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HTC Unlocks Bootloader For All of Its Devices 133

Posted by timothy
from the hunting-goodwill dept.
An anonymous reader writes "HTCDEV announced today: 'HTC is committed to listening to users and delivering customer satisfaction. We plan on releasing the updates that will allow you to unlock your bootloader in the coming months.' However, they do note this: 'It is our responsibility to caution you that not all claims resulting or caused by or from the unlocking of the bootloader may be covered under warranty,' and this: 'We strongly suggest that you do not unlock the bootloader unless you are confident that you understand the risks involved.' This looks like a new year gift to some."
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HTC Unlocks Bootloader For All of Its Devices

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  • This is good news! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by americamatrix (658742) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:35PM (#38527110) Homepage
    Congrats to HTC for actually knowing what their customers want and giving it to them.

    Hopefully some other companies follow suit as well!


    -americamatrix
    • by bennomatic (691188) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:53PM (#38527440) Homepage
      If other companies don't follow suit, this is a huge differentiator for HTC. Caveats aside, this will make it easier for their customers to reap the same advantages of updates that iPhone owners have had for a couple of generations. Of course, it's the same disadvantages, too. Most 3GS owners, for example, would suggest that their device's support of iOS 5 is, well, limited. Upgrading an old device to ICS may yield a similar ratio of unhappy people.

      Of course, they can always downgrade...
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:15PM (#38527776)

        Dude what? This is HTC copying what Sony Ericsson did months ago:

        http://unlockbootloader.sonyericsson.com/ [sonyericsson.com]

        They even went further and released an ICS alpha build to the dev community before christmas!

        http://developer.sonyericsson.com/wp/2011/12/15/ice-cream-sandwich-alpha-rom-available-for-unlocked-xperia-phones/ [sonyericsson.com]

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:44PM (#38528166)

          See, while I agree Sony did a cool thing with the Android issue...does it really negate all those douchey things they've done for years?

          They locked down the playstation so no more Linux.

          Every damn device they release uses their obnoxious memory card. It might be superior to the others it might not, but the difference is, it isn't standard. It's been around for a decade and still isn't standard. And it's expensive.

          They got hacked and basically gave no fucks.

          So I might buy an Ericson if faced with a choice, but I would probably buy the HTC. Just sayin'...

          • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @02:07PM (#38528440)

            SonyEricsson are not Sony, in the same way that SCEE aren't SME either. Yes, the whole brand has been tainted, but it's not necessarily because of anything the mobile phone guys did.

            • Actually, SonyEricsson is Sony [reuters.com].
              • by syockit (1480393)
                to requote parent:

                in the same way that SCEE aren't SME either.

              • Yes, I did actually know that Sony had bought Ericsson's stake in the venture, which is why I said this:

                in the same way that SCEE aren't SME either.

                All those hijinks that SCEE pulled with the PS3 and the rootkit-infested CDs that came from SME had nothing to do with with the guys happily sat way over in the corner making phones. There's bound to be a little overlap between SE and SME especially when it comes to the so-called Walkman phones, but as I said Sony's disgrace isn't a result of something that the people at SE have done.

                FWIW I didn't buy SE

                • Except being owned by the same umbrella company that *IS* a big media conglomerate... as if none of their technology decisions have been driven by the parent company in favor of the Media side of things.
                • Ahh, righto. My acronym-fu is weak today.
            • by initialE (758110)

              The moment their masters find out what they gave away instead of selling (it doesn't take a lot of persuasion if you know the correct marketing speak) you're going to see a lot of corporate turnover. That's why, even though you're not Sony, as long as you have to answer to them, the taint will get to your product sooner or later. And that's a good reason to avoid buying anything attached to their brand.

              • by AmiMoJo (196126)

                Sony is being quite clever here, as are HTC. While most people won't make use of this facility it will certainly generate a lot of good publicity. There is actually quite a lot of demand for things like Cyanogen, you only have to look at the number of phones being sold with it on eBay to see that. Because of locked bootloaders it can be hard to install but that is no longer the case of HTC and SonyEricson.

          • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @02:08PM (#38528466)
            "They got hacked and basically gave no fucks."

            Not true. They took countermeasures to protect against such an event occuring again. Specifically, they updated the PSN licence agreement to forbid users from bringing class-action lawsuits.
      • I actually went with the Galaxy Nexus because of the unlockability and updateability.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        reap the same advantages of updates that iPhone owners have had for a couple of generations.

        This actually goes a giant step farther than that. A device with an unlocked bootloader doesn't even have Android installed on it at all. This opens the door to webOS and Linux at the very least. Not to mention that with the plethora of custom ROMs, you aren't stuck with just the default like you are with iOS.

