Jan 02 AT 2:22 PM Sean Riley 77 Comments

ASUS Transformer Prime bootloader locked up tight (Update)


Really, ASUS? You endear yourselves to the community by adopting the Prime name for your insanely powerful Tegra 3 tablet and then completely violate the spirit of it by locking the bootloader on the Transformer Prime?

According to the fine folks over at XDA-Developers the bootloader on the Prime is locked with 128 bit AES encryption. After all the hue and cry about this issue and the warm reception to the news that HTC was unlocking the bootloader on their devices, you’d think ASUS would have seen the light.

Obviously for most users this is irrelevant, as they will just happily use the device as ASUS intended. But you functionally change nothing for that group by making the bootloader unlocked/unlockable, and on the upside, you don’t upset the very vocal Android hacking/modding community.

You can hit up the source link below to follow the original thread over on XDA; the general consensus at the moment seems to be that appealing to ASUS publicly via Twitter (@ASUS) and the like is the best chance to get them to make a change. This thread is coordinating that effort.

Does this change anyone’s plans to pick up the Transformer Prime, or is that hardware just too good to pass up regardless?

Update 1/3/12: ASUS tells us all to “relax,” and that an official statement on the bootloader for the Transformer Prime is coming soon.

Via: The Verge

Source: XDA-Developers

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • damambt

    People are gonna buy the Transformer Prime regardless,eventually some update is going to create a vulnerability that will allow devs to sneak in. “where theres a will, theres a way”

    • stenzor

      Yeah, I’m still going to buy it regardless.. It’s not as if it still isn’t a very useful, functional, and fast piece of technology. By the way, Happy 2012 to everyone! I’ve been away for a couple of days so I couldn’t wish it to all of you earlier.

    • uzunoff

      First the GPS, now this, Things keep piling up. Not sure if this will all be worth it in a couple of weeks.

      Maybe at the CES there will be a few other amazing tablets to wait for. Maybe a nexus tablet….

      My shipping date for the Transformer Prime from Amazon is end of January.
      Just perfect to see what will shake up from CES and maybe something with working GPS unlocked bootloader, higher resolution screen will convince me to wait a few more months for a tablet.

      I guess CES will be the deciding factor, at least for this guy

      • Nate B.

        ASUS has always had GPS or Wifi issues. Idk if it’s the material it’s made out of that causes disruptions or the chips they use. It’s the same thing with their laptops when it comes it Wifi signal strength. I went through 3 Zenbooks under a month. I could sit right beside the router and I would lose the signal. Oh, & the first one I had, I could plug the ether net cord in the laptop and try and load a page, it said your not connected 0__o. I went with the Series 9 by Samsung. I’m curious to see what Sammy brings to the market this year. Happy new years everyone.

        • redraider133

          Never had any issues with my transformer’s wifi signal.

        • Shadowlore

          Dunno about their Android based devices, but most of their laptops seem to suffer from being released with VERY old drivers for WiFi…. usually updating those drivers fix the performance issues… but again, we’re talking about an android based device, dunno that’s even an option

    • http://theinternet-allofit.blogspot.com Jorge Branco

      Yeah I agree with that totally. Doesn’t mean I won’t be letting @aids know I ‘won’t’ be getting their product :P

      • http://theinternet-allofit.blogspot.com Jorge Branco

        Wow that’s a bad typo. @asus! @asus!

    • Pissed TP owner

      I am returning mine on this news.

    • scores87

      People said the same with the milestone and it is still locked, and the milestone has some very dedicated and skilled devs

      • thel0nerang3r

        Some people have knew jerk reactions. Personally, I don’t buy a product until I find that what I need is there… not “hope” that it will be there. EG, if an unlocked boot loader (or can be unlocked) is very important to you, then don’t buy a device until you find out that it is. Otherwise, you only have yourself to blame. Vote with you wallet. We can all complain that the prime tablet doesn’t have an unlocked boot loader, but if they were to sell 30M of them, do you think Asus would care? My guess is “no.”

    • erikiksaz

      Here’s to hoping that Asus will return to their user-centric roots.

      I always thought that the constant user updates meant that they were always pushing for the best software for their hardware. I guess I incorrectly assumed that this extended to end user developers being allowed to enhance the OS as well.

      • thel0nerang3r

        I hope that they go the route of HTC. Where the devices are locked and you can unlocked it if you choose. However, if something goes wrong you (well, not you specifically, but he user that chooses to do it) becomes responsible if something goes wrong.
        There are people that will break their devices by not following the direction on rooting devices, then expect the manufacturer to cover the damage that the individual did.
        I was at my carriers store because my screen would only turn half of the screen on (completely stock device that I had only had for 3 days). There was person that and I quote “I saw on the internet instructions on how to install an update, now my phone doesn’t turn on.” That person was shocked that the people at the store said “that is not covered under warranty.” The dude that had bricked his phone went on to say “I know what i”m doing, it’s your phone that sucks. You have to replace it.”

