HTC bootloaders

To everybody up in arms over HTC's locked bootloaders (most recently the completely unsurprising news that the EVO 3D is locked), we hear you. And know what? HTC hears you. And while there's not yet any sign that we'll soon see carrier phones as open as developer phones, HTC -- for the first time we can recall -- has publicly said it may be considering a change.

For you laymen out there, having open access to the bootloaders and NAND memory are the lifeblood of custom ROMs. And while the vast majority of Android users are running virgin devices -- remember that more than 400,000 devices are being activated every day -- the modding community is a vocal one.

Said HTC on Facebook:

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. Thank you for your interest, support and willingness to share your feedback.

HTC followed up on Twitter as well:

Thanks for the feedback, we're listening! We're reviewing our bootloader policy.

This won't happen overnight, folks, and there's no telling if HTC actually will open things up and allow users to undo its customizations at will. (Hey, a lot of work goes into the Sense UI and making a smartphone.) But from where we stand, choice and openness are more often a good thing than not, and we welcome the discussion.

Sources: Facebook, Twitter. Thanks to everyone who sent this in!
More: Android Police

 

Reader comments

HTC: 'We're reviewing our bootloader policy'

68 Comments

That's pretty huge that they're at least considering it. I figured the outcry would just fall on deaf ears.

They were pretty much forced to. As upset as everyone who was considering this phone is now(including myself). Their Facebook page is being destroyed right now, along with twitter, and their email addresses lol. They messed with the wrong phone and fanbase this time.

Good to hear. Maybe I'm just a bit to cynical to believe that HTC has actually seen the light, but I'm glad they're at least reviewing they're policy.

I really don't know why they would try to pull something like this in the first place. Unlocking the phone is obviously a selling point for the manufacturers and Sprint is pretty much off the hook for insuring and replacing rooted phones. It's really a win/win situation for everybody. Accept for the hacked mobile hot spot thing on Sprint's part.

Sprint has replaced two Evo's for me and both where rooted, the first pone they checked for root, frowned then gave me a brand new phone (No reverb brand new). They also replaced my wifes rooted Evo (New phone) just this past weekend because of a bad micro usb port. So I guess It just depends on the store but mine replaces with out even checking for root half the time, and when they do they dont do anything about it. They just check to see if the hardware is acting up like we claim then replace the phone.

A friend of mine who works as a tech at sprint told me they will fix or replace phones even with rooting and roms. Mine was replaced while it was running Cyanogenmod cause I was having some minor issues and I had white light leak spots on the screen.

Glad their reviewing their policy on it, and some just want to run that pretty new sense without all the sprint bloatware burning up resources.really hope they change their mind on this cause I would hate to pass on this phone.

I don't get these tech companies? What does locking the bootloader actually achieve if the device will still be rootable? There is absolutely no plus side to this. The downside, pissing a good amount of your loyal customers that are willing to buy you device every year. If the rooting community is actually just a small percentage, why care about making it more difficult when you know they will be the most vocal? How can they not see the success of the Evo and understand the impact of the rooting community? The ball is in your court HTC, do the right thing or go on and send all those customers to samsung.

I think a locked bootloader means that custom kernels cannot be loaded, even though the device is rooted and custom ROMs can be loaded.

Kernels can over/under clock and over/undervolt and I believe the drivers that talk to the phone's hardware. Hopefully, I didn't butcher that and a dev can chime in.

No. Custom recovery, kernels, or Roms, unless the Roms are based off a stock Rom, will be IMPOSSIBLE with this phone, unless HTC changes things.

The groubal has blown up. Well over 4000 signatures in the matter of a few hours. Personally, I won't consider the 3d if the bootloader remains encrypted. I know I'm a part of the minority but I'd rather wait for the sgs2 or the new nexus than deal with sense sucking the storage and battery life out of my phone

Is really disappointing to hear that the Evo 3D will be encrypted. I'll wait for another non-HTC phone just in case, such as the upcoming Moto qHD on Sprint. I will never get an HTC phone again if they keep this up.

