Is un-rooting an Android phone required to receive OTA updates?

Tug Ricks September 3, 2012
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I’ve been thinking about rooting my phone, but was wondering if doing so would prohibit me from receiving any future OTA updates. My phone is due to get ICS in the near-ish future, but I thought it would be fun to mess around with it until then if I can easily un-root or update through the official channel later on. I’m completely ignorant when it comes to rooting, and won’t do anything until doing the proper research. I just figured I’d find this out first to see if it’s worth the hassle. Any ideas?

I have the HTC Incredible 2 (Running Android 2.3.4) if that’s important info to know.

  1. Darren Reynolds
    September 6, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Is it actually worth rooting your android phone?

    • Tug Ricks
      September 7, 2012 at 9:36 am

      At the moment, I've decided it's not. I like my phone, it works great, so I'll just leave it be for now. Thanks for the reply!

  2. Mel Reynolds
    September 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I agree with Vipul, go to check out their forums for info on rooting

  3. Quebec Twosix
    September 5, 2012 at 3:14 am

    Most phone companies, automatically deploy their updates via OTA.

    Whilst many of us would like to receive the updates directly from the manufacturer, this is not going to happen, unless you have an unlocked phone; and then it will be via download.

    Right now, the phone provider company will receive the update, and then ensure that it works with the phones stated, before they apply their own packages. Then the testing starts, where they then test deployment methods of the update. The question is ... Is it (the update) issued as a new installation, or can the updates be applied as a differential update; thereby reducing the time of download and installation.

    The biggest problem is ensuring that the user holds a stable connection, for the period of download and installation (signal does not drop below 3G standards)

    Slowly, but surely, new technologies are being applied, and in the future it will be a case that the phone manufacturer will be responsible for the operating environment, and the phone supplier will be responsible for the installed software. With the OE & installed software being applied as layers. However, this is going to take some time as the standards need to be approved, and the boundaries established concerning levels of responsibility (software fails .. is it a manufacturer issue or developer).

    In effect this makes life easier for the phone provider, as they will be responsible for the provision of the phone, and the service. Everything else will be provided by the OE support infrastructure - in the same way as it is right now.

    In reality this means that nothing will change, and the phone company will need to find an alternative method of deploying their software packages.

    Pretty much like the rest of the IT world it's an evolving market, with the boundaries shifting every so often. Hopefully the next year will witness a transition, and the full demarcation of the boundaries that have been established for the past 10 years.

    Look at what you have today, and envisage tomorrow

    Hopefully this helps


    • Tug Ricks
      September 7, 2012 at 9:34 am

      Thanks a lot for the info! I'm impressed by your wealth of knowledge on the matter. :)

  4. Vipul Jain
    September 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    as dalsan said. Most phones can be unrooted after root. So head over to your device forum on XDA, and see if the method to root is reversible or not!

  5. Kannon Y
    September 4, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Good on you for doing the research first! Most people don't and pay the consequences (like myself). :-)

    Many phone manufacturers specifically require that you have a stock ROM before allowing an OTA update. Not all of them do, which is unfortunate, because an over-the-air update can ruin a rooted phone.

    I'm certainly no expert on this, but the Android OS consists of several core file directories, the kernel and the bootloader. An OTA firmware update will replace many of these critical components and oftentimes will replace a rooted kernel and/or unlocked bootloader with an UNROOTED kernel and UNLOCKED bootloader, sometimes resulting in a soft or hard brick. This is because a new firmware has no exploits and will not for months after its release. Sometimes a new OTA firmware will never get root access. So you could be stuck with an unrooted or bricked phone for quite some time.

    A lot of forums will suggest using a Rootkeeper, which supposedly will maintain root privileges after an OTA update. However, these are definitely not fool-proof. You can still lose root, even after using OTA Rootkeeper.

  6. john m
    September 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    No you can only receive OTA updates if your phone supports it

  7. Dalsan
    September 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Typically, you would have to unroot your phone in order to receive OTA updates, but if you root your phone, it is very simple to unroot again with the same software.

    • Dalsan
      September 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      I have only was able to find the root process that means you have to downgrade your phone to 2.3.3 in order to root, so it may not be the best to root yet if you want to upgrade since you would have to re-flash the stock ROM before upgrading. Otherwise, you can root and install any custom ROM including Jelly Bean 4.1. If you choose to flash ICS, Jelly Bean, or any other custom ROM, read up on it and make sure that if there are any bugs that you can live with them. Note that if you wait until the official ICS update, then it may take a while before there is a way to root it, especially for a trusted way to do so.

    • Tug Ricks
      September 7, 2012 at 9:33 am

      Thanks for the reply. I looked into Cyanogenmod's "How To" guide and it doesn't seem too complicated to un-root.

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