Incredible S locked

Bad news for anyone hoping to run custom ROMs on HTC's new Incredible S anytime soon. A recently-discovered RUU for the device seems to indicate that like its distant cousin the Thunderbolt 4G, the Incredible S has a signed bootloader and recovery image. This means any custom recovery image without a valid HTC signature (the kind you'd need to load a custom ROM on your device) would be detected by the phone, which would then deny you access to it.

This is a potentially major setback for any Incredible S owners hoping to ditch the stock ROM in favor of something a little more exotic, as it adds an extra hurdle to the usual rooting/flashing process. All is not lost, though, as recent progress in hacking the Thunderbolt may prove useful in eventually cracking the Incredible S's security. If you're thinking of picking up an Incredible S, let us know whether this will affect your choice in the comments. [AndroidPolice]


Reader comments

HTC Incredible S has signed bootloader and recovery image


I love how when Moto locks the bootloader, everyone is up in arms. When HTC prevents you from loading custom ROMs, the outrage is strangely more muted...

It's not muted.. it's more of something that is still up in the air and open to discovery. No one wants to say too much about it until more confirmation about what's going on is discovered. With Motorola their locking out was totally obvious and harder to bypass. HTC is seemingly testing the waters as things on the Thunderbolt are opening up but with each device that gets released, it COULD be one step closer to becoming more like Motorola.

WTH are you smoking? It's locked. You are one of the ones that like to mute you HTC fanboy. I'm no fan of any manufacturer but I can smell BS.

WTH are you smoking? It's locked. You are one of the ones that like to mute you HTC fanboy. I'm no fan of any manufacturer but I can smell BS.

it was but whos to say they won't continue to make it harder to crack on newer devices? Hacking is one of my favorite things about Android and I would hate to see a future with all locked devices except for Nexus devices.

i agree but then i will only buy nexus devices. unfortunately even if we vote with our pockets we are very small fraction of android users so it wont be noticed... damn i wish i could have a company custom design a phone i want to my exact specifications and sell it to me. id pay 700-900 for that!

Who is this meant for? Anyone who knows what a bootloader is will either wait for XDA to bypass it or just pass on buying this phone. Those who have no clue won't even know the difference. I wish they would just stop telling us what to do with our phones. Personally I won't even consider this, and I'm sure others who know will do the same. In the end the manufacturers will only hurt themselves doing this.

I think this may be Verizon's doing, considering most of their phones are locked. Hopefully they wont lock the EVO 3D

Actually the Incredible S is actually coming to Verizon as the Incredible 2 and I'm sure they had something to do with this. They've always have been douches when it comes to their phone's firmware (remember when they loaded all their phones with the evil red OS way back when and got sued over it?)

I doubt Sprint will pull a stunt like this on the Evo 3D

The only reason the original droid was wasn't locked down was because Google had a very large role in the design process of that phone. If it wasn't for Google the original droid would have been locked just like the milestone.

I think it's HTC's doing. If the phone is locked down, the user can't uninstall anything that comes pre-installed (HTC or carrier bloatware). If you're forced to used bloatware, it's another possible channel of revenue for them.

I see a trend here. Obviously. Looks like android is going into lockdown and starting its way towards the way ios and wm7 are. I don't like it. HTC is a major player in the android marketplace. If they do this then we are seeing the days of easy rooting going into the sunset IMO.

I was definitely waiting to buy this phone... this is some 'ol bullshxt.
As a loyal consumer and a Verizon employee... I can't help but to feel a lil dissapointed by HTC.
Open source deez nutz...

That's a cool story and all bros, but what I really want to know is, when is the Incredible 2 for verizon coming out!?#@

Personally, I have not rooted my phone as I have not felt the need to but I would not buy a phone/tablet that could not be rooted.

It is a matter of customer choice and those of us who want the option will vote with our wallets.

I can't really understand why manufacturers feel the need to lock their phones/tablets down.

Many people buy a PC with Windows already installed but know that they have the option to install alternative operating systems and/or have a dual boot machine - even with different versions of Windows. Why is a phone/tablet any different? The only reason I can think of is that some phones are sold at a subsidised price and network operators need to ensure that the buyer stays locked to their network. Perhaps they should review their strategy and ensure that they offer value for money and excellent service.

I am in the UK and the highest rated ISP in reviews is the one that lets you cancel without penalty on a month to month basis. They do this because they are frequently voted best value for money and customer service. Other ISP's have minimum 12 or 24 month contracts and it's only after you sign up that you discover that they have "bandwidth shaping" and hig contention rates.

Vote with your wallet and don't buy locked down devices!

A locked bootloader doesn't mean you can't root the phone. It simply prevents loading of a true custom ROM or kernel to the device as it won't pass the signatures required to get to the phone. The Atrix as well as many other Motorola phones have locked bootloaders and still have root and pseudo-ROMs to change the look of the device.

