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HTC starts locking down its Android phones from now on?

Posted: , by Nick T.

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HTC starts locking down its Android phones from now on?
When a manufacturer wants to prevent its smartphones from being tampered with, it usually adds some sort of a software solution to the problem, which prevents fundamental modifications to a device's operating system. Manufacturers like Samsung and Motorola have already become infamous for implementing such restrictions against rooting of their Android devices and now it seems very likely for HTC to be already following their footsteps.

Usually known as developer-friendly manufacturer, HTC may have committed to adding signature checks to at least some of its Android smartphones from now on, starting with the HTC ThunderBolt. Such checks prevent a custom ROM from being loaded on a device as it would not contain the manufacturer's proprietary signature key, which would act as a “stamp” verifying the legitimate origin of the software. Rooting upcoming HTC Android devices may also prove impossible at first, or at least until a workaround to the limitation is discovered.

When asked about the motives behind its decision to turn its back on developers by locking its Android smartphones, HTC responded that it was only serving in interest of wireless carriers. However, not everybody seems to have bought into this excuse. The same signature checks have been reported to exist on the HTC Incredible S, which is available as an unlocked GSM device, meaning that there was no carrier to have anything against the alteration of the smartphone's software.

At the end of the day, HTC may be merely trying to save itself the trouble of assisting in servicing smartphones, which have been bricked as a result of an unsuccessful modification. Whatever the true reason behind the manufacturer's move may be, we suppose that it will not take that long before a devoted hacker cracks the restriction and brings back the joy of tinkering to HTC devices.

source: Android Police via Gadgetsteria

35 Comments
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posted on 25 Mar 2011, 10:42

1. Sniggly (Posts: 6920; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


"Motorola and Samsung have become infamous"

Infamous? What? Oh Phonearena, your hyperbole never fails to amuse me.

On HTC's practices: I can see the logic in making it harder to root their phones. It probably is a pain in the ass to provide support to bricked phones from rooting attempts.

But I won't worry until they start trying to sue rooters and claim they broke the law. Because after all, no manufacturer would EVER- oh wait, now I remember. Apple. Lol.

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 17:20

16. clevername (Posts: 1428; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)


Apple never really tried to sue an individual hacker, just get the process outlawed...now Sony on the other hand...

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 18:02

17. BobbyTaba (Posts: 316; Member since: 11 Aug 2010)


GeoHot!!!!!

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 18:06

18. Dude (unregistered)


Sony is made of pure, unadulterated stupid, but Apple did try to claim jailbreakers were breaking the law.

posted on 27 Mar 2011, 22:34

34. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


wait wait wait wait...

how is Samsung infamous for locking down their phones? Last i checked, their bread n butter, the Galaxy S, is among the easiest to root. Hell it has a "one click root" availible for it on the marketplace.

Phone arena, maybe you should hire me as an editor. It couldnt hurt. At least it would help balance the "pro apple"ness of the website and add a little fact checking. Just saying. :)

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 11:04

2. Confuse (unregistered)


How many people that bricks their phone because of rooting?
Is that number high enough for the manufacturer to justify locking?

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 13:16

3. jskrenes (Posts: 209; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)


It usually costs more to lock the phones. First HTC must make and test an unlocked/developer version of their Android OS for their phones, then they have to lock it and test that version. Their costs for tech support has to be low, after all, most customers call their carrier reps for tech support first.

I'm more inclined to believe they are doing it to appease the carriers desire to charge for the mobile hotspot.

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 18:51 1

21. corps1089 (Posts: 492; Member since: 20 Jan 2010)


It is no coincidence that Google starts withholding code for Gingerbread and then HTC suddenly and quietly announces that they may be locking down some phones...

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 13:32

4. Napoleon (Posts: 60; Member since: 09 Dec 2010)


So rooting allows you to tether for free or are there other advantages?

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 18:49 1

20. corps1089 (Posts: 492; Member since: 20 Jan 2010)


it allows full access to the entire device for any purpose that you can think of, or that others thought of and have made available. Specifically it eliminates protections that carriers/manufacturers built in at the basest level allowing you to do as you like [and can make you more susceptible to vulnerabilities].
Some phones have radios that are not used since the carrier limits them and do not want you to use the phoine they subsidized on a different carrier's network.
Some phones are not allowed by carriers to perform certain functions with certain radios like video chat over CDMA or GSM versus permitted video chat on Wi-Fi.
etc...