I don't understand the purpose of locking down Android phones. Sprint isn't asking for it and webOS phones are wide open. Imagine buying a Windows/Linux/MacOS computer and you can't get Admin/root access. It just doesn't make any more sense for phone/tablets to be locked down.

why would you get the Motorola. Motorola signs their bootloaders making it nearly impossible to put custom roms on. At least the HTC is only locked and is running sense, which is manageable. Don't get me started with Motoblur or any form of it.

Wow, wrong. Moto has said they will stop signing boot loaders, and this EVO3D bootloader is CONFIRMED TO BE SIGNED which is why everyone is upset. Read much?

Wow, wrong! Moto has said they would MAYBE stop with their locked bootloaders and MAYBE they would instruct how to safely unlock bootloaders later this year (CARRIER dependent). And this has no promise of unlocking any bootloader for phones currently in the market. Read much?

No one said anything about current phones, no one cares. For future phones, specifically towards the end of the year, Moto bootloaders will be unlockable per their released statement, as long as carriers allow it (Verizon obviously wont). Your point?

Its a moto statement. Maybe theres a blanket form all manufacturers share to shut ever one up.hey as long we say we are looking at that is cool. Do we need to do any thing no just act like we are typical corporate bs lines

Beat me to it. You're right though, Moto went through the exact same thing and said the exact same thing and you know what? They've done nothing yet.

Oh wow. I've been away for too long, I can't believe I never heard about this! Too bad (for me, anyway) Verizon will never allow a phone to be unlocked on their network...

I will get a HUNDRED replies for this: HTC got sloppy after the Evo.

Even then, their attempts to be original dimmed right after the launch of the Diamond and Dream(G1). How so you may ask? All they do is make variants of the same device, with the same hardware, same look, same feel, same Sense. HTC Desire HD, HTC Desire S, HTC Evo, HTC HD2, HTC Inspire, HTC HD7, HTC Thunderbolt, and HTC Incredible 2. All the same device, practically the same thing, almost nothing changes them from each other. Same cameras(sure some have front facing ones, others do not) some have other OSes but they are still the same design and concept and look. Another example would be the amounts of the Desire Z, the G2, Evo Shift, Merge. Sure Samsung does this but notice how even they do something different? The Transform, the Continuum, the Charge, the Epic 4g was so different from the Galaxy S line as well, with a freaking keyboard.

Now sure you may think I am just being a fanboy because I own a Xoom and a Nexus S, but yeah that must be why, it is why. Every HTC device I have owned or used, was a terrible experience. Dead pixels, camera flash not working, mic not working, and even the proximity sensors not working. I don't know I could just be VERY unlucky.

HTC needs to do something original, because Motorola has already done the whole locked up bootloader thing :)

I've had no better luck with HTC, let me say that. I really don't even consider them when I buy a phone, and I really hope they don't make the next Nexus. My own experiences weren't the only thing that got me though. One of the last phones I suggested to someone was the HTC Thunderbolt, because I figured I couldn't go wrong there. But his battery life is terrible, his connection strength is mediocre, and he's got a couple dead pixels and assorted issues even after going through *five* replacements. And even after that, I gave them a chance. And then I learned they locked the Thunderbolt's bootloader. That basically just killed them to me.

I hope HTC gets their act together, I really do. But until then, I'll be avoiding them; I don't need the hassle.

flood their facebook page with thank you's. let them know we appreciate what they are doing and that we can be appreciative and grateful as well as a riotous mob.

I am a fan of having control over your device. I rooted the MT3G and the Vibrant and have flashed more ROMS on each than can be counted. With that said, isn't the ultimate goal to have a device that does not need root access because it just works? No need to flash ROMS, just the satisfaction that the thing runs well. My work phone is the Thunderbolt, and while sure I would like to vacate the crapware, the phone functions well. ( Random reboots are not solved with alternate ROMS)
I am not saying that the newest HTC powerhouse Sensation will be perfect, but wow I would hope that with all that power and promise that even someone like myself who is not part of the general masses would be satisfied with the stock device.
I am not petitioning against the above posts that demand a true open platform. I am just saying that if the manufacturers would release a quality product, maybe we would be to busy enjoying the thing to bitch.