+1 to this

I have a DX (arguably the most locked down phone ever), and while I would love to be able to load CM7 or another ROM, I do have lots of choices when it comes to ROMS and root.

Honestly, I also have a Nexus 1 and I can customize the DX only slightly less than the Nexus. Sure, it's easier and a bit more stable to dink around with the Nexus one. But like I said, short of being able to load Cyanogen on the DX I'm not missing anything.

And even then there are days away from having Cyanogen 7 released for the DX.

It does suck that they are being forced by the carriers (IMHO) to lock the phones down. But I've always said that no company can compete with the collective will of the internet. People will find a way..or the device simply won't sell.

I'm pretty disappointed by all of this. I know it doesn't make ROM's impossible, but it makes it more difficult. Hell, to root the Thunderbolt you have to jump through a ton of hoops, including loading an earlier version of the firmware, just to get rid of the crap that Verizon deemed necessary to include. If I would have known this before buying the phone, I may have reconsidered it.

This is at Verizon's direction. They just don't want the custumer service calls when the nube's screw up their phone. I hope sprint tries the opposite approach and releases an unlocked phone up front. That is the direction they are going. I would not bet on it, but with this deep google integration, it would not shock me.

i remember flipping shit when HTC started pulling that moto crap. but since it has been unlocked fairly quickly i don't really know what to think

This is a very troubling trend. For some reason all the manufacturers are feeling the need to lock things down. Is Google putting pressure on them? Is it the carriers? I think it is more likely the latter than the former. The only reason the Thunderbolt was able to be rooted was because there just happened to be an early build of the software out there that did not have the signed files. We might not get so lucky with the Incredible S or the EVO 3D. If thats the case I will just be getting a Nexus S. Even though the hardware is out of date, at least I can run whatever rom I want to on it.

The boot loader on the new Sprint HTC EVO 3D is not locked down. It was said to be "open" and Sprint has acknowledged that. Sprint wants to accomodate it's customer and dev community by offering a great phone that is open for the community to have fun with. Sprint is where you will want to go if you want an open phone. Screw Verizon and AT&T in their ear holes!!!

when did sprint say that the evo 3d will not have a locked bootloader.. sorry but i really think you are making that up...(i'd love for you to prove me wrong)

I think carriers want these phones locked down. When someone bricks their phone trying to install custom ROMs, who do you think they call? That costs money and carriers already investment heavily in making sure their devices work as advertised, so it is an unnecessary expense. In reality they're only trying to make it a little more daunting so rooting is limited to people who know what they're doing (or are crazy enough to try). I plan on buying an Incredible 2 but by the time I do I am sure it will already be cracked and I'll have a few ROMs to choose from.

More likely they dont want users uninstalling the crapware that they dump onto these phones, so theyre all for putting hurdles in place to block that.

Exactly. But instead of going the lockdown route that carriers are making Android manufacturers go I wish they would take the opposite approach and require every device be sold with an OS "Restore Disc" to allow modding owners the ability to restore their phone at home and not feel they have to "fake" a return to have a working device.Being open is always the best policy.

You know I just got a DX and I love it. I know the bootloader is locked and I knew it when I bought it but it really doesn't bother me. The phone is great. Don't get me wrong its rooted and romed. I even have the droid overclock app but I hardly ever touch it. I got it set to a 1ghz ulv and I don't feel the need to overclock. Really the kernel is the only thing you can't tamper with on locked phones and we have ways around that so I don't see what everyone is crying about.

No AOSP, Cyanogen, or Miui makes sad pandas. Everyone on HTC phones is running Gingerbread thanks to the dev community.

I think the carriers are making it harder so they can get the added revenue from people signing up for mobile wifi hotspot . I'm not sure how much Verizon or AT&T charges for their wifi tethering plan but im guessing its same or even higher than what sprint charges which is $30/month. Thats a lot of money they loose out once customer root the phones and use the FREE versions of wire tether and wifi tether thats out there.

I suspect this is a big part of it. Also, Verizon wants people to actually use the paid bullshit apps they throw on phones (VZW Navigation, CityID, that horrible parody of the Android Market they set up, and so on), and most ROMs wisely exclude those apps.

you can still root the phone with a locked bootloader, sooooo i believe that you can use free wifi tether even if the bootloader is locked

I bet this will be a Verizon thing when it comes to Verizon, I doubt the international version will be locked down, although who knows for sure.

If this continue to the point where HTC turns into another Moto I may very well abandon android all together. Don't get me wrong I love android, but I don't like being restricted if I am suppose to have the option to change things. All I now is if they screw up android with this I'm heading over to WebOS if it looks attractive.

I feel the same way. I love Android, but if I'm going to be forced to play in a walled garden then I'm going to head over to the well groomed one.

Where do I get my black turtleneck?

My contract is up in a few months, and I was looking forward to switching phones and possibly carriers, depending on who offers what. I don't know what these guys are thinking, but they are dead wrong if they believe I'll spend so much as a dime on a locked phone. If I wanted to do that, I'd buy an iPhone.