      • I guess Motorola will follow suit.

      • Caveats aside, this will make it easier for their customers to reap the same advantages of updates that iPhone owners have had for a couple of generations.

        I hope not.

        If Android tried to match the iOS development cycle in speed, we'd all still be on Android 2.0.1.

        That's not a good analogy.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        I like the idea of them officially enabling unlocking their phones. They really do stand at polar opposites to the Apple walled garden. No wonder the two companies are battling so fiercely -- they completely disagree with each other's business models.

        But don't forget Sony was once the darling of the tech world for letting you run Linux on a PS/3.

    • What their customers want (I am one) is software updates; fast with support of 2 years for top tier devices. This is a cop out, anybody interested in unlocking their bootloader can and has done without any help from HTC.
      • by metamatic (202216) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:12PM (#38527732) Homepage Journal

        I'm another person with an HTC phone. What I really want from my next phone is Android without Sense UI crapping it up. Yes, I could get an HTC phone and put CyanogenMod on it, but I'd rather support manufacturers who give me what I really want without having to invalidate my warranty and mess with firmware.

        • by PixetaledPikachu (1007305) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:33PM (#38528024)

          I'm another person with an HTC phone. What I really want from my next phone is Android without Sense UI crapping it up. Yes, I could get an HTC phone and put CyanogenMod on it, but I'd rather support manufacturers who give me what I really want without having to invalidate my warranty and mess with firmware.

          But of course you can! Buy one of the nexus series phone, and you'll get the pure android experience and direct support from google for software updates. As for me, I recently switched from HTC Desire Z (which got stolen) to Nexus S, and I'm already missing the text reflow on the built in browser, pinch to switch browser window, the ability to force the phone to use 3G only (you need to enter certain code to get to that option on a plain android), HTC IME keyboard, and lots of other tweaks from HTC.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            the ability to force the phone to use 3G only (you need to enter certain code to get to that option on a plain android)

            What code are you refering to? There is an check box option on the Nexus S to turn off 4G just like you can turn off wireless, BT, airplane mode etc..

            • the ability to force the phone to use 3G only (you need to enter certain code to get to that option on a plain android)

              What code are you refering to? There is an check box option on the Nexus S to turn off 4G just like you can turn off wireless, BT, airplane mode etc..

              I'm on GSM network. On the DZ you can switch between GSM(Edge, 2G)/WCDMA(HSDPA, 3G) auto switch, GSM only, WCDMA only, or turn off mobile data completely. On vanilla android you can only switch between WCDMA/GSM, lock it to 2G, or tun off mobile data. Option for forcing the phone to stick on WCDMA can be accessed via hidden menu called "Phone info". To get to the "phone info" menu, either type "*#*#4636#*#*" or create the shortcut using app such as Any Cut

          • by lewiscr (3314)

            FYI, there is a package for the HTC Keyboard floating around. It's an older build (it doesn't have any of the Swype features), but it was better that the stock keyboard.

            For now, I'm using Swype. I like the HTC layout better, but the swiping feature outweighs the layout problems. If I had my druthers, I have HTC IME w/ Swype... like a stock HTC Sense install. :-/

        • maybe what you want is G-Lite [virtuousrom.com]
        • by Anonymous Coward

          The reason I buy HTC phone is Sense

        • Just install Launcher Pro Plus, and you won't have to deal with the Sense UI anymore. I did it on my HTC Sensation. It works great and runs a bit quicker now. This is the silliest reason ever to avoid buying HTC phones, as you can choose to not use the Sense UI anytime you want to switch to something else.
        • by mikkelm (1000451)

          Not incredibly familiar with Android, but does an unlocked bootloader not mean that you'll be able to load up a stock, vanilla OS, or at least be able to reach a state where you can disable the Sense UI?

          • by metamatic (202216)

            Yes. I eventually put CyanogenMod on my HTC phone. It was like getting a new device, it was so much faster and more reliable. Hence I'm planning on a Nexus for my next phone.

        • In that case, you bought the wrong phone. What you should have bought is a Nexus. HTC will still be voiding your warranty for using their unlocker.
      • by Calos (2281322)

        anybody interested in unlocking their bootloader can and has done without any help from HTC.

        Absolutely wrong. Their (and others') devices have become increasingly locked down. A few of HTC's newest phones (e.g. the Vigor/Rezound) have not had any progress in unlocking or getting S-OFF despite a good bit of effort. Read around if you're interested, HTC locked these newer devices down harder than they ever have.

