T-Mobile's latest Android phone reinstalls stock OS if rooted

In an extremely uncharacteristic move, T-Mobile and HTC have one-upped Verizon and Motorola (Droid X) when it comes to locking down their Android phones. Typically, both T-Mobile and HTC spend very little time trying to deter developers from rooting their phones in attempts to gain root access and load custom ROMs. Both companies seem to be pretty open when it comes to the Android community and giving users as much freedom as possible. For example, T-Mobile was the first to offer an Android phone (G1), the first to support the Nexus One, and the first to not block wireless tethering.

The HTC G2, which is perhaps one of the most anticipated phones in recent months, has a new mechanism that prevents the loading of custom software. As per Gizmodo, there is a special microchip in the phone that will override any changes made to the phone and re-install the original firmware. Developers over at XDA are still busy scratching their heads over this one. Some are even calling to the Lords of Modders (aka Cyanogen and Team Douche) for help. The full thread showing the community's progress in cracking the G2 can be found at XDA-Developers.

This whole episode raises the question--do we actually own our phones? Why are companies putting in so much effort into stopping such a small percentage of their customers from taking complete control of their hardware? The vast majority of smartphone owners have no idea, nor care about loading custom firmware. The game being played here seems like a sure way to cause ill feelings between users and their carriers/hardware providers. As history has shown us thus far, developers will likely find a way to bypass this issue and do as they see fit with their devices.

If you'd like to follow someone who seems to be making headway with his G2, check out Chris Soyars' Twitter account. He notes that Team Douche is still in the stages of figuring out how the lockdown actually works. One may wonder how a carrier could send an over-the-air update if the phone will just flash itself back to its original firmware. This thought process is precisely why the community believes there to be a way around the problem. Soyars even says, "If the carrier can give us an update, we can give you an update. It's that simple."

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I never buy a locked phone and never in the US; problem solved.
Same with DVDs; I do not buy them in the US and in Europe you can legally make a backup copy of the disc,

"If the carrier can give us an update, we can give you an update. It's that simple."

Why can't torrent give me a DLC on a 360 slim then if Microsoft can?
You know, the j-tag doesn't work there and actually, the problem with no-j-tag and chip-in-g2 is the same:
deliver software that looks as if it came legitly from official sources by faking file signatures / keys / etc...

Not trying to promote anything here, it just makes me wonder.
Oh and I also do not want to doubt the possibility of everything being hackable. That's common knowledge.

Glassed Silver:win

How is this legal?
I mean, it's anti-competitive if MS doesn't include opera by default or whatever, this won't let you do anything else, so I'm hoping the EU & US sees sense (not likely) and fines the hell out of HTC for this and makes an example of them.

The car analogy quite adept, as yes you brought the car but due to laws, certainly in the uk you can't do whatever you like with it. There are certain standards you have to abide to be be able to drive the car on uk highways. I.e. Must be in a fit condition, having indicators, headlights etc.. Similar to mobile phones, you enter a contract with the mobile phone provider to use the phone in accordance with their network policy. If you brought the phone outright without no contract I would understand, however purchasing it a contract you agree to use the phone within the contract.

You are right.

The problem with software right now is the law is written by cie manufacturing the products. The law should be written by justice system not cie.

Term of use, some drm and other methods preventing the owners of a product to do what they can legally do with it should not exist.

Right now it's anarchy. Every computer software/hardware (let's face it phones are computer now) companies write their own rules.

Would be fun when we buy a car if we had to read 10 pages of term of use and hack the computer inside it just to take the road outside of the city where we bought the car ...

well i can see coming to all android phones eventually, guess it's one pitfall of the popularality of rooting android phones. don't agree with and will make me think about getting another android phone if it does become the normal.... i reserve the right to customise the device i'm paying / paid good money for. imagine if the pc manufacturers did this on pcs and the outcry it would cause.

