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HTC Locking Other Bootloaders, DROID Incredible 2 Could be Next?

The big controversy surrounding the HTC Thunderbolt last weekend had to do with its locked down bootloader and signed recovery, which temporarily scared the hell out of anyone who just bought it.  Luckily for all of us, the crew at AndIRC quickly jumped on it and cracked it wide open before Verizon had a record number of opening day returns on their hands.

The really scary thing here though, is not that it was the Thunderbolt that was locked, but that it was HTC doing the dirty work.  Previously, HTC had been known as a “dev” friendly phone manufacturer, so when we saw a bunch of signed pieces on this new 4G LTE phone, we all freaked.  But what if they weren’t stopping there?

The crew over at Android Police took a look at an RUU from the Incredible S and discovered that it could also be just as locked down.

Well, after seeing their report, our thoughts immediately jumped over to the DROID Incredible 2, which could be here any day and will actually affect many of you.  We opened up the system image that was leaked out a couple of weeks ago and found what appears to be the exact same news that AP ran into with the IncS.  Now, we have no way of proving if it’s officially locked just by looking at a system image, but seeing the words “signed” all over the place sure isn’t leading us to believe it won’t be.

Who’s to blame in all of this?  We’ve been hearing for months now that carriers are starting to place more and more stress on manufacturers to find ways to keep users like you and I out.  So with HTC seemingly jumping on board with the likes of Motorola, our days of a truly open handset could be numbered.  Maybe our friendly neighborhood Panda will find us a Nexus S 4G LTE to grab a hold of?

  • http://twitter.com/Chasemanhattan3 Chase Chick

    Looks more and more like my next phone will be a Nexus. There is now no doubt in my mind. Hopefully there is a newer one coming out soon. I will absolutely not deal with a locked down bootloader that the manufacturer stops supporting. The reason is because if I choose to put another launcher, the other launcher is still in memory and is a drag on resources (even if you delete everything off the home screens). The only way around this is to have only one launcher on the phone at a time, and to delete what you aren’t using with tibu. Also having wired tether is indispensable. I don’t abuse it, but I will use it with my laptop if I’m out and about and just happen to need internet access.

    So ef you moto, and now ef you htc. I actually think BOTH UI’s are hideous. Same goes for Samsung. I have never seen a manufacturer UI that I would purposely put on my phone. And the new UI on the Atrix is the worst one yet.

    Manufacturers, with your various “skins” the only way you are distinguishing yourselves is who is the biggest retard. If you want to add some functionality or widgets or something I’m game, but forcing UI on us that can’t be replaced is indefensible.

  • http://twitter.com/Chasemanhattan3 Chase Chick

    Looks more and more like my next phone will be a Nexus. There is now no doubt in my mind. Hopefully there is a newer one coming out soon. I will absolutely not deal with a locked down bootloader that the manufacturer stops supporting. The reason is because if I choose to put another launcher, the other launcher is still in memory and is a drag on resources (even if you delete everything off the home screens). The only way around this is to have only one launcher on the phone at a time, and to delete what you aren’t using with tibu. Also having wired tether is indispensable. I don’t abuse it, but I will use it with my laptop if I’m out and about and just happen to need internet access.

    So ef you moto, and now ef you htc. I actually think BOTH UI’s are hideous. Same goes for Samsung. I have never seen a manufacturer UI that I would purposely put on my phone. And the new UI on the Atrix is the worst one yet.

    Manufacturers, with your various “skins” the only way you are distinguishing yourselves is who is the biggest retard. If you want to add some functionality or widgets or something I’m game, but forcing UI on us that can’t be replaced is indefensible.

  • LivinFree

    Why are people even surprised at this. It is old news the mfgs are getting forced to lock devices. It’s only been a matter of time. to further add i’ve seen many many hints of this coming from some of the great insiders we see in the Android community who get info from carrier and mfg insiders. On that note if you think this is bad just wait until they get some of there new security measures in place on the device side and network side they have been working on. Oh and by the way it is not relative to any one carrier of device mfg this is like an across the board type deal they are all working on.

