A lot of companies seem to think that people wishing to unlock their phone’s bootloaders have some ulterior motive for doing so, but more often than not this is untrue. Usually, they are just people looking to explore the true capabilities of their devices and to see what sort of software (ROM’s/Kernels) the developing community has produced. HTC has been one of the strictest companies, aside from Apple, when it comes to locking down their devices, and some people believe that their poor treatment of the developer community and Samsung’s cooperation has been one of the deciding factors in Samsung’s victories recently.
Lets not forget the uproar HTC caused by shutting down developer websites, RUU sharing sites with no word or warning. Recently, however, we learned that some Galaxy S4 variants would be shipping with a locked bootloader, and AT&T’s variant was one of them. Well, we have some good and bad news for AT&T Galaxy S4 users hoping to dig further into their new device.
Android fan and security expert Dan Rosenberg announced on Wednesday that he had successfully unlocked the bootloader on his Galaxy S4 for AT&T. Which is good and all, but Rosenberg says that he will not be releasing the tool until Verizon’s Galaxy S4 variant is released on May 30th. Why? Well, as we all know, Verizon has a bad habit of locking down the bootloaders on their devices. This was the case with the Note II and most other recent flagships, so it seems fitting that the Galaxy S4 will be in the same boat. If Rosenberg was to release the AT&T unlock tool now, Verizon developers would most likely get their hands on it, find the loophole that Rosenberg found and patch it. Rosenberg says he’s not sure if the same tool for AT&T will work with the Verizon model, but it’s “highly likely this” exploit will be cross compatible, implying Rosenberg knows something we don’t.
As far as precautions to take while waiting, Rosenberg advises that AT&T Galaxy S4 users should refrain from installing any over-the-air updates on their device, as it’s possible and probably likely AT&T might discover the hole on its own and will release an OTA update to patch it, if you see an update come in and aren’t sure what it is. If you’re planning on using this exploit don’t install it.
This is definitely good news for those of you that have an AT&T Galaxy S4 on the way, or already in your hands. Sure it’s disappointing that the unlock tool will not be released until later this month, but at least Rosenberg has a good reason for it.