There will be a way around this like the Droid X. remember the X was supposed to have some protection on it as well but people found a way past it. May take a little longer, but the G2 will be rooted eventually.

I'm iffy about this. I enjoy installing CFW on my phone, but...

I'm not some self-righteous Internet Tough Guy pretending I'm completely in the right here. I know why we hack phones. We want to block ads, uninstall stock crapware, enable wifi tethering, etc. These are all fun things we want to do, but no matter how you spin it, we're breaking the rules by doing it. Circumventing ads hurts the revenue stream for freeware, stock crapware--crap though it may be--keeps costs down just like ads do, and wifi tethering? It's a service you're usually expected to pay for, so if you get caught doing it, your carrier can pretty much fine you or cut you off and you can't do anything but cry to a blog.

So yeah. The hackers need to acknowledge that, much like torrenting, one or two legitimate uses of a hobby don't change the fact that 99% of users are breaking rules.

Also, you don't necessarily own your phone. When you get it at a discount with a contract, it isn't YOUR phone until you've fulfilled your end of the contract.

Is there an argument to be made that people paying full retail for a device should be allowed to install any OS they like? Sure. The argument can be made. Whether it wins or not depends entirely on how these platforms work legally. You can type till your fingers fall off that smartphones are computers and Android is just like Ubuntu, but you'd be wrong on both counts.

HTCs international phones do not suffer from this crap. The Legend, Desire & Magic are examples.
The American carrier is to blame here. They obviously asked HTC to build the chip. Why would HTC increase their production cost for something like this?

Chester0 said,
They will sell less, and it will be cracked.

correct.
it will most definitely be cracked. it doesn't take xda-dev long to open phones up.

Chester0 said,
They will sell less, and it will be cracked.

Nope, they'll sell the same. Average customer doesn't know or care what rooting is.

This whole episode raises the question--do we actually own our phones?
----------------

No it's 2010 not 1980. By 2100 you wont own your house either.

LaP said,
This whole episode raises the question--do we actually own our phones?
----------------

No it's 2010 not 1980. By 2100 you wont own your house either.

True... The government will. LoL

LaP said,
This whole episode raises the question--do we actually own our phones?
----------------

No it's 2010 not 1980. By 2100 you wont own your house either.

In the USA, nobody really owns their house any more. If the city zoning agency decides the plot of land you are on is now commercial property, and your not using it as commercial property, they can force you out of the house. They have to pay you the appraised value of it but regardless, they can force you out. It's been happening more often in my town recently due to our markets rapidly expanding over the past few years. Our 3 main roads use to have homes lining them but got rezoned into commercial property. All of them were lower class properties so the people living there didn't have the money to fight it in court and just took the payoffs.

LaP said,
okay

So by 2100 you wont even be the owner of you own *** hair anymore.

Some public schools have rules against "abnormal" hair colors or styles that distract... so you don't own your hair until you graduate from high school. try again ><.

LaP said,
okay

So by 2100 you wont even be the owner of you own *** hair anymore.


By 2100, you won't even be the owner of your own brain. Free will will be non-existant.

Well you might as well get an iphone now because once other android phone makers do this it will be the same as what apple is doing.

SMELTN said,
Well you might as well get an iphone now because once other android phone makers do this it will be the same as what apple is doing.

No, it's not the same at all. It's different when Apple does it, they're evil anyway.

zkid2010 said,

No, it's not the same at all. It's different when Apple does it, they're evil anyway.

Hahahahaha! Best sarcastic post of the day. It's different when Apple does it...they're evil anyway. Priceless.

SMELTN said,
Well you might as well get an iphone now because once other android phone makers do this it will be the same as what apple is doing.

That doesn't make iOS a better operating system though. Android is still far ahead.

I find it funny and ironic that the open source operating system is the most locked down. You've got Verizon restricting phones to Bing and the hardware makers making unrootable phones.

