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AT&T variant of Samsung Galaxy S4 has locked bootloader

Samsung Galaxy S4 TouchWiz

If any of you new AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 owners in the United States were hoping for that version of the device to be showered with custom ROMs aplenty, you might want to put those dreams on hold for a while. Steve Kondik, of CyanogenMod fame, has confirmed that the Ma Bell version of the Galaxy S4 launches with a locked bootloader.

Locked doesn’t always mean encrypted, of course, and although Kondik never used the latter word he seems to feel strongly about the fact that this model wouldn’t be ideal to buy for those looking to flash custom ROMs like CyanogenMod or work with low-level hardware stuff. The general feeling is that this isn’t a Samsung thing, but a carrier thing.

That said, we all know how the development community works. More often than not, the locked becomes the unlockable, the unhackable becomes hackable, and users and their devices go on living happily ever after. Even several Motorola devices, which have a history of being locked down tight, have been beaten at the hands of developers recently. That said, nothing’s ever guaranteed so if you don’t want to be roped into a device with an uncertain future in the hands of the development community then I’d take Steve’s advice and hold off for now.

[via Google+]

Continue reading on the Samsung Galaxy S4 forums, see the specs, or find news and reviews.




  • Bob Allen

    I’m even happier I bought an HTC One now. The S4 didn’t excite me when I tried one in the store and this just seals my opinion of it for now. When the bootloader is cracked and the 32 GB version shows up it’ll be worth taking a look at again. For now, it’s just the next “meh” thing………

    • yankeesusa

      It wasn’t Samsung that wanted to lock it. Att makes them do it. Only reason htc can be unlocked is because htc website makes you void your warranty and get it in writing soaatt longer covers your phone. In the end I feel the s4 is a better choice for most people. My friend just bought the htc one last week and yesterday he took it back and got s4. Even though he loved the features and great phone manufacturing the s4 has more to offer in his eyes. I see this as a recurring thing.

      • Jacob Reed

        Doesn’t really matter to me who’s fault it is. I want an unlocked bootloader!!

  • Jayshmay

    My T-Mobile S4 is on vehicle out for delivery, yayyyyy!!! Looking forward to the experience. I have a 2+y/o Samsung Droid Charge, so this is a really big upgrade for me.

  • Icemaine

    I thought developers for Cyanogenmod weren’t going to work on the SGS4? If that’s changed since I read last, then I may just get one…

    • KOLIO

      That was an unofficial quote, nothing to it. CM team stated as much the very next day.

      • Keith

        Yeah, the first statement was made by the CM team who works on the Samsung phones, then the next day some official statement came out saying they don’t make statements before a phone actually comes out.

    • scoter man1

      I’m sure some people will try but it’ll probably have hardware issues. I think that’s always the problem…

    • BulletTooth_Tony

      Exynos version – yes. Cyanogen, the man, doesn’t work on that anyways.

  • Alec Smith

    Well this makes it 10 times easier for me to decide whether to spend my 2 year upgrade on the gs4 or the iPhone 5s when it comes out. Plus the drop tests scared me!

    • Jacob Reed

      Right… Because there are all kinds of custom ROMs for the iPhone 5s.

      • bmg314

        xD

      • blest

        Lmao

    • Shane Rambo

      How is iphone even a choice

  • Jacob Reed

    This is as bummer… I really want the GS4 (still rocking an S2 Skyrocket), but I really don’t want a locked boot loader. And the One isn’t an option for me since I’ve gotta have an removable battery. Maybe I’ll have to wait till November when my contract is up, move to Tmobile and get a Note 3?

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.moch.10 Chris Moch

      so get the s4! do you really think not one person in the dev community will sit down and say “fck u att this is getting unlocked” over the next 2 years and given the popularity of the device? It’ll happen… just because someone hasn’t figured it out yet doesn’t mean they never will :)

      • Jacob Reed

        Yeah, I’m sure it will happen. But I’m gonna wait til it does. I want the freedom to mess with my phone out of the gate. If it takes too long, I might be out of contract, then I’m gone. AT&T tries to control things too much. The only reason I’ve stayed with them so long is because I can’t ever go 2 years without getting a new phone.

        • http://www.facebook.com/chris.moch.10 Chris Moch

          I just came off the thunderbolt and couldn’t be happier. Stock GS4 is pretty nice and a 3rd party launcher satisfies for now :)

        • eclipsenyou

          This line of thought makes no sense. I waited 2 months before rooting my S3 because Verizon locked the boot loader. The great thing is, the S3 ( & now the S4) are great phones stock, and this is merely a minor setback. You’re better off buying and getting to know about all the features anyway for a month or two before you start modding it.