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 13:44

5. jbash (Posts: 341; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


NO!!!!!!!!!! Y?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!? :'(

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 13:50 1

6. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)


This is bad news for android users. The only thing that makes android devices appealing is its openness. If they take that away, their selling point is gone.

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 15:21 1

10. Sniggly (Posts: 6920; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


The ability to root isn't what attracts me to android because I don't trust my tech skills enough to successfully root my phone. There are a bunch of other reasons why people like android, like the customizable nature of the software, the range of available devices, the depth of the experience, flash in the browser, integration with Gmail, easy to use music player...

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 15:49 2

11. agentoj (Posts: 101; Member since: 29 Oct 2009)


The ability to root IS what attracts most people. Once you start suffering form shit battery life you will want to flash a different rom with a different kernel.

My Evo unrooted= about 10hrs battery life with casual usage
My Evo rooted= 22hrs of casual usage

See the difference? My evo is faster and more efficient, without being able to tweak my phone I would hate it.

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 15:58 1

13. Sniggly (Posts: 6920; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


I didn't say that rooting didn't attract anyone, just that it isn't what's most attractive to most customers. MOST customers don't know what the hell rooting is and couldn't care less. And if as a salesman you were to try explaining rooting to them they would just get confused.

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 16:22 1

15. agentoj (Posts: 101; Member since: 29 Oct 2009)


As a salesman I wouldn't tell them about rooting a phone either, and yes a lot of people don't care for rooting because they are too lazy or don't know about rooting period.

As a side note, the biggest problem I see with android is the sub-par battery life, which rooting remedies (for the most part).

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 08:27

25. networkdood (Posts: 6267; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


Unrooted - 10 hrs battery life
rooted - 22.....

I believe you mean with your phone 'tweaked' you get more battery life.....

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 14:55

30. agentoj (Posts: 101; Member since: 29 Oct 2009)


...Need root in order to tweak. So I mean what I said.

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 19:11

31. networkdood (Posts: 6267; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


....and you says what you mean ~ POPEYE

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 01:33

23. Kjayhawk (Posts: 287; Member since: 07 Oct 2010)


you can still root and your definition of openness isn't what attracts android users its usually the market and its use on a variety of platforms most users do not know much about androids "Openness"

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 14:01 1

7. Kakarotto (Posts: 86; Member since: 07 Dec 2010)


That sucks. Sammy, here we go!

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 14:07

8. networkdood (Posts: 6267; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


Samsung phones are easy to root....

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 15:13

9. stick0 (Posts: 3; Member since: 26 Feb 2011)


Requires Signature? will it have installation problem like it does on simbian?

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 15:50

12. gg (unregistered)


don't waste your time with sammy, unless you want to leave it up to the custom devs to make a perfict phone, not happening. I don't see what the big deal is, htc makes great phones and software. plus sense when has locking a device down stopped people from rooting/unlocking their devices. and on another point why does me adjust the software void my hardware. This isn't true with any other electrons yet ever sense the iphone decided to do it every other mobile phone manuf. had to do this. its crap if i want to load a bunch of crap on my mobile computer i should be able to. I payed the hundreds of dollars for it. Just like my laptop that I payed hudred of dollars for i can install anything I want onto it I pay to have it fixed or I pay the money for warranty, which I do for my cell also. So my point it should matter what we do with our phones software. plus don't root if you don't know how to hard reset!

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 19:13

32. networkdood (Posts: 6267; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


Sammy phones are easy to root - well, ok, at least the captivate is...and it is worth it....at your own risk....

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 16:19

14. dumey (unregistered)


What is rooting

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 18:42 1

19. corps1089 (Posts: 492; Member since: 20 Jan 2010)


I think its when you dunk your phone in rootbeer, it then turns into a brick so you stand on it to see what is going on at the big boy table.

posted on 25 Mar 2011, 19:51

22. p0rkguy (Posts: 683; Member since: 23 Nov 2010)


HTC is only doing this because of the idiots that end up bricking their phones and want a full refund or a new device for free.
Literally every developer will post a disclaimer to avoid any problems, chances are if the retard didn't read the instructions then he didn't read the disclaimer.

