It’s a sad day for hackers and modders. In a post on his Google Plus page, Steve Kondik, AKA Cyanogen himself, has stated, “It’s confirmed. The AT&T S4 authenticates the recovery and boot images before executing them.” In other words, the AT&T variant of the Galaxy S 4 will feature a locked bootloader, preventing owners of the device from installing custom third-party ROMs like CyanogenMod.
Where Veizon is well known for locking down the bootloaders of any phone they carry, AT&T has generally seen fit to leave Samsung devices alone. The fact that Samsung has, in the past, been developer-friendly leaves Cyanogen to speculate that “their hand was forced” in this situation. He then goes on to provide some words of wisdom to not only AT&T, but would-be Galaxy S 4 owners as well:
The only outcome I see here is stacks of bricked devices being sent back for warranty replacement due to the ease of causing a permanent boot failure, especially since the device is trivially rootable.
The arms race continues. News flash: MILLIONS of people run custom firmware (and I have the STATS to prove it). This is just a stupid move that will cost you customers and money.
I would not recommend buying this device on AT&T if you want to run CyanogenMod or another custom ROM, or if you are a developer and need to work with or debug the lower layers.Steve KondikCyanogenMod
If you really care about having an unlocked bootloader on your device, the best way to make yourself heard is to vote with your wallet. Don’t buy an AT&T S 4 with the hopes that someone will find a way around it. You might not get that lucky.