  • LivinFree

    Why are people even surprised at this. It is old news the mfgs are getting forced to lock devices. It’s only been a matter of time. to further add i’ve seen many many hints of this coming from some of the great insiders we see in the Android community who get info from carrier and mfg insiders. On that note if you think this is bad just wait until they get some of there new security measures in place on the device side and network side they have been working on. Oh and by the way it is not relative to any one carrier of device mfg this is like an across the board type deal they are all working on.

  • LivinFree

    Why are people even surprised at this. It is old news the mfgs are getting forced to lock devices. It’s only been a matter of time. to further add i’ve seen many many hints of this coming from some of the great insiders we see in the Android community who get info from carrier and mfg insiders. On that note if you think this is bad just wait until they get some of there new security measures in place on the device side and network side they have been working on. Oh and by the way it is not relative to any one carrier of device mfg this is like an across the board type deal they are all working on.

  • Anonymous

    +1 well put my friend

  • RW-1

    “We’ve been hearing for months now that carriers are starting to place more and more stress on manufacturers to find ways to keep users like you and I out.”

    Carriers – know thy place! To provide network service, nothing more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25001493 Hank Godwin

    Am I really going to have to switch to Sprint just to get the next Nexus phone? Come on Google/Verizon, if you”re going to allow/insist on encrypted or locked bootloaders, at least provide an option for those of us that can’t accept that.

  • Angrykleptos

    Nexus S is looking better and better. Here I come, Sprint?

  • Bullet Tooth Tony

    As a matter of just bringing up the other side of the argument here… moving from a rooted Droid to a non-rooted Thunderbolt… if Sense keeps having little unique features like it does, flipping to silence a ringer, flipping during a call to turn on speaker, ability to end a call from the notification window, etc… I’ll happily stay un-rooted. I’d be more concerned about SIM-locking, or more appropriately SIM-unlocking, in all honesty…

  • http://twitter.com/hpizzy Hiral Patel

    I was hoping it was locked ane there would record number of returns maybe then they will learn what us consumers really want.

  • Anonymous

    First we head about a rumored Motorola OS, then HTC locking down their phones. What’s next in the bad news department? A joint effort between Google and Apple that they’ll call iAndroid?

    • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

      Don’t jinx it now…

    • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

      Don’t jinx it now…

  • Anonymous

    Verizon really needs to cut this crap out! Seriously, now we know for sure it’s them requesting these locks. Now we know why Verizon would never have a Nexus phone and why they never had the Nexus One when it was originally thought that it was coming to them.

  • Anonymous

    Verizon really needs to cut this crap out! Seriously, now we know for sure it’s them requesting these locks. Now we know why Verizon would never have a Nexus phone and why they never had the Nexus One when it was originally thought that it was coming to them.

  • Anonymous

    We are shooting ourselves in the foot.

    These companies aren’t here to deliver the device YOU want, they are trying to deliver the device that you will buy to make money. There is a big difference there.

    There is obviously a business reason for this otherwise they wouldn’t invest the time and money to do it. Maybe instead of ranting if we could determine their motives we might better understand why this is happening.
    I would imagine HTC wants to see a return on their sense.com investment through users actually using it and Moto wants to preserve the money they receive for pre-installed apps. These revenue streams likely help keep the profits at an acceptable level. If these revenue streams are removed then either the phone prices likely go up or they will seek alternative platforms.

    If everyone wants unlocked phones (as I know I do) we should instead look at lobbying for a Nexus like device from each manufacturer. As unlikely as that is to happen, it much more unlikely they will simply give up on preserving their revenue streams via locked phones.

    However I’m sure my attempt to logically debate this will be lost in the all “waaaaa, it isn’t fair” posts.

  • Anonymous

    We are shooting ourselves in the foot.

    These companies aren’t here to deliver the device YOU want, they are trying to deliver the device that you will buy to make money. There is a big difference there.

    There is obviously a business reason for this otherwise they wouldn’t invest the time and money to do it. Maybe instead of ranting if we could determine their motives we might better understand why this is happening.
    I would imagine HTC wants to see a return on their sense.com investment through users actually using it and Moto wants to preserve the money they receive for pre-installed apps. These revenue streams likely help keep the profits at an acceptable level. If these revenue streams are removed then either the phone prices likely go up or they will seek alternative platforms.