I agree with you to an extent. Flashing roms for me is having an early release of whatever version. Lately it's Sense 2.1 or 3.0 even. Some are stable some aren't. And you're right, rooting is no cure for reboots! In fact my evo reboots more than ever! I would at least have to be able to get Root Explorer on there to get rid of all the crap!!

I rooted my EVO 4G to flash a rom or two. That said, I'm running a stock 2.2 with the power of being rooted. Free hotspot (I think I pay enough to Sprint @99.00/month to have unlimited data) and for a few select other options such as Nandriod backups, Ti Back up, freeze or remove bloat..etc. Hopefully HTC does the right thing here.

PLUS I like HTC Sense and it seems only to get better. I'm not talking about "Friend Stream" "Footprints" etc...just the UI itself.

My .02cents.

Ok before anybody starts talking about that garbage of a phone galaxy s 2 by Samsung over this, let's remember how LONG it took to root the galaxy s 1. And I played with all the galaxy s phones and they didn't play games and run much better then my Evo. I am tired of hearing on every Android tech site how they are getting the SGS2 because of this locked bootloader but Samsung is the worst most garbage of ANY product manufacture EVER. They are nothing but a bunch of copy cats and poor hardware where not just their phones but tv and almost any electronic fails. So let Any person who THINKS their Samsung can still hold a candle to the High Quality brand of HTC. anybody wanna play ball? Yea I think not.

Try running PSX4droid or N64oid on the GS1 and then compare it to the EVO. You can't honestly tell me that the EVO runs it just as well. Even though they get lower scores in Quadrant, when you look at the fps (frames per second) you can see how much faster and smoother it runs them. Try running a live wallpaper like JumpGate with everything on max. My GS1 will handle it with almost no lagg at all, but my friend's MyTouch 4g can't even run it smoothly at medium settings.
As for the quality, I don't think its cheap. While it's not on pair with the Iphone or Motorola, it's still pretty good. I do love how thin and light weight they are.
As for them being copy cats... I love most of what they do. The only thing I don't like is their laucher. But I love their power widgets on the pull down bar, and how their music works. You might say they're copy cats, but it's the best player I've seen on any Android Device.
They do have a bad track record with the US varients. I don't really worry about it though, because we have great developers at XDA who work wonders.
You can trash Samsung all you'd like, but they do get a lot of things right. Otherwise, they wouldn't have sold so many devices.

I still have not seen anything from that that is what you call Done right. Every attempt they had at trying to compete with the iPhone or and phone has failed, and their humming bird processor is a joke, I have played games with the epic and atnt's Verson and they didn't run any better the my Evo. Maybe psx4droid and other emus have a slightly better fps but everything down to their camera is weak. Samsung can undercut HTC with its own CPU and gpu and memory but still fail. If HTC had released Evo's on all carriers like Samsung I can tell you just like Sprint, they would have crushed their sales. They have a super plus screen in the GS2 and still have a lower resolution then the Evo 3d. From a multi billion dollar company like Samsung who also provides top notch parts to Apple to have something to make the mobile scene day WOW. But its HTC who has been doing all the wowing around here. Fps only.matters by What APPS AND GAMES can make of it. Wait didn't I read Samsung is looking into NVIDIAs cpu/gpu? Ok well if they are then that must really say something about their own product. Oh and never think the support from xda for samsung would ever keep up or even come close to the support for the Evo by its self. I dont read great things about Samsung from xda like i do for the Evo. The Evo is the new iPhone of android and it always has been. Besides the nexus you will never have dev support like you do with the evo and HTC products.

