HTC is continuing to release devices with signed locked bootloaders, as we found out today after taking a look at the latest HTC Sensation system dump. The upcoming HTC Sensation is one of the most powerful and desirable devices coming up, alongside the Galaxy S2, but while the latter's bootloader is unlocked, the one in the Sensation is protected via HTC's private key.

Unless we get really lucky, this means no custom kernels on the device (i.e. no custom ROMs) or recovery (i.e. no Clockwork, RA, or nandroid). Lady Luck was hovering around when we got our hands on the Thunderbolt - Justin Case and Team AndIRC who fully unlocked it can tell you just how lucky they got, but we may not get so lucky with the Sensation. Just look at the Incredible 2/S or the Motorola Droid 2/X (granted, it's slightly worse with those due to hardware being involved in the encryption) - they're still fully locked till this moment.


If you want to play around with the full system dump, you can find it over at 911sniper's slow download link or at our much faster set of mirrors here.

Update 5/18/11: The leaked Sensation 4G RUU unfortunately confirmed our suspicions that nothing would change for the U.S. version of the Sensation - it's signed and locked just as much as the European one:


Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • 513

    I like this phone but I ordered a Samsung Galaxy S II instead, already rooted, overclocked, great community.

    • Daemon

      Well, this probably not the best move :D Everyone of us knows how fast S-OFF bootloader version leaks from HTC and their partners. I'm sure, that we will have Sensation S-OFFed very very quickly)

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        Show me one for the Incredible 2/S.

        • Daemon

          Only months gone. Start counting))

  • http://twitter.com/mw301 Moe

    Very weak sauce

  • edd

    Oh no! This was my next phone. Now its not. Is the SGSII worth looking at? Damn I've loved HTC :(

    • Robert Hallock

      The SGS2 has +256MB of RAM, +15GB of user storage, a technologically superior screen (MUCH longer battery life and contrast), and an arguably better CPU. Definitely worth looking at.

      • Eggcake

        The sensation has 4GB of internal storage. just FYI.

        • bmg314

          Where did u come by that info? Every other source, including HTC, says a measly 1Gb internal.

        • Robert Hallock

          Only 1GB is accessible to users. 16GB on the SGS2.

      • nabely

        SGS2 has 1GB of RAM.

        • Robert Hallock

          Yes, which would give it +256MB of RAM over the Sensation, as I said.

  • Matt W

    I guess my next phone may well be a Samsung then. Bad move, HTC.

  • http://Facebook.com/DarknesSx.LDS DarknesSx

    HTC, that's the wrong move to make now...
    Anyway, it's not me who's losing anything.... HTC WILL lose A LOT since there is a more powerful competitor... (SGSII) and Samsung will make 2011 it's heaven

  • Fredrik

    that's it.
    Samsung it is. I was looking to upgrade my htc desire for the sensation, but I go where the community goes =)
    htc is rapidly losing customers.
    starting to smell like apple

  • Wam31

    Very bad move from HTC... What am I gonna replace my Desire with now ???

    When they'll push Android updates quickly enough, I'll understand (maybe) the need to lock their phones, til then... it's just a shame.

  • http://dohaveone.com Smurph

    I have been a HTC fan for a while. I currently have the HTC Evo 4g, and I was going to get the Evo 3d when it came out but if I cannot root the phone and run custom roms/kernels then I WILL NOT buy that phone or any other that come with a locked bootloader.

  • Ural

    Wrong move HTC, you jusr lost me as a customer. Its going to be an LG or Samsung SII now
    Its hard to understand why HTC would make such a foolish move.

    • Daemon

      I bless you for that. Do you really want to use phones with cheap crappy plastic only for their "not so hard locked bootloaders"? LMAO.

      • mintvilla

        This was my problem, HTC have locked their bootloaders on all their new phones, I dont like any of the sony phones, even though they have unlocked their bootloaders. I love the SG2, but hate the feel of it, too thin and light, to much like apple.

        Soooo i plumped for the LG optimus 2x ( dont laugh.. yes it is an LG, and yes it is as bad as the reviews say it is..) However the feel of the phone i like, its feels like a quality phone, it has a good quality ips screen, 8mp camera with 1080p recording and the tegra 2 is the processor to have on android ( not because its better than samsungs, its just more popular, and thus more supported )

        ANd most importantly, is supported by CM7, with CM7, this phone is a screamer!! and fixes all the rubbish that LG did to the phone.

        ALthough if your american, you can just get the LG2x, which comes with stock and is a screamer out of the box, and a trip to modaco.com will give you the leaked gingerbread upgrade.