On one side I don't think this is a bad thing. They are simply protecting their products and services. Because while we might own the device, why is it bad that the manufacture has built in a safety switch, because technically it is protecting the integrity of itself, and doesn't allow a foreign ROM to be installed.

Of course at the same time I don't particularly like this new 'innovation' because I do enjoy the custom ROMs that come out, especially as a device ages. Personally I usually leave a device alone until a newer better alternative comes out and Im lacking in feature set, like my recently purchased vibrant is still running stock because to me it's just to new to mess with IMHO

I'm sure XDA will figure something out regardless, but my main concern is how does this affect those who want an unlocked phone because they switch carriers. I suppose it wouldn't matter because [I could be wrong] most phones have an 'unlock' code.

SaltLife said,
like my recently purchased vibrant is still running stock because to me it's just to new to mess with IMHO
I rooted my Nexus One as soon as it came out of the box. Hell, that's the sole reason why I bought a N1 in the first place xD

Seems like the service providers and phone manufacturers have different ideas about the Android OS than the users who preach the open-source gospel.

Well take in to account some of the things you are able to do with a rooted phone and the reasoning becomes quite clear, example wireless tethering. Clearly something the companies would like you to pay for. So I would say it's a matter of theft of services. I absolutely do not agree with this practice, but my advice would be if you don't like it go to another provider that doesn't care. Oh wait this is the USA, we don't have choices like that.

What is the point?! I really don't understand why they try to stop us doing what ever we want to our own phones. The only semi-reasonable reason I can think of is that the network really really want you to keep their added apps etc. How any of affects the actual phone manufacturers I don't know.

Inventive way of trying to stop this activity, but I am sure it will only take them a little while to figure out

This is just ridiculous. I should be able to reload and install anything I want with my phone. After all I did purchase it. I'm not "renting my phone"

Its the same exact thing as trying to sell a computer and telling us that we cannot reinstall the operating system, or install a different one on it.

ceminess said,
Its the same exact thing as trying to sell a computer and telling us that we cannot reinstall the operating system, or install a different one on it.

Customer service for major OEM companies would have you believe otherwise.

ceminess said,
This is just ridiculous. I should be able to reload and install anything I want with my phone. After all I did purchase it. I'm not "renting my phone"

Its the same exact thing as trying to sell a computer and telling us that we cannot reinstall the operating system, or install a different one on it.

The whole issue stems from carriers not wanting devices with malicious crap on them connecting to their networks. You may own the phone but you don't own the connection so if you are connected to their network, they have the right to protect their network however they see fit. Read the fine print in your contracts. It's all there. If you don't like it, move to another network.

ILikeTobacco said,

The whole issue stems from carriers not wanting devices with malicious crap on them connecting to their networks. You may own the phone but you don't own the connection so if you are connected to their network, they have the right to protect their network however they see fit. Read the fine print in your contracts. It's all there. If you don't like it, move to another network.

I can understand that they have the right to protect their network. NETWORK. They have no right to wipe phones or re-install the OS on them. They can protect their network all they want, but they aren't protecting their networks. They are locking down their phones. If they were protecting their network, they would be implementing better more efficient firewalls, closing ports, and focusing their efforts on making their network more secure. NOT focusing on how they can lock down the phones.

ceminess said,

I can understand that they have the right to protect their network. NETWORK. They have no right to wipe phones or re-install the OS on them. They can protect their network all they want, but they aren't protecting their networks. They are locking down their phones. If they were protecting their network, they would be implementing better more efficient firewalls, closing ports, and focusing their efforts on making their network more secure. NOT focusing on how they can lock down the phones.

Are you also considering that most people don't fully pay for the phone, they get contracts that amount to them renting to own the phone until the contract is up.

fyi: i dont fully agree with this method but something has to be done.

ILikeTobacco said,

Are you also considering that most people don't fully pay for the phone, they get contracts that amount to them renting to own the phone until the contract is up.

fyi: i dont fully agree with this method but something has to be done.

