back to article Android phone auto reverts jailbreaks

A new Android smartphone from T-Mobile ships with hardware that thwarts jailbreakers by automatically restoring modified devices to their original factory state. The HTC G2, which began shipping on Tuesday, reinstalls the original firmware when it is rebooted, much to the chagrin of would-be jailbreakers trying to root the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So basically what you get

    Is a phone that is not quite as good as an iPhone, doesn't quite do as much as an iPhone, has slightly fewer apps than an iPhone, is slightly less usable than an iPhone but has the advantage that it is not controlled by the overwealming presence of St. Steve. Except that is, but much worse.

    1. KnucklesTheDog
      Thumb Down

      Hmmmmm

      If you want a job working for Apple's marketing department you might find it more productive to apply directly rather than dropping hints in comments to news articles. The iPhone should be applauded for bringing about a new more useable generation of smart phones, but let's not pretend it's everything to everyone. Keyboard and Flash support anyone?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Everything you said there is FAIL, so is this article.

      All Android phones come Jailbroken in the iPhone sense. It's a standard Android feature. You tick a preference and you can install apps from SD Card and the world is your oyster.

      Seems the writer has never used a Android phone, just like this commentator.

      1. KnucklesTheDog

        @AC

        Exactly right. This will affect a few dozen hobbyists. Once word gets round that community they will simply leave this phone alone in preference for one that's easy to reflash with their custom images.

        1. Giles Jones Gold badge

          Won't affect many at first.

          But it will affect you mid contract (if you're on 18 or 24 months) when HTC have another newer handset to support and can't be bothered to update yours, after all they've pocked your cash and aren't interested in giving you free updates.

      2. Michael C

        right, except....

        ...that an iPhone gets regular updates and features added to the core OS, for free even.

        On Android, some phone owners of "latest and greatest" devices released as little as 3 months ago have already been told their device is obsolete, and only critical security issues will be fixed, and they won;t be getting a Froyo upgrade, even though the device is FULLY CAPABLE of running the updated releases of Android (as jailbreakers proved). Jail breaking is the only way to get the new features and performance enhancements in any reasonable time (if at all), and be compatible with new apps coming out (since very few devs back code for more than -1 or -2 releases, and some only for the latest).

        Even in iOS, if the device is not capable of a new feature, I still would get the other features it was capable of. 4.2 will install on all iPhones but the original, just most won't get all the perks, and they'll all have it on the same day. Android? When did Froyo come out? how many of you are STILL waiting for it? How many will wait forever?

        Jail-breaking is practically required on Android, not for apps but for the OS enhancements. On iOS, its only necessary for the apps (most of which are no longer needed thanks to OS enhancements, unless you like to pirate stuff instead of paying $1 for it).

        1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
          Thumb Up

          @Michael C

          You are spot on in your assessment of the current status quo, and I concur. +1

          However, I will still (as of now) not buy an iPhone.

          1. KnucklesTheDog

            There is another side to this point of view

            Your average man in the street doesn't buy a phone for what it can do in the future though. It's a relatively new obsession that the more technically minded consumers want the latest version of the os on their phones. Remember the old* Symbian days, you got a couple of maintenance releases, but never an upgrade. I remember when Android was getting criticism after the G1 upgraded to 1.6 because no one thought end users wanted constant upgrades with the UI changes they inevitably would come with.

            *Ok, Symbian is still going, but you know what I mean.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Hillarious listening to Apple fanboys spouting Android Myths.

          "On Android, some phone owners of "latest and greatest" devices released as little as 3 months ago have already been told their device is obsolete, and only critical security issues will be fixed"

          That is utter bollocks, at least in terms of the big players (Samsumg, SonyErricsson, HTC, Motorola). Want to show us a source for that. (and random forum posts from someone with a HTC Hero in 2010 does not count, as the Hero is now a rather old Android phone).

          As for apstore, the Android Marketplace is 80,000 aps and rising. It's no longer 2nd fiddle to the iPhone store, many apps appear in Android BEFORE they hit iPhone (and not just the Google ones)...