    If everyone wants unlocked phones (as I know I do) we should instead look at lobbying for a Nexus like device from each manufacturer. As unlikely as that is to happen, it much more unlikely they will simply give up on preserving their revenue streams via locked phones.

    However I’m sure my attempt to logically debate this will be lost in the all “waaaaa, it isn’t fair” posts.

    • Anonymous

      An example of a business need is you’re going to find apps like NetFlix will eventually require a signed bootloader so they can verify the devices identity.

      • EC8CH

        And why does Netflix need to know what phone I’m using. Seriously movie industry… if I’m going to steal your stuff, taking it from a Netflix stream on my phone isn’t the easiest most convenient place.

        • Anonymous

          Because they want to know if one account is being accessed by 500 devices
          and they know they are getting ripped off.

          • EC8CH

            I already access my account from five different devices, TV, laptop,
            desktop, bluray, ps3… but I see your point.

  • OG

    Bring Nexus dev phones to your customers Big Red! You’ll satisfy all the people who love to tinker to their liking, and get your cut from activations, and contracts…..How’d you let Sprint figure this out before you???

  • RedValley

    um im new to this but whats the point of having the bootloader for? is this a big deal for the avrege user that dosent do all that tech stuff like most of you guys here. no afence to anyone :)

    • DBK

      Non taken. For the average user, it’s not an issue. They probably don’t even know what a bootloader is. For the geek minority, it means being able to take off the crappy UI (Blur, Sense, Touchwiz, etc..) and making the device a stock Android device, as well as being able to thoroughly theme the device (not being limited to just wallpapers and sounds). There is a considerable boost in performance when doing that, but it’s not for everyone.

      • RedValley

        oh i see. thanks i understand it better now. now i get why you guus are mad id be mad too if i knew how to do all that.

        • DBK

          No prob. And considering it was promised as an open software in the beginning, you can understand why that makes us even that much more “up in arms”, so to speak.

          • Nxus1ne

            Umm, what was promised as open software? From whom?

            You’re probably not familiar with the Apache license in which the Android code is licensed on. HTC and Motorola are well within their bounds to do so.

  • vernon

    samsung galaxy 2, here i come!

  • sixohtew

    yes and no. i like how they made it harder for some people to brick their phones, but hate how they made it harder to root… but hopefully htc will keep it signed..that way people can figure it out.. make a device to root with one click..hell all of us who use one click root are doing the same thing but just with an application to do the work for us… i have an incredible rooted with gingerbread and i havent been happier since i rooted… the incredible 2 i give 3 weeks before its on unrevoked as one click root…hell even the tbolt will be one click with in a few weeks..bet money on it.

    • DBK

      There’s already one for the thunderbolt.

  • Bump47

    I am Droid all the way but after reading this and seeing the frustration from this it, what is the difference between Android and Apple if all the carriers are going to lock everything down? I have an iPod touch jailbroken and it can do a ton of stuff better than one that is not broken. And it’s super easy to jailbreak. I’m know apple fanboy and I hope all this blows over and bootloaders are not locked but whats the difference?

    • Bump47

      edit: I’m no apple fanboy

    • DBK

      Difference is, even locked, Android devices are still superior to crapple devices. Besides, jailbreaking a crapple only allows it to do what a droid/android already can do without unlocking/rooting.

  • Patrix29

    I have 2 HTC cdma Desire’s 1st one came with 2.1 and was rooted my second came with froyo and is boot locked 1.06 s-on I dont know if it’s HTC or USCC but if this keeps going on I’m gonna go back to just a simple phone

  • Mr. Joe

    So what does that leave us?

    You all were sucking the HTCock and now it looks like they’re locking the stuff. So what is left for you guys?

    Moto: Locks stuff
    Samsung: Doesn’t update
    HTC: Locks stuff

    Guess it’s to LG?

    • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

      What about Sony Ericsson?

      • http://twitter.com/Scores87 Ed

        doesn’t update either

      • Winston Lane

        LOL

    • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

      What about Sony Ericsson?

  • Anonymous

    Disclaimer: If you don’t like it when I write “letters,” please stop reading here.

