HTC announced yesterday that it will continue to ship Android devices with padlocks strapped on to the devices’ bootloaders, but the locks can be opened with an HTC-developed Web-based tool.

In a Facebook note posted yesterday, HTC explained how the Web-based unlocking tool works. The process generally works as follows:

  1. Sign up for an account. A valid email address is needed.
  2. Read, understand, and accept legal disclaimers–including stipulations that unlocking your device may void all or parts of its warranty.
  3. Connect your phone to a computer with the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) already installed.
  4. Use the Android SDK to get a device identifier token.
  5. Enter the device identifier token into the Web tool and submit the form.
  6. Retrieve the unique unlocking key sent to your email address.
  7. Apply the unlocking key to your device to start the unlocking process on your device.

The online unlocking tool will presumably work on all upcoming HTC devices. Meanwhile, currently existing HTC devices (e.g., the global HTC Sensation, the HTC Sensation 4G on T-Mobile, and the HTC EVO 3D on Sprint) will be receiving software updates to enable support for bootloader unlocking on those devices. The updates will begin going out this month. The global HTC Sensation will get the updates first, followed by T-Mobile’s HTC Sensation 4G, and then by Sprint’s HTC EVO 3d.

HTC found it necessary to ship its devices with locked bootloaders in order to avoid device operation, security, and experience issues that may arise from having extensive control over a device. Such control is provided by unlocking the bootloader, and HTC is willing to allow users to do that. A vocal community of HTC device owners has been relentlessly asking the company to ship devices with unlocked bootloaders.

Although we feel that the unlocking procedure outlined by HTC may be a long-winded (but relatively easy) one, we are glad that HTC has listened to the public’s clamor. Do you think HTC’s proposed solution is an acceptable one? Or do you foresee issues?

Read comments