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What does unrooting Android mean?
“Unroot” is term used for removing root on your rooted Android smartphone or tablet device.
There’s two different terms of unrooting, first refers to simply removing root from your Android device. This simply means that you will be removing 2 or 3 files that gives your Android device superuser/admin access to your phone. Specifically, you will be removing the three files Superuser.apk (the SuperUser or SuperSU app) and su binaries (usually located in /system/bin and /system/xbin) directory. (If you want to learn how to manually remove root yourself using ES File Explorer, see How to Unroot Android Smartphone or Tablet.)
You can also easily remove root by installing and using SuperSU app’s built-in 1-click universal unroot method. (See here for full tutorial on that)
The second definition to unrooting Android can be when you want to return your Android device completely back to original, stock firmware. Simply removing root does not re-install your original stock firmware or re-install stock recovery, which are all required if you want to return your Android device for warranty.
For Samsung devices like Galaxy S2, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Note 2, unrooting completely back to stock is rather simple.
Here’s a quick process of how to unroot Samsung Android devices and unvoid your warranty:
Step 1. Run Triangle Away app – This will reset your binary counter, which will erase any traces of rooting when you return your Android device for warranty. This app works on most Samsung devices.
Step 2. – Re-install stock firmware using ODIN and stock firmware. (You can find most Samsung stock firmware at SamFirmware.com)
More here on unrooting various Samsung Devices:
- How to Unroot Galaxy S2!
- See How to Unroot Galaxy S3 for various different models at GalaxyS3Root.com FAQ.
For HTC devices like HTC One X, unrooting can become a headache and complicated.
Step 1. You need to find the correct RUU (executable Windows exe file) for your model of HTC One X. RUU is an executable Windows program that you can use to re-flash completely stock firmware.
For example, if you have a Chinese-branded HTC One X, you will have to find the correct RUU for that exact country. There is a way around this by changing the CID on your HTC device but if you cannot find RUU for your country, you may end up installing another region firmware.
RUU also needs to match the bootloader version of your HTC device. If you try to install older RUU on your HTC device with newer bootloader version, it will simply not install.
This means that once you upgrade your HTC device to Jelly Bean, you will never be able to flash a stock ICS firmware.
Step 2. Also, before running RUU, you will need to re-lock your HTC device using fastboot. Once re-locked, your HTC device will still say “re-locked”, meaning if you are returning for warranty, they could tell you you’ve voided warranty because it’s re-locked. But in most cases, HTC does not check for this, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
For Motorola devices like Droid Razr, unrooting back to stock can be done but you must be aware of some of the dangers.
Step 1. You will need to get stock firmware files called SBF files and use RSDLite (a Windows program for flashing stock Motorola firmware) to unroot your Motorola device. (Droid Razr Utility also does this for Razr users.)
The SBF file you are flashing must also be the same or newer than the bootloader version running on your Motorola device.
With Motorola devices that don’t have removable battery like Droid Razr, this process of unrooting can become dangerous as if you fail or used the wrong SBF file during flashing, you can end up with a phone that will not re-charge. (But you can make or buy a Motorola Factory Cable to fix that issue.)
Also with Motorola devices, once you upgrade to Jelly Bean, you can never flash an older Gingerbread stock firmware however it is possible to unroot your Motorola device completely back to stock, unvoiding your warranty.
For Google devices like Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4, unrooting is also rather simple and do-able.
Step 1. You will need a stock firmware for your Nexus devices provided straight from Google. (See Nexus firmwares here)
Step 2. You can use fastboot to flash the stock firmware for your Nexus device. (See video tutorial for Nexus 7 here, nearly identical process but different files for all Nexus devices)
Step 3. Once stock firmware is flashed, you can re-lock your bootloader using fastboot command and your Nexus device will be unrooted completely back to stock, unvoiding warranty.
Overall, if you rated an Android smartphone or tablet just because of its ability to root and also unroot completely back to stock with no traces of root, Samsung and Nexus devices would be ranked first, followed by Motorola and HTC in the last place.
The #1 reason I like Samsung devices is that bootloader isn’t even locked, making it easy for users to easily flash new ROMs and unroot completely back to stock easily. Likewise Nexus devices are great also but you do still need to unlock/re-lock bootloader on Nexus devices, which wipes everything on your phone, you have to go an extra step to backup and restore your apps/settings using ADB backup.
As for Motorola and HTC, they need to provide an easier method for unrooting and don’t put so many “locks” for flashing stock firmwares, it’s only going to cause headaches for the user.
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