Boo HTC come on why would they do this, they are just going to lose money doing so. They don't take rooted phones for repare anyway so cares

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I think the carriers have a big part in the locked bootloaders to try and prevent hacking of phones. Rooted/ROMed phones seem to always include FREE tethering which the carriers do not like. Plus they know people get rid of their garbage bloatware that they end up loosing money on so thats another reason.

I wish Google would make it mandatory for manufacturers and carriers to have everything be truely open and not allow locked bootloaders as it seems to go against the very thing Android is about.

I really hope it's just Big Red. They are money and power hungry so I expect it. If it becomes the norm for all android devices.. then I will likely abandon Android myself.

I LOVE android, but most of that love is because it is so open. If it becomes locked down, then it is the same as everything else... and that is boring.

BrianTufo: Locked bootloaders do not prevent you from using root apps like wireless tether, or Titanium. Using those apps is the only reason I root. Z4 roots the X in seconds.

Edit: Free USB tethering is available without root.

I'm confident that unrevoked will get by this. HTC's security is NOT like moto's. The security lies below the radio. If we can flip that s-on to s-off, we should essentially be able to tell that phone what signatures (if any) it should accept.

Can someone explain why HTC would do this while ALSO releasing the kernel source code ? What good is the source code to the kernel if the bootloader is locked ?

Aww, I thought HTC didn't care about what customers did to their phone with the Nexus One, Desire, Desire HD, Desire Z, etc. I guess their business model is changing. So what's the point of HTC (and Samsung) releasing kernel sources if more companies are going to start doing this?

Considering Android *is* Linux underneath, they can't expect everyone to be happy running the basic stock ROM. It's not just a phone, it's a computer. And with computers, people like to tinker around and load newer versions of software and even their OS.

I can see the manufacturers point of view, they want to show off *their* version of the ROM and software package, but I'll tell you, as soon as the HTC EVO was hacked I was shopping for a ROM that could get rid of their stupid bloatware software - and I am getting better battery life and on-screen usability as a result - and I'm not even so aggressive to get the newest latest greatest ROMs.

I'm certain this and the Evo 3D (I'm still undecided on that one, however) will be rooted eventually.

We should all ditch Android until Google gets its act together and requires manufacturers to stop locking down what is supposed to be an open OS. When Android sales drop and Google gets to feel the pain, they'll have to do something about it.

You are correct. But Google didn't release Android out of the kindness of their hearts. They released Android so they could have another medium to push their ads ad-nauseum into more users, so Android is making them money. If nobody is buying Android, nobody is getting its flood of ads and user trends tracking.

I'll throw this out there. If devs and custom ROM users really are a small percentage of the general population, then locked bootloaders doesn't really do much. In other words, if we really didn't matter, phone manufacturers and carriers shouldn't care what we do, as we shouldn't present any risk to their revenues. Even with locked OS's on the phone, we aren't going to be inclined to utilize/pay for their sorry apps/markets anyway.

On the flip side, they're locking things down because they're losing money from people installing custom ROMs and deleting stock bloatware. So which is it? Are we the minority who HTC and others don't care about alienating, or are we significant enough to make an impact with what we do?

Either way, we should make an effort to let HTC know what they're doing is going to alienate the users who really got HTC popular with the Android community. Without the developing that ran rampant blog sites wouldn't have been praising and allowing this tremendous and sudden growth of HTC and all things Android to happen.

I certainly will not be using any phone (or tablet if I ever get one) that prevents me from running a custom OS. Battery life suffers because of bloatware and poor stock kernels. Speed is limited due to bloatware and poor stock interfaces. Utility of the phone suffers because of the same. So, I'll happily email every outlet to HTC and VZW this same exact message in hopes that someone realizes they're digging their company's own grave for the long term. Google thrives because of the user friendly relationship it developed, and all these companies are thriving because of the same relationship. To turn a wonderful open system into a closed proprietary world will ultimately lead to alienating the very people who brought you success.


Well that means my next phone choice is rather limited. HTC and Moto are now a no go which leaves Samsung with it's terrible support and less than desirable build quality unless Sony miraculously comes out swinging. I will be hanging onto my current phone for much longer than normal I think. Although I mostly care about running a stock rooted phone the option of flashing a ROM is something I don't want to give up.

With all the carrier changes and rising prices and now locked down phones I might just give up using a smart phone. It isn't like it is needed. It's just a toy. Anyone who uses one for work is a fool if they are paying for it out of their own pocket.

I'm no Apple fan boy but at least with the iPhone you know they are all the same and someones going to jailbreak it as soon as a new OS upgrade comes out. with manufactures making it difficult to root newer Android devices iPhone may not seem so bad after all when its time to upgrade next year. We'll see......

HTC has offered to unlock its boot loaders. I think Incredibe S also in the list of unlockable phones. In that case would it make gaining S- off & flashing cm easier than before?