27
Aug
Spider_Front_1, 8/11/11, 11:29 AM,  8C, 4274x2400 (768+2896), 100%, Bent 6 Adjuste,  1/20 s, R42.8, G30.0, B59.6<br />

According to P3droid, a number of Motorola devices running Android 4.0+ have been imbued with a new feature you might not have noticed: a visual root checker. It's present on the RAZR, RAZR MAXX, DROID 4, and test builds of the Bionic. It operates rather simply. Once a phone is rooted, somewhere in permanent memory, a status change is written that displays in the phone's recovery menu. It works as follows: "1/1" means currently rooted, "0/0" means never rooted, and "0/1" means not presently rooted, but rooted at some point in the past. There is no way to reset this check, at present.

SONY DSC

Image via Droid-life

You can also get it to display "2/1" - though we're not sure what this means (possibly running non-stock code?).

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Why would Motorola implement such a feature? For me, I can see this being of immense use to people who deal in used smartphones. Most people don't want to buy a phone that someone has made their personal XDA tester device (or worse, been messed with by someone with no idea what they're doing). The new visual system is easily checked, and a device's unmodified status can be proven visually to a potential buyer. I honestly think this is a good thing - I'd have no desire to own a phone someone's been playing "how many GHz until it reboots?" with.

The more nefarious theory is that Motorola's warranty service employees will use this to deny repair or replacement service to defective but previously-tinkered-with phones. It could also result in the buck stopping at the carrier store, where a representative could quickly and easily verify if a subscriber has voided their warranty. Will it be used this way? At carrier stores, I'd say it's pretty likely. But if you send your phone to Moto for service on something that clearly isn't a result of tampering with the phone, I'm not so sure they'd care. Especially under the new Google regime.

We'll probably know soon enough.

Twitter [1], [2], [3], [4]

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://twitter.com/JirafaBo JirafaBo

    Dev's will find a way....

    • fixxmyhead

      yes but its the principle. this garbage OEM is the worst of them all. they will go beyond any other to make sure they keep everyone on check. f@cking motorola garbage phones

      • My1

        nope not anymore, that's Samsung.

        They even kill functions t´when the flag is triggered

  • Kellic

    Dear Google. Fuck you. Either fix this from your new company or GTFO.

    • Tony Macklin

      ...and where do you get that this is the doing of google? and not Verizon? ...when this is only present on Verizon?....????

      • Josh Nichols

        Those three phones exist outside of Verizon.

    • randyfromreno

      Google only supply's the code. The OEM and the Carrier are free to do anything or add anything they want. And Google has promised not to interfere with Motorola's making of phones(at least for now).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joel-Morales/100001410912688 Joel Morales

    Well that's kinda odd. Hopefully it isn't used in a way where the developing community is affected negatively.

  • http://twitter.com/bizdady Bizdady

    Damn OEMs! Samsung has this on their S3 but luckily Chainfire found a wait to make it back to stock with Triangle Away.

    • moelsen8

      Im more familiar with moto and less samsung, but isnt that a check for a modified kernel and not necessarily root?

      • Bryce Mrozinski

        Flash Counter actually.

  • David Perry

    I give it a month at the outside before the root check gets bypassed. It's just another "let's solve the problem with something draconian!" idea that is begging for circumvention, which will come sooner rather than later. When will they learn to just give us the damn phone we paid for instead of trying to lock us out of half of it? We only root the hard way because they won't just sell us a phone that we own outright.

  • Aaron

    Hehe. I wonder how many hours it will take to beat this one... Motorola sure is doing a good job at driving away techie users anyway.

  • http://twitter.com/Scooterman7 Neil Phillips

    I have qe 1/1, and I'm NOT rooted. So, FAIL?

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

      That means your device has been compromised and you will be eliminated via a laser blast from orbit.

  • Kurt Wurmser

    The dev community will have a reset tool of some kind in no time flat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MrWareWolf Ware Wolf

    This is lame. The thought that rooting a device 'spoils' it, is crazy. That is like saying "oh my god they flipped that bit to 1, what will we do!?!?!" This shit should be illegal, and unfair trade, for companies to make arbitrary rules that have no basis in reality, about something we do with our own personal properly. Keep it up Motorola, and people will grow to hate you and your devices..

    • mckooter

      First, root is nothing like flipping a bit to 1, it is much more intrusive than that, and could allow other apps to cause unrepairable harm to your device. also in all honesty rooting does little for the average man, most people first root then flash, and flashing sir, is millions of 1's (probably billions)

      i know my comments arent the norm, I realize i am in a minority, but this is my opinion, and I am proud to take responsibility for my actions

      • master94

        You cant actually break your device from rooting. Well unless you root it and throw it out the window, then maybe.

