T-Mobile Confirms G2 Engineered to Allow Only Temporary Root


T-Mobile G2_Landscape

Earlier this week the T-Mobile G2 was rooted, but much to the surprise of many any modifications would only take hold until the handset was restarted. This created quite the stir in the root community, especially after recent releases from Motorola contained security features such as locked bootloaders to make the devices especially hard to crack. It left many wondering if perhaps it was simply an issue with the method of rooting, but many feared the reason was a bit more sinister. Turns out they were right. The T-Mobile G2 was designed to only allow temporary rooting. Read T-Mobile’s take:

“As pioneers in Android-powered mobile devices, T-Mobile and HTC strive to support innovation. The T-Mobile G2 is a powerful and highly customizable Android-powered smartphone, which customers can personalize and make their own, from the look of their home screen to adding their favorite applications and more.

The HTC software implementation on the G2 stores some components in read-only memory as a security measure to prevent key operating system software from becoming corrupted and rendering the device inoperable. There is a small subset of highly technical users who may want to modify and re-engineer their devices at the code level, known as “rooting,” but a side effect of HTC’s security measure is that these modifications are temporary and cannot be saved to permanent memory. As a result the original code is restored.”

Now I’m no expert on Android hacking, so I can’t say for sure whether or not a workaround will be found to deal with the security measure put in place by HTC. If previous work by members of the Android hacking community are any indication, I’m hopeful one will be found. If not, it looks like the days of truly open Android phones are numbered. Quite the shame.

[via DroidLife]

Kevin Krause
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  1. yea, well another side effect is I won’t be buying a new phone.

  2. GPL….F’N Hilarious!!!!!!

  3. Guess ima be sticking with my N1 longer

  4. @gthmcty1 Explain please.

  5. LOL, a small subset of users….

  6. I don’t understand why phone companies would want to discourage rooting. In what way will it benefit them to hamper their power users?

  7. Actually in another way this could open up rooting to the wider community. If someone devises a way to load a ROM on boot via SD card (on every boot) then the phone will be unbrickable, in the event of failure all one has to do is remove the SD card, and the stock rom will be restored.

  8. @Jason Bowdach

    Why do you LOL at this fact? You think most Android users root their phone? If so..wake-up it’s really a small subset…if not sorry for the misunderstanding…

  9. @ Patrick – I think it has to do with the hacker community. Quite frankly, it scares the establishment. Rooting allows user to use their phones as wireless tethers, without the phone company’s permission. It allows paid apps to be pulled off of a device and distributed for free. I makes it possible for people to insert malicious code.

    I’m all for rooting, but I look at it the same way I do DVD’s. Sure, it’s OK for you to store a digital copy of a movie you own for personal use only. That’s totally legal. However, there is nothing in the Copyright laws that says a movie company has to make it possible for you to make a digital copy. As a result, we constantly see harder and more complicated encryptions on movies.

  10. Missing 2 gigs of memory: found!

  11. lol “Security”

    real issue: they don’t like people rooting their phones

    scratch htc off my list of people I will ever buy phones from/suggest to friends, now.

  12. also @ kevin, you’re incorrect.

    being prevented modifying something you own will actual run afoul of actual laws. I can’t wait till this hits the courts soon.

  13. Well I understand HTC logic about this, however specifically the G2 was looked at for a lot of people as the replacement for the N1. Also a lot of people that really don’t know what they are doing, are bricking phones and going back for warranty coverage, that affects the companies bottom line, since in most cases warranties are honored even for hacked/bricked phones.

  14. @Matt how are they preventing u from modifying it? u are free to do whatever u want/can with the device…ur inability to root it is another thing…its like if u bought table and then sued the manufacturer cuz u cant root ur table

  15. @Matt…I doubt this would be an issue that the courts would side with us on. The only way I could see the courts backing up rooting is for devices not attached to a carrier. If you are not under contract with that device, then its functions only concern you. If you have cell service to it, you could tether without paying for it, use apps that you didn’t pay for on the cell network, etc. The cell companies have more money and better lawyers, so good luck.

  16. What’s the problem? Just don’t shut off your phone.

  17. The courts _already_ ruled the manufacturers cant take legal action against people who root …. so now they are just playing this game of making it difficult, which IMHO is a spirit of the law issue.

    I’m more curious about updates: if parts of the ROM are truely read only, what happens when 3.0 hits? Is it a big “oh well” because we can only temporarily flash our OS to the new build before it reverts back to 2.2? What if a bug is discovered in that read-only space?

