Will Verduzco · Jun 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Motorola to Unlock Atrix Bootloader in Future Update?

Well, it seems as if we’re either in the Twilight Zone or in a parallel universe now.  First HTC and now Motorola appear to be playing nicely with us enthusiasts. In the latest version of the Motorola Atrix bootloader intended for Hong Kong and Taiwan devices, the bootloader appears to be unlockable upon entering everyone’s favorite fastboot oem unlock command twice.

Two days ago, XDA forum member tsouza noticed a rather strange incident posted in hex was observed in a thread asking for leaked keys on the Motorola support forums. While not exactly leaked keys, upon decoding, it read as follows:

Greetings, fellows. We know that you are dying for the unlocked bootloader. Moto is not the only “player” that has an influence over decision – carriers have their say in it too, so don’t just blame us – contact the carriers too. As a fellow engineer – my personal opinion is to not limit knowledgeable users by locked bootloader. But I also think that modding of the system sw voids the warranty – would you be willing to void a warranty by unlocking and modding the phone? Anyway, this is meant as a tongue-in-cheek little joke, not something to be taken seriously or to have conclusions drawn from it, nor is it in anyway representative of an official company view. Have fun!

Not the keys you were looking for? Certainly not. However, this gave XDA forum member eval- the idea to poke around the ascii and hex of several recent Atrix bootloaders. This paid off, as his search of the latest Hong Kong and Taiwan version of the bootloader yielded the following tasty morsel:

$ strings CG42.img | grep INFO
...
INFOUnlocking your device can permanently VOID your warranty.
INFOThis process cannot be reversed.  If you wish to proceed,
INFOreissue the unlock OEM command containing the unique ID
INFOof your device:

Ultimately, this takes us back to our unfortunate frien-emies, our mobile providers. As always, it is they who fundamentally control the capabilities and functionality of our devices, at least initially. For us unfortunate souls in the US, this means AT&T, a company known for disabling basic Android functionality such as side loading applications from the start. Android is not the iPhone, and it will never be the iPhone. Locking it down to make it similar to the iPhone is not the answer. However, in one fell swoop, a move such as allowing an unlockable bootloader on a sanctioned device would alleviate much or all of the generally bad opinions and publicity AT&T has earned. AT&T, we implore you to do the right thing and not hinder the power users who would, in turn, become your biggest advocates and volunteer sales people.

Venture forth to the original thread to keep updated on any further developments. As for the possibility of an unlocked bootloader on your own personal device, you now know who to contact.


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Will Verduzco

willverduzco is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. Will Verduzco is the Portal Administrator for the XDA-Developers Portal. He has been addicted to mobile technology since the HTC Wizard. But starting with the Nexus One, his gadget love affair shifted to Google's little green robot. He is also a Johns Hopkins University graduate in neuroscience and is now currently studying to become a physician. View willverduzco's posts and articles here.
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