    Translation:

    Dear Loyal Android VZW Customer,

    If you want one of our phones, you’re going to play by our rules. Unless it’s an iPhone, then you’ll play by Steve Jobs’ rules. There aren’t enough of you out there for us to care. We make money by adding apps to your phone that you don’t want. We lose money when you use “wireless tether.” We’ve got the best network on the planet, and we’re not afraid to piss a few of you off. If you don’t like it find another carrier. We’re working hard to provide what’s best for us… ehm… you.

    Sincerely,
    The VZW Paycheck and Freedom Arsons

  • Jamesdoulane

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux Read the history of how a brilliant idea has been corrupted.

  • http://profiles.google.com/devilsnakelds DarknesSx LDS

    i think HTC didn’t like being called “Manufacturer of the year” at 2010 and they want to shut down the company asap because their CEO want to have a permanent vacation -___- My Dream phone is HTc Pyramid BUT if that was LOCKED then i’ll grab the nearest nexus around… it’s not like we have no choice like with the iP*** we still have the good “old” nexus…. that brings me to the next point.. WHY Are Nexus phones are so not high-end? (i mean like Nexus S was a typical phone with NOTHING special about it (except the build quality which was EXCEPTIONALLY……………BAD!!!!!!!!!)

  • http://whitemarket.freeforums.org/ Avery Dejuan Herron

    How could this one be cracked so easily but we are still waiting n the droid x?

    • DBK

      Because the DX is locked down a lot tighter.

    • Anonymous

      because the droid x bootloader is encrypted.
      The thunderbolt’s booloader is locked and signed.

  • Raptor007

    I am tired of the bloatware and lockouts that the carriers are putting in place. First off, I purchased the phone, retail or on contract I purchased it. If it was retail I have the RIGHT to unlock it, and if I am on contract I also have the RIGHT to unlock it. Its simple, if you break the contract they charge you $350 (total with phone is greater than retail) and they have you on a service plan as well.

    The carriers are making money hand over fist and it seems its time to make noise at the gov’t level. If people actually want the bloatware they should be allowed to d/l the crap and install it, we should NOT be forced to accept it especially in the case of the ThunderBolt which has 5GB of space lost to bloatware and Verizon is making money off of it.

    • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

      That’s Verizon For Ya!

  • D.J.

    Le sigh. Hopefully this is locked like the Thunderbolt and Desire HD/Z and easily unlocked. If not, I’m definitely going to have to go with a Nexus phone if I stay on Android at all. And if I have to go to T-Mobile or Sprint to do it so be it. Get your stuff together Verizon, if you’re going to request the manufacturer lock the device (or only offer locked devices) give the power users an option at least.

  • Tcal

    BTW…
    How did anyone not see this comming?!? Especially after the G2 fiasco?

  • http://twitter.com/TeamAndIRC ✔ Justin Case

    Kellex,

    Where is this Incredible 2 RUU at?

  • Tcal

    Don’t really care, I mean, you CAN, after all, run custom roms on devices with locked bootloaders. The prime example would be the Droid X.

    Bottomline: It would only impact my decision to buy a phone if all other specs were comparable.

    • DBK

      But the whole idea of unlocking the bootloader is so you can use those ROMs to there full potential (by getting rid of the fugly, non-android UI). Which is majorly the reason for unlocking and rooting.

      • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

        Umm… Its called installing an alternative launcher.
        Not that hard to do.

        • DBK

          But you will still be stuck with the fugly, non-android UI. Which in turn would (to a degree) not allow your phone to perform quite as it should with the ROM, regardless of the launcher. There are those out there that are indeed that picky.

          • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

            I’ll have to take your word on that.

          • DBK

            lol It’s proven fact. A quick browse through any dev site (and even this site) would show as much. It may not be a concern to you, and that’s fine, but it is an issue to many.

          • http://www.facebook.com/richardjdillon Rich Dillon

            You are incorrect. No matter how fast or smooth you think you could get your phone by running Sense or Blur, my non-sense,blue phone will always out perform yours

          • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

            All I said was “I’ll have to take your for that”. Why should I be criticized ever so blatantly for admitting that I am not well learned in programming?
            BTW, I KNOW what vanilla-android tastes like; I have a Droid currently running UD 3.1.1.

