The year was 2012. A mere two days before the alleged Mayan apocalypse—and about nine days before people stopped making tired old jokes about it—we got wind of the Developer Edition of the Galaxy Note II for Verizon. There were three differences between this handset and the version you could buy in the carrier's stores: it had an unlocked bootloader, it's unsubsidized, and it was not available for sale yet.
One of the biggest frustrations of dealing with Verizon, if you're someone who likes to tweak their phone, is that the carrier insists on locking the bootloaders on its phones that otherwise would not be locked. Samsung has offered Developer Editions of its phones in the past, including the Galaxy S III, largely to avoid that problem and appease the dev crowd. Today, that tradition continues with the Galaxy Note II which has now appeared on the company's site in a similar hacker-friendly model.
Welcome to the newer, friendlier Motorola, where every would-be Android modder is catered to. After creating developer editions of both the new Droid RAZR M and Droid RAZR HD for Verizon (the first from the manufacturer-carrier combo since the XOOM) Google's new acquisition is spreading the love to AT&T. The company announced the ATRIX HD Developer Edition, complete with unlockable bootloader, via its Twitter account today. There's currently no price or date available, beyond the fact that it will be available soon.
You may recall the collective scream of horror emitted by the Android community when it was confirmed over the summer that the Verizon model of the Galaxy S III would ship with a locked bootloader. As a consolation, Samsung decided to sell an unlocked "Developer Edition" for full price online. While the regular device has since been cracked, it's a lot cleaner to buy the dev version and now it's on sale.
Motorola has just made two sites for the developer editions of its newest phones live, and you can actually pre-order one right now. The RAZR M Developer Edition will cost you $550, which seems about right given the specifications. It will ship around September 13th, and comes in any color you like, so long as it's black.
You can also sign up for updates on the RAZR HD Developer Edition, though don't expect news on availability or pricing particularly soon - Motorola says it won't be shipping until "before the holidays." Both dev edition devices come with unlocked bootloaders right out of the box, so you can get your ROM on unhindered.
Today, Motorola just floored users with an unprecedented offer: if you bought a phone from Motorola that launched in 2011, most of you will receive an upgrade to Jelly Bean. If, however, you're using a phone that Motorola decides will have a degraded experience, you will receive $100 in credit towards an upgrade. This may mark the first time that a manufacturer has broadly promised compensation for a lack of updates for all of its devices.
Samsung's Android devices have always come with easily unlockable bootloaders, so seeing the Verizon version of the Galaxy S III locked down at the request of the carrier (we don't buy your excuse, Verizon) was quite a shocker to many enthusiasts (not like it stopped them). Samsung, realizing how important it is to have unlockable bootloaders on its devices, decided to go the same way Motorola did back in January and release a user-unlockable Galaxy S III Developer Edition specifically for VZW.