Motorola unlocking their device’s bootloaders has been a big issue for the last couple of years. While early Motorola phones like the original DROID came unlocked out of the box, their latest hardware has been exceedingly painful for Android developers to work with.
Motorola has finally gone live with a way of resolving this issue for their more technically minded customers. Unfortunately, the “list” of supported
phones phone leaves a lot to be desired.
Unlock My Device
On the plus side, the oft-promised method of unlocking the bootloader on Motorola phones has finally arrived. All users need to do is head over to Unlock My Device, enter in their device information, and proceed with the unlocking process. On the software side, you’ll need the Android SDK’s “fastboot” tool, so it looks like the actual process isn’t much different from something like the Nexus line of phones.
Before you get to do any of that though, Motorola makes sure to scare you a bit with their warnings in bold text:
WARNING: Motorola strongly recommends against unlocking the bootloader and/or modifying or altering a device’s software or operating system. Doing so can have unintended, unforeseen, and dangerous consequences, such as rendering the device unusable, violating applicable laws, or causing property damage and/or bodily injury.
By proceeding, you understand and agree that:
- Your warranty will be null and void.
- You will operate your device in compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations.
- Neither Motorola, nor your wireless carrier or retailer from whom you purchased the phone, will be responsible if your device ceases to function, or causes any damage to person or property, and you agree to release, indemnify and hold harmless Motorola, and your wireless carrier or retailer from whom you purchased the phone, from any and all damage caused by your device.
- Your wireless carrier may prohibit unlocked devices from operating on their network.
- You will be bound by the terms of the Legal Agreement
While the inclusion of this warning doesn’t come as much of a surprise, it does show how hard Motorola is really fighting this whole thing. It seems pretty clear that Motorola actively wants to avoid having the bootloaders on their device’s opened up, but pressure from the community and competition from other companies in the market are forcing their hand.
The Bad News…
So while Motorola going live with “Unlock My Device” is a good thing for customers, it’s unfortunately not going to help a whole lot of them. As of this writing, the only supported device is the newly released Photon Q 4G LTE on Sprint.
Apparently Motorola’s most popular devices, such as the DROID and RAZR line, aren’t invited to the party. Whether the decision to not support these other devices was on the part of the carrier (something new to blame Verizon for?) or the Motorola themselves is yet to be seen; but if this recent Tweet from Motorola Mobility is to be believed, it’s definitely the shape of things to come:
I almost want to give Motorola extra points for performing such an incredible troll on its entire userbase, but then, you could argue they have been getting progressively better at that for quite awhile now.
Hopefully some vocal community response will be able to budge Motorola on supporting “old” devices, but considering how long it took us to just get this much, I wouldn’t bet on it.