HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

Summary: HTC cracked down on phone modding and several of its recent phone models have featured a locked bootloader. Owners have cried foul loud enough that the company is rethinking about locking down its phones.

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You have likely heard of the practice of rooting a smartphone to open it up to personal modification. Some owners root their phones to provide simple benefits such as removing preinstalled crapware, thus freeing up precious phone memory. Others root their phones to provide access to tethering the phone to other devices, sharing the data connection without paying the carrier for mobile hotspot service. The carriers have taken an increasingly negative stance toward phone rooting due to the tethering, and have forced some phone makers to take more drastic steps like locking the bootloaders. This practice can yield a phone practically unbreakable by rooting or other modding.

HTC has recently taken this approach and several of its recent phone models have featured a locked bootloader. HTC phone owners have cried foul loud enough that the company has indicated it is rethinking about this practice of locking down its phones.

Thanks so much for providing feedback, we hear your concerns. Your satisfaction is a top priority for us and we're working hard to ensure you have great experiences with our phones. We're reviewing the issue and our policy around bootloaders and will provide more information soon.

Modders are happy to hear this, as a locked bootloader can really make rooting a phone (and other customizations) very difficult. If HTC does halt this practice then it becomes easy to root their phones, and even replacing the phone's software with a custom ROM is a straightforward process. Phone owners feel they should be able to do what they want with the expensive phones they buy, and this will go a long way to allowing that to happen.

For those considering rooting the phone for whatever reason, be aware that even this is not without consequence. Most phones are unable to get carrier over-the-air (OTA) updates once a phone is rooted. Modding community sites are full of owners asking how to "unroot" their phone once they realize they are not getting phone updates from the carrier. The update systems can detect if a phone is rooted, and shut down that avenue of support.

Image credit: Neoliminal

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Topics: HTC, Android, Google, Mobility, Smartphones

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23 comments
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  • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

    I wonder when the US carriers will start to block any and all rooted mobile devices.
    Ronny102
    • Well, so far

      @Ronny102

      it is my view that if the US carriers did do that, the sheep that are the US smart phone buyers will simply roll over and accept it.

      These may be some of the same people who buy guns to keep the Government on their toes.

      Go figure.
      Economister
      • Message has been deleted.

        Johnny Vegas
      • That was indeed my point. Thank you

        @Johnny Vegas<br><br>SHEEP<br><br>Edit: Why do these masses you are referring to do their own "incessant whining" when the flock is fleeced and otherwise manipulated regularly by the "establishment", in this case the carriers, aided by the government? Like whining about having to pay early contract termination penalties, network shaping and filtering, unilateral contract changes, tardy or no OS updates etc. That is why these companies try to establish flocks of sheep in the first place, so they can be fleeced regularly. Are you really as naive as you come across?
        Economister
      • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

        @Economister

        You're exactly right. I hate that this is the case, but we live in the US, the home of the stupid.
        snoop0x7b
      • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

        @Johnny Vegas

        LOL! Carrier OTA upgrades! That's funny! Has AT&T pushed out ONE yet? T-mobile has the best track record, and even then my girlfriend's Floyo update for her Defy came with so much crapware, I had to root it to make it useful for the most basic functions. Software T-mob added so a parent could keep the phone from working while their teen was driving crippled the device. The kicker is that my girlfriend doesn't even drive!

        To all android users... I love Android, but don't buy it unless it's a Nexus phone or there is a Cyanogen build for it. The carriers have placed protecting a high margin service, tethering, over your security and your device's functionality!
        tkejlboom
      • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

        @Johnny Vegas
        Lol nice made up number most people know their smart phone has an os and know something about rooting. yes a part of the older non tech caring users may not know or the apple users as they tend to be bit slower minded but overall check online hundreds of thousands root, change roms and customize the phone os so Im sure in your own little non tech world you may not know the common knowledge and terms such as os and rooting. Lock it down and those who are willing to pay so much for these items because they can customize them will go another route and it will greatly hurt bottom lines. You need to come forward 2 decades and catch up.
        Fletchguy
      • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

        I suspect Johnny Vegas may work for a cell phone company. No one else in their right mind would have a problem with people wanting the freedom to do what they want with their own hardware.

        And Economister....

        "it is my view that if the US carriers did do that, the sheep that are the US smart phone buyers will simply roll over and accept it.

        These may be some of the same people who buy guns to keep the Government on their toes."

        WTH?!?!? I'm one of those who "clings to my guns" and being consistent, I'm also one who demands my freedom on the hardware I buy, whether it's a phone or a gun... moron!
        Software Architect 1982
  • Rooting is a necessity

    I rooted my EVO a little less than a year ago and now I cannot stand stock android. Even when I go into the sprint store, all of the employees there with android phones have them rooted with a custom rom. <br><br>Over the last couple months I have been having coverage issues and whenever I go in for assistance they of course require me to revert to stock android. What little time I spend with stock android during these points is an abysmal experience of awful battery life, sluggish screens, and loads of bloatware. So count me among those who would leave android/htc if I could no longer root.
    toltz
    • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

      @toltz

      That's not stock android. That's Sprint customized Android. What mod are you running?
      tkejlboom
      • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

        @tkejlboom

        My bad, sprint customized android is abysmal then. I tried about 5 different mods, but the one that I found most stable and gave me the best battery life was cyanogen 7.
        toltz
    • ... coverage issues.. install new radio firmware ..

      @toltz I have found with my HTC Desire (actually Bravo in US). It is possible to improve your reception with a new radio ROM.. funnily enough you need to have a rooted bootloader to be able to do this!
      Aussie_linux_user
  • How about forcing users to upload their contact data daily

    My new Thunderbolt not only has tons of crapware that cannot be removed, one of them is Backup Assistant app from Verizon that backups your phone's data to their servers. While a nice option to have, what is horrible is that they do NOT provide any option to turn it off or remove the app. The only way one can prevent their phone data from being stored on Verizon servers is to turn off ALL syncing on the phone which effects all other applications...not a preferred choice. And they wonder why folks want to root their phones? Many folks probably store a lot of personal and sensitive information in their phone unprotected (you know they do!) and most of these are probably not aware their data is stored at Verizon too. They should offer the choice to turn this off. All the other applications that off syncing do. What do you think?
    don@...
    • Just be happy you are not dealing with ....

      @don@...

      Sony ;-)
      Economister
      • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

        @Economister
        Sony is the pig in the slop of technology.Horrible products, bad security and non existant customer service. Almost as bad as apple.
        Fletchguy
    • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

      @don@...
      Your right but you do have an option just root the phone takes about 3 minutes and you can turn off remove or block what you want with ease.
      Fletchguy
  • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

    And we should prevent PCs from accessing networks (internet) is they are modified from their "sold configuration" by installing Linux or other OS on them instead of Windows. Right?
    gradyhensley
    • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

      @gradyhensley

      EXCELLENT POINT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!!
      Software Architect 1982
  • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

    I hope HTC does change their bootloader policy. Locked bootloader= no HTC for me
    shadowboy23
    • RE: HTC softening its position on locked bootloaders, modders rejoice

      @shadowboy23,

      Ditto here! I'm still on my first Android phone that I got June of last year. It's an HTC and it's locked. I didn't know much about Android at the time. My next phone will be one that's not locked, so if HTC wants my next phone to also be an HTC, they'd darned well better offer me one that's not locked.

      I will most definitely be checking what phones Cyanogen supports when it's time to upgrade.

      Oh, and Johnny Vegas, about 1/2 the people I know with an Android phone have rooted it. It would certainly be more if all Android phones were unlocked. Quit YOUR whinning, PLEASE!
      Software Architect 1982