Dozens of Huawei and Honor devices with Kirin processors can now be bootloader unlocked

Back in 2018, Huawei caused a massive uproar in the enthusiast community when the Chinese OEM revealed that there won’t be any official bootloader unlock method for its devices. The policy was a pretty big blow to the aftermarket development and modding scene, as the lack of official support for bootloader unlocking would greatly limit the customization potential of Huawei devices. Although Honor, Huawei’s former sub-brand, started offering bootloader unlock codes via authorized service centers on a limited trial, there’s only one practical way to unlock the bootloader of your Huawei or Honor device: third-party paid services. These services certainly care about keeping their customers happy, but the one thing that holds us back from recommending them is the inability to audit their methods. Enter PotatoNV — an open-source bootloader unlocker for select Huawei/Honor smartphones.

Defeating Huawei’s draconian security measures wasn’t an easy task, but a developer named Andrey Smirnoff actually managed to decipher the bootloader unlock code generation algorithm for devices that are based on HiSilicon Kirin 960/659/655 chipsets. Apart from that, what makes PotatoNV possible is a low-level bootloader flashing method discovered by XDA Senior Member hackintosh5. The tool, which makes use of the VCOM_DOWNLOAD mode, requires users to open up the target device and access the test points on the motherboard.

The developer posted very detailed instructions about removing the back cover of the device, unlocking the bootloader, and, if need be, installing correct drivers, too. According to him, PotatoNV works with the following devices. Even if your phone or tablet is not in the table, it is safe to try out different bootloader options on the tool and see whether it can come up with a valid unlock code.

Sr. No. Device, Device Codename, and XDA Forum Link Bootloader
1. Honor 7X (BND) Kirin 659 (A)
2. Honor 8 Pro / V9 (DUK) Kirin 960
3. Honor 9 Lite (LLD) Kirin 659 (A)
4. Honor 9 (STF) Kirin 960
5. Huawei Mate 9 (MHA) Kirin 960
6. Huawei Mate 9 Pro (LON) Kirin 960
7. Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite (BAH2) Kirin 659 (B)
8. Huawei MediaPad M5 (CMR) Kirin 960
9. Huawei MediaPad T5 (AGS2) Kirin 659 (A)
10. Huawei Nova 2 (PIC) Kirin 659 (A)
11. Huawei Nova 2i / Mate 10 Lite (RNE) Kirin 659 (B)
12. Huawei Nova 2s (HWI) Kirin 960
13. Huawei P Smart 2018 (FIG) Kirin 659 (B)
14. Huawei P10 (VTR) Kirin 960
15. Huawei P20 Lite / Nova 3e (ANE) Kirin 659 (A)
16. Huawei P8 Lite 2017 (PRA) Kirin 659 (A)
17. Huawei P9 Lite (VNS) Kirin 659 (A)
18. Huawei Y9 2018 (FLA) Kirin 659 (A)

We at XDA-Developers always appreciate the wonderful work done by developers, most of whom take precious time out of their lives to provide us the fruit of their labor for free. With the release of PotatoNV, owners of the aforementioned Huawei and Honor devices are finally able to flash all the custom ROMs and kernels they desire.

PotatoNV GitHub Repository

About author

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.

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