HMD Global, give us the ability to unlock the bootloader of our Nokia handset.
This petition made change with 2,723 supporters!
HMD officially blocked bootloader unlocking. Now is the time to take action.
As the title says, recently after the August Security update, HMD Global (or widely known as Nokia) changed the unlocking algorithm, blocking every effort to unlock the bootloader of Nokia devices, further making the current firmware flashing tool, OST LA, useless. If you are interested, take action now. Developers and users around the world have already raised their voices. How about you?
What is bootloader unlocking and why do I even care about it?
To advanced users, you probably already know what bootloader unlocking is. It opens a world full of possibilities for users, developers, device maintainers and even device manufacturers to grow. For most regular users, bootloaders and kernel source code is unknown to them as they just use the device out of the box. Only advanced users understand and are willing to unlock knowing the risks. Unlocking the bootloader allows you to install a custom recovery, which allows you to root the device, flash a custom-made firmware or ROM package, modifying the system, installing ported features from other devices, etc. Want sound mods on your phone? Simple! Flash a compatible mod in a custom recovery and there you go. Want a cool custom bootanimation? Flash it to replace the old, ugly-looking one. Want everything in the world? Flash ‘em.
But it’s not simply limited to modifying the software that runs on your device. It can affect the lifespan of your phone in a tremendous way. Have you ever read about the two-year-update commitment that phone manufacturers make? Some device manufacturers “promise” your device will get at least two major OS upgrades before it gets forgotten and outdated. Oh, and it can be worse for mid-range and low-end devices. They sometimes don’t get any updates at all. Let’s take the Samsung Galaxy S4 for example. That phone was released in April of 2013 and is obviously dead by now right? By Samsung's terms, that phone is ages old. You would be completely wrong to believe it's a dead device. Thanks to developers’ efforts you can find an S4 running Android Oreo and even Pie beta as well as many distributions of ROMS at the time of writing this article. When your device is out of the support cycle the manufacturer provides, it no longer receives major OS upgrades or future security patches. Unlocking a bootloader grants access to the internal memory of the phone and its partitions, allowing developers to create custom Android firmware for your devices, further extending the lifespan of your phone assuming the community for a device is thriving. The Android community is full of dedicated developers who care about your phone when the manufacturer doesn’t. Don’t let them kill a beloved product. Let it live longer rather than accepting planned obsolescence...
What do you mean with HMD blocking bootloader unlocking? Wasn't it not available before?
A lot of phone manufacturers allow their phones to be software unlocked by typing a command in fastboot such as “fastboot oem unlock”. Other fastboot commands can grab a key or string of text, which you type that code in the manufacturer’s website so they can provide you with a different code to completely allow the unlocking of the device through fastboot or an OEM tool. HMD blocks this and in turn prevents your phone from being unlocked. The developer community focused on Nokia devices has some workaround by using an exploit they found, but this exploit has been patched by HMD in the August Security update. So as of right now, there are no working methods to unlock the bootloader on a Nokia device after that update.
How can this affect me?
Like I mentioned above, when your phone is out of the support cycle, it is dead for good in terms of security and apps changing minimum Android versions. It will remain on that version of Android and won't be able to run newer versions of Android, at least from the manufacturer. But there is one more thing: you can never flash original firmware to your device if something goes wrong. No, I don’t mean by going to Settings, Reset, Erase all data (Factory Reset). What if you can’t access your phone at all due to a corruption of some random file required to boot Android? Well, if you are an advanced user, you might have heard of firmware flashing tools (Odin for Samsung, Fastboot for some devices, etc.). Nokia has OST LA (Online Service Tool) for flashing firmwares, but this is limited to internal Nokia employees only, this means that you will have to go to a service center to have the original firmware flashed. There is a leaked version with patches online, but this version only works prior to the August patch.
For advanced users, here’s how OST works:
Nokia employees get login tokens so OST can connect to FIH’s servers and validate their identity. OST then sends a ping to the servers (internal FIH servers) to generate a temporary token to flash firmware on locked bootloaders. Since our current few enthusiastic developers don’t have any access to those internal servers, we have to patch it to work outside the factories, so therefore removing the ability to flash the firmware on locked bootloaders. That’s why OST tool only works with unlocked bootloaders. That means locked devices running August security patch updates can’t be unlocked anymore. This is really bad news to all of the users using Nokia devices, both advanced and basic users. What if your device is bricked and you can’t reflash firmware without sending your device to a service center? What will you do? Bring it to the service center and hope your device is still in warranty? How about when it is out of warranty? You have to pay an unreasonable amount of money for a problem that you could have fixed on your own in minutes. Losing the ability to flash the official firmware on your phone is completely nonsense. Users should be able to fix their device at home, not always having to bring the device to a service center. Imagine the unnecessary load that service centers would get if a update that caused bricks to happen to devices was pushed out. All those devices having to be shipped to the few service centers out there, costing users money and time for a process that takes minutes and isn't incredibly difficult. Users might even just go buy from another brand if a service center is the only option to fix anything through Nokia and HMD.
This is no more than a stupid decision made by Nokia executives just to make a little bit money out of “broken” phones.
Okay, okay, you have my attention. What can I do to help you guys with this?
First of all, sign the petition!
This is the first step to gain attention from the Nokia executives. It is a free process and only takes a minute to complete.
After that, you can tweet at Nokia Mobile and Nokia executives on Twitter at @Nokiamobile @HMDGlobal @sarvikas to further get their attention
If you have time, post and vote on the Nokia community:
Please, as a part of the Android community, you have the power to put pressure on HMD Global and the Nokia brand to let them allow bootloader unlocking. Stand together, and we can make this work!
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