        That's not to say they'd never have been unlocked, but it's been getting harder and taking longer

        • I was more referring to devices before HTC decided they would give people a method to unlock their bootloaders. However, they said all devices since September will be supported, that includes the Vigor. I think it's safe to presume HTC will include support for it soon enough, it's only been on sale like 6 weeks? If they are going to provide a method themselves, they can make it as hard as they want for any 3rd party to do it. Even call it a bit of fun for their engineers.
    • except it's only for devices after September 2011. if you have a htc device that was released before then.. your sol.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        except that all of the devices before september 2011 were already unlockable...thus you are not sol.

        • nope, that is not correct. only a few devices are after finding exploit holes in android.

          • by poetmatt (793785)

            have you looked at the list from htcdev? I'm sure there may be a couple, but the list is pretty big.

          • by artson (728234)

            "nope, that is not correct. only a few devices are after finding exploit holes in android."

            Can we please have a mod tag of

      • by Baloroth (2370816)
        Well, so far. Their site says they are working on earlier models ATM. Whether that extends to before 2011 devices or just before September 2011 devices is slightly unclear.
        • by compro01 (777531)

          AFAICT:

          ALL post-September devices are unlockable.

          Some (the ones they list and a couple more) pre-September devices are unlockable, with possibly more becoming unlockable in the coming months.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by jellomizer (103300)
      So you unlocked your phone and got it an an unusable level. Well that isn't under warranty but we will sell you a new phone at full price to make it up to you.
      By the way we will work on locking down our original settings so you will feel even more motivated to need to unlock your phone.
    • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:14PM (#38527758)
      I've always been happy with HTC and took it as a given that I'd have to find some way to unlock the bootloader on my own (thank you, XDA!). I figured that if a company ever trusted me enough to give me that kind of access on a competitive product I'd purchase my next phone through them. I don't think this will mean a whole lot more business for HTC, but it will make the existing ones much happier.
  • by blahbooboo (839709) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:39PM (#38527198)

    Like most hardware manufacturers, they are trying to get out of updating and maintaining software since it's a loss for them. Unlocking lets the whiners who notice or care about updates go play and leave HTC alone to abandon the handsets after ~12 months post release. It's the real challenge Android has versus WebOs, Windows Phone, and iOS. (Yes, I know get a Nexus, but Google abandoned their first phone already too)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google didn't "abandon" the Nexus One. The specs just aren't good enough for the current OS releases.

      • And what exactly is the limiting factor? What new features of Android limits the release of new versions to the device? There isn't one. The OS haven't changed that much the features wouldn't run on older phones.
        • Storage space, mainly. The Nexus One only have 512MB. Installing on SD card wouldn't be convenient.

          • by Imagix (695350)

            Installing on SD card wouldn't be convenient.

            What's your point? I wouldn't have a problem installing on the SD card that came with the phone. Heck, it's never _left_ the phone, might as well be welded to the mainboard.

        • by Vairon (17314)

          Agreed. I put ICS on a Samsung Fascinate I owned and the phone seems faster and more responsive than it was with Froyo or Gingerbread.

        • by Yetihehe (971185)

          USB Host mode (you could connect some usb h/w to your phone). Not every older phone supports it and new software may not help if usb chip doesn't support this. That is the case in my Samsung Galaxy 551.

      • by AdamJS (2466928)

        Actually, they did abandon it. The day before they said (officially) that the N1 wouldn't be getting the update, was one in which they STILL touted the "If it supports X, it will be able to use ICS" and "of COURSE the Nexus One will be getting the update!" line.

        And then there's the whole redirection with HTC (go to him! No, go to him!) regarding customer support, even with actual Android issues.

    • by oakgrove (845019) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:17PM (#38527814)

      Like most hardware manufacturers, they are trying to get out of updating and maintaining software since it's a loss for them.

      So, you're saying HTC is using this as an excuse to not update their software? Last I checked if an OEM doesn't want to update, they just don't. They don't need to throw any bones. You're reading way too much into this.

      Unlocking lets the whiners who notice or care about updates go play and leave HTC alone to abandon the handsets after ~12 months post release.

      So people that want to use their devices with their own software are "whiners" now? I thought they were paying enthusiastic customers who might or might not have a trusted opinion their less tech savvy friends and family might be relying on to make future smart phone purchases.

      It's the real challenge Android has versus WebOs, Windows Phone, and iOS.

      Normal people don't care about updates or unlocked boot loaders. Do a poll of the next 100 Android users you see and see how many of them even know what version of Android they are on and if there is a newer version than what they have. You will find that the vast majority don't know and will be more annoyed by the question than anything else because they just don't care. Updated competitor handsets is not what Android has to worry about. Android has the formula down pat. Give the customer the features they want at the price they are willing to pay. That's it. In that arena, only windows phone has a hope of competing in any time soon if they can get the price of the handsets down with some cheap SOCs. Until that happens, Android will reign supreme as it has for a while now and the dominance will only accelerate because the formula ain't changing anytime soon.

