You probably remember a story from a few days ago in which we told you how a number of customers ended up surprised that their warranty is voided due to them using the official bootloader unlock tool by Sony.
We then reached out to the company in an attempt to get more information regarding the way Sony treats those devices, which have had their bootloadrs unlocked. Basically, we wanted to understand why a user's warranty is voided when they have used a manufacturer-provided tool. Our desire for more details was also intensified due to the somewhat vague statement found on Sony's site, which reads: "Please note that you may void the warranty of your phone and/or any warranty from your operator if you unlock the boot loader."
We now got a reply, and we have to say that we really appreciate the friendly and helpful attitude of the company regarding this issue. Here's what Sony Mobile's PR Manager had to say:
For most issues/problems, unlocking the bootloader voids the warranty. Sony Mobile only honors the warranty if it is a known issue in that model/batch of phones or if it is an issue that clearly could not have been caused by flashing a different ROM. Because a new ROM can have a wide range of consequences (e.g., it can overheat the battery or change the voltage, which can damage other components), that basically means that only a small subset of issues are still covered by the warranty. Therefore, even when the phone is in warranty, the service center usually has to do a very costly board swap in order to get the phone back to its original state before it can perform any repair. The end-user has to pay for that part of the repair.
We are proud of providing the unlock feature to the developer community. Previously, there was a large risk of bricking the phone when unlocking with third party software. Sony Mobile’s solution remove’s that risk. When we initially provided the unlock feature, it was presumed that only highly skilled developers and super-users would take advantage of it. From blogs and discussion boards, it was clear that the community understood the risks and that unlocking largely voided the warranty. It appears that less sophisticated users (despite all our warnings) might be using the feature, and are now surprised by the consequences.
By the looks of it, Sony is more concerned with users flashing a custom ROM, rather than simply unlocking the bootloader. Still, the official also says that known issues (like the yellowish tint on the screen of the Xperia S), are OK and should be covered by your warranty, even if you've used the tool, yet, some customers complained that their warranty wasn't honored. We guess that it will simply depend on the repair center that you visit, or even the person that will examine your phone. At least, one thing is now certain - if you have unlocked your bootloader, you still have chances of getting repair service, but don't count too much on it.