HTC bootloader unlocking flow chart of death

It looks like HTC's unlocked bootloader policy may not be just what everyone was looking for, and several key portions of the firmware remain locked.  What appears to be the case, is that using HTC's tool does unlock your bootloader, but doesn't grant you S-off status. Right off the bat -- if you don't understand what S-off means, you don't need it. It unlocks the ability to flash things like radios and hboot versions, which are all closed and protected files from HTC and the carriers.

What HTC's method does give you is the ability to flash a modified version of a custom recovery, which can be used to flash the files needed to root the phone. Once rooted, you can run root-required apps and have read/write permissions on the system files. As it stands now, if this is all you ever wanted to do anyway, HTC's tool will work for you. If you think you might one day decide to get a little deeper, I suggest you wait it out for a while. Will methods to flash ROMs get figured out for phones unlocked with HTC's tool? Probably. There's also a chance the boot partition is able to be flashed. The one thing we all know for sure is that HTC has made it very hard to go back if you go through with updating and using their unlock tool. Waiting to see how this all plays out is probably the wise decision.

There are also Internet rumors flying around saying HTC will send another update to give the phones S-Off status, or that this is just step one and they will release updated tools to do it.  At this point, all that is just speculation.  Personally, I'll wait and see exactly what works and what doesn't before I decide to buy another HTC phone.  If all they have done is block access to carrier-protected files and still allow the flashing of a new system, data, and boot partitions, I can accept that position.  If they have blocked the flashing of new kernels or the boot partition as a whole, that's another matter.  With all the development going on for the Sensation and EVO 3D, we'll know soon enough.

More info at XDA: EVO 3D; Sensation


Reader comments

How unlocked is HTC's bootloader unlocking method?


Yeah now everyone can bitch and moan about this. Atleast moto doesn't let the bootloader unlocked at all unlike htc who gives you a little taste and nothing more.

Really surprising that HTC would give the community less than was expected.

Kind of like the incomplete kernel source they released a few weeks back.

HTC, I am disappoint.

Is it really surprising? I saw this coming a mile away. Corporations don't work for the consumer, ever. There may be a few exceptions, but most do not.

As far as the warning signs?

1) HTC locked their devices in the first place.

There was no justification at all; starting with the Thunderbolt, every single device of theirs has been locked. Why did they begin this practice, especially after Motorola has been criticized it for many months prior?

2) OpenSense is anything but what the name implies.

Sense was creating a closed Android system over time, and by the time of 2.0 it was clear that HTC wanted to make its own OS. Instead of doing all the work required to achieve that goal, they saw that they could just customize the crap out of Android and make their own flavor of the OS (Debian vs Ubuntu, for instance). This is what OpenSense achieves.

HTC is not trying to unify with Google Android and its fans; they and Amazon and others are trying to make their own brand of Android. They are going to lock their shit down. They don't want you messing with their ecosystems because it means taking away their business.

Long story short, if you are the type of person who frequently visits sites like Android Central or Droid Life, you should only be getting Nexus or Samsung devices as it stands now. Motorola may turn a new leaf once it gets bought by Google, and LG is still doing...something...but HTC and Amazon are basically off limits for the enthusiasts that want complete control of their devices.

I think you might be being a little over-dramatic here. HTC was one of the first Android adopters. I really don't mean to offend you here, but it drives me nuts when people online go on tirades when they don't have all the facts. Doing 20 minutes of searching online yesterday, I was able to find the instructions for doing the HTC onlock (yes, with S-On still in place) and install ClockworkMOD and Synergy ROM (which is a pretty awesome ROM, BTW).

If HTC is doing what you say and using base Android to create their own "flavor" of the OS, then I say more power to them. I believe that's what Google had in mind when they made the base code open source. Manufacturers "altering" the base code is how they compete with each other, which means that they are all constantly trying to make their version of Android a little better than the other guys, and that's good for everyone.

Bottom line: HTC *did* in fact live up to their promise to give me the ability to swap the ROM to something custom. That's fair enough for me. I say "Kudos, HTC, for actually listening to your consumers and then actually coming through on your promise. *And* within the time-table you gave. Well done."

Just a quick note, guys, even without S-Off, you *can* flash custom ROM's/Kernels/Recovery. I used the HTC method yesterday and have ClockworkMOD with the Synergy ROM and an overclockable kernel from Netarchy.

Never did have much need to flash Radios and such on my Evo 4G, so I really don't think that'll be a big deal for me. I'm happy with my rooted Evo3D, for now. S-On isn't the end of the world. The phone's "open" enough that I can do everything I ever did with my Evo4G, and it's running like a champ.

Don't know, exactly, what the rules are for posting links, but I can give the XDA link to get your phone full outfitted, if that's OK.

S-off... unlocks the ability to flash things like radios and hboot versions, which are all closed and protected files from HTC and the carriers.

But isn't this what you want Jerry?

End users and hackers have no business messing with radios. These things are licensed by the FCC, and the FCC will never consent to giving end users direct control of radios.

This sounds like a step in the right direction if you ask me. Put all hardware drivers in locked binary blobs on all phones, and then let users flash everything else.

Exactly. As long as users have unrestricted access to the boot partition, I say good job HTC. We can tinker away, and carriers (as well as the FCC itself) can know that sensitive files are still secure. I'm worried because of conflicting reports about whether or not you can Flash a new boot partition and kernel. Some say yes, some say no.

This is absolutely not a good job by HTC. You guys are apologizing for HTC and forgetting that we own the hardware.

Don't forget that HTC has their own obligations to live up to. And they have to make money, too. We really *are* the minority in this Android eco-system. HTC hasn't forgotten anything. It's called trying to protect your bottom line. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a company doing that. That's how they stay in business. I say good job for HTC not ignoring us.

It sucks but I guess I can see the point. The only true way to brick a htc phone is flashing radios.

But if you can't flash radios, then how can you update to newer radio builds? I don't know what I'd do if I were still stuck on the old radios on my Thunderbolt.

Presumably, "can't flash radios" actually means "can't flash custom/unsigned radios."

Your Thunderbolt at stock can already do this when RUUs are released; the radio is occasionally updated. You just can't flash aftermarket radios without S-Off.

Sounds like a hack would be better than this anyway. With a hack I can return my phone to stock should anything go wrong with it and return it under warranty. With this tool you void the warranty, right? Even if hardware is the item affected I am guessing they are quick to blame the user.

As long as custom ROMS can still be flashed along with kernels I am happy. I never really flashed radios unless instructed to by the ROM dev. I say it is still a win for the community.

And what legitimate reason is there for the average techie/hacker to be farting around with the radio? Isn't this like cable companies locking config file access to our own cable modems? We do want this right?