HMD Global’s Nokia 4.2 and Nokia 3.2 can now be bootloader unlocked without disassembly

HMD Global’s Nokia 4.2 and Nokia 3.2 can now be bootloader unlocked without disassembly

Unintentional move, likely to be patched

The Nokia 3.2 and the Nokia 4.2 were announced back at MWC in February 2019. Like most other devices from HMD Global’s portfolio, there is no official bootloader unlock mechanism for these Android One-powered phones. Without an unlocked bootloader, typical mods – including rooting and custom ROMs – become impossible to achieve. There’s a ray of hope, though, as the owners of the phone duo can apparently use regular Fastboot commands to unlock the bootloader after the Android 10 update.

Nokia 3.2 XDA Forums || Nokia 4.2 XDA Forums

It is worth mentioning that the community did discover an unofficial bootloader unlock method for the Nokia 3.2/4.2, but the process was too cumbersome for inexperienced users. To set the value of the get_unlock_ability parameter as 1, the target device had to be disassembled first. After triggering the phone’s EDL mode by shorting pins known as “test points”, one had to modify the “config” partition via a low-level protocol known as Firehose.

According to user reports, the stable Android 10 update for the Nokia 3.2 and Nokia 4.2 virtually deprecates the aforementioned method. Since the update, the bootloader can be unlocked very straightforward, without going through any weird hoops and workarounds. All you need to do is enable “OEM unlocking” in Developer options and unlock it through Fastboot as if you’re unlocking a Google Pixel or OnePlus phone. Unlike the Nokia 8, you don’t even need to put a server-generated unlock token.

Well, there is a catch!

Back in February, some Nokia 4.2 users reported that they could toggle the OEM Unlocking option and consecutively unlock the bootloader on Pie-based software version V1.41H. It was probably a mistake from Nokia’s end that might be patched later on, just like the initial batch of Nokia 6.2 and the Nokia 7.2 shipped with an unlockable bootloader, but the loophole was promptly closed. Is HMD Global willfully offering the bootloader unlock ability for the Nokia 3.2/4.2 this time? We don’t know, and we may even see a quick “bugfix” OTA rolling out in the next few days to reverse the “unintentional mistake”.

About author

Skanda Hazarika
Skanda Hazarika

DIY enthusiast (i.e. salvager of old PC parts). An avid user of Android since the Eclair days, Skanda also likes to follow the recent development trends in the world of single-board computing.