lol woooooooooo, your ignorant. they definetly havent failed, they sold more than 10 million galaxy s devices. regardless of the amount of carriers, thats not a fail lol. their hummingbird chipset? how is that a joke? cortex A8 based, a great GPU (sgx 540) which holds the 2010 prize for the best GPU. the cameras in the galaxy s and galaxy s2 have both gotten a lot of praise. as for the screen, ignorant ass, its super amoled plus, and yeah its lower resolution, but the colors on that thing are amazing, and im not saying the super lcd in the evo 3d is bad or anything, resolution is always awesome to have. FPS does not only matter in apps and games (a game is an app btw), FPS matters throughout the UI. the browser, app drawer, messaging app, menus, etc. etc. look on youtube at videos of the galaxy S2, youll be blown away at how smooth it is. read engadgets review of it, and multiple others from other sites. you obviously havent done your research. samsung is looking to nVidia for their chipset solution because of supply shortages that samsung will encounter. otherwise they would totally use their own. xda support for the galaxy s devices has been a mixed bag, depending on the device. but if things like this bootloader junk keep happening, you just watch the change in dev support buddy. ive owned an evo, and i loved it to freaking death, loved the roms and everything. but i traded phones with my dad for the epic 4g, and the smoothness and responsiveness is pretty night and day, and the screen is unmatched. do your research before you post a comment full of grammatical errors (yes there will probably be some in my comment) and mis-information.

wooo, rant over lol.

This is why you don't drink and post. You must either be blind or stupid to not notice that the evo runs liked shit compared the galaxy s. Dungeon defenders is unplayable on the evo. The galaxy s is considered a high end device on the developers notes on hardware. The evo is not even listed, the g2 which runs a gen 2 snap dragon is only listed a mid grade phone. you can't even compare the camera between the two phones. More megapix does not mean better picture quality. You should come to the galaxy s forums and see the photo thread. You can't even tell they are pictures from a phone. Htc does not make anything of there own, they have crappy speakers that sound like shit and breaks, they have shitty screen that look like crap, and get dead pixels, they have shitty battery, they run sub standard processors, they are big heavy and bulky. Why do people like htc again? These are all hardware issues that no rom in the world can save. With the galaxy s all you gotta do is convert the rfs filing system to ext4 (voodoo), and run a flash a different radio and all off the faults are solved.you can always change software but you can't work around crappy hardware. Too bad you can't even do that on the new htc phones lol.

I installed JumpGate on my MyTouch 4g (rooted with C7) just now and it runs smooth as hell. So, I'm not sure what was wrong with your friend's device.

Personally, I think both Samsung and HTC fanboys are pretty pathetic. It's about preference. I could have gotten the Galaxy S 4G when I got my MyTouch, however I didn't like the feel. It was too plasticky and yes, there is such a thing as too light in my eyes. Now that I know about the pentel sub-pixel arrangement on the Samsung, I'm even more happy with my choice.

I'm not a Samsung hater, it was just a choice I made at the time. The SGS 2 looks awesome. Next round, I may choose different.

I agree with you on some of it. I actually told my friend to buy the Mytouch 4g instead of the GS4G. Yes the data speeds were supposedly a little faster, but he wasn't going to take much advantace of it. He wasn't really into gaming either, so the ovious choice was the MyTouch 4G. I'd say it's processor is about 15%-20% faster than the humminbird, but not it's GPU.
As for the jumpgate comment. I have my phone filled with Widgets, all 7 screens. I'd say about 15 widgets, and it berely makes a hiccup when scrolling (ADW EX). My friend's MyTouch 4g has 1 or 2 widgets and jet it still feels laggy, specially on the app drawer.
I've been an Android user for the past 1 and a half years. So far I've owned: Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Incredible, Motorola Droid 2 Global, and a Samsung Fascinate. For me the Fascinate was by far the better (This was just my personal experience). All of them were rooted, and the Droid 2 Global did seem a bit faster at loading web pages though. However overclocking my fascinate takes care of that. Not trying to be a fanboy, just didn't understand why the other guy was dissing so much on the GSII.
BTW if you look at the Quadrant benchmarks for the GSII, you'll notice how impressive their new GPU is. Though the final score might not mean anything, you can see that it pulls around 50-60 fps through out the whole thing. Thats pretty impresive, I haven't seen that with the Tegra 2.
I'd personally love to see Motorola build, with HTC and some Samsung UI, with Samsung hardware on a phone.

