If you updated your Verizon Galaxy S4 to the latest over-the-air build, or bought one after it was already installed, you might already be aware that it's been especially resistant to root attempts. Savvy power users have stayed well away from the updated VRUAME7 firmware, which makes rolling back to an earlier build impossible. But as is so often the case, two enterprising XDA-Developers posters have solved at least some of the problems, and released a new rooting method for the latest OTA.
Samsung Galaxy S4 owners on Verizon, there's a new update available for your phones. But don't bother checking your Settings menu for an over-the-air prompt: it's only available via the Verizon Software Upgrade Assistant after connecting the device to a PC. Standard users should be fine, but rooted users (or those who intend to root or flash a new ROM sometime in the future) should avoid this one. According to several posters on XDA, the VRUAME7 patches existing root methods, and flashes a new version of the locked bootloader that prevents users from flashing a pre-release kernel, effectively blocking another path to root.
It was only yesterday that Cyanogen definitively confirmed AT&T's treacherous move to lock down the Galaxy S4's bootloader, but there is light at the end of that tunnel. No thanks to AT&T but to security researcher extraordinaire and a person I admire Dan Rosenberg, a.k.a. the magician, a.k.a. the root whisperer.
Dan, who is responsible for numerous root and unlock exploits, tweeted this photo of his Galaxy S4 earlier today:
There are no instructions or blog posts explaining the unlock at Dan's blog yet - these should be coming in the future.
So, you were thinking about picking up a Kindle Fire HD, rooting it, and throwing a ROM on it for an impressive $200 tablet? Turns out that idea may not work out as well as we initially thought: both the Kindle Fire HD and the second gen KF have locked bootloaders. Bummer.
This may not mean that custom ROMs are impossible on these devices, only that it's more improbable.
For those who may not know, the bootloader is responsible for checking the firmware's signature before a device boots.
Verizon has taken some flack lately for being the only US carrier to lock the bootloader. Workarounds have been implemented, but Samsung's taken it a step further by announcing a developer version of the device. Today they...well, they haven't quite made good on that promise, but they have created a landing page for the device on their site that announces the 32GB Pebble Blue version will be "coming soon".
Those wondering whether Motorola's recently-announced Atrix HD will carry a locked bootloader can exhale – in a string of tweets earlier this evening, Moto confirmed that, yes, the Atrix HD's bootloader will be locked and signed.
That being said, Moto indicated that their "goal" is to provide a way to "unlock the bootloaders on our devices to those who wish to do so," adding that more details are "to come."
@kulow_atx Motorola ATRIX HD at AT&T will have a locked bootloader to meet requirements; (1/2)
— Motorola Mobility (@Motorola) July 10, 2012
@kulow_atx our goal is still to provide a way to unlock the bootloaders on our devices to those who wish to do so, more details to come(2/2)
— Motorola Mobility (@Motorola) July 10, 2012
What this means for the end user is that (for now) customization of the Atrix HD will be severely limited.
Of the four major US carriers to receive the Galaxy S III, Verizon is the only one to lock down the bootloader. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Nevertheless, enterprising hackers over at XDA and RootzWiki have successfully managed to circumvent the lock, achieve root, and flash ClockworkMod recovery. If you're on Verizon and anticipating owning a Galaxy S III, congratulations: your phone is yours again.
Forget about GPS issues, it looks like ASUS has a bigger problem on its hand with the Transformer Prime: a locked/encrypted bootloader. Like with other devices, as soon as the development community found out about this, there were some rather irritated people. The typical backlash against the company has now started on popular social networking sites, along with a petition that has managed to get over 200 signatures in just a few hours.
It was inevitable that the question is the bootloader locked? would pop up within minutes of Moto's RAZR announcement. The answer should come as a shocker to no one: Yes. According to Moto's Twitter, the bootloader will indeed be locked. It's not necessarily Motorola's choice, though, as the tweet specifically states that "the bootloader was locked per the carrier" Oh snap -- it was all Verizon's fault.
What does this mean for future Big Red devices?
The Android 3.2 update for the Verizon 3G (soon-to-be 4G) XOOM can be flashed right now, before it hits your device over-the-air.
If you've flashed a custom recovery (and gave up the warranty), you can find update instructions over at MDW - in this case, you don't need our instructions below. This option is good for those with unlocked bootloaders (though if you're rooted, it seems the only update option right now is to install a pre-rooted update which will wipe your device).