          • DBK

            I wasn’t criticizing you (and my apologies if that’s how you felt). I was just pointing out the err in your argument. I did say it was fine that it wasn’t a concern for you, didn’t I?

          • DroidzFX

            Timeout

    • http://twitter.com/TeamAndIRC ✔ Justin Case

      No, sorry not like this. HTC is locking /system as well, motorola does not.

  • Jamesdoulane

    People mod nerf guns and buy holiday holiday themed outfits for their lawn ornaments (don’t ask). How is what We do with our phones so reprehensible that we need corporate prohibition? Outlawing making cars that can exceed the speed limit seems to be a good metaphor.

    • Anonymous

      Agree.

    • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

      I will tell you how: They are tired of people clogging up customer service with questions about rooting and installing custom ROMs ect.

      • Rizzidy

        Is there any evidence that this actually happens nearly as much as is rumored in these comments?

        • DBK

          This I would like to know. And even if that was a problem, there are easy solutions to it:

          1) While going through the automated menu or on hold, have a message play (and repeat) that states that they do not handle rooting/unlocking issues and refer you to their website where a page would be dedicated to links to sites that do.

          2) Since they do have the ability to know whether or not a phone was rooted/unlocked (if bricked) they can easily deny the claim and send the phone back.

          Money saved, lockdowns go away, people who know how to root/unlock happy.

          But of course that would be too logical for Verizon.

          • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

            Firstly, the majority of people, to put it simply, are morons; They will hear the warning and ask anyway.
            Secondly, It costs money to check every single phone that comes in to be repaired under warranty.
            Thirdly, Verizon’s customer care will most likely refer the customer to HTC’s help center.

          • DBK

            1) Then the reps can repeat the message.

            2) They lose less money checking the phones (which they should be doing anyways) than they do replacing them.

            3) Agreed

          • Jamesdoulane

            If the world stopped manufacturing ever product that people called in with stupid questions about civilization would grind to a halt.

          • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

            I don’t see your point…

          • Jamesdoulane

            Trolls can’t see points?

          • DBK

            He is definitely not a troll, he just isn’t as concerned about these issues as we are. No harm in that.

          • Jamesdoulane

            Unless you dilute the point of concern by your lack of understanding. Then harm is done to the thread by aggressively questioning something that is required prerequisite for the discussion.
            I guess if someone posted 4 topics on why we even need phones to begin with that would add to the conversation?

          • DBK

            And now you’re attacking me.

            Aggressively arguing something trivial is just as bad as aggressively question something that is required for the discussion.

            Besides, it didn’t harm the discussion and actually resulted in some valid points. So, like I sad, no harm no foul.

          • DroidzFX

            Play ball

          • DroidzFX

            Play ball

      • http://www.facebook.com/richardjdillon Rich Dillon

        Umad?

  • Anonymous

    I guess we have to hope Verizon et. al. make agreements with El Goog to carry Nexus phones, eh?

  • Jothen2002

    Being in a non 3 G area I was so looking forward to my second smart phone the incredible 2. The D1 was my first it it has been blast. Now what ? Where do I go for another great Android experience but with better hardware…I may just stay with my first love …the D1 for another 2 years….

  • goblueboy

    at least it isn’t as difficult as it is for motorola’s lock

  • Anonymous
    • http://www.google.com/profiles/107430353005607798966 KiriusKris
      • Anonymous

        Well would you look at that?

        Just look at that!

    • Winston Lane

      TOOOOOOOOO! FUNNY!!!!

  • Rizzidy

    Looking more and more like Nexus is the only way to go these days.

    • tjhrulz

      I was just thinking that with the way manufacturers and building android phones these days its gonna be as locked down as an i*hone. I guess that means though that pure android devices (like the nexus x) are gonna sell a lot more.

      • Rizzidy

        Well, we know the carriers want these phones locked down hardcore. It’s too bad the average consumer won’t know any different to be able to make a significant market impact. The Nexus phones simply don’t sell well enough.

        • tjhrulz

          But if it comes to more networks and is the only google experience phone I know a lot of people that that would be all they would buy
          The reason why it didnt matter so much before was because an HTC phone you could turn into a google experience phone and there were not many new ones that were out on all networks. I am really just saying that if this continues google experience phone are going to far outsell the rest. (opinion)

          • Rizzidy

            I don’t see that happening.

