How to Root an Android Phone with USB OTG

How to Root an Android Phone with USB OTG

Here’s how to root your Android smartphone to work with a USB OTG cable. We will discuss why people do this at all and how it could be useful to you as well. Rooting your Android smartphone is fast and easy to do. After rooting your Android device, you will have full access to the entire system and can run special types of applications that would otherwise require root permissions. These applications have the ability to control app permissions, enable tethering, and execute a lot of other interesting program actions.

What does it mean to “Root” your Android device?

The Google Android operating system is based on a Linux kernel. On other Linux operating systems, the root user has the same permissions and total control that an administrator on Windows had. The root user, or “superuser” as it’s sometimes called, therefore has access to the entire operating system and can do anything they’d like to it. By default, you don’t have root access to your Android device and some applications will not function without root access.

When you do have root access, you can disable the bloatware that comes with your smartphone, manually deny application permissions, run a firewall, access the entire file system, or tether your device, even if tethering functionality has been disabled. You’ll see that there are a lot of applications available that will require root access in the Google Play app store. So they won’t be able to function until you can root your device properly. Rooting your smartphone isn’t mandatory obviously, and you’ll only need to root your Android device if you’d like to accomplish tasks that require root access.

Rooting has been around almost as long as the Android operating system has existed. If you’ve ever been interested in playing around with or developing a program on your smartphone or tablet, you would have rooted its operating system at some point. Despite the privileges offered by device makers, some Android phone and tablets end up getting locked or permanently bricked due to root script errors.

There are plenty of benefits to gain out of gaining root access on an Android smartphone. The best advantage is being able to run custom ROMs. These are amateur firmware that unlocks areas on your device that the manufacturer decided would be too detrimental to the safety of the device to play around with. Rooting any device is also necessary to get root access to the device and to be able to install third-party root-based apps and system tweaks.

Before you root your Android phone or tablet, there are a few things you should know that some manufacturers assert that rooting voids your device’s warranty. However, rooting will not actually damage your hardware. You can “unroot” your device and manufacturers won’t be able to tell if it’s actually been rooted.

If you plan on using payment apps like Google Wallet, then you’ll have to deal with security issues yourself if you root your smartphone. That app in particular is vulnerable on rooted devices. That means it could in theory allow other apps to access your PIN and other wallet information. So if you’re one of the few people using Google Wallet for NFC payments, you may want to reconsider rooting your Android device.

There’s also that obvious danger of actually breaking your device when you go outside the normal parameters and hack around with the developer code, particularly if you’re trying to root a device or operating system version not supported by a tool. Remember whenever you mess around with the access code of your Android device, you do it at your own risk. It’s a good idea to do a little bit of research first and see if other people report success rooting your device.

All of these rooting techniques will ultimately require the use of a computer for the most part. Whether you’re flashing a rooted kernel on a Samsung device using Odin, or firing up a command prompt to key-in the commands yourself, or even using a one-click method like CF-root, you will always find that you needed a computer to accomplish that. Achieving root access has become much easier and simpler, thanks to factory unlocked bootloaders offered by Samsung, HTC and Sony on their latest smartphones and tablets.

Root Transmission

Nowadays though you could try using something called Root Transmission. This is an Android Application Package (APK) that will install and configure on any rooted Android device that supports USB OTG (On-the-Go) host. With this you can then root a target Android smartphone that sports the same protocol using a USB OTG cable. The application basically gives you a terminal emulator on your rooted host device that is able to run the ADB based root commands on the target, resulting in root access.

The Root Transmission application is available from XDA member wchill. It offers rooting capability on any Android device using another pre-rooted Android phone or tablet. This is accomplished with the use of a USB OTG cable for connecting the two mobile devices.

Root Transmission is the only application that can root other devices from a pre-rooted device. The application is reportedly inspired by Kos’s p2p-adb hacking toolkit and presents a very straightforward interface with just two buttons: root and unroot. Users just need to connect a non-rooted Android device with another pre-rooted and OTG supported Android device using the USB OTG cable, and then root the device. The app offers a complete ADB (terminal) to view the progress of rooting in real-time.

In order for this to work, you need a few supplies. Remember that although it may be great app, it’s also ultimately a workaround. Here are the supplies:

  • A rooted Android host device that supports USB OTG host protocol
  • A target Android smartphone or tablet (that needs to be rooted) with the same USB OTG support (almost all new devices come with that)
  • A USB OTG cable
  • An ADB-based root script for the device you wish to root

Once you have everything, then all you have to do is upload the root script onto the internal memory or SD card of the host device. Open the Root Transmission folder and then hit the Root button on the host. The terminal emulator on host will show you all the commands that are being executed, so you know exactly what’s going on. Piece of cake!

Although there isn’t a definitive list of all the Android devices that will work with Root Transmission, it’s safe to say as a general rule that if it has a root method that relies on ADB, then it will work. That’s hard to say definitively, but for a general principle, if a device has a root method that relies on ADB, it will work. Just push the root script to the above-mentioned location on the host, and let the app do the rest.

There are a few downsides though. For one, it’s hard to get both devices with USB OTG support. Then, for another, you need a target device for which an ADB-based root exists, which won’t be the case for a lot of Androids out there. Still another, Root Transmission itself is stable, and comes without any warranties or guidelines, which means that if something screws up, you’re pretty much on your own.

For a concept, Root Transmission is a great app, and one that we hope to get much more polished down the road. Here’s the direct download link for the application: Root Transmission 1.01 Package

Basic Rooting Method

The basic rooting process with a computer should only take a single click. However, just like with Root Transmission, there are a couple of things you need to do first. You need to download and install the Java JDK and Android SDK on your computer before anything else. Make sure that Java is installed before the Android SDK.

Next, enable USB debugging on your Android. On the device, go into the Settings screen, tap Applications, tap Development, and enable the USB debugging check box. Connect your Android to your computer using its included USB cable. Don’t mount the device’s SD card on your computer – just plug it in. You’ll also need the USB drivers for your phone or tablet installed.

SuperOneClick itself should be able to automatically install the appropriate drivers – however, if this fails, you’ll need to download and install the appropriate drivers from the device manufacturer’s website.

We’ll be rooting with SuperOneClick for this method. It’s an easy way to root that supports a wide variety of different devices and should work for most people. If SuperOneClick doesn’t support your Android device, head over to the Android Development and Hacking forums at XDA Developers. There are sub forums for most Android devices. Just type your device’s name into the search box and you’ll probably find information from other people that have successfully rooted it, perhaps by using another tool.

After you’ve downloaded it, run the SuperOneClick.exe application on your computer. Click the Root button in the SuperOneClick window and SuperOneClick should take care of the rest. Keep in mind that the process will take a few minutes. Be patient. If you run into a problem, you might want to check the XDA Developers forum for your device or run a Google search.

SuperOneClick automatically installs the Superuser binary, which is also available from Google Play. Whenever an app on your device attempts to gain root permissions by calling the su command (just like calling the su command on Linux) you’ll be prompted to allow or deny the request. Open the Superuser app to control the saved permissions and configure Superuser. Make sure that you restart your Android device after rooting it, and you’re now ready to install and use apps that require root access.


Rooting for your Samsung smartphone

Rooting for your HTC smartphone

Rooting for your Motorola smartphone

Rooting for your LG smartphone

Rooting your Sony Ericsson smartphone

Rooting other Android devices


For more information on USB OTG please see:


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Vincent Clarke

Vincent Clarke is the Universal Serial Bus (USB) Guru for When he's not writing tutorials and catching up on the latest USB news, Vincent is busy preparing his next blog post and answering USB questions from his readers and subscribers.

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