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 01:37

24. MorePhonesThanNeeded (unregistered)


Some people don't get it, software on the phone does not belong to you. The OS is protected material, and you modifying it is a violation of your agreement when you turned it on and started using it. The hardware is yours, but if you mess with the software and that messes up the hardware by circumstance that is your fault. HTC, Motorola, Samsung nor any other manufacturer doesn't have to give you a damn thing. Get over yourself, you jail break, root or otherwise do things to your phone that is specifically forbidden by the manufacturer and something happens to the phone, tough luck.

If you were to sell an item and you have stipulations specifically saying that if you break these rules, then you cannot be held responsible for what occurs after that with the item. Would you think it's fair that someone breaks the rules then the item breaks then they want you to send them a new item to replace the one they broke by doing things that you specifically warned against doing to the item? Must be living in the U.S. if you think it ok for the manufacturer to allow you free reign with their software...no one wants to pay for someone else screw up.

I have a Droid X and there are some things on it that I wished Verizon didn't have locked on the phone, crap which I don't need. But the phone itself runs flawlessly, without much hiccups at all. Why Verizon thinks it's necessary to have locked programs that you can't delete on a phone is beyond me, but stupid stuff that annoyingly start for no reason City ID can go screw itself as can VZ Navigator, who on earth uses that? No matter how annoying these things are, my phone will never get rooted. I get a full day usage out of it, sometimes I can go a day and a half with moderate usage, usually internet and loads of texting.

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 14:28

29. snowgator (Posts: 3205; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


"Must be living in the U.S. if you think it ok for the manufacturer to allow you free reign with their software.."

Actually agree with everything you wrote except that little cheap shot. It may come as a huge shock to you, but I am willing to put a couple of dollars, yen, euros, pesos or what ever that someone down the block from you is trying to do something slightly dishonost with their software agreement right now, so drop the "spoiled American" stuff.

Overall, you are correct, though. The phone is ours, the software and service is the property of those companies we enter into a month by month agreement with. I wouldn't try to mess with my service, but I sure understand the appeal of it. I will stop short of calling it criminal, but less then honest.

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 08:35

26. networkdood (Posts: 6267; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


I get free telenav, ability to download from websites and 3rd party markets (AMAZON app market = free ANGRY BIRDS Rio :-), wi-fi tether, NFL Mobile...etc....all because I can root my phone (SAMSUNG CAPTIVATE).
You are correct that when you root your phone, you are taking a risk.
Of course, you have to know how to undo what was done. Buy a JIG when your phone will not turn on. Use ODIN one-click to restore to factory, before sending to it back to warranty. Anyone wanting to root can go to xda-developers.com for more info.
It is just a phone, and I just wish companies would do more with them, but they and carriers also want to make money - money that I do not want to spend.
If HTC is locking their phones down, someone will find a way around it. Android/Linux is open source, so maybe if companies are that paranoid then they should think about making an iOS, Windows 7 phone.

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 10:18

27. ghost (unregistered)


for older phone such as desire, will the signature being apply on official update?

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 11:25

28. jskrenes (Posts: 209; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)


There's a philosophical and practical issue with Google creating an "open" platform, and that is who decides how open it should be? Does the manufacturer, in order to protect their hardware (what manufacturer wants to do an array of warranty replacements because people either bricked their phones or fried their processor because they overclocked it?), does the carrier, in order to control usage (and since carriers are often the first line of defense when it comes to tech support), should software developers have a say (Netflix, for instance, hasn't been able to deploy an Android app because movie studios are concerned about piracy on an open platform), or should devices be completely open for customers to decide what to do with?

The Netflix issue begs an interesting question: if developing an open platform means that content distributors will back away, thus leaving customers with fewer app choices, do we really have an open system?

posted on 26 Mar 2011, 19:14

33. networkdood (Posts: 6267; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


No matter what carriers and manufacturers do, someone will always be able to root any Android phone....

posted on 28 Mar 2011, 15:49

35. fairly_mismatched (unregistered)


With in-app payments looming and NFC technology being implemented this kind of extra security measure is only to be expected.

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