Choosing the appropriate root technique for your Mediatek or Spreadtrum Android phone, especially if you intend to install future OTA updates

Rooting -for me- is very crucial. I can’t imagine using an Android phone without it. A good number of others have caught this bug but begin regretting having rooted when there’s an OTA update available. Incase you’re wondering why,
Root + OTA update = Brick
Its quite easy to unroot a Mediatek Android phone and a Spreadtrum Android too, you only need to reflash the Android firmware. In some cases, the firmware might not be available so the user is usually stuck with a rooted device, unable to install the OTA update for fear of bricking the device. What such people might not realize is that there are rooting techniques you could employ to make installing future OTA updates possible and easy.

What inspired this post was an email from a member named Bayo;

Master Hovatek.
Thumbs up for creating such a fantastic helpful website. You guys are endowed!
I’ve been trying to root my phone for a while now and came across some tutorials on your forum for rooting certain phones with my exact chipset. Where I’m confused is that I’ve come across 4 different techniques you used to root phones with the exact same chip as mine so I don’t know which is the best for me to use. Also will I be able to install OTA updates after rooting?
I hope you help me like you’ve been helping others.

Now, this user had asked a very important question. The rooting techniques we choose for devices do vary (centered around a Custom recovery + Super and are aimed at making installing OTA updates easy. I’ll breakdown each of these techniques (with case studies) explaining when / why used and how to reverse so you can easily install OTA updates.

1. Bootloader + Fastboot Boot (Recommended)

Case Study: Rooting Tecno Phantom 6 (A6)

In this case, The firmware wasn’t available but we were able to extract recovery.img (using SP Flash tool readback and a slightly modified scatter file) . After porting a custom recovery, we booted the custom recovery using the command

fastboot boot recovery.img

This command loads the phone into the custom recovery without replacing the stock recovery. Once in custom recovery, the phone can be rooted by flashing

Reversing this root technique

Once booted into custom recovery, the first thing to do is a full backup. Once the backup is saved to a secure location, you can then proceed with flashing Super SU. This method uses systemless root so the /system isn’t modified, only a patched boot.img. To reverse this technique, you simply need to do a Factory reset (to remove root), Reflash stock boot.img (and stock recovery.img if you’d replaced it) then re-lock the phone’s Bootloader

2. Bootloader + Fastboot Flash

Case Study: Rooting Itel 1513

In this case, we were able to obtain the stock recovery.img by extracting the content of the Spreadtrum pac file then ported a custom recovery. The Bootloader was already unlocked (you might need to unlock on some devices) but the Fastboot Boot command didn’t work so it had to be

fastboot flash recovery recovery.img

This command replaces the stock recovery unlike the fastboot boot command which doesn’t.

Reversing this root technique

Once the custom recovery is flashed, boot into recovery mode and do a full backup then save it to a secure location. This technique also uses systemless root. To unroot, do a Factory reset (to remove root) then flash back stock boot.img and recovery.img via Fastboot

3. SP Flash Tool Flash

Case Study: Rooting the Lava Iris 820

In this case, we had the stock recovery.img, boot.img and scatter file (from the firmware), ported a custom recovery and flashed it using SP Flash Tool. This method uses systemless root.

Reversing this root technique

To unroot, Do a factory reset (to remove root) then flash the stock recovery.img and boot.img or better still reflash the entire firmware.

4. Miracle Box Dump + Flash

Case Study: Rooting the Tecno Camon C7

In this case, the firmware wasn’t available so we had to first dump the firmware using Miracle Box then the preloader.bin + custom recovery.bin were flashed using Miracle Box in scatter format . We decided to use this approach (instead of Bootloader method) because Miracle Box supported the Tecno C7 unlike the Phantom 6 (which it didn’t then). This method uses systemless root.

Reversing this root technique

What you need to do is a factory reset (to remove root) then reflash stock preloader.bin, recovery.bin and boot.bin. You could as well reflash the entire backup (dump)

5. One-Click Root Apk (Least Recommended)

Case Study: Rooting Infinix Hot Note X551

This method was very easy because the Android version was still supported by Kingroot. The problem with this technique is that starting from Lollipop, One-click root apps don’t work on all devices. This method modifies /system.

Reversing this root technique

Because /system has been modified, selecting the Unroot option from the Super User app won’t help much. You’ll need to reflash the firmware.

The rooting technique you choose depends on what you have and how skilled you are.

Magisk & Magisk Manager

the ideal rooting technique for those who want to pass Google’s SafetyNet test and install OTA updates without having to unroot / brick

Magisk allows you hide root from apps that could crash on rooted devices. Its also an Ideal solution for those who want to install OTA updates. Magisk requires you flash the instead of in custom recovery then install the Magisk Manager apk