Motorola and their locked bootloaders have been a topic of discussion here on the XDA Portal on multiple occasions. They have locked down all of their newest devices, and have even released updates to lock down the older ones. This has caused a lot of backlash from members here on XDA, especially since Motorola was acquired by Google not too long ago. This caused speculation as to whether Motorola would take the open source values of their parent company, and if so, when this would happen. It seems as if this may be starting to happen now.
Motorola has released the first version of their bootloader unlocker tool. It has a lot in common with HTCDev. Users will need the Android SDK and the Motorola drivers. Then, it’s a matter of signing in to the MotoDev website, submitting your Device ID, obtaining an unlock token, and unlocking that bootloader. This is great news, as there are many Motorola users who have been waiting to have their devices unlocked.
Of course, with the good there comes the bad. It is not yet compatible with many devices. The first release supports the Developer version of the Droid RAZR, the Verizon and WiFi Xoom, and the Motorola Photon Q on Sprint. That’s it. However, those with other Motorola devices should not be disappointed, as this is the first step toward Motorola revising their bootloader policy.
Many manufacturers have proprietary tools to flash firmware. Samsung uses tar files via Odin and Heimdall, Motorola uses SBF files via RSD Lite, and so on. So what if one wanted to create an SBF file for a Motorola phone? It’s not an easy process, but it is now possible for Motorola Photon 4G owners.
The process is fairly complicated. XDA Senior Member peetr_ has written up a tutorial guide on creating a custom SBF file for users to flash via RSD Lite. There are a lot of pros to having a custom SBF of your own, especially on locked bootloaders. As peetr_ explains:
But the better from this comes on locked bootloaders.
In case of softbrick, you don´t have to flash full SBF, root and install bootstrap.
You can just make your own SBF with custom rom (mof 2.3.5ish for locked for example), and in case of some system brick, just reflash your custom sbf without even wiping data and recover from brick after a few minutes.
And the best is, I am almost sure, that you can make custom SBF for recovering from Photon 2.3.5 ota brick, with CG2, CG3, CG39, RDL3 with signature version 2, taken from USC Electrify 2.3.5 SBF and Photon 2.3.5 OTA system dump (CG60).
You can probably install custom Webtop on locked 2.3.5 – OSH is not signed.
You cannot install AOSP roms on locked bootloader this way. You can change only not signed SMGs.
Do not try to flash radio this way, it´s not working. Locked or unlocked, always remove RDL1.smg and CG5.smg.
As mentioned, the process isn’t easy. Users are required to download an SBF codec that allows you to compile and decompile SBF files. From there, users need SMG Version, which will identify SMG signatures. Next comes a whole tutorial on the various kinds of SMG signatures, what they do, and what users need to remove or replace to get what they want.
The guide also includes some basic stuff as well, such as dumping whole partitions and a complete partition guide. For anyone with a locked bootloader—and we’re talking Motorola, so there are quite a few of you—this is definitely something worth checking out. Do so at your own risk, however, as an improperly made SBF file can brick the Photon 4G.
To learn more, head over to the original thread.
One of Sprint’s major selling points with the Motorola Photon 4G is that it is a world phone. In addition to picking up service from Sprint’s CDMA network, it can also connect to GSM networks worldwide, allowing travelers to continue using the phone despite not being in a Sprint area anymore. However, users have found it quite hard to get working on domestic GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile, and it actually hadn’t been done yet. Until now, that is.
XDA Senior Member halfevildruid released a modem that unlocks the Photon and allows it to work freely on AT&T and other GSM networks. The method does have its issues though. Using this radio and switching to a domestic GSM network will break your ability to use CDMA completely. So once set up, users would no longer have access to Sprint at all, and would have to rely on whatever GSM network they wished to switch their Photon to.
The method itself is relatively simple. Be sure you’re on the firmware that’s been tested, flash the radio, pop in your GSM SIM card, and go through a set up process. Not too terribly difficult, but do be sure you’re on the suggested firmware versions because otherwise, things may go drastically wrong.
While the radio currently breaks CDMA, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Users can restore their old settings and get back to Sprint with a couple of flashable zips provided by halfevildruid. Not enough? An upcoming update will no longer break CDMA, allowing you to use Sprint and GSM networks at the same time. So those who don’t want their CDMA broken only have to what a little longer.
For more information, visit the original thread.
Not long ago we brought you a couple of tweaks for the Droid X2 that brought 3G speed improvements.While we live in a world of 4G internet for mobile phones, there are still a whole bunch of users out there who either don’t live in a 4G area or don’t use 4G because they like their phone battery to extend past the traditional workday, so they stay on 3G speeds and reap the battery benefits.
Recently, XDA Forum Member mykeevee got a little bold and tested the tweaks on the Motorola Photon 4G. Surprisingly, they actually worked, despite being on a different Motorola phone on a different carrier. Mykeevee tested the tweaks on CyanogenMod 7.2, so it’s unclear if it’ll work with every ROM. However, most in the thread have reported moderate to significant gains in transfer speed.
Those looking to give it a shot can head on over the mykeevee’s thread to check out other user reports to see if they could get it to work as well or straight to the original Droid X2 thread to try the tweaks for yourself. As always, make a backup before changing anything in case you wish to revert.
May 16, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
Let us all let out a collective sigh as Motorola continues to publicly hate on all of their rooted users. We’ve already brought you coverage of the shady Motorola practice of giving out Atrix 4G handsets that cannot be unlocked. Now the time is coming for the Motorola Photon 4G as well. The dual-core Motorola device, which also happens to be the only dual-core Motorola device on Sprint, has an update coming up that will lock the bootloaders and prevent the flashing of SBF files. While this likely won’t affect the current rooted community, new devices and replacements will likely come with this update preinstalled.
