Apr 30 AT 3:01 PM Dustin Earley 28 Comments

Cyanogen: AT&T’s Galaxy S 4 bootloader locked down


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.

Source: Google Plus

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • rahlquist

    Why would you buy the same device on AT&T anyway when you can save over $1000 over two years buying it on T-mobile?


    See above for info

    • Dustin Earley

      Where is this from? This is great.

      • rahlquist

        Me and several friends, all AT&T customers at one time or another collaborated on it. Needless to say my t-mobile SGS 4 is en route ;)

    • Roscoe A

      I cut 1800 out of my yearly cellphone bill just by DUMPING AT$T!!!!!!!

      • tapeworm

        Well, I don’t live in the US, but I have watched these AT&T and Verizon arguments for a long time now. We have a similar situation here, where I live; however, I learned one thing a long time ago. Buying a phone without a contract with a carrier will save you a ton of money. Of course, paying the full phone price (which here, for every phone, is almost a double than in the US) in a single payment can be harder than paying it over the years. But hey, it’s your phone then. You can do whatever you want to do with it. You can put whichever SIM card you want to put in it. You’ll get updates faster; and after a year or two, you’ll find that you have saved more money.
        I have bought only one phone with a contract, and still paying for it after two years made me feel miserable. The phone got old, but I was still paying for it; and the moment I stopped paying for it, I went and bought the GS3, and that’s it. Choosing a carrier here was not a problem afterwards, because all of them are great. They have great coverage, great call qualities, prices are identical… so it’s just a matter of ‘which one’s logo you like the most’.
        Anyway, hear my advice. On the average, you earn more than we do, and your prices are cheaper than ours. Buy your phones without contracts, and never whine again. :)

        • Random Stranger

          I don’t get that model.. Here, a phone will cost me the same no matter if I pay in cash or in 6, 12 or 24 months.. Now I prefer cash or 6 months, because I don’t like to risk breaking a phone I would still have to pay for for another 18 months.. But honestly, thats just me being stupid, because I would end up paying the same no matter what.

    • minderbinder

      Why is one SGS4 on At&t $199 but 4 are $1000?

      Also, a Nexus 4 bought through Google Play is an even better deal on T-Mobile.

    • swazedahustla

      But what if T-mobile sucks in your area. Whats the point of saving $1000 if you can’t even use your phone???

    • iamXiV92a

      Dude – That is awesome!

  • redraider133

    At&t is getting as bad as verizon with locking down devices. Hope this gets cracked like the s3 did when it was locked down.

    • sdny8

      I hope it doesn’t. People need to make their voice heard. This is big business and all they care about is $$$

  • Nate B.

    I never saw the point of a carrier or manufacture doing this. If s person wants to hack their device then let them. They need to realize the community of users who hack vs none hackers rarely exist. Their money. Let them spend it however.

  • Sim

    Nexus is the way to go

    • Diabsoud


  • bob

    You might not get that lucky? Who are we kidding, this will be the next big thing, the biggest Android device to date. Hackers will get to it. Heck, they even got CM on the HP Touchpad for crying out loud. This is not a “sad day”, just a road block that will inevitably be bulldozed by those seeking software/hardware freedom and the next big thing.

    • clocinnorcal

      That is wishful thinking for sure and I hope you are right; however, if I were in the market for a new S4 with the intent of rooting and flashing, I would not get the ATT version for that reason among many others.

      • SGB101

        This is the fall out of Samsung wanting to push there S-software!

        Bit buy bit, they want to move away from android. Locking us out is just a start. And locking ‘normal’ users in!

        Sad but true!

      • redraider133

        If even moto bootloaders got cracked( finally) I think this will be cracked. Now how long who knows but samsung doesn’t do near as much to the bootloaders as what moto did.

  • jamal adam

    Welp!! Developer version it is then, if Samsung has it coming. I think it their “hand was forced” then it would be a smart idea for Samsung to do what HTC has done with the One, sell developer editions, thereby bypassing carriers all together.

  • Nathan D.

    Wow, this is unfortunate to hear this. But, you can always get it on another carrier bootloader unlock like t-mobile.

  • IY

    Yeah…..I liked S4 and was planning on buying one, but with this crap about locked boot loader I don’t know anymore. N4 with JellyBeer ROM and Franco kernel is as good as it gets for now. Unfortunately I noticed that N4 does not get good reception and no WiFi calling sucks because I don’t get any signal at work thanks to T-Mobile…..I noticed about zero network improvements in years……

  • donger

    AT&T sucks. Boo,

  • Terry Hardie

    I was planning on getting an S4 (Even considering paying full off contract price). Now, absolutely not as a result of this. Add my name to the list of people who will not buy it because of this lock.

  • hokiewv

    I hate to see more carriers go down this road though the signs have been pointing to that eventuality. When I picked up my HTC One from AT&T this weekend, I unlocked the bootloader right away. In the future, I will buy only Nexus devices or developer editions from manufactures that ship unlocked bootloaders.

    The only positive things I see is I think this will help the HTC One get additional mod support. I’m really looking forward to running CyanogenMod on my phone once it gets out of alpha.

  • redraider133
    • jamal adam

      Well, that was quick. Now all that needs to be done is to wait.

  • Nathen

    That is the reason i have and WILL ONLY buy a NEXUS Device.
    Stay strong ,save your money and be happy folks.

    Vote with your wallet !

    NEXUS !

  • CJ LaFleur

    AT&T is now just as tyrannical as Verizon. they’re gonna lose money, and the GS4 is going to sell poorly in the US. If they don’t use the poor sales as a slap in the face to wake them up. Either they unlock the bootloader, or they make sure to leave the bootlaoder alone in the GS5. if they don’t I’m gonna stick with nexus phones if Samsung is making them. F*** you AT&T!!!!