  18. Anyone thinking they are doing this to protect their bottom line is wrong. There is no bottom line when you are trying to protect yourself from a VERY small portion of the population. If this really was the concern, let us root the phones. If we brick it, charge us an unbricking fee to restore the device. It’s win win…..The reality is, the carriers and device manufacturers are concerned with control. For some odd reason, they feel like they do not have control when someone roots their phone.

    It’s absurd really. Imagine buying a new car and not being able to modify it. Of course, you void the warranty, but it is still your car to screw up if you wish.

  19. @Hindu Elvis Pimp. Your phone uses another companies services after its purchase, your car doesn’t. Lets use your example…You buy a car, modify it with a turbo charger and now are required to use premium gas. Should you get the premium gas for the same price as the regular gas? If you buy a phone and root it, you can now use “premium” services that were previously unavailable and should cost more money.

  20. Hackers love a challenge.

  21. btw, I’m not backing up HTC for this. I think rooting is important for more reasons than gaining other services, but I can understand their thinking. Honestly, these actions are more likely carrier driven than anything to do with HTC or Moto.

  22. sure it sux for the ROOT fans but there is absolutely nothing wrong with HTC making their devices unchangeable just like how DVDs (although you own it) cannot legally be copied. If anybody starts talkin about lawsuits then your an idiot.

    Kevin said it best –

    “Rooting allows user to use their phones as wireless tethers, without the phone company’s permission. It allows paid apps to be pulled off of a device and distributed for free. I makes it possible for people to insert malicious code.”

  23. Pt is an idiot… rooting a table? A better example is puttin NOS on a car and blowing the engine…

  24. If the ROM is readonly, how can this phone be updated when a new official HTC certified kernel comes out???

  25. if the desire z is the dame way then we can tell if HTC did it or not, but really @Justin.g11 3.0 will be allowed on this phone come on this is gooogle G series they are going to back it up alll the way.@ evreybody i for one havent root any of my phones for the fear of bricking it but i know from a tmobile rep that if you brick and they find out then you will not get a free phone you’ll be charge for the phone on your next bill( told me all this when i bought the N1).

  26. Matt said it best. Every brick wall and speed bump that companies throw at hackers just gets them hungrier and hungrier for the challenge.

    When it comes down to it, for every one dev that is only doing the job for the money there are 20 hackers who do it for the love and passion of doing it.

  27. @Tyler, blablabla, what about the Milestone? It has a huge community and no one was able to hack the boot loader. If locking is well enginered there is no way to hack it, stop.

  28. Simple, HTC just won’t update the kernel for the phone. They’ll push out new things on the app side, make it look like it’s “new,” but it will just be the same underlying kernel. HTC doesn’t support their phones forever. So, come six or nine months down the road, they’ll just say, “We’re not supporting that phone anymore.”

  29. There is a way around it…otherwise G2 will be stuck on 2.2 and I doubt that to be the case. Give it time, phone just came out.

  30. Just don’t root/reboot it in that way

  31. temp-root doesn’t sound that bad.
    there is a benefit to it, especially when a 1click root is made.

    what if an app with root access messes up, like an overclock tool overclocking so far it crashes the phone on boot?

    on the g2 that would not be possible if you’d need to enable root after every reboot.

  32. I wish people would just not buy the phone instead of working on breaking the developer counter measures.

    If “hacking” is important to you then buy a phone from somebody that doesn’t fight hacking(I’m looking at you Samsung).

  33. This was done so T-Mobile can start to charge for tethering. You can argue with that fact all you want, but trust me when I say it is fact.

  34. you pussies jut dont root ur phones. be thankful they can do all they can. remember when they only made calls?

  35. At this point i really cannot blame companies for doing this. Too many idiots have bricked their phone and its costing them money.

  36. give it time, there will be a permanent root. the code that htc put on the g2 was written by a human, all it will take is a smarter programmer/hacker to crack it.

  37. Ack. The bitch is that HTC have no need to protect their code as they’re opening (or have already opened) the source up.

    Therefore I can only see rooting as giving THEM more money — people enjoy the potential of their handsets more, and a brand loyalty is created. Add to this the fact that your warranty’s void when you root and they’re probably getting more sales due to replacements for truly bricked phones. They won’t touch something that’s been deliberately rooted.

