Moto X for Sprint, US Cellular, and T-Mobile will have unlockable bootloaders – AT&T and Verizon only through Developer Editions


Moto X filter

It’s always in the back of every custom ROM lovin’, XDA divin’, Android modder’s mind whenever a new device is announced, “Will it have an unlocked bootloader?” This is the question many asked when the Moto X was announced last week, and while more information began trickling in after the press release, we learned that Motorola would be making a special “Developer Edition” of the X available shortly after launch, followed by a Google Play edition.

But what about those that are happy with their current carrier and don’t mind signing a 2-year agreement for a discounted device? Well, Motorola reached out to us and let us know that if you’re on Sprint, US Cellular or T-Mobile — you can enjoy a Moto X that comes with a fully unlockable bootloader. The process is said to be relatively easy and can be performed simply by visiting My Moto Care.

While Verizon and AT&T models of the Moto X wont have unlockable bootloaders (is anyone really surprised?), Motorola will provide both Verizon Wireless Developer Edition and general North American Developer Edition for ROM lovers on those networks. Keep in mind that unlocking your bootloader always results in the voiding of one’s warranty, of course that wont do much to deter ROM flashing addicts in need of their next fix.

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Your right, I am not surprised by that at all.
    Nothing done by AT&Verizon surprises me anymore.

    It’s already a tough sell, they just made it a no sale for modders, but then again I think they have made it pretty clear they don’t want modders or smart people, just zombies that pay more money.

  2. still overpriced

    1. You don’t even know what the developer edition prices will be!

  3. Hopefully the bootloader is easier to crack than previous Moto phones. They need to do like Samsung and “lock” their bootloaders but make them easy to get around.

    1. I still remember rooting my Atrix 4G. It was expected behavior to soft brick while doing it 0.o

      (I shat bricks when it happened)

      1. Hahahaha! I had an Atrix and I definitely soft bricked it a few times. And that phone was sometimes very stubborn when trying to un-brick. You had to align all of the stars to get that phone working again.

        1. I think mine was just a battery pull or something =D
          Thankfully I switched to Nexuses (4 and 7) so there’s no worrying anymore, lol.

          1. I had to run Motorola’s software to get mine un-bricked a couple times and it did was super picky. The scariest was when I was trying to downgrade my firmware to the leaked un-encrypted bootloader. It failed miserably and I thought my phone was toast.

  4. For the price, I’m just gonna go ahead and get the G2 later this month Chris. How about you, that phone interest you at all? I know you liked the Optimus G. And now that they’ve gotten rid of the physical home button and went with on screen, I’m sold. LG keeps getting better honestly.

    1. There’s a physical home button on the back I think, so I guess they figured they could put the best of both worlds in the G2.On screen buttons and a physical button.

      1. It’s a power button, not physical home button. :P

        1. Omg I can’t believe I just said that. I think my disqus account needs to be revoked.

    2. Hopefully there’s a dev verson for G2

    3. Right now, I want something compact. I’m starting to get irritated with not being able to reach an entire quadrant of my display with my thumb. Hate having to use 2 hands for everything.

      Eyeballing the Moto X as it seems like a nice enough Nexus replacement/upgrade but still pretty happy with my HTC One.

      1. I hear that. It’s kind if opposite for me right now. I’ve never liked big screen phones and phablets, but lately been feeling like I want a slightly bigger screen. 5.2 is a stretch, but with that tiny bezel it looks OK. Never know I might freak out and wanna go back down. Never even really touched a phone with a screen bigger than 4.7. Can’t really play with them in store cuz the employees be hounding me.

  5. I’m not surprised by this at all, but I would still like to see give the middle finger to carriers who insist on non-unlockable boot leaders. But something that bothers me is that unlocking the boot loader involves visiting a web site, giving the manufacturer a record of the fact that you’ve unlocked the boot loader (and voided your warranty) on your specific device.

  6. @chris isn’t the HTC One pretty compact tho? Not being a smart alec :-) and the Moto X is the same size the the One, so why are you eyeballing it? (Again not being a wise guy Lol) unless you’re talking about the Note 2

    1. The Moto X is smaller then the HTC One eventhough they both have a 4.7″ display.

  7. Maybe it’s just me, but this terminology is confusing. I thought phones either had a locked bootloader or an unlocked bootloader. What is an unlockable bootloader? That’s not even a word is it?

    1. unlockable = It comes locked, but you can specifically request that it be unlocked at the manufacturer’s site – said process includes copying some identifying cryptographic data from your phone, and getting back a “code” that specifically unlocks *your phone* only.

      no phone you get through a carrier in the US comes with already unlocked bootloader

    2. All phones are initially locked, but some are unlockable.

      1. Ok. I guess it’s just an English thing. The prefix un means not. Therefore not lockable. When in fact it is lockable because it comes that way. But you will be able to unlock it. So it’s able to be unlocked, it’s not unlockable.

        1. Think of it as unlock-able, not un-lockable.

          1. I now feel educated. Thanks for the definition of unlock. But that was already established. Now what’s the definition of unlockable.

      2. Not Samsung devices. Sprint and USCC Galaxy S series phones are unlocked out of the box.

        1. Not true. I had to unlock the bootloader on my Sprint Galaxy Nexus after I got it straight from a Sprint store. When you power it on, if the bootloader’s unlocked, it’ll show an unlock symbol right below the Google logo before the boot animation. If it’s locked, it shows a locked icon in the same location.

