A couple of years ago, we explained how to manually root almost any Android device. Since then, we’ve covered a bunch of HTC EVO-specific methods of rooting , and a lot of information has become outdated, but there is still a non-exploit method to root nearly all HTC devices. In fact, this method is the same across every HTC device I’ve run across, but if you have one that doesn’t conform, let me know so I can update this piece.
Back up before attempting to root HTC devices.
For the following, please be aware that you will probably lose all data on the phone, so back up anything you’re intending to save. HTC has a step that wipes the phone, so if it fell into someone else’s hands they wouldn’t be able to root and export your passwords. There are some workarounds to this, though, if you want to pursue them.
Get ADB functioning on your computer.
Unlock your device.
You’ll need to head over to HTCDev.com and create an account. HTCDev is the official HTC bootloader unlocking location. However, your device may have an unofficial one-click root method, and if it does, you should probably go that route, as going through the HTCDev portal will always erase data.
Follow the steps on HTCDev to unlock your bootloader. After this is done you’ll have an unlocked phone, but it’s still not rooted.
Install a custom recovery.
It’s rather important to note that there are several apps that will download and install recoveries. These apps only work on rooted devices that are unlocked. You’re currently unlocked, but not rooted, so therefore you can’t use the easy-install apps.
Many HTC devices are supported by Team Win’s recovery project, some are supported by ClockworkMod, and some are lucky enough to have 4EXT. You’ll need to figure out what recovery you use, which is usually as easy as typing your phone’s name followed by the word recovery into Google.
Follow the instructions from the recovery page for installing via fastboot or via Pxxxxxxx.ZIP – your phone will have a recovery name similar to pc36IMG.ZIP, but the filename will have a different number.
You’re still not rooted.
You are now in possession of an HTC device that is unlocked and has a custom recovery on it, but you’re still not rooted. To root a device, you need a Superuser app and binary. There are a few good options in the Play Store, and once you have one installed, it can install everything else correctly for you in the future.
On ClockworkMod’s Superuser application in the Play Store, the developer lists where to locate a manual installation zip for if you’re not rooted. Others generally do as well. Download that manual Superuser install, and make sure you can locate it on your phone, reboot your phone into recovery (which you installed above), and flash the manual superuser install you just downloaded.
OK: You’re rooted now, but you’re not S-OFF.
You’re now running a device that is rooted, the world is your oyster, and you can do anything with your phone you want, except flash radios, unsigned hboots, and any kernel you want.
If you can get S-OFF, that’s cool; if not, you’ll need to make sure you understand how to flash kernels that are not S-ON friendly. You can either use a program like Flash Image GUI, or something similar. You can also use fastboot to flash a kernel.