  • Chris

    Was really looking forward to it, although I'm not immediately certain whether that means I'll jump ship to the Galaxy S II. I guess I can wait a bit to see whether there are any breakthroughs like with the Thunderbolt, I'd really prefer the Sensation over the Galaxy S II, but not if it's locked down.

  • meanwhile

    oh damn. im already on pre-order with sensation. and i really like it....
    well upset after this bit of news.

    • Daemon

      I'm sure this phone will never upset you.

      • Jc

        Come on. let's not start fanboy wars here. android is about being open and if htc is locking android down to satisfy their customers (it's not us, it's the carriers), then they can say goodbye to the community that made them great.
        I've loved my htc phones, ever since wm6, but for one reason: customisation from community. You can't truly get that without custom roms.

  • Jesper

    Long time Desire user.. Was planning on getting the Sensation but if this is the way HTC wanna treat the community then im no longer an HTC customer. SGS II ordered and im never looking back.

  • Jim

    Bummer but not surprised at all. Expected is more like it :(

  • James

    HTC, you shower of idiots. Let US decide what ROM we want on our phones, just as we would an operating system on a PC. You have ZERO right to dictate to US, the customer, that we MUST buy into your vision. If we don't want Sense, give us the option to remove it.

    I can assure you that this militant restrictionism will be your downfall.

    Either this gets cracked wide open or I'm going to Samsung.

  • JayMonster

    I guess now HTC will now be considered the same sort of evil that has been up until now reserved for Motorola. I don't know why anyone is surprised, HTC stated some time back that they were being pushed towards this by the carriers.

    While not happy where this is going, I'll be dammed if I am going to buy an iCopy from Sanding or anything from the most evil of all corps, Sony. Dell makes utter garbage. LG is LG... mediocre.

    The unfortunate part (from a US point of view admittedly) is that with the duopoly (realisticly) that we have in place allows the carriers to do this. I mean otherwise more people would jump to T-mobile for Nexus phone, g2, etc.

  • L Boogie

    Any more Wile e. Coyote ideas, HTC? Can't fix the battery issues that plague most of your phone catalogue now locked bootloader knowing the community's stance on that.... keep up the good work HTC, beep beep

  • Mutley

    I have the Sensation and its not a bad phone, pity thou about locking it down.

  • ciewkui

    is there some sort of online petition or FB page somewhere for us to vent our anger at HTC for this nonsense?

  • grenadecx

    Are you for real? Just because it will be harder to root, you will not buy it? I'm happy the large group of customers is not in the root-business.

    HTC makes great phones, HTC sense is really decent and just works really well. Before I could understand when the hdd space was small, but not now.

  • http://www.chainfire.eu/ Chainfire

    Lots of assumptions and plain wrongness in this news post.

    The SGS2's bootloader is not unlockable, it is unlocked. No trickery needed, you can just flash custom kernels, period (on the currently released devices... who knows about USA variants or the Tegra version).

    Also, the dump as screenshotted doesn't prove the bootloaders are locked at all. The screenshot proves the bootloader is SIGNED. SIGNED != LOCKED. They often go hand in hand, but they don't have to.

    For example, on the SGS2 the bootloaders (and kernel) are signed as well, but they are only partially locked. You can still flash unsigned kernels, but you can't flash unsigned bootloaders (hopefully).

    Seems to be a small difference in text, but in the real world that's a huge friggin' difference.

    Now, I don't expect HTC's bootloaders to be unlocked, I expect them to be both signed AND fully locked. That has up to now always been HTC's way. But maybe, just maybe, it is possible they do the same thing as Samsung, signed but only partially locked.

    That being said, who in their right mind would get a Sensation over an SGS2 ?

    • meanwhile

      i would :) oh hold... im getting it.

    • jcase

      You are correct about the SGS2 not being locked down tight. Miss wording on Artem's part. He has fixed it.

      The screenshot came from me (but I did not write the OP post). However how would you post any proof without the device in hand (that most people would understand)? You can't, but the Sensation bootloader is locked, and signed. Along with the recovery and kernel.

      There is no way to "prove" it to the masses at this point, but you know as well as I that the bootloader will not ship unlocked. HTC is not in the habit of allow shipping unlocked bootloaders, last oem-unlockable one they shipped was the Nexus One.

      I personally won't buy an HTC device again, and completely agree.

      SGS2 is a far better choice than Sensation, both in general and in "rootability".

  • Swiftdeathz

    I have the Thunderbolt and the main reason outside of 4G i got it was due to it's huge development following. If this is the deal that's going to go down with HTC i am out of there..getting an SGS II.

  • Russ

    Maybe they will go the way of Sony and offer a bootloader unlock for non-branded phones and only lock the ones being supplied through carriers...can only hope!