You are wrong. When you purchase a phone and don't pay for it, or don't pay full price, you are not renting to own the phone. They are selling the phone to you for a cheaper price in exchange for signing a contact with them guaranteeing them that you will stay with them for 1 or 2 years.

You still own the phone, no carrier I know of rents the phone to the consumer.

ILikeTobacco said,

Are you also considering that most people don't fully pay for the phone, they get contracts that amount to them renting to own the phone until the contract is up.

fyi: i dont fully agree with this method but something has to be done.

Uh why does something need to be "done"?

Xilo said,
Customer service for major OEM companies would have you believe otherwise.

Apples and oranges. A typical OEM will simply void your warranty if you do something to the hardware they make that they don't like. And they shouldn't be expected to support custom modifications. Taking the step of actively preventing such modifications from taking place is something completely different.

StevenMalone77 said,

Uh why does something need to be "done"?

Ditto. Why? Companies shouldn't be able to lock down their devices in such a destructive manner. However, if they do, they should have to make it publicly known ahead of people purchasing it.

ceminess said,
If they were protecting their network, they would be implementing better more efficient firewalls, closing ports, and focusing their efforts on making their network more secure.

If you were talking about wired ISPs, etc. you would be correct. However, in the world of mobile phones there are things that a rogue phone (such as a rooted Android phone) can do that can be detrimental to the entire network. Think more along the lines of pirate radio or TV broadcasts, not wired networking. There is not a lot a provider can do, from a security standpoint, to prevent a rogue handset from flooding a tower with bogus calls, etc.

Benjamin Rubenstein said,
Ditto. Why? Companies shouldn't be able to lock down their devices in such a destructive manner. However, if they do, they should have to make it publicly known ahead of people purchasing it.

Destructive manner? Does the phone not work after it flashes itself? It not then there is nothing destructive about it.

ceminess said,

You still own the phone, no carrier I know of rents the phone to the consumer.

Technically no but think about those contracts and what happens if you terminate before its up. You get slapped with hefty fines. It is not different than the renting to own because they don't want the product back and force you to pay for it anyway. It is the exact same concept with a nice spin that makes it more attractive to the consumer since nobody likes renting to own or leasing vs down right owning.

ILikeTobacco said,

Destructive manner? Does the phone not work after it flashes itself? It not then there is nothing destructive about it.


If it wipes the data you already had on the phone previously then yes it is destructive.

ceminess said,

If it wipes the data you already had on the phone previously then yes it is destructive.

Fair enough but if you don't want to lose your data, don't break the terms of use. If you break terms of use, any undesired effects are your own fault.

ILikeTobacco said,

The whole issue stems from carriers not wanting devices with malicious crap on them connecting to their networks. You may own the phone but you don't own the connection so if you are connected to their network, they have the right to protect their network however they see fit. Read the fine print in your contracts. It's all there. If you don't like it, move to another network.

I don't want thieves to steal from my house.

Obviously thieves will come from the road driving cars. Does it gives me the right to do whatever i want with cars other people own ?

ILikeTobacco said,

Fair enough but if you don't want to lose your data, don't break the terms of use. If you break terms of use, any undesired effects are your own fault.

I don't know if they changed their terms of use to include a statement like what you just made above. But either way it is wrong.

And I still believe that I should have full control to any device that I purchase, whether its a phone, PC, iPad, or a damn toaster. I should be able to do whatever I want with it after I purchase it.

LaP said,

I don't want thieves to steal from my house.

Obviously thieves will come from the road driving cars. Does it gives me the right to do whatever i want with cars other people own ?

Did you build the car? If so, if you are building the cars and can put something in it to protect your own house and people still buy the car, then that's on them.

ceminess said,

I don't know if they changed their terms of use to include a statement like what you just made above. But either way it is wrong.