    • xray49er

      This is what i am hoping for mine will be here tomorrow so i hope some people smarter than me will eventially find a loophole or a vulnerability.

    • dacatalyst41

      I think they heard you!

  • spazby

    very disappointing…

  • Chris Chapman

    As Jimmy Carr would say, d’you know what, I still would. :P (Yes, I’m from the UK.)
    Although it is a bit annoying. Come on, what are the real disadvantages here?

  • Ran BLV

    I thought about buying it but I will not even consider it.
    If I can’t do a nandroid backup I can’t really play with the device without worrying I might ruin it.
    Thanks a lot Asus and bye bye

  • http://goncalossilva.com goncalossilva

    So much goodness in this device that something had to go wrong…

    Fortunately, Android hackers will probably “fix” this shortly :)

    • AsakuraZero

      where is XDA there is hope haha, they always find a way… looks at the HD2… damn that device marks how good is to be persistent over something

      • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

        I am still using my HD2. My bet is that Asus will allow unlocking it. It’s such a shame to have all that power, but not to be able to use it like a power user.

  • ben dover

    why ASUS!? why!?

  • ranwanimator

    Fundamentally I am opposed to a locked device. I’d probably be more vocal about it if I could find anywhere to buy one for non-inflated retail though. Supply is low and my demand is high. Unlock your device ASUS. Be cool to the community. Also ship some more units today.

    • Julian

      I refuse to buy locked stuff. Plain and simple. I was considering buying it, but since I’m in no hurry and being surprised by this news, I’m going to wait for the folcloric Nexus Tablet.

  • http://pixelswim.com Steve Heinrich

    This is too bad. You would think that they would want to appeal to as many people as possible. Any bad PR these days, even if it doesn’t effect you directly, can hurt your product’s sales. Just doesn’t make sense.

  • redraider133

    For me a tablet being locked is not as bad as a phone being locked, since I am not worried about rooting and roming my tablet. This is never good to do especially how well Asus was doing before this. This+the many bugs that are showing up are not making for a good launch of the prime.

  • oddball

    I am glad to see the optimistic responses saying that we will see a fix. But look at the phones that have locked bootloaders (yah I’m looking at you Motorola). Most still haven’t been unlocked and the devs are saying that they may never be. Asus makes good stuff I have the original transformer unrooted and stock still but knowing I can change things if I want is important

  • uknowme

    I personally don’t care right now. Until I get one in my hands I have no reason to care. Also being the beast it is, it probably won’t matter that much to me. It just annoys me that there is such a huge shortage. I figured Asus would have been more prepared.

  • MoSDeeb

    Very disappointed in that decision. Until its been corrected I won’t be buying the tablet which doesn’t mean much to Asus.

    I figure by the time it is cracked/unlocked a new must jave tablet will be available. A real shame.

  • Stefan Pfetzing

    WTF? They didn’t learn anything from HTC. I’ll not consider any of their Android devices, unless this is fixed.

  • cxandroid

    This really makes no sense, as Asus is well loved among computer enthusiasts because of their overclocking abilities.

  • Casvan Marcel

    I can’t understand their judgement. Nothing good can come out of locking the boot loader.

  • Slith

    Wow. This really surprises me. I hope they respond to the community.

  • johnnycsx

    I’m tweeting this every hour, hopefully they follow HTC’s example.

  • Nicko01

    Here is the petition of you want to help get the attention of Asus:

  • Mrwirez

    Pass… Next.

  • lokidokie


  • pickle

    This sucks. My Prime arrives to tomorrow (1-3) and as I was getting a second one for the wife’s birthday I have to get her something else.
    Thanks ASUS.

    • thel0nerang3r

      So… you bought something, sight unseen and not knowing it’s features/limitations? and now, you are surprised that it didn’t have some feature that you wanted?

  • jenskristian

    Weren’t going to buy one anyway, but had I planned on picking one up this probably would have been a deal breaker.

    I’m sticking with my Galaxy Tab 10.1 until we (hopefully) see a Nexus tablet later this year!

  • F-B

    Catastrophic decision by Asus. Will probably affect sales somewhat, but not too much as “normal users” won’t mind.
    For me personally leaving out 3G was devastating, this is just a final blow.


    I can confirm after todays update my #Trnsformerprime, she is flying.