      • Last I checked if an OEM doesn't want to update, they just don't. They don't need to throw any bones. You're reading way too much into this.

        They need to throw bones to keep their customers happy. If they lock the phone and disallow updates, tech enthusiasts are infuriated. If you update the phones and there are problems everyone is mad.

        If you let them unlock their phones, tech enthusiasts are thrilled AND HTC has saved themselves a lot of trouble.

        So people that want to use their devices with their
      • Last I checked if an OEM doesn't want to update, they just don't.

        And then they get a lot of criticism from a very small percentage of the user base. This move costs them very little and allows them to all but eliminate the criticism. And still not pay for updating Android.

        I wonder what Netflix will do.

        • What's Netflix have to do with anything? Their app runs fine on my Evo 4g with Cyanogenmod 7.

          • What's Netflix have to do with anything? Their app runs fine on my Evo 4g with Cyanogenmod 7.

            Netflix won't stream HD content to devices that don't have a locked bootloader (see the stories about the recent B&N tablet). The HD streams have much fewer blocking artifacts, not just higher resolution. HTC makes some tablets that could use this.

    • by mounthood (993037) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:21PM (#38527868)

      Like most hardware manufacturers, they are trying to get out of updating and maintaining software since it's a loss for them. Unlocking lets the whiners who notice or care about updates go play and leave HTC alone to abandon the handsets after ~12 months post release.

      Divide and conquer: complain when it's locked; complain when it's unlocked. If their update process is the problem, why are you complaining about unlocking the boot loader, which lets you update when you want? Your problem isn't fixed by this change, so you're complaining about this change?

      I want to *own* and control the hardware I buy. Unlocking is about more then just an update schedule.

    • by Caratted (806506) *
      If Google has abandoned the G1, Apple abandoned the first iPhone first.
      • If Google has abandoned the G1, Apple abandoned the first iPhone first.

        G1 isn't a Nexus phone.

    • by swb (14022)

      I'd agree that handsets need a longer lifespan, but it seems like the handset hardware development moves pretty fast and the software seems to follow, using up the capabilities of the new hardware that I'm not sure what the workaround for this is outside of totally remaking handset software so that its modular enough to jettison high-performance features to run on older hardware.

      My sense is that it's kind of a fact of life in the smartphone world that whatever you have now is kind of obsolete 12-18 months l

      • by evilviper (135110)

        I'd agree that handsets need a longer lifespan, but it seems like the handset hardware development moves pretty fast and the software seems to follow,

        I don't know where this idea comes from. There haven't been any big thing that's changed in (high-end) Android phones in the past 2 years. There are minor improvements: dual-core chips are starting to be introduced, front-facing webcams are more common, and improved screens loom on the horizon, but all of the above are only minor improvements. Same 32GB ma

        • by swb (14022)

          Well, isn't adding a dual-core CPU something like doubling CPU power? The kind of thing that OS an App enhancements would take advantage of and the lack of which on older handsets would make the system sluggish?

          • by evilviper (135110)

            Well, isn't adding a dual-core CPU something like doubling CPU power?

            No, definitely not. At best you get slightly faster multitasking... May be useful in the case of, eg. running Winamp in the background as you use your phone for other things, but I wouldn't expect to see a noticeable single application speed-up at all.

    • by chrb (1083577)
      Every manufacturer abandons old phones. There is no phone that will get manufacturer supported updates forever (I will be very surprised if MS is still supporting updates for all of the existing WP phones in even 5 years). Once you accept that fact, the question becomes: how long do you personally require updates for? If you actually do require updates beyond the manufacturer's support period, then you will need to rely on community software, and so far only the Android community is doing that. If you don't
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully Motorola will also be "committed to listening to users and delivering customer satisfaction" and do the same.

  • Let's hope that other manufacturers also do this. (Right now, I'm looking at you, Asus, though I'm sure my gaze will wander...)
    • by Microlith (54737)

      I know, let's hope us having control over our own hardware becomes a trend, rather than the obvious reality it should always have been.

  • All devices? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:40PM (#38527220)

    That includes Windows Phone devices too? Or this is one more example of /. "journalism"?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:05PM (#38527630)

      What's a "Windows Phone"?

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Better point.

      • by cbhacking (979169)

        An operating system with more market share in its respective segment than Linux has on the desktop/laptop. Just because you don't care doesn't mean nobody does, and certainly doesn't excuse outright falsehoods in the title.