      3. M man

        hmmm

        The fact is most android ave many thing that are slightly(or quite a lot in some cases) worse than on an iphone.

        this for most people is worth it due to the openess of the platform(make your own apps, more viareid app, your own roms etc etc)

        however should you remove this its just a cheaper worse iphone

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Stop

      Ok Lee, I'll take a bite at that bait.

      "[what you get] is a phone that is not quite as good as an iPhone, doesn't quite do as much as an iPhone, has slightly fewer apps than an iPhone, is slightly less usable than an iPhone but has the advantage that it is not controlled by the overwealming presence of St. Steve. Except that is, but much worse."

      1) In what respect is it 'not quite as good as an iPhone'? Please elaborate. Is it that this phone doesn't offer such a good capability to drop calls when held the wrong way, or isn't as shiny as your new toy? Maybe it doesn't have the ability to reduce your bank balance as much on purchase, or increase your perceived status amongst useless meeja types?

      2) Number of iPhone apps on Apple store: approx 150000. Number on Android store: approx 30000. (warning : numbers are the result of a quick google search so may not be accurate). So yes, the Apple store has more at the moment, but don't expect that to last, as the barrier to entry for publishing an Android app is much lower.

      3) Less usable in what way? Such a nebulous assertation requires some sort of example in the very least, lest you be perceived as a troll. You wouldn't want that now, would you?

      4) Yes, Andorid devices are not 'controlled by the overwealming [sic] presence of St. Steve', although they are controlled in some way by the sinister looming figure of the big G. So far, though, Google do not seem to have abused their position in the same sort of way that Apple are so fond of doing, for example by actively putting obstacles in front of people to prevent them from putting their own software onto their phones. Google are even kind enough to provide an SDK to allow us to do this...

      5) Syntax error: verb clause missing subject.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm no evangelist for Google, or for any company for that matter, but I have an Android phone precisely because it allows me to do pretty much what I like with it and Apple devices do not.

      I shall now briefly returning to comment on the actual article at hand and say that what HTC have done, whilst within their rights as the hardware manufacturers, all smells a little malic* to me, although it's only likely to affect a small number of hobbyists who like to hack around with their devices at a low level. As pointed out by other commenters here, they'll just buy something else and HTC will lose a few tens of sales.

      *Look it up.

      1. Geoff Campbell
        Happy

        *Look it up

        I don't need to, I originated it. Thanks for propogating it, I wonder if we can get everyone using it?

        GJC

  2. Fluffykins Silver badge

    No, that's actually a good idea

    Its at least as good an idea as the idea of paying for the phone then restoring the money to my bank account at the first reboot.

    Marvellous.

  3. Chris 86
    Stop

    subsidy = control

    If you accept the operator subsidy, then this is the price. If you don't want to cede control to the network, buy sim free & unbranded. That subsidy is there for a reason, and the operator has every right to protect their investment.

    1. Chris 211

      @subsidy = control

      Well maybe for the contract term, then you have paid for the phone in full. See networks dont hand out cheap phones, they let you pay for them over the contract period. A bit like buying a car on finance, its not your car untill the final payment.

      However all this network operator and manufature control is discusting. Really what is the pont of all this control? I think its acceptable to be firm on support, if the phone is modified/jailbroken then no software support, break/fix only.

      I really dont understand the mentallity of all these user restrictions. Its one of the reasons I need a PS3 and a DLNA TV, one plays some formats the other plays other formats, all formats are known so why cant the TV or PS3 play ALL formats????

      1. Chris Thomas Alpha
        FAIL

        what about handsets bought outright?

        so I buy the handset outright, with no operator baggage, I pay my 500 quid and then I get a phone which I can't mod because even the hardware manufacturer says I shouldn't put my own rom on it?

        I mean, I could understand this behaviour in some way if I didn't own the phone yet, I'm still under contract, the operator still has a vested interest, but if I buy the device with no strings. Why can't I mod it?

        I bought my htc hero like that, however crappy and slow it is at times, I'm happy with the fact that I can put froydvillain 2.2 rom on the device and improve it more than HTC could ever do.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Not quite right...