    I think the second point I made is almost moot anyway because their phones are so goddamn bulletproof that there’s almost always a way to unbrick. I did so with mine a couple of weeks ago, whereas I’ve been trying to unbrick an old Nokia for about a year.

  38. Why not just engineer an app that takes priority whenever the phone is rebooted then roots the phone all over again?
    Is that possible?
    Im not an expert or anything…just grasping at straws

  39. i’ve only rooted my old Samsung Moment–but am considering it on my Evo.

    it seems like companies wouldn’t MIND rooting–especially if it voids the warranty.
    yes–for that group that uses TitaniumBackup and can restore to factory settings before running to the store to exchange “it just stopped working”, they’re the exception.
    BUT! for anyone else who is dumb enough not to back up their phone (a fair amount of people)–it seems like HTC would gain more $ by letting morons brick their phones and not having to honor warranties (warranty=less profit if they’re sending out new phones for busted ones)

  40. Kingkurry – How many people can you name that have bricked their phone? Not many? that’s what I thought.

    You have to be completely awful at life to brick your phone via rooting. If you don’t want to root then don’t. BUT some of us enjoy being able to use our phone far past it’s expiration date rather then getting a new one to keep up with the times.

  41. @murdrock

    actually I have a vibrant that Ive rooted more than a month ago (the day it came out)

    and yesterday Tmobile pushed out the software update/ Gps fix. When I downloaded and installed the update it bricked my phone. Unfortunately because I happened to have one of the hardware locked versions theres not much I can do to recover it.

    So yeah it happens.

  42. Apparently many people are in love with HTC (they really make good hardware :D), but temporary-only root is far worse than locked bootloader in Motorola devices (rooting enables you to remove bloatware and mod your device however you want, tether even if your carrier doesn’t support it, while locked bootloader only prevents you from modding the kernel).
    Still motorola received much harsher treatment with people screaming how htc supports moders and bla bla bla

  43. For those saying that people shouldn’t root their phones, and they should be happy with what they have . Wait until your phone is six months old and you’re left with a lagging outdated pos, and HTC says you’re sol.

  44. Well, sure as hell glad I didnt get the G2. Ill stick with my Vibrant…rooted and rom’d. Kthxbye!

  45. @Chuck: Apparently you are one hell of a **** noob to go download a TMobile stock 2.1 based rom update. OTA Updates are NEVER EVER meant for any kind of customized phone OS. Thats what you get for being ignorant!

  46. Seriously they should not be pulling this crap! HTC is starting to act like Apple more and more! telling you what you have to have on your device unless they update it! If you buy a new computer and want to put Linux on it you can! Maybe you want to run Windows 7 or Windows XP. If we pay $500 dollars for these phones which you will outright or if its subsidized into your plan either way we pay for the equipment! We should have the right to put what ever operating system we want on our investment. How would you feel if you bought a computer and were told you had to have windows XP? if you installed another version of windows 7 it would re-write windows xp on reboot. You would not stand for it. This should be a class action law suit that can change the way we get our equipment. If we purchase a phone we should be able to put what we want on it whether it be Windows phone 7, Android 2.2 or Maemo. Just not that Apple crap you cant even do that with computers.

  47. so its cheaper for them to to chip every phone, then to amend their return policy for bricked devices? I don’t believe that……

  48. @Steven Skwarkowski

    Actually I am a noob to android, for many many years all Ive had is an Iphone, so…never said I was an android expert or anything lol not everyone on this site is. Im still learning the ins and outs.

    My Vibrant was rooted but not with any custom roms, so thats not what bricked it. No big deal they are sending another.

    However I also have an Att captivate (work phone) that is rooted as well but when I downloaded the update it worked perfectly. So obviously the phone being rooted has nothing to do with it bricking.

    But thanks for the positive feedback lol.

  49. Well, looks like one of the big reasons to get android over iphone are coming to a close.

  50. Why blame HTC? They build to the specs and characteristics requested by their customers, the carriers. If the carriers specifically ask them to make a phone hard to root, of course they are going to do it. I’m sure they will have generic G2s for the international market, and these may not have this measure, for all you know. My problem was with the false impressions and the misrepresentations created when the phone was touted. 1) 4GB internal storage – you can’t boast about this when half is not usable by the buyer. 2) can you boast that this is stock Android and that G2 is G1’s successor when there is this protective measure not found in the original nor in Android?

  51. Like I keep telling people, phones like this won’t be upgradable to Gingerbread, which no doubt uses a different kernel.
    I think somebody already said it – HTC will just keep pushing out iterations of version 2.
    Phones like the G2 are heavily subsidized by Telco’s and being able to root the device to run on another network isn’t in either parties best interest. The phone companies for obvious reasons and the manufacturer because they want the revenue.

  52. Might as well buy an iPhone if this is what Moto and HTC are doing these days. So glad I got an original droid.

  53. Like I said, I will be curious to see if HTC’s generic G2, meant to be sold off-contract and not subsidized by carriers, will have this protective measure. If they don’t, then my faith in HTC will be restored. Meanwhile, I’m relieved I bought my N1 from Google when they said they were down to their last batch to be sold online. I had a funny feeling…..

  54. Why do all the recent android phones all have to a have a large “but…” attached to them?

    The merge looks like an awesome phone, BUT its crippled with bing. The galaxy tab looks like an amazing tablet, BUT because the skin bogs it down, browser scrolling is choppy. The G2 is a great device, BUT the assholes at t-mobile have locked out power users, effectively shutting out half the android market. Seriously, is it really that hard to release a phone that’s just a great device. Its not a matter of what to add to it; it a matter of what not to add.

  55. This is great! :) I am sure that the HTC service Dept is very happy. This will surely reduce the amount of RMAs from end users that are techy nerd wannabes.

    “ahhh I rooted my phone. I was impatient and cut power when I should not have and now it’s bricked. Can you send me a new phone?”

  56. Fucktards for the 9000th time, you cannot RMA bricked phones from Rooting. Shut the fuck up about RMA bullshit excuses. TMob screwed the pooch with this one. They had a huge seller on their hands and boned it for nothing.

  57. Seriously guys, how can you possibly be mad at HTC or Tmobile for doing this? I don’t know just how much or if it’s hurting TMO at all but bottom line is they dont want us tethering without paying them. We may not like it but its business. Period.

  58. This is about control of manufacturer’s dollars, plain and simple. They are manufacturers of hardware and if you keep upgrading your phone, you aren’t buying units. The carriers do a CYA to protect themselves from you acquiring more ability on your phone than they dole out to you. Android is a powerful open source platform with unlimited potential. This move seeks to place all that potential/power on the side of the companies and not the users.
    It’s just like DSL, when it first started, they charged $30 per month for whatever speed that you were capable of receiving. The closer you were to the CO, the more speed you got. Then, they realized that they could cap and dole out the speeds then charge more for the higher speeds.

    Android is no different. As developers (hackers) discover the power of Android, the companies run behind to find ways to cap it…until they can devise a way to charge you more for that same ability.


    However, you must realize that this game of cat and mouse will strengthen both our security skills of offense and defense as a community.

  60. Vibrant is still best phone on T-Mobile. Super amo LED Screen > Any LCD screen. Still fastest phone with fastest GPU that kills everything else in gaming. Plug the headphones in and you have the highest audio quality output in any smartphone. While other phones can only dream of the many video/audio formats this device supports, like DiVx HD, XviD, MKV, H264, VC-1, Flac, Vorbis, ACC+, ect.. and doing so very smoothly. TouchWiz3.0+Launcher Pro and you have if not the best UI out there. Swipe left or right on contacts to Text or Call them. You can change brightness with just sliding left or right on the notification bar. Then there this the amazing 3D Drawer. Unlocking this phone couldn’t be easier. The unlock codes are already in these phones. All you have to do is download an app called SGS Unlock.

  61. I think Megabyte from Reboot said it best: “If it’s cat and mouse you want to play, then maybe we need some cheese!”

  62. Hey check it out vibrant owners, my phone was a brick after the the update too.Download ODIN3 1.3 – forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=790026
    Download JI6 tar – forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=798125
    Open Odin, plug in your phone, then put it into download mode.
    load the JI6 .tar file in the PDA area. (leave PIT blank)
    DO NOT check ‘re-partition’.
    Click start, let it finish. I got a number of scrolling messages in ODIN and my phone restarted twice on its own before booting normally. It did sit for several minutes on the Galaxy S animation before finishing startup normally.
    Now my phone is good as new, plus theres a new one coming in the mail.

  63. sorry for being off topic, but its quite easy to recover a bricked vibrant.http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=8522603#post8522603 And as for the G2 watch what happens next week.

  64. mannnn…i wish this had a 5 line keyboard like the epic!!

  65. Why do some ppl act like Android isnt customizable out the box and only rooting and custom ROMS makes it customizable?
    Am I the only one that appreciates how customizable Android is out the box?? I rooted my Droid 1 about 2 weeks after getting it. I ran so many custom ROMs I started deleting the 2.1 ROMs after Froyo came out.
    I got the X and couldnt be more happier. Why? It gives me better reception than the Droid 1, which already had great reception…something thats actually more useful than root or custom ROMs considering I work in a bad reception area. I will choose better reception over custom ROMs ANY DAY.
    Power users -ppl that root- are HALF of Android users…..are u serious?
    If thats the case, the X wouldnt have sold as many as it did. SOmeone tried to say thats why the Droid 2 didnt sell well. Well they both have the locked down bootloader so it isnt that…
    @bobbert, post #34

  66. I bought a G2 on October 3rd and returned it today. The main reason is that the phone locked up twice and required me to remove the battery in order to power the phone back up. This issue and battery life were among the total issues in which I decided to return rather than replace the unit due to it’s defect.

    However, a solution to work around the security measure will present itself as the hardware is available and I highly doubt the readonly area cannot be overwritten. I suspect, if not before, but certainly after the first OTA, it will be discovered how to make permeant changes to phone. My own take is there are probably using filesystem overlays which, in part, explains the use of ext3. All one has to do is look at how live USB or Live ISO version of Linux are implemented to understand how HTC probably did the G2.

  67. Vibrant is still the best T Mobile device. It has fastest CPU even though most devices have 1Ghz. Fastest gaming device on mobile phone yet with its powerful PowerVR SGX 540. Put in the headphones and you have highest audio output of any smartphone. Super AmoLED> Any LCD. Just look at Samsung LED TVs. TouchWiz 3.0+ Launcher Pro= Easily the best.

  68. Still, I love my more than capable G2

  69. @justin.g11 …interesting questions. My guess would be that this portion isn’t really “read-only” but in fact you have to have a “token” to be able to write to it. Saying that the memory is read only is just misdirection in an attempt to slow down the root community from figuring out a way to bypass the measures.


    @wodin …WORST analogy EVER! YES, your car uses another companies services after its purchase. The company, the US Government. The service, development and up keep of roads and bridges. And there is NOTHING to stop you from modifying your car any way you want to…but don’t expect to be able to drive it on the road legally.

    Anybody who argues on the side of the carriers because rooters can tether without paying extra… if I am paying for cable TV, should I be able to buy a splitter and hook up a second TV in a different room of the house without paying extra? if I am paying for high speed cable internet should I be allowed to hook up a wireless router that allows me to give multiple computers internet access? if I buy a PC should I be able to load an operating system that allows me to use the PC to do things that windows doesn’t?

    The bottom line… the carriers are trying to protect their ability to charge extra where ever and when ever they choose. I am calling it today (actually came to me months ago) the carriers or the hardware manufacturers will announce that developers will be able to go through a process that will make their ROM’s available on the market. YOu submit your OS, it gets checked out to make sure it isn’t doing anything malicious… or more importantly to the carriers, make sure it isn’t giving users the ability to do anything they want to be able to charge you extra for… then they stick your OS out on the market attached to a key that allows it to be installed on the manufacturers hardware… control… control… control… they will do whatever they can to squeeze as much money out of consumers as possible… and they will do it to the extent that we allow them. Could you imagine if Dell suddenly started selling PC’s that you couldn’t upgrade to the latest version of Windows because they used encryption or some other method to lock down the software loaded on their hardware? They would go out of business because the users have already become used to the idea that they can do anything they want with it. That’s exactly what the carriers don’t want to happen to the precious hardware that accesses their network. They want us to forget about devices like the OG DROID and the Nexus One as quickly as possible just like GM wanted the public to forget about the EV1. Everything in this world comes down to money, power, control… you can bend over if you want to but I for one am going to fight back and I am going to do it with my wallet. I have an OG DROID now. I fought to keep it when Verizon tried to replace a broken one with a locked down DROID2. And I will keep it as long as possible if the carriers/manufacturers continue to go down the path of locking down the hardware. The cat is out of the bag… I am going to do everything I can to keep it out!

    One last thing… anybody that thinks this is just more of a “challenge” for hackers doesn’t know anything about encryption… these devices will never be hacked… either the keys will get leaked or the powers that be will decide to give users the keys for one reason or another…whether it be public demand or economics or other

  70. @Kevin: “It allows paid apps to be pulled off of a device and distributed for free.”

    And how is this useful? Are app developers supposed to just work for free for all the folks who are willing to spend hundreds on a phone and thousands on voice/data services over a two year contract, but yet simultaneously willing to stiff indie developers for the cost of a latte?

    The marketplace does not need pirates. If an app is not worth the money to you, then don’t buy it. The world will continue to rotate about its axis if any one person isn’t able to stiff an indie developer. If an indie developer creates something that provides $2 of value for 200,000 people, then they should be compensated for their effort with $400,000. Not with $400. If an indie developer can make the same hourly wage after piracy losses writing a great app as he can mowing his neighbor’s lawn then maybe mowing the lawn is better – at least his neighbor will pay him and maybe even smile and say “thanks” to his face.
    There is a 24 hour trial period. There are lite versions of many apps. All of the arguments of pirates boil down to “I am spoiled and have no real understanding of economics, and I want things for free.” Let the market work.

  71. @Tyler: “for every one dev that is only doing the job for the money there are 20 hackers who do it for the love and passion of doing it.”

    And how do these hackers procure food, clothing, and shelter? There’s nothing evil about a developer getting compensated for their work. It’s up to the marketplace to value that work, and markets are perfectly capable of valuing crap at zero and non-crap at the price that the market will bear, without any need for pirates to come in and “liberate” people from the “tyranny” of capitalism. Payment for value creation is basic economics. Love don’t pay the bills.

  72. It will be interesting to see if this same situation applies to the MyTouch HD.

  73. ^It will be real interesting to see if other manufactures follow suit with future phones…

  74. @bartholemew

    you’re an idiot, kevin said good things about rooting and then bad things. that was one of the bad things

  75. @Dillon: “kevin said good things about rooting and then bad things. that was one of the bad things”

    All understood. I wasn’t saying bad things about Kevin. Comments were directed at piracy. Chill.

  76. Who would ever buy an unrootable phone so you are tied completely to the manufacturer, I’m a dext owner and without the work done by the hacking community would be in 1.5 purgatory until I upgrade. The hackers will break this undoubtably but no HTC for me until they do, pity really as my next android was definately going to be a HTC.

  77. Hm. Wasn’t the ZTE Blade completely open? As in very easy to root and install custom ROMs? Seems to me like THE phone to have right now, apart from the sluggish CPU. And it’s dirt cheap too. I guess those Chinese companies will start to make more and more Android devices which won’t be as locked down as their competition, why should they do that?

  78. A “bricked” phone (at least, a bricked Samsung Galaxy S, or most of HTC’s past Android phones) isn’t destroyed — it’s just not in a state that an end user without access to a JTAG programmer and the necessary recovery files can reflash it himself. In most cases, the same independent mobile phone stores that do unlocking can resurrect a “bricked” phone for you for around 100 dollars or euros. Maybe less.

    If carriers had any sanity, they’d ENCOURAGE $100 warranty replacements of bricked phones, because it would be $100 of more or less pure profit. You’d give them your phone and $100, they’d hand you someone else’s resurrected phone, and ship your bricked phone back to their facility where somebody making a few dollars per hour would connect a cable to its USB port, hit return, watch the NAND upload, then hand it off to QA for recertification.

    Small stores need a couple of hours, because they have to solder wires onto the JTAG header on the phone’s circuit board. A carrier or manufacturer can do it via the “usb” port thanks to a protocol called “JIG” that temporarily repurposes the USB port’s pins for JTAG use. The only reason why small stores can’t use it is because the JIG interface is too expensive to justify buying just to fix a few phones.

    The truth is, there’s basically one way to genuinely damage the phone via software: repeatedly write to its flash and erase it, over and over, as fast as you can, until you start to reach its half life and get errors. Well, ok… if it’s AMOLED, you could prematurely sear out the blue elements… but root-proofing won’t prevent THAT because you can do it with a static web page of a saturated blue and black line-art image left displayed at max brightness for a few days.

    If manufacturers are truly concerned about end users bricking phones, there’s a simple solution: flash with a failsafe alternate bootloader that can’t be erased and gets its flash file from the removable microSD card, and activated by powering up the phone with a paperclip inserted into a hole on the phone that presses a button and triggers the reflash instead of having that failsafe bootloader simply hand over control to the normal bootloader. Problem solved. It’s not rocket science — products were doing this 20 years ago (but with mask rom instead of protected flash).

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