While unlocking the bootloader on a smartphone is not for everyone, there is a large community begging device manufacturers to free them of the boundaries from a stock device with locked down features. The bootloader is a set of instructions specifically designed to communicate with the motherboard and other internal hardware pieces of a device at boot up; giving them strict guidelines on how to start and work together.
With many new devices released each quarter, manufacturers have a hard time keeping released devices up-to-date with the latest operating system (OS). Most smartphones/tablets that I keep track of typically see one or two patches and one major OS update before getting end of life (EOL) cycled and left for the community to support.
Locking the bootloader has been a standard security practice in the mobile industry. Locking the bootloader protects you from malicious software and also allows manufacturers to ensure the device will consistently deliver the intended experience. -HTCDEV site
The community? When I refer to the community I am mostly referring to the tons of talented individuals or groups with a desire to take these stock devices and tweak them to get more use out of them and make them more of a personal accessory. The largest community gathering and my most recommended place to go if you have a technical question about your phone is XDA-Developers. Back to the subject at hand…
Earlier this year, HTC asked its followers on Facebook if they would like to see their phones unlocked. The response was major and HTC responded that it was in fact listening to the public and planned to set something in motion. While the process has not been an overnight thing, several devices have received the ability to be unlocked using a controlled method through a site run by HTC called HTCDEV.com. The site was revealed in August of 2011 and is the place to go if you want to officially unlock the bootloader on your HTC device. Despite this unlocking process provided by HTC, you are warned to unlock at your own risk and also reminded that this could void your warranty should you need to get the device replaced some time after it has been unlocked since HTC is not providing a way to undo the process.
Yesterday, HTC publicly announced all devices released after September 2011 are now supported on the HTCDEV website. The short list is provided below, but visit HTCDEV.com for a full detailed list and to see if your phone gets added later on.
- Amaze 4G
- Evo 3D
- Evo Design
- Evo View 4G
- myTouch 4G Slide
A few XDA portal admins have reported their HTC’s unlocked using this method though their devices are not listed on the site; Thunderbolt, Rhyme, and Rezound.
HTC’s method is convenient, but it does not fully unlock these devices. S-ON and SIM lock are still enable probably a carrier preference if anything else. This is where the community comes back in to play. There is a thread on XDA that has gained some spotlight on many popular mobile websites this weekend and certainly deserves some recognition on this site as well. XDA member “frigid” has combined the services from a few groups into one shiny tool called “HTC Super Tool” which after a few steps gets you on your way to total unlocked-ness. Check out all the options for us to apply!
Unlocking the bootloader on HTC devices is the first step to experimenting with enhanced operating systems and special functions not originally enabled by the manufacturer or held back by the carrier. If you are an above average user and feel confident enough to risk voiding your warranty, unlocking your bootloader or other listed options may be of use to you. If you are still trying to figure out what a bootloader is then maybe you should leave your phone the way it is.