        • crankyd00d

          You can mess with system files so you can mess the software, you can overclock so you can mess the hardware...

          • aMawds

            Overclocking any device in existence that has heat protection will not damage it in any way. It simply is not possible. The phone overheats, and reboots. That, or much more usually since we don't up the voltages enough to cause heat issues, the phone simply makes a calculation error and it reboots. I will happily up my stock 1ghz phone to 2, throw it in a boot loop, and leave it for 24 hours if you want to argue this further. And as everyone who is at least somewhat good with computers will tell you, broken software does not mean broken device. Ever had someone throw a computer away because they got a virus? Probably. Because they were idiots. Derp, computer broken. Buy new one. Or reinstall the software that makes it tick.

  • PINJ

    I Think The Pupose Here Is Extremely Obvious -_-

  • 27yearold

    I think this is a good thing. this way idiots won't brick their devices flashing roms and pretend it was manufacturers fault

  • http://www.facebook.com/mevansdev Mark Evans

    One thing I will tell you is that Verizon updates will not update unless you have all of the bloatware installed. So if you have a Verizon device make sure that you make a solid backup to re-flash from.

  • mckooter

    I personally dont mind... I dont have/want a Moto device but thats not the point. When I root/flash a phone, I assume a risk.

    The last phone I got (off xda), I got it in, then tested real quick and let the seller know all was good, then i Flashed... why? because flashing (and rooting for that matter) is a risk _I_ am willing to take.

    I understand that others may feel entitled, and I realize that even if I have a factory defect after my flash I have to deal with it, but that is the agreement I made when flashing custom software..

    • aMawds

      I do feel entitled to warranty coverage of a rooted phone. Because I know the headphone jack doesn't get damaged (two phones, twice on the first) from rooting. Yes I flashed back to stock and derooted the phone, issue was still there, so I ordered a warranty return, flashed my backup to the new phone, and was on my way. This little check just allows oems to get away with shoddy build quality because one of millions of people flashed the phone with software that made it work properly. I don't even test new phones OS's anymore. I check hardware specs, ensure it's rootable, and buy it.

  • paleh0rse

    Another flash counter or root-check to reset?

    Give it a week.

    /yawn

  • Asphyx

    This reeks of Carrier command if you ask me.
    They are the ones who seem most concerned with Rooting a phone.
    But if they can do this in a way that can't be tampered with expect to see the same thing on units that Moto's new bootloader unlocker can unlock.

  • http://twitter.com/dnlkbox Daniel Box

    FYI - I sent the 2/1 image via Twitter - i'm running the totally stock .41 eu.en firmware, it's just rooted.

  • John

    I imagine this is done w/ a WORM area of storage? (Write Once Read Many)

  • grellanl

    I'd rather this than a "warranty waiver" that you have to fill out online, so they have a permanent record on their systems.

    Anyway, this sounds like it is really an "unlock counter" not a "root counter." You can be unlocked (fastboot oem unlock FTW!) without being rooted per se (or having root enabled) - for example, if you flash a nice AOSP-based ROM to get rid of the nasty manufacturer bloatware.

  • NuLLnVoiD

    UPDATE - I checked my Bionic ICS test build and the visual root checker is there too. Looks like this is going to be a standard going forward. My guess is that now that an official root method is being put out for new devices, Moto is using this checker on older devices getting updated to ICS as a way to see how well the carrier staff is getting trained to look for it. It's a slow implementation on older phones so when the new ones get rooted, they have all the excuses in the world to avoid the replacement.

  • xnifex

    This reminds me of the Call Log in Windows Mobile 5 & 6. No matter how many times you hard reset or reflashed the phone, it still showed the total call log.

  • tyler

    I have a razor.m that locked up during a forced ota update. The phone would not boot past the red m logo. It's been out of warrantee so I took it too a Verizon store too see if they could get it to boot. No luck. They turned me over to Verizon phone tech, who then connected me Motorola. The tech claimed that he could tell my phone was rooted prior to the last ota update. But that it shouldn't have interfered with the ota update, and are sending me a replacement. The phone was running stock Rom and rooted. I used voodoo ota root keeper after previous updates. I played stupid about having root access, and insisted that the phone worked flawlessly prior to the forced ota. He didn't push the issue and offered a replacement. But I'm wondering if he was calling my bluff or
    if they could really tell.