Rooting on Android and Jailbreaking on iOS are two ways to extend device functionality and customizability. For example, you can install custom themes and gain access to the phone’s filesystem, which would otherwise be inaccessible. While both rooting and jailbreaking are similar, there are some big differences. Jailbreaking is a way to remove limitations imposed on the device by the manufacturer, while rooting is gaining access to the administrator privileges on a phone.
Jailbreaking often allows more for customization, but it doesn’t have as much functionality as rooting. Jailbreaks are also based on exploits that require you to be on a specific version of iOS* and a certain model of the iPhone. An app called Cydia is an alternate app store for jailbroken devices that allows for various tweaks and themes to be installed. Due to the locked down nature of iOS, many features can be unlocked through this method and you can make your device unique and more functional. Using jailbreaks however has been very controversial and was recently made legal in 2015.
*Currently as of iOS 10, there is a jailbreak availble for all 64 bit devices (iPhone 5S and later)
Rooting and bootloader unlocks on Android allows you to have full control over anything on your phone. It is the equivalent of being the root user on a Linux system, which grants you lots of power. With root, it is possible to mess with system applications and change low level parts of the operating system, such as the boot animation and kernel. Bootloader unlocking is a process that allows you to replace the OS loaded on the phone by the manufacturer with another version of Android or a few other operating systems. Some of these roms include Firefox OS, Ubuntu Touch, CyanogenMod, Slimrom, Purenexus, Sense, Touchwiz, and MIUI. By installing a custom recovery, you can flash kernels, radios, roms, all directly to the phones internal hidden partitions. Apps such as cSploit, Network Spoofer, and Titanium Backup are all root apps that can access system files. This allows for them to function as advertised, for penetration testing and backups of all user data. The process of rooting is different from device to device, but Google’s developer devices such as the Nexus line and its successor, the Pixel/Pixel XL make rooting and unlocking very easy.
As you can see, both of these methods of gaining full access of your device can be very effective, and can make a boring, old device feel new and exciting. With jailbreaks you can make your device look the way you want, and with root, you can install roms and kernels to speed up your phone and increase battery life by a large margin. You need to pick which operating system suits you better….more customization or more functionality?