        Technically, there are two 'contracts' formed when you purchase a phone. The contract to supply the phone (usually unwritten), and the contract to supply the network service. And they're not usually legally linked together.

        So, you enter into a contract to get network service for £30 per month for 18 months, and in conjunction with that, they supply a handset. However, this network contract typically doesn't make any reference to the handset. The handset is just a normal purchase contract (SOGA etc). Therefore the handset is entirely yours from the outset. Failure to pay the contract doesn't actually give the networks any rights to demand the handset back. What they do have is the right to sue you for the remaining charges of the minimum term.

        So it doesn't quite match the hire-purchase scheme for cars where essentially the loan is backed by the car (failure to keep up payments = car being reclaimed).

        That's certainly how it's been in the past, and why many people object to networks locking subsidised handsets to their networks. The user owns the phone, and whether or not it's used on the original network, it shouldn't matter, because they're still legally required to pay the monthly line rental. Failure to do that = debt collectors.

        1. Michael C

          subsidy

          You didn;t read your contract. The phone is THEIRS until you meet the terms of the contract. Its subsidized. They CAN demand its return at any time, or demand you pay a termination fee plus additional prorated contract fees. Though the bulk of the handset belongs to you, parts of it (the chipset) are in fact property of the phone company, and must be surrendered on demand (functional or not). 99% of the time, they just charge you money as the termination fees are valued at more than the device. (and most people will just as well smash it then send it back broken in a box anyway).

          Now, you are right however about their being 2 contracts. There's the contract for service, including the subsidy and your obligation to pay (and the penalties for not), BUT there's also a Terms of Use contract which is agreed to separately. Even if you bring youtr own phone (lets say a trac phone or other pay-as-you-go), they STILL have rights to tell you how and when you can use it, what software can and cannot be on it, and more, in order for you to be allowed on the network at all.

        2. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Lockin

          Your right it has nothing to do with the contract or the "discount". It's about locking you in. When your contract is up you can't just take your phone to a new provider so they hope you will stick with them. If you do switch you get a new "free" phone and a new contract. If they don't have a compatible phone it will be a pain to transfer your contacts and data, and your apps my be gone too.

      3. Michael C

        if its ion their network, its under their control.

        During the contract term, yea, they might be able to enfoce significant controls (its still technically their device) but even after that, you stil have a ToS contract in place to get onto their network at all. They know damned well if you can jailbreak, you can tether without paying for it, can make certain VoIP calls without paying for them, can SMS without paying for it, can steal their partner's apps without paying for them, and more. Yes, JBing has options other than theft, but in general, just like Torrenting, theft is the #1 use by vast margins. Your want to be on their network, you have to acceopt their terms, same as driving a car on a street. (you can't just mod out the headlights for red lasers and go galavanting around, you have to follow the rules). The airwaves do not belong to you. Remove the transmitter, and I'm sure they'll let you feel free to mod however you like...

      4. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Mobile operators

        Mobile operators aren't happy enough just raking in loads of cash, they get bored playing golf all day and there's only so much champagne and caviar you can consume. So they have their little pet projects, IM networks and cloud services.

        They want to feel like they're in control and that the handset makers need them, not the other way around. They're already feeling like they are losing control with iPhone and the new Windows Phone 7 devices (which are also not allowed to be OEM modified).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Misleading marketing

      Surely the main issue is that it wasn't made clear at the time of purchase that the device wasn't a 'real' android phone as commonly understood (ie: compatible with android apps). I would think anyone with one of these has a right to their money back under fair trading laws.

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      FAIL

      protect their investment

      So the operator does this to protect their investment? There is no contract, I will not be taken to court if I do not repay the subsidy over a pre-defined time period?

