Motorola Photon 4G: How to Root Your Phone

The Android development community has been hard at work creating various ways for users to gain root access to their Motorola Photon 4G. If you need a pain-free way to root your Photon 4G, follow these steps, and you’ll have root access in no time.

First, turn on USB Debugging. Go to Settings >> Applications >> Development and check USB Debugging.


Next, plug in the phone and set it to USB Mass Storage.


Now, download the files needed to root the phone. XDA-Developer user edgan created a tar file with all the necessary files. Download photon-torpedo.tar to your computer then copy it to the sd card on your phone — in this example, I used the download folder on my sd card.


Once the file is copied, go to USB Connection in your notifications area and change it to Charge Only.


Now, with the file on the phone, go to the Market and download the Android Terminal Emulator.


Next, download Superuser from the Android Market.


Open the terminal emulator application.

Type: cd sdcard/download

to go to the directory of photon-torpedo.tar.

sshot-2011-11-01-[02-47-22] (2)

Next, copy photon-torpedo.tar to the /data/tmp folder. Then Type: cp photon-torpedo.tar /data/tmp

To make the next few steps easier, change the directory to /data/tmp by typing: cd /data/tmp


In order to manipulate the file, make sure you have the proper rights. Type: chmod 777 photon-torpedo.tar


Next, extract the files from the tar file. Type: /bin/tar xf photon-torpedo.tar


Now, run the scripts to root the device. Type: ./

This will produce an error, but you can ignore it.


You’ll notice “root@localhost” listed in the terminal. Now the last command – type: ./


After entering the above commands, restart your phone.


When your phone starts up again, test your root access by opening up the terminal emulator and entering the su command. You’ll see Superuser pop up and ask you to allow Terminal Emulator Access. This means you have root access.

Alternatively, you can download the RootChecker application from the Market and use that to verify that you now have root access.



  1. Dino Londis

    November 2, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Nice! I have been up and down rooting my Nook Color. I learned a lot, but in the end had to go back to the Nook software. I was able to install Honeycomb, but even with the ADB software, the PC could not see the drive. I was able to get Froyo on there AND see the drive, with ADB, but when I added the Google apps to get Market, although it worked, it’s clear that Froyo doesn’t play with with those apps. Kindle installed fine, but left me with zero navigation. All the apps were like that. Gingerbread was a whole other beast. I never found a proper version to install with WinImage.

  2. rich

    December 15, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    your instructions are lacking in the one of the early steps, derailing the gravy train. where is says

    “Next, copy photon-torpedo.tar to the /data/tmp folder. Then Type: cp photon-torpedo.tar /data/tmp”

    we’re stuck. how the hell do we do that?

    • Morgan

      December 22, 2011 at 4:01 am

      I was confused about this as well. The word “then” is the confusing part. To copy photon-torpedo.tar to the /data/tmp folder, you do the command he says in the next sentence. So…to copy it, type: cp photon-torpedo.tar /data/tmp

      Hope I’ve helped! Worked like a charm for me just now after spending the entire night trying to figure this out I finally found this post and was able to do it….THANKS ERIC!

    • vicmanx

      March 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      copy the photon-torpedo.tar with root explorer apk in to the”””” tmp folder ””””

  3. Rev Dennis

    January 20, 2012 at 11:06 am

    My Photon 4G does not produce any of the screens shown here. I am assuming that one must hit enter after typing the comands, but still not what I see on the screen here on these instructions comes about. I uninstalled the terminal emulator and reinstalled, still no joy…what gives? I did have to “move” the file to the sd card download, still nothing. Ideas?

    • keith johnson

      February 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      this will not work for me at all i’ve done everything asked of me and still no luck can anyone help?

  4. allen

    March 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Just google search for 4g-photon-ocr . read the readme with it. run the root file. install wifi tether 3.11 to enable 4g hotspot and enjoy


  5. Joe100000

    March 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

    My photon says chmod 777 opertion is permitted just wondering whats going on. If anybody can help

  6. EclecticActor

    May 26, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Worked like a charm! Thanks.

  7. Simeon

    July 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

    The above instructions worked for me except the cd sdcard. I used the file explorer to copy the photon file onto the internal storage. Then i started following the instuctions from the cp, and everything worked great. Thank you. I have 2.3.4.

  8. Hendra Li

    July 12, 2012 at 4:34 am

    It works with my 2.3.5 motorola photon 4G thanks :)

  9. Portman

    July 14, 2012 at 4:21 am

    it works fine on 2.3.5. thanks a lot

  10. Ron Brown

    July 19, 2012 at 12:51 am

    awsome job thanks thanks

  11. BIG D

    July 22, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Nice write up! The sdcard part confused me because I thought you were supposed to copy the file to the sdcard… but its just the download folder on your phone, not your sdcard…

  12. Isidhu

    August 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I am having the attached error report when i try to executing the script.
    Please Help beginner here. Thanks

    $ ./
    ERROR: object ‘’ cannot be loaded as audit interface: undefined symbol: la_version; ignored.Fatal server error:
    Server is already active for display 0
    If this server is no longer running, remove /tmp/.X0-lock
    and start again.
    Please consult the The X.Org Foundation support
    for help.ddxSigGiveUp: Closing log
    ./ line 5: /lib/ Permission denied
    ERROR: object ‘’ cannot be loaded as audit interface: invalid ELF header; ignored.Fatal server error:
    Server is already active for display 0
    If this server is no longer running, remove /tmp/.X0-lock
    and start again.
    Please consult the The X.Org Foundation support
    for help.ddxSigGiveUp: Closing log

  13. forestranger

    August 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Unfortunately I applied the 45.4.13 update last month without digging around the forums beforehand. Lost root…OCR no longer works, but read this still did. I’ve tried a couple of methods unsuccessfully to copy the .tar into /data/temp, but it doesn’t appear to writable. using the above cmd, I get cd: /data/temp: Permission denied. Any advice?

  14. nopi

    August 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    thanks! just type in exactly what he has with all the spaces and it works perfectly with 2.3.5.


    August 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    thank u so much , recovering my photon from 2.3.5 brick

  16. Jacob Santos

    September 26, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I created a download folder on my sd card and moved photon-torpedo.tar there from my pc, ran emulator, changed directory, but the file won’t copy to /data/tmp. emulator says no such file or directory, cp: photon-torpedo.tar: No such file or directory

  17. mip

    October 20, 2012 at 10:46 am

    link doesnt work

  18. mip

    October 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

    link is bad

  19. Marcus

    October 22, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I get this error when trying to verify proper rights:
    Unable to chmod photon-torpedo.tar: No such file or directory

    2.3.5 Photon 4G

  20. koko

    October 30, 2013 at 10:25 am

    awesome. it works for my photon. many thanks.

  21. T.W.Shelton

    January 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I get to the second step. And then get the denude script. Yes, I’m a total nube. But if this works for others, on 2.3.5. why not for my phone too? I checked, and double checked lines. But to no avail. Might there be another process, I might try? Please,might some one help this old man out? God bless, and thank you before hand.

  22. nao

    February 7, 2014 at 3:04 am


    Thank you for the very kindly explanation! There are many sites about photon in japan but they say wrong spelling or have some lack. Your explanation is perfect!

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