According to a study done by internet provider Tencent, a whopping 27.44% of Android users root their phones. With over 1.4 billion Android devices out there, that works out to somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 million rooted phones and tablets. In other words, there may very well be more rooted Android devices than there are Americans, so root nation is an important demographic that deserves being catered to.
To come up with this list, we established a set of ground rules. First, every phone had to be rootable, so that ruled out a number of devices. The biggest phone model that was excluded by this rule was the iPhone 7. With iOS 10, jailbreak methods are occasionally available, but Apple has been shutting down these exploits almost faster than developers can create them, so the iPhone 7 couldn’t realistically be considered here.
The pixel’s marketing campaign tries to position the phone as an iPhone alternative—almost an “everyman” device—but make no mistake, the Pixel, like its predecessor the Nexus, is a modder’s dream phone deep down inside.
Every model, with the exception of Pixels sold by Verizon, can have its bootloader unlocked by simply enabling a setting, then sending a single command with Fastboot. And since unlocking the bootloader does not void your warranty, you’re free to mod your device’s software as you please.
Speaking of custom kernels, two of the absolute best are available for the Pixel: ElementalX and Franco Kernel. Franco Kernel gives you a great mix of performance and battery life, while ElementalX adds awesome features like color control and automatic battery-saving CPU profiles. There are many custom ROMs available to the device already. In fact, the Pixel’s development community is one of the most active. So you can expect a constant stream of Pixel-compatible root apps and mods.
For this reason, we would only recommend that you buy a Pixel directly from Google if you plan on doing some rooting and modding.