    Wifi signal is stronger

    Gps now locks on quicker and more accurate

    Screen is a lot more accurate to the touch (im happiest about this)

    Camera takes pics a lot quicker (although having a Gnex spoils the shit out of you)

    I approve the update and it should keep me happy until ICS arrives


    I can confirm after todays update my Transformer prime, she is flying.

    Wifi signal is stronger

    Gps now locks on quicker and more accurate

    Screen is a lot more accurate to the touch (im happiest about this)

    Camera takes pics a lot quicker (although having a Gnex spoils the shit out of you)

    I approve the update and it should keep me happy until ICS arrives

  • Nathan D.

    Still going to get it because in the android community all that means that it’s going to take an extra few days to hack it.

    • johnnycsx

      According to XDA responses, 128-bit encryption is a pretty way of saying “Billions of potential combinations.” This is much worse than HTC’s past S-ON/S-OFF issues.

    • Pissed TP owner

      Not true. Yes we may be able to get it rooted, and yes, if someone finds a backdoor we may someday get custom ROMS, but custom kernals (and thus overclocking) are completely prevented by this locked bootloader. Ironic considering Asus’s mobo division’s infatuation with the overclocking community.

      Complete disappointment. What an idiotic move by Asus.

    • scores87

      If the bootloader is similar to the one used on the Milestone, it will probably never be unlocked :( or will take lots of time

  • cb2000a

    Really Asus….this is a dumb move. It’s like Toshiba making my laptop and then not permitting me to ever make changes on it. Unbelievable…

  • amgala

    These latest news posts about the Prime are making me reconsider my purchase…

  • vid500

    For me this is not a dealbraker, but I guess for some of you guys is. The Transformer Prime is still a great piece of amazing technology and this issue will be fixed by the community in no time, that’s what I’m shure of. Still wont it.
    PS:Happy new year 2012 to all the android and me community.

  • Jorge Eslava


    I’m sure it’ll get unofficially unlocked.

  • http://www.neilcalvin.com Neil Calvin

    I have a very hard time endorsing a piece of Android technology that’s locked down in such a power. I’ll vote with my dollars and hold out for something that I can use the way I want.

  • Thomas MacDougall

    this sucks, Asus is locking down the most powerful android device you can buy

  • Chazzers

    It’s a wonderful device, but let’s give our community SOME credit here. Yes, encryption is going to deter people from rooting their ASUS Prime, but it’s going to happen. It’s one of those last little bits that companies do to let themselves sleep at night for feeling as though they’re in control. Ever since the first iPhone/iOS, the community has been consistently jailbroken every version, and the same goes for the Android community.

    Do I think it’s right? No. But it will be rooted soon enough. I implore ASUS to go ahead and save us the trouble, but if they honestly think this will somehow be and end-all to rooting, they are sorely mistaken.

    • Pissed TP owner

      This is not about being able to root it. This is about the safest and easiest way of loading custom ROMs and the ONLY way of flashing custom kernals (to allow overclocking).

      Rooting is like jailbreaking an iPhone. It has no effect on how the device functions at a basic level, it just allows apps to access certain system critical resources. All of the most exciting tweaking takes place at the ROM and kernal level.

  • Taylor

    This is the definition of a “dick move.” Someone add that to Urban Dictionary, I’m busy.

  • DroidPower

    C’mon ASUS, show the devs some love

  • NasLAU

    If they would have shipped by Christmas I might already have one and it would be a moot point.

    But this news, combined with the fact that the kindle fire I got for Christmas has been surprisingly useful, means that I won’t be getting one.

  • Billy

    Oh no …. When is this locked boot loader crap going to end. Maybe they will see the light and if not then the dev community will figure it out.

  • Thomas Taylor

    Maybe the locked bootloader disguises the fact that this tablet really does have the ability to morph into a gun-toting robot soldier. And that secret is being very closely guarded, to be unlocked with an OTA update that will unleash them all upon their unwitting owners.

    • txbluesman

      It would be Maximum Overdrive all over again….LOL!!!! Who made Who????

  • nivekkev

    Never really understood the purpose of locking the bootloader

    • nivekkev

      Seems to go against what Android was meant to be about…

  • CTown

    Well, at least ASUS so far has a good record when it comes to updates (then again they have only a small number of Android products).

  • Chaoz

    Aw so sad. I dont really mind the bootlocker. But if they are doing this on top of beeing slow pushing the product out and other issues ( gps/wlan ), it kinda changed it from I-will-buy-this-instead-of-nexus-prime to I-will-wait-with-tablet-and-get-nexus-prime-instead :\

    I really wanted this tablet and would have bought it if it had shipped before xmas.

