If you're going to do any serious modding on your Android smartphone, your first step is going to be unlocking the bootloader. This is a simple procedure on Nexus devices and a few other handsets, but many of the top OEMs have added security measures to prevent regular users from mucking about with their stock software. For these devices, there's a tool called Sunshine by recognized developers Justin Case (jcase), beaups, and friends. Read More
Using an unlocked bootloader on your phone or tablet is not safe. Don't do it. Unless you want root permissions, or the ability to backup and restore your software via a custom recovery, or you want to use a ROM that didn't come with your machine. These things don't make an unlocked Android device any safer, but they are pretty good justifications for unlocking your bootloader. If you'd like to have all that unlocked cake and metaphorically eat it too, the BootUnlocker app is your friend. Read More
Fastboot oem unlock is a command many Nexus owners know by heart. The command, which unlocks a Nexus device's bootloader, takes a special consideration in Android 5.0 Lollipop, though. The command will fail unless a certain box is checked in the device's "Developer Options" menu. This is a minor change, but one that isn't immediately obvious to the user.
On my Nexus 6 review unit, the option was already checked after I opened Developer Options, but it appears that may not always be the case, as one tipster indicated the option on the Nexus 9 had to be checked manually. Read More
Ah, Developer Editions, what would we do without you? Probably suck it up and buy the retail versions, since anyone who's actually in the market for a Developer Edition phone on Verizon doesn't have a choice of GSM carriers with unlocked phones. If you've been drooling over the Galaxy Note 4's high-end hardware but lamenting Verizon's locked bootloader policy, Samsung is ready to sell you an unlockable phone. That will be $699.99, please. Read More
Much to the chagrin of cell carriers and hardware manufacturers, there are still many in the Android community that choose to delve into the world of hacking and modding their phones. Owners of the Verizon Moto G are certainly in this crowd, and they've been eagerly awaiting a reliable method for unlocking their bootloaders. It turns out that their wait ends today. Sunshine, a tool built by Justin Case, Beaups, and others to unlock HTC and Motorola phones, just gained support for the Moto G on Verizon. Read More
Be advised, some of the instructions below are now outdated due to significant changes to the Android Wear firmware and app since the Lollipop update. Most of these activities, like taking screenshots manually, enabling debugging, and even unlocking the bootloader will work with only minor modifications to the steps. However, the rooting steps below can not be expected to work any longer.
You saw Android Wear a couple of months ago when Google unveiled the SDK and both LG and Motorola presented the first promotional pictures. Read More
Verizon customers who want to indulge in the more in-depth parts of Android don't often get the chance, thanks to the carrier's tendency to lock down bootloaders and close off most of the avenues to custom ROMs. But for major releases, manufacturers often sell contract-free variants with an unlockable bootloader. Like the S4 before it, the Galaxy S5 now has the option, and you can buy one directly from Samsung. Verizon won't sell it to customers online or in retail stores. Read More
The new Xperia Z1s on T-Mobile is almost identical to the international Z1, except for the radio bands and some software tweaks. One thing that definitely isn't the same is the bootloader – it appears that T-Mobile has requested Sony not allow bootloader unlocks on this device. For a company trying to upend the traditional carrier model, this is awfully old-fashioned carrier behavior.
If you like to mod your Nexus devices but you're also a fan of tight security, you probably already know BootUnlocker. It's a simple app that allows rooted devices to lock and unlock the bootloader without wiping user data. The developer, segv11, is back with v1.5.1 of this handy little utility. The latest update adds support for the WiFi (flo) and LTE (deb) variants of the 2013 Nexus 7 and the ability to set the tamper flag on the Nexus 4 (mako) and Nexus 5 (hammerhead). Read More
Did you know it's possible to unlock your Nexus 5 bootloader without wiping user data? If your device has already been rooted and relocked for optimal security, then unlocking is just a button tap away thanks to the latest update to BootUnlocker. Support for Google's latest flagship phone was just added with an update to version 1.4 of the app from XDA member segv11. Sadly, both generations of the Nexus 7 from ASUS remain unsupported. Read More