          1. Same here. Both Galaxy Nexus phones required me to unlock the bootloader.

  8. Comes with Unlockable loader, fine but what about OFF contract price ? No word from Moto yet !!

  9. Riddle me this…
    If T-Mobile has the good version why couldn’t I just take that phone and use it on att if I want?

    1. Why go to At&T. Awful service and high prices. No thanks

      1. High prices yes. But I must say, I have gotten great customer service lately – total shocker – and my actual service has been good as well. I think they raised the throttling speed for the grandfathered unlimited plans.

        But my original question remains:If T-Mobile has the good version why couldn’t I just take that phone and use it on att if I want?

        1. you could, i guess the only question is if it will have all of the antennas for ATT in the Tmobile version.. which i dont see why they wouldnt be the same device, but stranger things have happened i guess.

          1. Does anyone know about antenna differences?

          2. The Tmobile version will have all the antennas necessary since Tmo has a band that other carriers don’t have. Don’t forget that Tmo has WiFi-Calling. That would most likely be the main difference.

            I’m making this assumption based on how the HTC One is. The Tmo version works just fine on AT&T, but the AT&T version is missing one band on Tmo. If you don’t have the reframed (spell check) Tmo network then you wouldn’t be able to get 3G and HSPA in certain areas.

            TL;DR Tmobile version will have WiFi-Calling and all the possible bands. AT&T version will be missing one band to have 3G/HSPA in all areas on Tmo. Based on how HTC One is made.

          3. Most likely they will in fact be the same device, though sometimes with some phones like the galaxy S4, AT&T disabled AWS HSPA+ bands in the modem software in order to make it not compatible with T-mobile, though it can be fixed by flashing the correct modem from XDA. T-mobile generally leaves all the bands open and the bootloader unlocked. The only thing you have to worry about is a sim network lock.

          4. Thanks for the info, very helpful.

      2. Some people don’t get the greatest coverage on T-Mobile. Edge is too common nationwide. Some people can go on AT&T prepaid for unlimited talk and text with 1GB of data at LTE speeds for $65 a month. That’s not extremely overpriced.

        1. $70 on Tmo gives me unlimited. I would not suffice for 1GB of data. I use too much. For what I would need I can see me spending way over $100. At least 5GB. That’s how I used to be on Tmo, so I’m used to that. But oh my gosh!! 5GB of data on AT&T? Heavens no. LoL!!

          1. Well, obviously, you have a want or a need for unlimited data. Not everyone needs or wants that for a variety of reasons. But my point is that T-Mobile is not the best for everyone. I have them and I live in a big city, so my data speeds aren’t bad. If I lived in Boseman Montana, I doubt T-Mobile would be my choice because the speeds would be slow on Edge. So I would pay for AT&T or any 4G LTE company in the area that’s not expensive.

          2. That’s what sucks. I would hate to have to pay higher cost because I don’t have decent cell phone coverage on another carrier.

    2. You probably could but why would you do that instead of buying the developer version?. T-Mobile doesn’t hide the real price in the contract so it’s likely that it will be the same as the Google Play version.

      1. I guess at 1st it sounded like a good idea. LoL!!

      2. You’re right. But my initial question still remains.

  10. If VZW will allow dev versions on their networks, what difference would it be if they sold the regular version with a unlocked boot loader. Damn greedy bastards at VZW and AT&T. Not like anyone ever said “remember that unlocked phone that took down AT&T and VZW network”

    1. The locked version will be sold in the stores and will be eligible to be subsidized. The Developer model will be a special order product and will be sold for full retail price.

    2. I’ve been thinking the same thing. I don’t know of any G-Nexus that has caused vzw network to crash….

    3. With tiered data, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever, in the past it was to avoid unofficial tethering, now tethering is included in tiered data on AT&T and Verizon, it’s just a money grab, they make extra money by not subsidizing your phone if you want to install custom roms and people who don’t live in an area that has good coverage by T-mobile or Sprint have to pay it. Motorola has always been about locked bootloaders, especially on Verizon so I’m not surprised. AT&T is even more confusing as some phones come with locked bootloaders and some don’t. There’s no reason for it except being a d*ck.

  11. iPhone 5 for me thank you.

    1. Even though the next one is coming out this year? Should have waited. LoL!!

  12. Just another reason to go with T-mobile, these developer option phones are a scam to make more money off the XDA community, who they already make more than enough from as we use more data generally. Glad I got my AT&T S4 before they patched the loki exploit, I’m never upgrading my baseband past MDL

  13. This developer edition, google play store edition, etc is flooding the market with even more skus. pretty soon shopping for any used phone might as well just require the exact model # to make it easier to find.

    I understand the reasoning behind these phones, but dont like it. Just let me unlock it if I want. I cant imagine there are that many warranty issues due to bricked phones

    1. Um… It’s not that easy. Verizon doesn’t want a phone with an unlocked bootloader on their network so easily attainable. (The subsidized price).

      This developer edition allows for people to still use that carrier and have an unlocked device. It’s the only viable alternative at the moment. You can’t expect companies to be able to negotiate things with carriers.

      You should be grateful that these companies know you all want to root your phones, so they’re making it possible for us. It may be a bit more tedious and require more useless steps, like buying a developer phone instead of the subsidized being unlockable, but they’re still trying to help you out.

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