  • coryteague

    I just wish that I could get mine in locked or unlocked….

  • WlfHart

    Rather disappointing… but maybe they will change their ways with enough community feedback.

  • AndroidJunkie

    I can understand a phone or tablet being locked if it’s tied to a carrier (if the carrier requests it)
    …but this is just a stand alone tablet. Why should they care what you do after you bought it.
    Good job ASUS!

  • w9jds

    Personally, I would just be happy to get mine.

  • Comet

    Yep. I was considering it but won’t buy it because of this.
    Unfortunatly this companies haven’t shown any comitment to keep their devices updated with the last Android OS versions.
    That means that for many of us the only way to keep our devices updated is to resort to custom ROMs.
    A device like the Asus Transformer Prime can cost as much as $600. There are Netbooks that are cheaper than this high end tablets and allow me to customize them a lot more.
    We all know that Tablets are overpriced. So the only thing I can demand from them is that at least they give me the choice to do what I want.
    This is also bad news for upcoming devices like the Asus Padfone.
    The message needs to be clear. IF I buy a device at the store and pay full price for it, it needs to be free of any restrictions.

  • Yashar


    Sign the petition “Asus, UNLOCK OUR BOOTLOADER” here:


  • mustybooks

    This is ridiculous you’d have thought companies utilising android would have realised that people want the bootloader unlocked. That’s the appeal for a large proportion of the community. As well as other companies backing down on bootloader plans… I really don’t know what asus are thinking here…

  • Georgell

    You know what sucks about android tablets.. On the market there is no clear section for apps specifically for tablets. I bought this asks one from best buy and it was a good piece of hardware but half the apps and games do not work with it. Modern combat 3 does not among others. I took mine back yesterday and got an iPad. I have an android phone now cause I wanted a bigger screen than iPhone so it doesn’t make sense to have two android devices anyway, now I can access both iOS apps and android. When the iPad 3 comes out it will crush this asus one anyway. Google seriously needs to do something about apps not working with certain tablets and phones, at least with apple I know I can use any app I want

  • Dennis Petrospour

    Not buying ANYTHING that locked sorry Asus.

  • Tpaine

    Okay firstly you have to go to cerain websites and you can almost get any game for any device (for free) google search does wonders!
    All you have to know is the resolutions of you device and the processor it uses. On my wifes kindle fire I have working real racing, fifa 2012 and modern combat 3, all work flawlessly, I also have most of these working on my asus transformer, just beacuse they do not release the games right away the android community has our backs and they usually find a way. Also you will not find better graphics on any tablet that on a tergra 3 and they have not even scratched the surface yet. Games like Big top and shaddowgun are incrediable even on a tegra 2, also we here of a tegra 3 enhanced sonic game that is coming this year. Gaming on either of the asus tablets is great and with the added feature of being able to connect a usb controller (i use my xbox controller) and also being able to connect the device to a tv through HDMI this makes both assus tablets leaps and bounds ahead of the IPAD. Always remember apple had a large head start, but andorid is very quickly becoming the device of choice and developers know this, so it will not be long beofore you start to see games release for andorid before you see them on ios.
    As for the ipad 3, I have seen sneak peaks and it looks good, probably ripping of the transformer by adding a keyboard dock, and it will probably be quad core, but what a shame this is when asus plan to have tegra 4 out, the hexacore procossor.
    Apple is a great device, but what apple enthusiasts don’t appreciate is taking something and making it better, and that is what andoird is, they saw the iphone and made it better, bill gates saw the Mac and made it better.
    I will never pay through the nose for an apple device when I know I can get something that works just as good ( in most cases better) for a lot cheaper. Apple devices are gimics, for kids who want the cool thinkg on the block, like a pair of Jordans, what is so special about Jordans, I can get 3 pairs of adidas for the same price as pair of jordans, and they are more comfortable.
    So apple users appreciate what Android has done, they have made the smartphone attainable for the lower/middle class, and also have imporved what apple started.
    Andoird users do not get to big headed as apple can come right back and 1 up any android device, all I know that competition is good as it only makes our technology get that much better and also keeps the prices in check.
    Thank you apple for what you started but it is time for andorid to take over.

    Lets see what goodies will be at CES this year.

  • dkdude36

    where can i get one of these? i’ve been looking for like two weeks now, and bestbuy.com (my perferred method) says add to cart but nowhere to ship to. this just makes me want it more….

  • Shops County

    Toate modelele de Asus pe shopscounty.com. Am gasit cel mai bun pret la ASUS TF201 pe ShopsCounty.