And I still believe that I should have full control to any device that I purchase, whether its a phone, PC, iPad, or a damn toaster. I should be able to do whatever I want with it after I purchase it.

You can do whatever you want AFTER you purchase it. It is not illegal to root your phone, it is just harder to do now. They did what they wanted with the phone BEFORE you purchased it which is fundamentally the same right you are saying you don't have. If you don't like what they do with their phones before you buy it, don't buy it.

ILikeTobacco said,

Did you build the car? If so, if you are building the cars and can put something in it to protect your own house and people still buy the car, then that's on them.

Let's say i'm bulding the cars. Doesn't change the fact that once sold people can do what they want as long as the law permit it.

roadwarrior said,

If you were talking about wired ISPs, etc. you would be correct. However, in the world of mobile phones there are things that a rogue phone (such as a rooted Android phone) can do that can be detrimental to the entire network. Think more along the lines of pirate radio or TV broadcasts, not wired networking. There is not a lot a provider can do, from a security standpoint, to prevent a rogue handset from flooding a tower with bogus calls, etc.

LMAO thats pretty much Apples line to try and get it added to the DMCA and it was BS then.
Terrorists must be loving the fact they can take down the phone network with a rooted handset and then police comms etc start to suffer, yeh right...... just like the planes that keep falling out of the sky when someone leaves a mobile on....
This is before the fact anyone can usually buy the handset unlocked and carrier free and even buy dev versions which can do more....
The whole statement tbh is wrong, there are a TON of things they can do like say ban the IMEI (which is a crime to change in most countries) or SIM etc.
They do it for the same reason as Apple does, to control your environment so they can make money really.

LaP said,

Let's say i'm bulding the cars. Doesn't change the fact that once sold people can do what they want as long as the law permit it.

Exactly! You can still root the phones, they just have to be cracked now. Everyone keeps forgetting about the laws recently that state that it is legal to root and jailbreak phones. Its your property so do what you want within the law. They didn't put that device in the phone while you owned it. They put it in when they owned it before you purchased it. If you buy it then it is 100% on you to find a way around it and the carrier can't legally stop you. You bought the phone in that state so its up to you to deal with it and complaining on a random forum isnt likely to get the results you want. If you have an issue with it, either A, dont buy the phone, B wait for someone to crack it, or C crack it yourself... Otherwise they didn't do anything illegal or wrong as much as they simply did something annoying.

ceminess said,
Its the same exact thing as trying to sell a computer and telling us that we cannot reinstall the operating system, or install a different one on it.

I couldn't agree more.

ILikeTobacco said,

Exactly! You can still root the phones, they just have to be cracked now. Everyone keeps forgetting about the laws recently that state that it is legal to root and jailbreak phones. Its your property so do what you want within the law. They didn't put that device in the phone while you owned it. They put it in when they owned it before you purchased it. If you buy it then it is 100% on you to find a way around it and the carrier can't legally stop you. You bought the phone in that state so its up to you to deal with it and complaining on a random forum isnt likely to get the results you want. If you have an issue with it, either A, dont buy the phone, B wait for someone to crack it, or C crack it yourself... Otherwise they didn't do anything illegal or wrong as much as they simply did something annoying.

I'm not sure why you keep defending their actions.. they are essentially doing something to your phone AFTER you buy it. You change the OS, they change it back. They have implemented something on your phone so that they can perform an action on it AFTER you legally acquire it. Stop being sheep.

Turge said,

I'm not sure why you keep defending their actions.. they are essentially doing something to your phone AFTER you buy it. You change the OS, they change it back. They have implemented something on your phone so that they can perform an action on it AFTER you legally acquire it. Stop being sheep.

