May 06 AT 11:33 AM Taylor Wimberly 37 Comments

HTC says “restrictions” prevent AT&T One X from joining in their bootloader unlocking program


After a huge backlash in 2011, HTC changed their strategy and said they would start allowing customers to unlock the bootloaders on their devices. Over the past six months HTC has unlocked over 45 devices, but it looks like the AT&T One X might not be participating in that program quite yet.

Android hacker Paul O’Brien of MoDaCo noticed that his AT&T One X kept getting an error when he tried to unlock the bootloader, but he assumed this was an issue with pre-release software. Now it’s been confirmed that others are seeing the same issue, after the AT&T One X went on sale today.

Paul reached out to HTC who quickly responded with a message that doesn’t look good for AT&T customers.

HTC is committed to listening to users and delivering customer satisfaction. Since announcing our commitment to unlockable bootloaders, HTC has worked to enable our customers to unlock the bootloader on more than 45 devices over the past six months. In some cases, however, restrictions prevent certain devices from participating in our bootloader unlocking program. Rest assured, HTC is committed to assisting developers in unlocking bootloaders for HTC devices and we'll continue to unlock additional devices in the future.HTC Representative

Last year Peter Chou, HTC CEO, said, “There has been overwhelmingly customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones [and] we’ve listened. I’m confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices.”

Unfortunately in this case it looks like AT&T has overturned the will of its customers. This doesn’t mean that the One X will never see its bootloader officially unlocked, but it might take a little outcry to convince the carrier to change their mind.

AT&T has a history of crippling the Android experience, but they have gotten better over the years by allowing users to install non-Market apps and improving the speed of software updates.

If you planned on buying the HTC One X from AT&T (or already picked one up), let AT&T know what you think of their decision to keep the bootloader locked.

Source: MoDaCo

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Marcus

    Why, AT&T? Why!? That is so ridiculous. I say we start a petition. Is there a way to do that?

    • Ps3y3Ops

      SMS and Tweet bomb ‘em

    • Charlie

      Yes sure you can start a petition, use

    • Joel Bird

      It’s clearly AT&T’s fault. They’ll always be the least friendly carrier for Android. Verizon have been giving them a good run for their money recently though!

    • Paul

      Here I thought they were changing their image and take on Android, remember they were the first to release an ICS update? They seemed to have done a reversal back then and now their true colors are once again showing.

  • Anjie Cai

    This is why android devs are suffering. All of the carriers and manufactures need to understand locked boot loaders do them no good

    • drksilenc

      in their eyes it does them good then they can charge for things like tethering.

  • Ps3y3Ops

    Oh my achin’ Christ…hey carriers, listen up! You and your backward ass decisions muck up more phones than your customers do! Let the end users change their phones as they see fit! We need protection from you. Not you from us or us from ourselves. How about you pay us money and we lock you out of your sh*t! Change AT&T to TT&A and you’ll like it, too!

    • Ironzey Lewis

      It’s not “carriers” it’s AT&T (at least in this case). Verizon is guilty too. Sprint and T-Mobile are cool but those other two, I wouldn’t touch them with a 4 week contract.

  • tnpapadakos

    what about the international unlocked version? i dont think that one is restricted…can anyone confirm this? I’m on the brink of buying one

    • Bpear96

      Yea the international Tegra 3 model can indeed be BL unlocked and so can the LTE S4 Rogers model

      • tnpapadakos

        thanks, thats what i thought…

  • oddball

    I had a whole message typed about how it has to do with how much money the carrier have tied into the ithingy doing well but really it comes down to the fact that in the US the carriers have all the power. Verizon can force locked bootloaders because their customers can’t get phones that are unlocked easily. Sprint is the same. At&t and T-Mobile know that for the basic consumer this means nothing and only the root and rom community cares and they really don’t care about us too much because we aren’t the majority

  • SGB101

    Mine os locked, I think, when I select recovery, I just get a a red circle with an exclamation mark in.

    I’ve been trying to manually install the latest update, even tho I have a unlocked unbranded device I’m the UK. I should auto get it,I got the first one bit nor the latest.

