The best root apps truly unlock your Android phone. You can get newfound capabilities, like removing preinstalled bloatware, boosting your phone's battery life, blocking ads on a system level and getting more processing power.
Rooted apps aren't for everyone — we can spell out the reasons why you shouldn't root your Android device. That said, rooting enables you to use the superuser (or root) permissions of Android, giving you more control. And root apps can put that control to good use.
Here's a closer look at some of the best root apps you can install on your Android device and what each one can do for you.
The best root apps for Android phones
Magisk Manager helps you do a “systemless root” of your phone, allowing you to access superuser permissions without changing your system partition like traditional rooting methods.
That approach has a bunch of benefits, including the ability to keep receiving OTA updates to your OS, as well as making it easy for you to selectively hide the rooted status of your device from apps that use Android's SafetyNet feature to detect a rooted device. (These include Netflix and many banking apps.) It's effectively the best of both worlds, though as usual, rooting does involve a certain amount of risk and voiding your device's warranty.
Download: Magisk Manager
AdAway has been a long-time staple for many Android users looking for system-wide ad blocking. While there are other best ad blockers out there, AdAway accomplishes its task with minimalist style. It features regular updates for the hosts list to make sure that you’re always blocking all the ads possible.
You can whitelist and blacklist specific domains in addition to the automatic hosts file. You can even log DNS requests. It’s a free and open source app, meaning you can take apart the source code for yourself. You won’t find it on the Play Store anymore, but you can get it via the F-Droid open source repository.
Quick Reboot is a handy utility for rooted Android devices, allowing you to initiate one-button reboots of your device. That includes special reboot modes such as fastboot, recovery mode, and safe mode, without having to use hardware key combos or ADB to get to them.
Users of this best root app can set up a combined widget or create one-button icons, with support for a variety of themes.
Download: Quick Reboot
Not only is Solid Explorer one of the best root apps, it's also one of the best Android file managers. And if you're running a rooted Android device, Solid goes the extra mile by also serving as a root explorer app, allowing you to access your system partition with the proper root permissions.
That functionality comes on top of an already excellent file management app that features support for cloud and networked storage, a clean two-panel design, and support for add-ons that extend the app's capabilities.
You can try Solid Explorer for 14 days before having to pay a $1.99 fee to use the app full time.
Download: Solid Explorer
Franco Kernel Manager
If you’re thinking about running a custom kernel on your device, one of the best ones to check out is Franco Kernel. If your phone is supported, this is often one of the top suggestions and it’s been one of our favorites for years. The Franco Kernel Manager app is the perfect companion for the kernel itself.
It lets you install the kernel very easily, stay up to date, and manage your kernel settings. You can tweak an absolute ton of things, making sure that your phone runs just the way you want it to. If you’re running Franco Kernel, this app is a must-have.
Download: Franco Kernel Manager
DiskDigger Photo Recovery
Chances are, you've deleted something off of your Android phone that you really didn't want to. But rather than mourn the loss of that irreplaceable photo or file, you can turn to DiskDigger Photo Recovery to set things right.
You don't need to root your phone to make use of DiskDigger. However, the makers of this best root app point out that you're more likely to recover what you're looking for if you've rooted your phone, since DiskDigger can comb over all the memory on your device, looking for the last traces of deleted photos. Recovering deleted videos, for example, requires a rooted device.
If you're just looking to salvage photos and video, the free version of DiskDigger will be good enough for your needs. The $2.99 Pro version will also look for other kinds of files and let you upload recovered files over FTP.
Another file recover app, Dumpster is the Android equivalent of a desktop OS's Recycle Bin, allowing users to recover deleted images, video and music files as well as uninstalled apps.
Deleted files are sent to the dumpster, allowing for recovery, or you can toss them out, freeing up space for new installs and other content. Dumpster allows users to preview items to be recovered within the app, includes password/PIN protection, and can be configured to automatically empty old files in the dumpster after a certain period. In addition, there's an option to empty your old files into Dumpster's cloud service allowing for online backups of data.
While Dumpster can run without root, root access makes it more efficient with regards to memory and battery.
Chainfire's Liveboot app does something that is really cool and potentially useful to technically oriented users. The Liveboot app uses root permissions to display the logcat and dmesg to your screen when booting your Android device.
Users can configure logcat levels to display, whether to show the dmesg or not, the amount of lines to show on screen, color coding, and the option to overlay it on top of your boot animation. It also looks pretty cool if you dig a more retro command line booting look to your device's powerup cycle.
Rooted users who do a lot of tinkering with the back end of their phone system are going to end up repeating the tedious process of flashing boot, recovery and other .img files to and from their smartphone or tablet. Flashify reduces tedium by automating the process.
Flashify users can flash boot and recovery images, create full backups and sync backups between devices and desktop. The free version has a limit of flashing three images per day, which can be unlocked with an in-app purchase.
If your smartphone's battery life isn't what it used to be, BetterBatteryStats can get to the heart of the problem. The app identifies other apps that are draining your phone's battery and measures the impact of taking steps to eliminate that drain. BetterBatteryStats also promises to detect any changes in your phone's Sleep/Wake profile to find the rogue apps that might be causing problems.
