"How can I tell if my Android phone is rooted or not?"
This is a common question we hear from parents and employers who want added functionality with our software on their Android. Often, there is no apparent indication that an Android device has root access. There are no blinking lights, no labels anywhere, nothing to tell us whether or not an Android has root access.
In the right circumstances, an Android phone could be rooted in about 15 minutes. If you give an Android phone to a child or employee to use, they may root the device to run some fancy program. Maybe the phone was left unattended for some time and you just don't know if someone rooted the device without your knowing.
You may not know how to tell if an Android phone is rooted yet. In this article, we'll tell you how to check whether or not your Android device has root access.
What is root access?
The Android operating system is based off of the Linux operating system. In Linux, high-level operations, especially those which can change the system, are password protected. To tell the computer that you are authorized, you must tell it that you are the "superuser" before running password-protected "superuser" commands.
Most desktop computers and laptops have root access (are rooted) when you get them. Since mobile phones are under strict private and federal regulations, root access for tablets and smartphones has not been standard.
To prevent users from having too much freedom with their hardware, cell phone manufacturers do not allow "superuser" access on the phones by default. A superuser would be able to read, control, and edit all of the high-end components of the device.
Why would I root my Android?
Most of us do not want to completely change all of the software that the manufacturer created. Some of us just want certain apps to have complete access in order to offer functionality that may be locked away.
For instance, remember when Android phones first came out with the LED flash for their camera? Users without root access could not use the LED as a flashlight. Control of the LED was locked away behind a system password. The only way to use the light on the phone as a flashlight would be to root the phone and download an app that would be able to control it.
Eventually, manufacturers included control of many of the features for software developers to use. But there are still certain things that the phone has the ability to do but are not allowed to us by default.
So, does my Android have root access?
For starters, brand new phones do not have root access by default. So if it is a brand new Android phone, it is not rooted and does not have root access.
Check the applications. In the process of rooting the Android, an application called "SuperUser" or "SU" is often (but not always) installed. This is the program that will determine if certain "superuser" commands are allowed to be used. If you see a superuser program installed, then it is most likely rooted.
And, if you're still unsure, you will want to use an app to verify if the phone has root access. Root Checker Basic is a free app from the Play Store or app market that will tell you whether or not the phone has root access.
Another simple way to find out is to download and install a "terminal" client on the phone. A "terminal" is a text-based window that allows us to run commands on Linux devices such as an Android phone or tablet. It is the command line interface for Linux, similar to DOS.
Upon opening the terminal, if you see a "#", then the phone has root access and is in superuser mode.
If when opening the terminal you see a "$" then the phone is not in superuser mode, but that doesn't mean that it has not been rooted.
Type "date" and press enter. It should display the date and time. If the date does not display, then the terminal doesn't work, try downloading another terminal client.
Otherwise, type "su" without the quotes. If the device has been rooted, the next line will display a "#" signifying that you have root access and the device is ready for superuser commands. If it has not been rooted, then the terminal will not recognize the "su" command.
Type "exit" to exit the terminal and close the program.