Now that the original Moto G (XT1032 “Falcon”) has been around for six months or so, it’s probably a good time to have look at available options for custom firmware and such—that is, if you’re a fan of such things. I certainly am. 🙂
Root access on an Android device gives you the power to block ads with AdAway, hide software bloat with Titanium Backup or even install a new OS via a custom recovery. It will also, as you can imagine, immediately void your warranty. But since when did that stop a l33t h@X0r anyway?
Unlocking The Bootloader
Before anything else you’ll have to unlock the bootloader on your Moto G. The bootloader is very much like the BIOS on a PC—or more accurately, the UEFI with secure boot that has replaced it. If you wanted to install Linux on a Windows PC most times you’d need to disable secure boot in the computer’s UEFI; likewise, if you want to flash a superuser zip on your phone to get root you’ll need to unlock the bootloader first.
Modders sometimes get around this by running an known exploit on their device. Fortunately, no such exploit is required for the Moto G. You will have to get Moto’s permission—that is, sign up for an account and request a key unique to your device. Once you’ve got that you can unlock your device’s bootloader and proceed to the next step.
Custom Recovery and SuperSU
There is an official build of the latest TWRP Recovery for the XT1032 available on goo.im—but not, for some reason, on the TWRP site itself. If you prefer the ClockWorkMod recovery, you can find that in this XDA thread.
With a custom recovery flashed you just need to boot into it and install Chainfire’s latest SuperSU.zip; once you reboot you should have root. At this point you can go ahead and install Titanium Backup, the Xposed Installer, AdAway or even a custom ROM.
No Going Back?
Here’s where the trouble starts. If, for whatever reason, you wanted to restore your Moto G back to stock firmware—to sell it or get it repaired—you won’t be able to get said firmware from Motorola. They supply factory images for the Moto X and Moto Droid Maxx, but not the Moto G.
XDA to the rescue, again! This thread links to an unofficial collection of stock firmware, wherein you’ll find factory images for the TELUS Moto G but not the Koodo or Virgin Mobile Canada versions. Better than nothing, I guess…
Factory images aside, it looks like the HSPA Moto G is a good choice for modders. I’d say that the active development community around it bodes quite well for the new version with LTE. Maybe check back with XDA in a couple of months?