        I realize it's fashionable to bash MS and all that, but HTC basically broke into the smrtphone market on WinMo, and while they are mostly known for Android now, they also make some of the better WP7 devices (including the only ones with unlocked bootloaders, although their latest ones app

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by beano311 (852024)
      Actually, it doesn't even include all of their Android phones either, take a look at the link. The Amaze 4G, EVO 3D, EVO 4G, EVO Design, EVO View 4G, Flyer, MyTouch Slide 4G, S710d, and Sensation are the only phones listed. Also worth noting is that you have to register a developer's account and send your device ID to HTC to get the proper unlock file back. While allowing users to unlock their phones is great, I'll stick to the traditional method of using third party tools.
      • I'll stick to the traditional method of using third party tools.

        Agreed. I unlocked my Desire after having it for three months, and I did a bit of research before doing it. While there were a few steps involved (Unrevoked and then s-off IIRC, each with a concise list of necessary actions), the process was simple and straight forward. They even had an idiot-proof Linux-based bootable iso which did most of the the work for you. The few cases of real brickings I read about involved bad USB cables or people yanking their phones during bootloader flash, which will always end

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Good point...

    • by Atzanteol (99067)

      News that matters. Nobody cares about Windows Phones.

  • Man up, Motorola (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Now, if only Motorola can do the same, I'd be a lot happier with the Atrix I'm posting this from. (I love the gigantic battery in this thing, but I don't want to be stuck with Gingerbread on a premium phone that's only a few months old).

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      The Atrix has a method of unlocking the bootloader. The Atrix 2, on the other hand, it is still locked, and only yesterday did a FXZ flash appear, so someone who soft-bricked their device can restore it.

      I wish Motorola would follow suit.

  • by kav2k (1545689) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:48PM (#38527352)
    All devices? It only applies to "All HTC Android devices launched after September 2011". Also, tho process means they will have a record of a certain device requesting such unlock, possibly affecting warranty.
  • Good job HTC (Score:4, Informative)

    by milbournosphere (1273186) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:51PM (#38527414)
    I'll be in the market for a phone in the next few months...I'll remember this.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      FWIW, I wouldn't necessarily exclude Samsung.

      I just bought a Samsung Galaxy S II from T-Mobile (SGH-T989) yesterday... the bootloader wasn't 'unlocked' out of the box, but simply rebooting the phone while holding a key combo provides you with a screen that allows you to unlock the bootloader. They even provide a utility (ODIN) for updating the Recovery as well. The only "catch" I see is that it does track how many times you've flashed which could potentially be used against you. However, there's already

    • by swanzilla (1458281) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @02:30PM (#38528792) Homepage

      I'll be in the market for a phone in the next few months...I'll remember this.

      +1 Fascinating

      • by drb226 (1938360)

        I'll be in the market for a phone in the next few months...I'll remember this.

        +1 Fascinating

        +1 Cool Story Bro

  • When HTC actually does this (announcements are one thing, results are another) they've pretty much staked down their position as my top vendor.

    Someone asked if this would also be true for Windows phones. That's an interesting point. Years and years ago, when I had a Windows Mobile 5 Treo, my primary daily fantasy was to be able to flash it with the other operating system Palm was selling at the time because I just couldn't stand the pain anymore. However, flashing a different OS was never practical, and

  • by friend function (1492021) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:50PM (#38528246) Homepage
    It worries me that their unlock process [htcdev.com] calls home for an auth token.
    • by canajin56 (660655)
      There's no other way to do it. If that worries you, holy shit you should not have a phone, you have NO idea what the carriers know about you! THEY KNOW EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU MAKE A PHONE CALL, AND WHO YOU CALLED.
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Of course there is. They just need to include a small chip in the device that contains the original boot loader, and a special key combination can restore the boot loader to factory spec. There would then be no practical way to brick the phone.
    • by Shompol (1690084)
      Of course it does, they need to void your warranty, as outlined in TFA. This one is full of win for HTC, and the reason my phone is staying locked.
  • That page has been up for a while now, this is not a new announcement. Astroturfing much? Also, they still will not do it on some phones, citing carrier restrictions. Note how none of their supported devices are on Verizon.
  • The Nexus One. They sort of want people to forget that they made the poor thing.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      I don't know why. It is a great phone. The only complaint I have with the one I have is that it is short on storage, so you have to manager the number of apps installed more than newer phones. Given when it was produced, the amount of storage is reasonable.

      The only problem with the Nexus One was that Google made a bad choice on what their goals were. The Nexus One raised the bar on what an Android phone should be. In that space it was a resounding success. Google should not have looked at large sal

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