you can download and install any theme that’s at your disposal. That includes any customized theme you can find.

What Are the Risks of Rooting?

If you are buying a smartphone that is not running iOS, then it is probably the Android operating system that you want running as the ideal software to pair with your shiny new hardware. It is, in fact, the Android OS that offers you the chance to customize the OS considerably more than iOS: custom themes, run any app you know about, the works. For many users, the “openness” of an operating system is important, because it offers them more freedom which means running into fewer problems with their investments. But there is a reason iOS likes a far more locked approach: the ability to customize is not for everyone, and if you do not know what you are doing it can lead to a lot of problems which can define your time with the OS rather than freedom.

With power (full admin permissions) comes greater responsibility. Here are some of the main risk factors when it comes to rooting:

  • Malware becomes a larger threat. You might read the occasional news article about how new malware is wreaking havoc in parts of the world on Android. But the Android operating system with root access becomes considerably more vulnerable to exploits because applications are no longer prisoned off in their own sandbox environments. This means if you accidentally download malware, it can do more damage because it can spread throughout the operating system and even jump into other applications and potentially view sensitive data.
  • You can accidentally brick the smartphone. There is always a chance that you end up bricking the smartphone before you had the opportunity to use it with root access. That is because if you are going to brick it, it is going to happen during the rooting process.
  • You may void the warranty. Most manufacturers do not allow you to root the Android operating system and still get to bring it in for repairs under warranty. Whether they are legally meant to do that or not is another question, but it is now common knowledge that most do not want to help you if they find out you have unlocked the OS with root access.

Details of Note

  • Rooting the Nexus 5 automatically voids the warranty. You will gain the privileges back again if you take it back to stock firmware.
  • Only flash the next OTA software update manually if you want to revert back to a stock Android device without root access.
  • Backup your smartphone using the built-in utility, or by installing third-party apps from Google Play. Search for applications such as AirDroid for making copies of the Android apps, SMS backup and restore for the messages you don”t want to lose, Sync the phone contacts and Gmail account with Google sync and store any other data you need.
  • Make sure you have at least 60% battery before starting the steps.
  • You must have ADB and fastboot installed on your Windows computer. The guide is only for Windows, but you can install the same Android SDK on Linux and Mac. If you already have it setup on either of the others, you can follow the steps below just the same.
  • You’ll also need the Windows drivers for ADB and fastboot.
  • We are not responsible for any data loss or damages such as a soft-brick on your device after following the guide. You follow it at your own risk.
  • Enable USB Debugging Mode from the Developer Options menu.
  • You should only apply the following if you are an advanced Android user. We don’t recommend making modifications to your mobile unless you have experience.

How to Root Nexus 6 Running Android 5.0 Lollipop

  1. Download the modified boot image here.
  2. Download the root file here.
  3. Use the desktop of the computer for both the files.
  4. Unzip the original modified boot image file and copy the contents to the Android SDK.
  5. Connect the smartphone to the computer with the USB cable.
  6. Open the Android SDK folder on your computer.
  7. Right-click the mouse on the vacant white space in the folder and press the Shift key.
  8. Choose to open the command line.
  9. Type “adb reboot bootloader.”
    – watch as the phone boot in bootloader mode.
  10. Type “fastboot flash boot boot.img”
  11. Don’t touch any buttons until the flashing completes.
  12. Select the recovery mode from the bootloader mode screen.
  13. Find the “install” option from inside recovery.
  14. Select the root file you downloaded in the second step.
  15. Go back to the main screen in the recovery and select reboot system now.

That’s all there is to it. The phone is now working with the unchained operating system so you can check out some new CyanogenMod ROMs or extra apps from Google Play. If you are having any problems with your device, you can open up the recovery mode and select “factory reset” from the menu. Remember: resets will wipe any unsaved data. It wipes the ROM clean, but if you have made backups to the internal SD card storage, it can be reloaded once again.