        • Anonymous

          And thats the point, average consumers dont know the diff, nor do they even know what rooting or a bootloader is.

          I think locking the phones the way htc does is them appeasing the carriers, but by not locking them the same length that moto does is there way of appeasing us, the vocal minority.

          • tjhrulz

            Hey if its optional to have im okay with that

          • Rizzidy

            Right. Because the consumers won’t be putting any significant pressure on the carriers/manufacturers for stock-unlocked phones, and because the carriers are putting a ton of pressure on the manufacturers to lock them down, we are really only going to see locked phones in the future.

            Too bad, but our little contingent here is really an incredible minority of the cell phone using population.

          • DBK

            That’s how phones should be locked: tight enough so the amateurs who brick their phones can’t unlock/root it, but just loose enough so the pos/devs can.

            Moto, take notes.

          • DBK

            That’s how phones should be locked: tight enough so the amateurs who brick their phones can’t unlock/root it, but just loose enough so the pos/devs can.

            Moto, take notes.

        • Bungree

          The flip side of this is that HTC, Motorola and the rest are spending a ton of cash for something that will only affect .01% of their customers… and will likely be circumvented within 24 hours anyway.

    • http://twitter.com/Tcalight Tcal

      Meh… I didn’t like the changes brought out by the Nexus S
      The next one might not be so different

  • http://twitter.com/NovembersDirge The Observer

    Looks like it will be up to LG, Samsung, or Sony to keep their phones unlocked.

  • http://twitter.com/BlackTaxi2d Henry S

    might as well get an iphone, yeah ?

    • http://twitter.com/NovembersDirge The Observer

      Nah, then you’re stuck with iOS.

      • Anonymous

        Greatest answer ever.

    • DBK

      Going from one locked device to another…….pass.

    • Winston Lane

      I think thats what its gonna come down to. Im not an Crapple fan but if all this craziness we call locking is going on, to me its the same thing as…… III..iiiii.i…..iiiIII.IPPPPhone.

      Man that was hard.

  • http://twitter.com/RageXicity Mike

    People brick their phones and try to send it back in even though it clearly states that rooting and what-not voids the warranty. I’m shocked it hasn’t happen sooner

    • Anonymous

      If that’s the case they can send the phone back and deny the warranty claim. It’s our money buying devices we own. We should be able to do what we want with them.

      This is like a computer manufacturer welding the case shut and locking down the BIOS with a factory password. Worse even, at least with that scenario you’d still be able to change the OS on your own.

    • Anonymous

      I seriously don’t know 1 person that’s permanently bricked their phone.

      • http://www.facebook.com/5.second.minute Kit Tihonovich

        Nor I.
        I have heard of people bringing them in…and getting new phones in return…
        But the Verizon people would simply have to sbf the thing to get it to work…so IDK what the problem is.

      • http://twitter.com/TeamAndIRC ✔ Justin Case

        /me raises his hand .. given i dropped it in sink of water a week before that.

      • http://twitter.com/RageXicity Mike

        I’m saying like people that do clumsy things like try to update their phones through a mobile updater and mess up then take the phone into verizon

      • Mr. Joe

        I’ve seen people.

        It’s the people who don’t read how to do anything and give it a go. They lock it and decide they don’t want to read on how to undo it. So they just go and have it replaced.

        I saw something like this when I was at a vzw store. The guy was sweeting bullets when he said “I’ve had the phone for a month, but I haven’t put a google account on it cause I forgot my password”.

    • Anonymous

      Thing is, all they have to do in regards to that is just not give the replacements. Problem solved and only those willing to take the risk truly take the risk.

  • Anonymous

    That’s nothing but bad news. Hopefully it was no mistake that the TB was able to be cracked open.

    If it truly is the carriers forcing this on the manufacturers I hope someone starts a lawsuit. Though I’m generally against them I think this is one case it would be valid.

    • Jamesdoulane

      Wasn’t Linux and open source code prohibited from being locked down by it’s Creator? There was some legal skull duggery going on to allow this kind of buisiness in the first place.

  • KO

    Truly a sad turn of events.

  • Joemega2010

    all i have to say… :[