XDA Senior Member Lightsword1942, who was nice enough to tip us off about Motorola’s continued campaign against unlocking bootloaders, has also posted a thread that details the Photon bootloader, and has begun the all too familiar process of making prior unlocking methods work on the bootloader. It’s been determined that when attempting to flash an SBF file to downgrade to an older bootloader in an attempt to make the bootloader unlockable once again, the SBF checks out the ReservedOdm values. If these values do not match up, the SBF fails much in a similar fashion as the Atrix 4G. If these values can be bypassed, it very well may be possible to downgrade these devices and unlock the bootloader once more. For the time being, though, Motorola has everyone stymied.
While campaigns to get Motorola to understand the enthusiast community in past have failed, do not let that stop you from letting them know what you think. If you feel the need to tell Motorola that you should do what you want with your phone, it may be wise to start on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Don’t forget to use the #unlockmoto hashtag if you do. Hey, it eventually worked for HTC users…kind of.
For additional info about the Motorola Photon 4G problem, you can find it in the Photon 4G thread and if you’re looking for more info about the Atrix 4G problem, you can find it in our original article.
May 14, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
Rarely do you see a huge collection of mods and fixes in a single thread, but it’s a great thing when it happens. This is the now the case for the Motorola Photon 4G, which has received what amounts to an entire thread full of modifications, fixes, themed apk files, guides and whatever else you can think of.
While many forum members who contributed to the thread, XDA Recognized Contributor Th3Bill is the one compiling all of these contributions into one spot for ease of access. The thread contains dozens of mods, guides, and themed apps for users running CyanogenMod 9 or ICS-based MIUI to check out.
The best part? None of the modifications are difficult to use, so whether you’re a flashing pro looking for a MMS fix or among those not so tech savvy looking for help, the thread is sure to provide some assistance. Inside the thread, you will find guides to fix non-booting CM9 flashes, some boot animations, a MMS fix, themed apps, and more. There is even a wipe script so users don’t have to do it manually.
For users running CM9 or ICS-based MIUI, this is definitely worth a visit. Get started by visiting the original thread.
April 17, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
Sometimes, flashing to root a device, unlock a bootloader, install a ROM or kernel, or even install a theme can seem like a task one would rather not take. After all, there are many root methods out there that, if done incorrectly, can hurt your device.
Users with the Motorola Photon 4G can now gain full fastboot support and unlock their radios with extreme ease. XDA Forum Member scottgl9 has written up methods for Moto Photon users to do both with two fastboot flashable files. The methods are a little bit of a misnomer because while there isn’t any flashing via recovery or use of ADB, there is a package users must download and install via fastboot. So technically, there is a little flashing, but it’s all done on the computer and not the device.
In the words of the developer:
This will load the unlocked ramloader (unlocked will be displayed at the top even if your phone is locked) which is normally only loaded into ram when flashing an SBF! Amazing, I know. Now you can do all kinds of stuff and you’ve made no modifications, just issue a “fastboot reboot” and nothing has been modified.
For additional information, full instructions, discussion among other users and more, visit the original thread.
Many people love Beats Audio because of Android’s lack of a built-in equalizer, and it can be said that some Android phones need Beats Audio to deliver a music experience that isn’t so, for lack of a better word, bland. While certainly not for everyone, Beats Audio has cultivated a following from various users.
XDA Forum Member willblake13 has ported Beats Audio to the Motorola Photon 4G. The modification itself consists of the Beats Audio libraries that were pulled from XDA Senior Member RockoDev‘s ROM, which already included the software itself. The mod has been successfully tested on specific versions of CyanogenMod 7 and CyanogenMod 9. Installation of the recovery-flashable update.zip is simple. Just place on the SD card, reboot into recovery, flash, reboot and profit.
For those who want to give it a shot, you can find the download link and discussion in the original thread. Be sure to make a backup before flashing, just in case something goes wrong!
February 19, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
The wait list for Ice Cream Sandwich is much like the waiting list of a popular LA night club. The big names always get in first while everyone else stands outside in line, hoping they got a good enough spot. Of course, finally entering the nightclub is something to be quite excited about.
In this metaphor, I am speaking of the Motorola Photon 4g, who’s been patiently standing in line behind it’s older siblings, such as the Motorola Droid 4 and the Motorola Droid Razr for a sweet, sweet taste of that Ice Cream Sandwich love.
According to Motorola, Photon 4g users can expect to their update to Ice Cream Sandwich roll out sometime in Q3 of this year. So, if you’re in the Northern hemisphere, that means sometime around late summer/early autumn. Sadly, there promises to be a load of great phones to come out before then, but if you manage to hang onto your Photon 4g until then, Motorola shall reward you for your patience.
If you’d like to see the full list of devices they plan on updating, when they plan on updating them and a fun little explanation on how they decide what to upgrade and when, then you should check out Motorola’s Software Update News Page for additional info.
We added forums for Motorola’s new Photon 4G earlier this month in the hope that it would instigate development for the device, and users were pleased to find that over the weekend a way around Moto’s pesky locked bootloader had become available.
Thanks to XDA member Yay 4 Juggs, it became apparent to the XDA community that by flashing an update and following some simple instructions, owners of Sprint’s latest WiMAX device could flash custom ROMs to their hearts’ content. Also released was a ClockWorkMod-based recovery for the Photon to coincide with the freshly unlocked bootloader.