This is a guest post by Ricardo "arcee" Cerqueira who takes things apart for sport, on a quest to understand how they work. He currently works on Android devices at Cyanogen.
As people started receiving their Nexus 6Ps, some began freaking out over a new message that comes up on the screen when booting into fastboot mode: “QFUSE: ENABLED,” with wild speculative theories coming up regarding what it does and doesn’t do, what kind of limitations it’s imposing, and wondering if and how it can be “disabled.” So... what’s this qFuse thing, anyway?
Think of an eFuse as the mind’s eye representation of a bit that only flips one way, or something that can only be done once on a piece of writeable flash.
Looking to apply some root modifications or custom ROMs to that sweet Moto X Pure Edition (AKA the Moto X Style outside the US) you just got from Moto Maker? You might want to think twice. According to an employee post on the official Motorola support forum, the Moto X Pure Edition is not considered a developer device (like the Developer Edition versions of previous Moto X and DROID phones), so fiddling around with aftermarket software means you're on your own when it comes to support.
The new (2015) Moto X Pure is not a developer edition, so unlocking the bootloader does void the warranty.
The ASUS Zenfone 2 has proven a popular device in its first few weeks on the market. It's reasonably priced and has good specs. As David pointed out in our review, the software is its biggest issue, so you know there are tons of users anxious to mod the crap out of it. Good news on that front—there's now a bootloader unlock method, and it's not terribly messy.
New smartphones are rolling off the line pretty regularly, and that means the tools we use to work with them have to update, too. Last month, Sunshine v3.0 emerged with support for an extensive collection of HTC and Motorola handsets, and now an update to v3.1 is about to build on that list. With the latest release, Justin Case and Beaups have added support for almost every variant of the HTC One M9, except Verizon's. Expanded compatibility isn't the only new treat for users, Sunshine has also added the capability to automatically SIM unlock most of the GSM-based phones manufactured by HTC.
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. Version 3.0 just came out, and it can unlock the bootloader and acquire S-Off with almost every modern Motorola and HTC smartphone on the market.
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. Today it works on the popular OnePlus One as well as the usual Nexus devices.
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.
As a quick reminder, the Developer Options menu is unlocked by tapping your device's build until the on-screen countdown completes.
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.
The Developer Edition of the Note 4 is identical to the Verizon retail version, up to and including the customized software build with Verizon's bloatware apps. The only difference is that, like most of Samsung's non-carrier devices, the bootloader can be unlocked via a fastboot command.
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.
In case you've never heard of SunShine before, you'll want to check out the thread on XDA-Developers for more details, but it's pretty simple.
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. Then you watched the Google I/O keynote that officially launched the LG G Watch and Samsung's surprise addition of the Gear Live.