It won't be. Check the source link. The reason we know the evo 3d will be locked is because we know the sensation already is.

I don't even care if they lock down modification to sense. But I believe they should atleast allow the choice of putting whatever rom the owner wants into his/her phone.
HTC has always been nice about it, the locked bootloader hurts more than anything for them because then they're just gravitating themselves to the so called "big companies" that are hyper protective of their software.
In the end, HTC just has to remember that the modding community is not there to steal their intellectual stuff and make profit but to customize it to their liking and sharing their work (and to reiterate this: not to make profit, but as a point of enjoyment [i.e. XDA Developers])

I think the main problem here is Sprint with and other carrier about tethering and not paying for it. Hell I pay for the hotspot feature and still have to use my rooted Evo with other wireless tether apps because the built in hotspot app does not work correctly. I know guys why still pay for the hotspot feature if I'm rooted using other tether apps but I fell like their service is worth it. (to me only) lol until I get my Verizon dsl or Comcast back up and running haha.

I just left my 0.02

Unlock the bootloader, raise the resolution on the screens and put in larger batteries please. Otherwise that meteoric rise you've had will take a downturn, myself leading the way.

HTC does not seem to realize that for every ten sales that they make, all of these customers were referred by a son, daughter, or grandchild with a phone running a custom rom.

HTC should choose wisely here. They may find their sales dropping off rather quickly...

Why can't HTC and Motorola do what Sony is doing to unlock the bootloaders. I have no issues with losing the warranty but locking them out is what pisses me off.

HTC sales are going to drop because people can't root their phones? Yeah right. People rooting and using free hotspot apps are the reason he carriers want the bootloaders locked down in the first place.

Blame your fellow rooters.

these carriers want full control of everything, why shouldnt i have a hotspot app 4 my fone? you dont see windows or mac locking their OS, i can easily turn my pc to a hotspot with mobile internet so y should it be different for a fone. we d customers pay through the nose for these products so its only fair i get the right to root MY device.

This is why I love Samsung. Even the Nexus S came with root installed by default. HTC is losing a lot of market share. Just think about it...Google made their new Nexus S via Samsung. They don't want to play these lock bootloader games either.

some people making posts here r funny how can u come out to say that samsung r rubbish? i remember the true i fone back then and it was miles ahead of any competing brand. samsung makes electronic parts for other major companies (apple included), their fones are vibrant with colors although have some issues but which fone doesnt? is it the iphone 4 (dont let me start). samsung has been ok by my books but cos they released a better tab makes them d devil..smh

HTC products r so cliche these days..only thing they do is to give it a different name (weird names if u ask me) dont get me wrong HTC were the kings of smartphones but somewhere along d line they lost it. people say Samsung is crap but they have manged to bring out a reasonably priced tab compared to the HTC flyer which is 2 small, 2 expensive and still with the RAM sucking sense UI which makes no sense. deal with facts not fan-ship

Sorry HTC too late your shiney flagship sensation that I got 5 days ago is back in the box and being swapped for a galaxy s2
I'd have loved to keep it but if I'm not allowed to do my thing on your thing I'll find something else

It's prefectly understandable how everyone feels but ask yourself this question if your a person that does not root your device or may not know how why is it bad for a person to want the Evo 3d. HTC is still the best manufracturer and regardless of the locked bootloader on the Evo 3d this is the device I will be getting on day one. If someone finds away to get past all this locked bootloader stuff to a point of being able to truly get rid of whatever bloatware they want and are able to flash roms and use there device as they so feel then great. Meanwhile home at the ranch htc still provides the best overall experience compared to any device on the market. In my world Samsung can NEVER COMPARE TO HTC DEVICE WISE OR SOFTWARE WISE...MY EVO 3D WILL BE WAITING FOR ME DAY ONE and I will know that I will have one of the best device on the marhet according to specs so that alone will make me happy.

