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Motorola talks unlocking bootloaders; starts with Motorola Photon Q

July 26, 2012

Motorola Mobility is notorious for locking the bootloaders on a large majority of their devices.  We’ve seen them release device after devices with locked bootloaders and even promises of said bootloaders being unlocked in the future without following through. In fact, the development and modding sectors of the Android community have even sought changes to Motorola’s bootloader policies via online petitions. Sadly, the outcries of the community did nothing back then. However, times they are a changin’.

Today, Motorola Mobility announced that their latest device, the PHOTON Q 4G LTE will have an unlockable bootloader. Motorola stated that for quite some time, they have been working with their carrier partners, in hopes to find a way to provide users with the option to unlock their bootloaders.  Some of the most exciting news to come out of this is the hint that previous devices may get unlocked as well. We’re not sure if this is via a provided installed application similar to the methods of ASUS or if you’ll visit a Motorola Mobility Dev site for instructions similar to HTC. Whatever the case, it’s coming.

We know there are users out there who have been asking for an unlockable bootloader on their Motorola Mobility device. For quite some time now, we’ve been working closely with our carrier partners to find a way to make that possible — all while keeping the networks secure and protecting other users’ experiences.  We’re excited to announce that Motorola PHOTON Q 4G LTE, just announced today and coming soon to Sprint’s fast 4G LTE network, will have an unlockable bootloader. We’ll share more details on how to take advantage of this feature closer to availability. And moving forward, we’ll be looking to offer this option on other devices as well.

Why exactly is this a big deal? For the general population, this doesn’t matter. However, for the modding community, locked bootloaders are simply a pain. When the bootloader is locked, certain portions of the device are unable to be customized such as recoveries or kernels. A lot of the time, when rooting a device, the first step requires the bootloader to be unlocked or bypassed. So, depending on the device in question and the will of the developer, creative Android hacking has allowed some devices with locked bootloaders to run custom ROMs. Generally, these devices aren’t as stable as they could be if the device was able to be completely customized from the ground up.

Is this new found softening of Motorola’s bootloader policy due to Google’s recent acquisition? Your guess is as good as ours.