  • http://jonr.light.is/ Jón

    Thank you HTC for making the choice between the Sensation and Galaxy S II so easy for me.

  • Mo B

    I was planning on upgrading from my N1 to this...now i have doubts. I'm going to wait and see what Amazon has up it's sleeve

    • kayjay

      I can't believe how many people want that ugly sg2 phone I'm still getting the sensation and I bet all you have to dovis give it a month tops ad it'll be unlocked

  • johnson

    This is gonna be fun for HTC. Too many people will have the sensation for it not to be hacked. This is another hype case like the hd2. Who wouldn't want to hack the top of the line from HTC. Its their first duel core.

  • http://www.MiiWiiChat.com Player911

    I'm on the LG G2x and running the 17th CM7 nightly. The phone has barely been available for 3 weeks and we already have OC/UV kernels and several custom GB roms.

    LG is doing a good job on this one. Coming from a Nexus One, I can honestly say I am happy with my purchase.

    The SGS2 maybe. I've been following their forums and seems they are still plagued with GPS issues.

    LG G2x works on Tmo and the UK SGS2 supposedly supports AT&T.

    My vote went with the G2x for the Tegra 2 as it has a more powerful gaming gpu and Nvidia support.

    • AndroidLuvR3R1

      If its not a problem could you assist me on rooting my G2x for the first time? I could compensate you via pay pal.

  • Concerned Androidian

    Maybe before condemning this phone everyone should realize ALL HTC phones have signed bootloaders, they always have.

    There is a difference between SIGNED and ENCRYPTED.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Let's not get into this again - this comes up every time and every time we have to point out that it's not true. Don't make me call Justin here.

    • jcase

      No, no currently available HTC phone has a hboot that itself is signed. (please correct me, with valid citation if I am wrong).

      Proof that they don't have signed hboots? see http://alpharev.nl/ or anyone else making patched hboots. If they were all signed, then this would not be possible.

      IncS/Thunderbolt/etc had signed recovery & kernel that were checked by hboot, but their hboots were not signed.

      HTC's new devices will have signatures on the HBoots themselves. This has been brought up by many in the know recently, and the sensation is just the first public proof.

      • Darren

        Yes, that's true but if:

        1. There's a way discovered to get Radio S-OFF, like the G2/DHD, then the signatures will most likely not be checked.

        2. If the ENG HBOOT is leaked, like it has for all phones including the IncS, and it's signed, then there's no extra obstacles caused by the signature (over say the G2). If it's not signed, then point 1 is definitely true.

        It's not all doom and gloom and may in practice make it no more uncrackable than the G2.

  • inaudy mediavilla

    what does it means a lock bootloader

  • http://www.androidpolice.com R00t

    I rooted a friends HTC Legend a while ago and was shocked at how ridiculously hard it was compared to Samsung phones.
    Until HTC come to their senses I wouldn't consider buying their stuff no matter how shiny they make it.

  • MeatRocket

    I actually like HTC Sense, but will opt for the SGS2 when it comes out. Never thought I'd buy another Samsung product after the SGS GPS fiasco.

  • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

    Updated with Sensation 4G info.

    • http://About.me/DarknesSx DarknesSx

      Hehe more like "BAD NEWS x 2" xD
      Thanks for reporting :)
      HTC, Go to HELL!!! We made you (the development community) and we will destroy you >:-D

      • Bluevoodo

        I like your tone!

  • thegreattaurus

    To date there has been no android phone with a signed and encrypted bootloader to have "true" custom roms(custom kernel). You ppl need to chill the bootloader is only signed not encrypted.
    Look at Motorola or Old Sony Ericsson phones, thats how you F*** your customers.

  • http://samsunggalaxys2blog.com/ StenvenBe

    good news for Samsung Galaxy S2

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Rooting could be possible even with a locked bootloader through vulnerabilities - the bigger problem here is the custom kernel support, making truly custom ROMs potentially impossible.

  • Chris

    Well, we'll see whether the Sensation ever gets rooted. It's not total doomsday like an encrypted bootloader would be, but far from optimal in any event.

    I guess I'll be holding off for a few weeks before deciding, if the community doesn't break it open in a few weeks, I may decide on the SGS2, which by then will likely have a more stable version of CM7 out.

  • SG

    There's some sort of signature campaign going on against this over at XDA. (Wildfire Forums - General). Obviously inspired from the Motorola "movement", but, just posting this FYI.

  • Aska

    they have lifted it guys! cheers http://wakeuphtc.blogspot.com/

  • Bashar

    But HTC recently announced that they are unlocking all booloaders for all their phones?