So they come to your house and install the physical chip and software on your phone AFTER you buy the phone? Wow I must have misread the article! Thank you for clearing that up for everyone... They have implemented something that everyone knows about unless you are a sheep that buys a phone just because it has the HTC brand on it. Research what you are buying or it is your own fault. You bought the phone in the state its in to include that software that flashes it so again, your own fault. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

ILikeTobacco said,

So they come to your house and install the physical chip and software on your phone AFTER you buy the phone? Wow I must have misread the article! Thank you for clearing that up for everyone... They have implemented something that everyone knows about unless you are a sheep that buys a phone just because it has the HTC brand on it. Research what you are buying or it is your own fault. You bought the phone in the state its in to include that software that flashes it so again, your own fault. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

Sorry, you sound like a sheep right now. If you were buying the phone and they told you the phone will reimage itself if you screw around with it, you would probably say "Yes sir. That's understandable, sir. I'm sorry."

Turge said,

Sorry, you sound like a sheep right now. If you were buying the phone and they told you the phone will reimage itself if you screw around with it, you would probably say "Yes sir. That's understandable, sir. I'm sorry."

Depends on the type of consumer I am. If you tell someone that doesn't know much about phone os's that it can be reset at any time they screw it up, they would be happy about the feature. If you tell a modder that they can't mod the phone OS at all, if they still buy the phone, its their own fault and problem at that point. If a product doesn't do exactly what you want, don't buy it. Is that really that hard of a concept? Nobody is forcing you to buy the phone.

ceminess said,
This is just ridiculous. I should be able to reload and install anything I want with my phone. After all I did purchase it. I'm not "renting my phone"

Perhaps true, but do you own the software or are you just renting it like Windows?
I can change what I like with the hardware of my computer and can even add applications to the main OS but there is only so much changing to the OS SOFTWARE I can do.

As I have no interest in changing the running software on my smart phone then this doesn't really affect me that much. But then I am always a bit behind in those kinds of things!

thealexweb said,
That is absolutely disgraceful.

True although not much of a surprise... T-Mobile played it smart, built up a huge following through low rates and decent phones, even if the service was horrid... now they've raised their prices quite a bit and the phone lock-down game begins. Looks like Sprint is the only one worth a damn as far as doing what their customer's actually want at this point.

vaximily said,

True although not much of a surprise... T-Mobile played it smart, built up a huge following through low rates and decent phones, even if the service was horrid... now they've raised their prices quite a bit and the phone lock-down game begins. Looks like Sprint is the only one worth a damn as far as doing what their customer's actually want at this point.

The Vibrant is fine and can be unlocked. To early to tell if this will become normal practice for T-Mobile, or if this is something HTC is doing instead.

vaximily said,

Looks like Sprint is the only one worth a damn as far as doing what their customer's actually want at this point.
http://explainthefee.com

I'm a Sprint customer and honestly I would gladly switch to T-Mobile if it were an option.

techbeck said,

The Vibrant is fine and can be unlocked. To early to tell if this will become normal practice for T-Mobile, or if this is something HTC is doing instead.

I'd bet it's HTC's doing... but who knows, could be T-Mobile.

Silverskull said,
http://explainthefee.com

I'm a Sprint customer and honestly I would gladly switch to T-Mobile if it were an option.

I'd bet it's HTC's doing... but who knows, could be T-Mobile.

On your first point, Sprint was the first to allow plan changes without renewing your contract, the only provider that has nights and weekends starting at 7pm standard, gives you the full discount on a new phone every year instead of every 2 years, etc, etc.

As for that article, it's totally bunk and irrelevant until they actually increase the pricing and the amount of the increase is determined, which at this point is just an option on the table (frankly, Sprint has BY FAR the lowest rates, and the BEST corporate discounts out there on top of it, so they are making less margin per customer so I what are you bitching about exactly?)


As for your second comment, you're totally off base again. What interest does the OEM have in locking down the hardware? That is ALWAYS carrier driven so that the carrier can control the content that is delivered (think jail breaking iPhones to get better apps) and lock users down from switching networks, tethering, etc. The OEM doesn't handle network load, security, content, etc. They just manufacture the hardware to the carrier's specs.