You don't need to root your phone to use BetterBatteryStats, but users with unrooted devices need to follow a series of steps to get the app to do its thing. Those steps occur automatically on a rooted device, making BetterBatteryStats much easier to use.
Terminal Emulator does exactly what it says on the tin. This best root app allows users to access Android's Linux command line.
Terminal Emulator features full Linux terminal emulation, launcher shortcuts, UTF-8 compatible text for foreign language support — all available ad-free.
Download: Terminal Emulator
System App Remover
One of the most popular reasons to root your device is to trim out all the pre-installed bloatware on your phone. The System App Remover can help.
The app makes short work of bloatware, and provides helpful suggestions as to which apps can be safely removed and which ones are critical to system functionality. Additional tools allow you to move apps to an SD card.
While there are more feature-packed tools for detailed app management and backup, System App Remover scores points for its focus and ease of use.
Download: System App Remover
KSWEB allows users to turn their Android device into a portable Web server and comes with PHP, MySQL and msmtp tools. Installing this best root app provides you with a portable suite for running, debugging or maintaining Web apps and websites from your mobile device.
The app features a clean Material UI and a Web interface, and online support is available. Whether you're a Web development hobbyist learning the ropes or a developer looking for a portable toolkit or showcase, KSWEB makes for a great addition to your app drawer.
KSWEB is available for a five-day trial, and unlockable for $2.99 if you want the standard version; the Pro edition costs $3.99.
A light and extremely functional logcat viewer, CatLog is a handy debugging tool whether you're a developer tracking down hidden bugs or a helpful user.
A free download without any ads cluttering things up, CatLog uniquely provides users with color-coded tag names and tag filters to significantly ease log reading, real-time searching of the log, a recording mode widget and the ability to save and open logs or email them.
ROM Toolbox Pro
ROM Toolbox Pro by JRummy Apps is a powerful system utility that every root user should try. It's designed to help install ROMs, such as the popular CyanogenMod, as well as create, manage and restore backups.
ROM Toolbox also features a full App and Task Manager for uninstalling, backing up, and freezing apps, a Root File Explorer for drilling down to your system files, memory manager, a CPU overclock tool and more. That's a lot to provide for the cost of a $5.99 download.
Download: ROM Toolbox Pro
3C Toolbox (formerly Android Tuner) improves on the original comprehensive system monitoring and tweaking toolkit by adding even more functionality and monitors. Run a task manager to manage (or kill) your apps, backup or restore APKs, tweak your CPU governor and voltage settings, tweak system settings such as SD cache size or just view a wealth of diagnostic data.
As with any app that tinkers with system settings, be careful of what you tinker with and do your research before changing anything, but this is still one of the best root apps available.
Download: 3C Toolbox
Tasker is an incredibly versatile and powerful task automation app that lets you create your own automatic task scripts based on a wide variety of actions and customizable triggers. There are so many possible uses for this $3.49 download, it'd be folly to attempt to describe them all.
While Tasker works perfectly fine even without root access, installing it on a rooted phone allows you to utilize even more custom task options. You can even take some of these automatic scripts and publish them in app format with the Tasker App Factory add-on.
Greenify puts selected apps in a state of hibernation, unable to access system resources, bandwidth or run background processes and notifications, freeing up valuable system resources. However, unlike app managers that can "hibernate" an app, Greenify allows you to run an app normally in the foreground when explicitly called by the user without any extra fuss. Just don't greenify your alarm clock or messenger, for obvious reasons.
Titanium Backup, available for free and as a $6.99 Pro version, allows for comprehensive backups of your data, apps and settings. You can automate your backup schedules, selectively backup items, and then move your backup data to an SD card.
However, the app goes beyond just back-ups, deliver a host of other features, such as an app manager and uninstaller that allows you to purge bloatware forced onto your system. The Pro version of this best root app offers additional functions including the ability to sync your backups to the cloud.
Download: Titanium Backup
CPU Tuner allows you to monitor and tweak your CPU's performance. Customize the settings for your CPU governor, underclock to save battery, overclock to improve performance and set various trigger-based performance profiles to ensure your CPU performs just the way you want.
Again, a little care and research as to what your hardware can tolerate is important, especially if you choose to overclock.
Download: CPU Tuner
SD Maid is a storage maintenance app designed to free up space on your SD Card or internal storage by searching for widowed files and folders left behind by uninstalled apps. In addition, it also doubles as a file manager. The free version is a perfectly serviceable app, but more options can be unlocked by purchasing an unlock key.
Download: SD Maid
AFWall+ is a fork of the DroidWall front-end for the iptables Linux firewall, allowing you to configure without having to bring up a Terminal app. You may want to use it for security reasons, restrict data usage if you don't have an unlimited data plan, save battery power or even just block ads on some of your apps.
AFWall+ lets you toggle the firewall on and off, allow or disallow Wi-Fi and cellular traffic for each app on your device and set a password to protect your settings. Advanced users can also manually define custom iptables rules.
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Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.