It's as simple as this, HTC.

1- Put up a developer download page asking for the ESN and phone number.
2- Verify the information provided was accurate.
3- Push an unlocked flashable bootloader image to the phone.
4- Flag the device in your database as 'this phone's warranty is now void'

Everybody wins.

Just sold my $50 pre order gift card for my evo 3D to my friend. Then called the store and cancelled it. I explained to the guy at radio shack why. I was going to trade in my evo (which i love) and grab an evo 3D. The odds of doing this now is zero. Ill wait for something thats true to android, unlockable and dev friendly.

Maybe we should wait until the devices are actually in hand before all the doom and gloom posts. There has never been a technology release that someone couldn't crack.

You do know that DVD Encryption was never actually cracked.

There are cracks for it now but the only reason people are able to copy DVDs now is because some small company got sloppy and released the key in error. And it didn't happen for years after DVDs had been on sale.

You're arguing semantics, but OK. The big picture is that whenever someone locks down something, it eventually gets a workaround. Let's be patient people and actually have these devices in hand for a bit to actually play with before we start talking boycotts.

We may also have to attack Big Red on this one... I have company phone, so I may be stuck with Verizon. Unless I can convince the President of the company to switch providers. I may in fact be able to do that.

Either way, if Verizon will not allow not allow unlocked bootloaders, I will then get a personal plan with whoever has the best unlockable phones/coverage...

Big Red needs to hear from us as well...

When the EVo 3D was first announced, I was super hyped by it and I wanted it so bad. I currently have the EVO 4G and I was going to use my upgrade to get this and pass my EVO on to my GF to replace her optimus S. But shortly after the GS2 was announced and I started to doubt my decision, and eventually changed my mind to get the GS2, btu the EVo 3D was still in consideration. After hearing this, HTC can forget it, I will definitely not be getting this device, or any other device that is locked down. The EVO is my first smartphone and first android, and I rooted it about a month after I got it and I have to say I have never looked back. To not be able to do all the things I have been able to, such as flash custom roms and kernels, is a deal breaker for me. And yes I have used wireless tether a few times but not that much.

To everyone who says people who root their phones are in the minority are right but most of us are the "geeks" or "techies" in our families or circle of friends/co-workers that everyone comes to and asks about what device to get. Things like this might make us sway someone in another direction. Case in point my co-worker asked me about the EVO 3D and I told him (this was before I heard about the locked bootloader) the 3D aspect was a gimmick, and that I saw a review by someone who had one in hand and they said the 3D pictures could only be viewed in 3D on the phone, once you send them they are converted to 2D. And also how you had to be looking at the phone in the right angle to even see the 3D.

We have a lot more voice in this industry than I think HTC initially thought, and hearing all this outcry has given them something to think about. Lets hope they actually do think about it and are not just placating us. Make the right decision HTC!!

I'm betting that manufacturers and carriers are devising a way to offer an unlock key upon request, with acknowledgement from the user that they willingly void their warranty. They've seen every post on XDA saying "you've already voided your warranty...." and people click right by, downloading and installing custom ROMs. Why not make that official? You want access to the bootloader? Sure thing. Just provide your ESN and we'll send you a key. And BTW, you officially void your warranty by clicking accept. They'd actually benefit from people rooting in this scenario by having fewer warranty claims.

Thoughts?

About 6 months ago I had narrowed my search to the Droid X and the Fascinate. The locked bootloader was the straw that tipped the scales to the Fascinate.
Had thought HTC would be the last to go this route - et tu, HTC?