  • simpleas

    Damn u ATT

  • Guest

    So unlock it… not like it’s never going to be done anyway. Someone always figures this crap out even in the extreme case of Moto. We know the S4 is going to sell as well or slightly better then the S3, can the CM and other rom teams really afford to turn their backs on this? For Kondik to bail out now just confirms the previous rumor that the CM team never intended to support this device from the start. Gotta give a new device more than 3 days past release before you pull your chute and bail.

    • http://cyanogenmod.org/ ciwrl

      From the source link:

      Steve Kondik 1:21
      +Burk Manson Oh we’ll support the versions that don’t have the ridiculous lockdown. And likely the locked versions when they are cracked, that’s just a matter of time.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.moch.10 Chris Moch

        awesome I’ll be looking for that. but for now enjoying the stock experience. First samsung device.. touchwiz isn’t THAT bad got some nice improvements and stuff that sense never did.

  • Matt Laney

    Verizon S3 has a locked boot loader. But I sit here typing this on a Verizon S3 running a custom ROM. There will be a workaround for it. Don’t give up faith.

    • nycolonopyl

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  • Chris Noland

    well that stinks… I was planning to pick one up but not going to until a boot loader is unlocked. The S3 was not locked… why do it to the new one? grrr

    • eclipsenyou

      Actually the Verizon S3 had a locked boot loader, but that only lasted a couple of months. It now has literally dozens of awesome ROMS available for it.. If you knew anything about rooting or the dev community, you’d know this!

      • Chris Noland

        really… had to go there…so…VzW blows… I try to stay on GSM/UMTS networks and not CDMA, so don’t have a phone on their network. Have stuck mainly to Nexus devices (have all of them) and a locked bootloader is a PITA. The dev community is quickly changing if you have been around for a while as there are too many devices to mess with to mess with ones with locked boot loaders. Now if this was a moto device I would say getting custom roms would be nearly impossible but since this will sell a ton I would expect something…but also it is getting a lot harder to crack the boot loader as the code is getting a lot more mature, not to say impossible but going to take more than a few weeks is my guess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidallenpullen David Pullen

    Does anyone know when Best Buy will actually ship out its ATT Galaxy S4 preorders? I’m getting impatient and I have received no emails from BBY stating the status of this situation.

  • Jonathan DeJesus

    You fools need to stop worrying about boot loaders and worry about some booty(ass) for once. These responses by grown men are embarrassing to read and at the same time very funny. I can just imagine the conversations most of you lonely fools have with each other.

    • bbqsfire

      I am guessing you haven’t seen the wives and girlfriends of some of these fools have you. I know several of these fools and they the hottest girls around.

    • shooter50

      Agreed!

    • Drew M.

      lmfao.

      People who actually do get booty do not care about people who don’t. Stop projecting your own failures.

    • jackdubl

      Perfect timing. Perfect tone. Comedy at its finest.

  • Guest

    ATT is so annoying. This will just keep me on my SGS3 and hold off on getting the SGS4 until it’s unlocked.

  • 1ofdakoolkidz

    Now what do the haters have to say about the HTC One

    • JSYOUNG571

      It’s still not like an Apple iPhone that customers can trust while being locked out of their battery with no SD card slot. Get the Galaxy Note 2 if you are not happy about the Samsung Galaxy S4.

  • rick slick

    Most bootloaders are locked, to prevent malware from messing up your phone. That’s not a big deal at all.

    However if it’s “encrypted” that’s where there’s a major problem… as it’s tough to crack the encryption…

    Meh…non-story.

  • DonMcCall

    Everyone was touting developer support and removable storage as the big advantages the GS4 had on the HTC One. Now we find out the GS4 has a locked bootloader, and that over 40% of your storage on the 16GB version is used by Touchwiz (remember that you can’t move apps to SD anymore without rooting, something the AVERAGE user will never do). This is on a phone that costs more than the 32GB HTC One? Sorry, but the GS4 seems to have just as many compromises, if not more.

    • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

      Wow. Only 9GB internal is usable with TouchWhiz on the S4? Didn’t know that. What a pig. Would be much better with CyanogenMod, but still…

  • Joshua Saunders

    My desire for custom ROM’s seems to be inversely proportional to the newness of the device… Galaxy series seems to get updates as well (relative to my Atrix 4G which got ignored thank you very much), which should keep me happy until a stable ROM exists

  • rustygh