Q: “I heard root a phone or rooted phone, rooting, etc. in android forums but I don’t know what it means. Can you explain it in simple terms?”
To “root” your phone means to gain root access (administrator rights) on the OS of your phone. It’s similar running programs as administrator in Windows. When you get a new phone, while there are a lot of settings you can tweak, you can only alter what the manufacturer allows you to. With root access, you can modify the phone’s apps on the very deepest level, even the operating system.
You know, most phones have limited access regarding what you can and can’t do on it. This is not a bad thing, because it can keep users from accidentally breaking something they shouldn’t mess with, like the system files. However, something they limited are not really so mission critical.
For example, they may pre-install some unnecessary applications on your phone that you can’t uninstall, but rooting your phone will give you this permission. It will also allow you to upgrade to newer versions of Android before the manufacturer or cell provider make the updates available to you. What is more, you can flash custom ROMs on your phone.
Rooting may voids your warranty, and there is a small chance that you could completely break your phone forever. You should take it seriously. But it is still totally worth it for all the goodies you get access to.
For more information, you can read these: