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ASUS refunds Zenfone buyer for failing to provide bootloader unlock tools as promised

A money claim case in the UK resulted in a Zenfone buyer getting a full refund after ASUS broke its promise.

Published onApril 5, 2024

ASUS Zenfone 10 vs ASUS Zenfone 9 standing
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • In the UK, a Zenfone buyer sued ASUS over the company’s broken promise to provide bootloader unlocking support for its phones.
  • The buyer won, getting a full refund for the phone and their court fees, for a total of £770 (~$973).
  • If you have similar issues, this case proves you have a shot at getting a refund, too.

Over the past few months, there’s been a growing controversy among buyers of ASUS phones. Although ASUS makes some of the best Android phones you can buy, the company has fallen short in making bootloader unlocking tools available to buyers. Previously, these tools were easy to operate and readily available, but in May last year, things took a turn. Now, unlocking the bootloader of a recent ASUS phone — including the Zenfone 9, Zenfone 10, and Zenfone 11 Ultra — is not possible.

One buyer in particular, who we’ll call Timothy (not their real name), was very upset about this. Timothy told us that they bought an ASUS Zenfone specifically for the ability to unlock its bootloader. Upset by this broken promise, Timothy — who lives in the United Kingdom — sued ASUS in the UK’s version of small claims court.

Today, Timothy provided us with documentation of the court case and proof that ASUS has settled. In the settlement, Timothy received a full refund for the phone (£700) and the court filing fee (£70) for a total of £770 (~$973).

This has set a basic precedent: if you, like Timothy, are upset that ASUS isn’t providing a way to unlock your phone’s bootloader, taking the company to court might be a viable solution.

ASUS bootloader unlocking: What is going on?

Unlocking the bootloader of an Android phone is a way of getting full access to the system. It allows you to manipulate the software already installed on the device and even uninstall it and reinstall a new version of Android. While this is often complicated to do, it provides a way for smartphone owners to continue to use their devices after an OEM has terminated support.

Given that ASUS has one of the worst software support commitments in the Android world, many tech-savvy ASUS buyers have depended on bootloader unlocking to continue using the company’s phones far beyond the dismal two-year window ASUS provides. In fact, ASUS has essentially acknowledged this phenomenon by promising to continue providing the necessary tools to bootloader unlock its phones.

However, last year, it reneged on that promise by disabling the unlocking tools and refusing to give users the codes they needed to perform the procedure. It started removing posts about bootloader unlocking in its ZenTalk forums. Mods of that forum started giving explanations about the unlocking tools being under maintenance or getting overhauled for compliance reasons but giving no information on when they would become active again.

In March, Timothy led the charge by taking ASUS to small claims court, which brings us to today’s news of their big win.

If you are in the same position as Timothy and would like a refund for your ASUS purchase, small claims court might be the best way to go. However, we have reached out to ASUS to get more information on this situation from the company’s perspective. Unfortunately, due to ASUS being based in Taiwan, we are unlikely to get a response until next week. We will update this article if and when we hear back.

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