This is XDA Developers and, contrary to popular belief, we do actually talk about a lot of stuff concerning development. This article is a little different from the more news or tutorial-related content. In this, I talk about my opinions on root and its utility in 2020 and show you my rooted Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. There might also be a link at the bottom pointing to instructions on how to root your own US Galaxy if you want, but you have to promise to read the entire article. Promise? Pinkie-swear? OK, good.
Back in 2018, I bought the Galaxy Note 9. But not just any Galaxy Note 9. I imported the Exynos variant through eBay. Why would I do something like that? For two main reasons. The US colors were kind of boring. I really wanted the copper color. The US variants also couldn’t be bootloader unlocked, and I like having root access. Bonus benefit: it was significantly cheaper than the US variants at that point.
I’ve got T-Mobile, so having an international Samsung phone wasn’t terrible. The band support wasn’t complete (no LTE Band 71), but WiFi calling and VoLTE worked fine. And I had root, so that was a worthy trade-off for me. The major issues were the underpowered and inefficient Exynos processor and the lack of an included warranty.
Fast forward to 2020, and things are a little different. T-Mobile’s LTE Band 71 is a lot more prominent in my area than it was in 2018, which means a compatible phone will get better coverage. Band support is also much more fragmented in the international Galaxy phones, thanks to the mess that is 5G. And it’s just not as easy to import an international Galaxy as it was in 2018, and the units available are usually more expensive than the US variants, which tips the scales.
Finally, I had a Note 9 to trade-in. Samsung was (and still is) offering a $550 trade-in value for the Note 9. That’s a lot of value. A random eBay seller wasn’t going to give me $550 off a Samsung phone if I sent them my Note 9, and selling it on Swappa to a prudent buyer wouldn’t have fetched this much.
I’m a big fan of the Galaxy Note lineup. I like having access to a proper active stylus when I need it, even if I don’t need it that often. So, of course, I wanted to get the Galaxy Note 20. The base variant may “only” be a $1000, but for all the compromises it makes, it just wasn’t worth it. So I got the Note 20 Ultra. Using that $550 trade-in, the ~7% student discount, and a 5% referral bonus, I got my purchase down to $700. And since I pre-ordered my unit, I also got $150-worth of accessories for free. I saved $600 on the phone and an “extra” $150 off some useful gadgets.
Now, you may have a different opinion on this, but for me, having root really just wasn’t worth all the trade-offs this year. So now I have the US Unlocked Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (in Mystic Bronze, of course).
But I do have root! Why do I have root? How do I have root? You’ll have to keep reading to find out.
Why I like Root
First off, maybe I should explain a little bit about why I like having root access.
The first reason is convenience. I’m an app developer, and I make some pretty low-level apps for Android. A lot of them require special permissions that can only be granted through ADB…. or with root! It’s a lot quicker to just tap a “GRANT” button in the app than it is to plug into my computer, open a command prompt, and manually type out the ADB commands. It might not be worth the hassle if you need to do this a few times in a month, but any increase in frequency beyond this makes root a worthy step.
Secondly: theming. I know on Samsung devices, it’s possible to install custom themes without root using tools like Synergy. But it’s still a hassle. There are a lot of limitations, and a lot of steps, to install themes. If you’re theming third-party apps that get frequent updates, it just gets worse.
Theming with root is as simple as pressing a button and rebooting. I use my own app, OneUI Tuner, to work around a whole bunch of One UI’s annoyances, like adding more tiles to the quick settings header, or enabling clock seconds. I also use Swift Installer to make my notification shade transparent and give my apps a more unified look. That’s all possible without root, but it’s much more of a hassle.
Thirdly, I like to tinker. Root gives me access to the entire filesystem. I can use MiXplorer to poke around the various partitions and folders to maybe find something interesting. I can also use apps like Root Activity Launcher to open hidden or restricted Activities in installed apps.
The fourth reason is DSUs. Android…
Read More: I rooted my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra