HTC Thunderbolt, Incredible S First in Series of Devices With Tightened Encryption?



Any Android enthusiast knows HTC gets a lot of love for producing devices that aren’t terribly difficult to hack. In fact, it’s often times so easy that you’d think HTC published the methods to gain low-level access. Unfortunately, those times may be coming to an end.

The HTC Thunderbolt is the first device from HTC’s new generation and quickly landed into the laps of developers. The community was a bit distraught after learning it had a locked bootloader, but many chalked it up to being Verizon’s doing. that may not be the case at all.

Those developers have found similar encryption techniques in the HTC Incredible S, a phone that was announced in Barcelona last month and is not specific to any carrier for the time being. (For the record, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 will be Verizon’s version of the device here in the states.)

When asked why they were doing this, HTC said they were simply tailoring to carriers’ needs. I understand why a carrier might want to lock devices down – it allows the users to do things that they shouldn’t be able to do. When that happens, phones can break and Verizon, HTC, Asurion or whoever is responsible for fulfilling warranties aren’t happy.

The only sliver of hope comes from the fact that Verizon is indeed getting some form of the HTC Incredible S. It remains to be seen if devices like the HTC EVO 3D and the HTC Pyramid (a phone that has yet to be announced for T-Mobile) will get the same treatment. [via Android Police]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. And yet, earlier today, Phandroid published an article about how it wasn’t so difficult to root the HTC Thunderbolt.

    The developers going after these phones are in it for the glory, not the money. That’s why they will always win. Remember the Droid X? Remember the G2? Developers can and will still find a way to root these locked devices.

  2. Apple tried to make the iPhone unrootable and look how that worked out. Hackers love a challenge. And they always win.

    “If you can read, you can root.”

  3. @Kevin

    Root is not the same as a custom ROM though. I can’t imagine using a rooted version of Éclair on my Hero at all. It’s too far backwards. With locked boot-loaders comes reliance on the manufacturers and networks to provide the updates, which lets face it, pales in comparison to that of the community dev work.

  4. im sure the developers will just find a way around it. But it does worry me about future devices.

  5. They had the same mechanism on the G2.
    This isn’t a big deal and people need to stop posting about it.

  6. How can they be ‘tailoring to a carrier’s needs’ when the Incredible S isn’t associated with a particular carrier.

    Liars, simple as.

  7. the g2 was locked too. Locked isnt encrypted they are easy to break where moto and their encrypted still havent been cracked.

  8. @alek

    agree they spread wrong info you can get custom roms on HTC not so much on motorola. Quit beating a dead horse since the bootloader has already been unlocked for the thunderbolt.

  9. Look at the Atrix, it’s bootloader still hasn’t been cracked and it never will be.. Motorola is a bunch of #*$@’s.

  10. I’ll throw this out there. If devs and custom ROM users really are a small percentage of the general population, then locked bootloaders doesn’t really do much. In other words, if we really didn’t matter, phone manufacturers and carriers shouldn’t care what we do, as we shouldn’t present any risk to their revenues. Even with locked OS’s on the phone, we aren’t going to be inclined to utilize/pay for their sorry apps/markets anyway.

    On the flip side, they’re locking things down because they’re losing money from people installing custom ROMs and deleting stock bloatware. So which is it? Are we the minority who HTC and others don’t care about alienating, or are we significant enough to make an impact with what we do?

    Either way, we should make an effort to let HTC know what they’re doing is going to alienate the users who really got HTC popular with the Android community. Without the developing that ran rampant blog sites wouldn’t have been praising and allowing this tremendous and sudden growth of HTC and all things Android to happen.

    I certainly will not be using any phone (or tablet if I ever get one) that prevents me from running a custom OS. Battery life suffers because of bloatware and poor stock kernels. Speed is limited due to bloatware and poor stock interfaces. Utility of the phone suffers because of the same. So, I’ll happily email every outlet to HTC and VZW this same exact message in hopes that someone realizes they’re digging their company’s own grave for the long term. Google thrives because of the user friendly relationship it developed, and all these companies are thriving because of the same relationship. To turn a wonderful open system into a closed proprietary world will ultimately lead to alienating the very people who brought you success.


  11. I can definitely see the carriers wanting this. Think about it. If you have a device that is upgraded to the latest and greats via xda, the incentive to buy a new phone is diminished. My wifes eris runs gingerbread pretty damn well. As long as the phone is quick enough – why upgrade ? With locked/encrypted boot loaders, we have a situation where the carriers can basically obsolete phones at a time of their choosing.

  12. Well said Mr Truth. Custom ROM’s are far superior to carrier updates. Dev’s seem to optimize the roms where as carriers like to load them with Bloat. Carriers just want to optimize sales by loading apps that require a subscription. Unfortunately it causes horrible phone lag and you can’t delete them. Its a night and day difference in performance.

  13. I’ll stick with the Google experience (Nexus S right now) line. If more people backed this line of phones then carriers and handset manufacturers might take notice.

  14. @acupunc

    Its hard to back it if the phone isnt on the network you are on.

  15. I’m looking forward to GeeksPhone’s products. Their Zero is coming with CM7 and root already. :)

  16. already been unlocked no need keep acting like being locked means anything. Encrypted is what means something!

  17. Love the new comment engine

    1. same now maybe it will keep some of those who just come on troll, and swear at others lol

  18. MrTruth,

    I agree and disagree. I have an OG Droid that’s rooted, ROM’d and all that. I agree with you that new ROM’s are like candy and makes it feel like getting a new phone. However, if Motor had a new Droid with better specs and open like the OG….I’d already have bought it. I think I’m rather typical as far as phone freaks go.

  19. Hurray for HTC! I love their phones.

  20. Yay new comment system. Kudos, Phandroid.

    On the the topic at hand. Whether it be the carriers or HTC at fault, it’s a shame to see. Justifying it as “allow[ing] the users to do things that they shouldn’t be able to do” doesn’t really make sense. There is a difference between a locked bootloader and an non-rooted phone, is there not? I doubt users will just accidentally root their phones and subsequently break it. Only those that know about rooting will do it.

  21. @sputnick. I agree with you. I have a rooted og Droid and to be honest there’s no reason for me to upgrade to a locked phone where I would be essentially downgrading in software.

    Until Verizon releases a Lte phone with dual core and 1gig of ram or better with an unlocked bootloader I will not be upgrading. When I do see this,i assure you I will be first in line.

  22. It’s a signed bootloader. It is not encrypted (which is what makes things like the DX/D2/Milestone so hard to crack, and the thunderbolt a 2 day affair. So saying they are the first with tightened encryption is not accurate.

    1. Agreed. TBolt was cracked inordinately faster than the DINC… 2 days? I’m happy. Granted alot of the leg work was done on the HTC G2 but hey, everything is still rooted. That’s what matters.

      1. Are they going to be able to have full bootloader access? Let me rephrase that, will they be allowed to load roms with custom kernels? (aka, what the droid x, droid x and milestone cannot do)

        I’m not sure I really am comprehending the hackability differences between the tbolt, the irreducible and the og droid…. Seems like all of them allow full bootloader access and therefore should all allow any customization that a developer can dream up. Is that accurate?

  23. It is idiocy to say that the provider is wanting phones locked for warranty issues. All the phone providers have nothing to do with the warranty, as the warranties are handled by a 3rd party in every case now, as far as I am aware. Open Source phones being locked down is making people root their phones just to get Vanilla Android… that is BS! Android phones should have the option of Vanilla, as that is the source. We shouldn’t have to throw a Vanilla ROM on the phone, as we bought an Android phone to get ANDROID, not any special UI. Just saying it should be an option, and less people would root, maybe…

    I don’t know anyone who has warrantied their phone who has root. They can backup and restore straight from the card. Most rooted users usually know more than anyone at the provider’s store, even about the hardware.

  24. The harder you try to protect your goods. The harder someone else will try to defeat that protection..

    I think the best way about it is to just not brag about your what technology you’re sporting. And if you are going to do so, at least send mass emails to all the known hackers of the world that you’d like them to crack it and humiliate your efforts. It’ll save them time having to wait to find out about the challenge and you’ll get your results sooner in which case you can immediately begin the cat and mouse game.

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