  • Nathan D.

    T-Mobile all the way.

    • Paul

      Meh, no sure about a 2 year contract but I like their MVNO’s :-) FamilyMobile and SimpleMobile, all the power of T-Mobile’s network, no commitment.

  • BigCiX

    Leave it up to att

  • Ironzey Lewis

    Here is a great opportunity for us to vote with our dollars. Don’t get the AT&T version that’ll show them. Oh, who am I kidding, the One X is a beast of a phone and a locked boot loader isn’t going to stop very many from picking up this phone. I hope to never sign another contract again.

  • skugern

    If I were HTC, I would have used more leverage as one of the top smartphone makers (with what could be argued as the best phone in the marketplace) to ensure the phone have an unlocked bootloader if they want it on the market.

  • redraider133

    I think until the carriers no longer subsidize the phones you are going to have these things go on sadly.

  • spazby

    this is going to make a lot of people unhappy

  • Hue Three of Five

    Verizon is still worse in my opinion. They have been forcing their will onto manufacturers and customers for years. Locked bootloader is Verizon’s middle name.

  • Stan

    I was going to pick one up today. Now back to waiting for the next let down.

  • glennw

    I guess this means there’s a good chance that the HTC Evo 4G LTE will have the option of unlocking from HTC, since it’s Sprint and not AT&T?

  • Azam

    I wonder, is it a must for Americans to buy a phone and tie with a specific carrier?

    Can you just buy the phone, and use it with other carrier?

    • Rasha

      Yes if you want to spend $800 lol

    • glennw

      You can buy it off-contract, but 4G LTE will not work on other carriers, plus AT&T and T-mobile have different frequencies for 3G, so you’re not even going to get that if you go to T-mobile; the other two national carriers use CDMA and not GSM, so they’re out of the running, too.

      So, yeah, we’re pretty much tied to our networks.

    • Matt

      Most US consumers can’t do simple math so they would rather pay twice the cost for the phone (being locked into an overpriced 2yr contract)..

      None can seem to figure out its much cheaper buying outright and using prepaid etc.

      So yeah I prefer paying $800 for my new phone as opposed to $1600 over 2 years.

      • jbrandonf

        Prepaid often sucks as far as coverage and overall service. First, LTE isn’t available on prepaid and you can only purchase a maximum of one gigabyte of data on prepaid.. also, the prepaid users cannot roam on other carriers that sign roaming agreements on att…they’re limited to only att’s network, which is another disadvantage.

  • Rasha

    Soooo glad I have a gnex right now… AOKP romantic 1.65Ghz overclocked 1000′s of themes, and flash to new versions of android the same day they are released… Wouldn’t touch this and Sense with a ten foot pole!

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  • yankeesusa

    Yet another reason why NOT to go with ATT. This is just ridiculous.

  • Homncruse

    And this type of policy from AT&T is one of many big reasons why I’m glad their acquisition of T-Mobile fell through.

  • johnj

    My initial interest in this phone was simply because I needed a new one. Then looking at Android info all over the web after buying one too many nokia’s (c6-01 after the death of a N-82). HTC’s solid build quality made me look twice, then came the unlocked bootloader policy touted last year.

    I’ll admit my mind won’t be changed on this, I don’t believe it’s HTC’s fault. Been with att for over a decade and had my share of “clerical errors” on their part that I’ve dealt with. I don’t spend hours a day on my 10 yr old dumb phone but If att would rollover data I’d commit to longer than two years for two new phones. I’ll try out the 4G LTE we’ve got here and maybe I’ll like it.

    I’d planned on rooting immediately so that I could get the AVAST! firewall to work and remove att from the phone. When I get the 1X tomorrow I’ll call and lodge a suggestion. A forum elsewhere gave me some other options to apply pressure too.

  • MoSDeeb

    This is why buying an un-subsidized unlocked phone is the better way to buy phones.

    • jbrandonf

      This doesn’t make sense in the states as you don’t get a service discount for providing your own device…you’re spending more for no reason.