      I hope that if you have a mortgage, that you do not decorate the house or change the kitchen... no, no, no you must wait until you have fully repaid the mortgage, and still even then, when you own the house you must not decorate it; after all, the bank have every right to protect their investment. FOAD

      God I'm a bit techy before my first coffee(s)

      1. Michael C

        a few points

        first off, it;s not the device, it;s the network. mod your device and you can cheat the system, skip paying for tethering, abuse unlimited plans, bypass SMS and other fee based services, steal ringtones, and more. These are ToS violations. Refusing to let you jailbreak makes this easy to police.

        next, you can decorate your phone all you like, as you can your house. Wallpaper, tones, skins, cases. However, making structural modification to your house not only requires local permits, it requires permission from the lien holder as well. Want to take out a few walls while 90% financed and don;t think the mortgage company will question it, or stop you? think again. unless the investment you make is 100% cash and the value of the house will go up far more than the investment, and that can be backed up with lots of documentation, they WILL refuse it. Heck, i know people who've gotten nasty letters from a mortgage company just because they let the landscaping work slide a bit and it started to effect the home value.

        Its your device, but its their network. One that's not only used for important calls between you and other people, but also emergency services. Its also based on a pricing model that assumes a minimum income per terabyte of data in the netowkr. They gave you unlimited data because a phone alone really can't use that much of it. Conenct a PC without paying extra and you screp up their math and cheat the system. Enough people do it (and on android it's proven rampant), and they start having backhaul issues and cost overruns, not to mention big bills from "partner" carriers when you;re on a shared tower.

  4. JaitcH
    Unhappy

    One or two weeks until they break the restore?

    It's a pity that HTC is pulling a iCrap because it will cost them some sales and make people think twice before buying HTC devices.

    What's the betting Apple will add this 'feature' to their phone next?

    1. ColinP

      Patent hell

      "What's the betting Apple will add this 'feature' to their phone next?"

      I'm betting that this bit of tech is coveredy by some patent somewhere, so either Apple will have to license from HTC, or (more likely) HTC will get clobbered by some patent troll company that nobody has heard of (and probably recently aquired by Oracle or Microsoft).

    2. Code Monkey

      Cost sales

      It'll cost them A FEW sales from hardcore geeks. Most consumers buy a phone according to how pretty it is.

      Downvote me if you like but that's how people choose phones.

    3. ArmanX
      Terminator

      @Code Monkey: Actually, I wouldn't be too sure about that.

      Just like most people who buy a fancy sports car never go 200 MPH in it, most people who buy a phone don't do much of anything special with it, either. However, both buyers *want* that never-used feature. Would you buy a sports car that had a top speed of 90 MPH? I doubt it. If you're buying a sports car, you want it to go FAST.

      Buying an Android phone means you expect an open system; you might not even know what "open" even means, but you expect that. If your local nerd goes on a rant about how his supposedly open phone actually is quite closed, there is a good chance you'll change your mind about getting one. Use doesn't matter in this case - I've never rooted my Droid, but I'm still comforted by the fact that I have that option.

      (Icon is as close as I could get to an Android)

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        @ArmanX

        People sometimes do want a feature that they will never use...

        However, most of the people buying phones have no idea of what an open or close system is.

        And they would not choose a car depending on whether they are able to reprogram the sunroof and all windows to open at the same time as their favourite music is playing.

        (...wait, this actually sounds cool. Patent that baby!)

      2. Michael C

        just as i do with iOS

        I can jailbreak iOS any time I want. I know full well that the next release will likely (but not allways) break that, but I can update to tyhat new release (for free) at my option, when it;s also been jailbrokebn. I have no want, nor do I care to bother.

        Now, with android, they're taking away that choice. Without the "Draconian" controls of Apple, the ISPs and providers (who are pretty much openly evil, as opposed to apple which is only psycho-pathologically controlling), are doing business as usual. Their "open" platform is only open to the providers, NOT to you... Technically, Palm OS and Windows Mobile are "open" too, as anyone anywhere could release a compatible app, Palm and Microsoft only controlled who could and could not sell phones. Do you see any new phone vendors cropping up? nope, me either. So essentially, Android is just "free to those who can make phones" but is in fact, NOT open. (you can't get the source code yourself and build a phone). So, now their protecting what they didn;t pay for. aka, locking the devices down in order to increase revenue streams from partners and fee based data services and making it so you can't bypass those fees. Remember Verizon's BuyItNow? You got a camera phone but the only way to get pictures off of it was to pay Verizon $0.40 to "mail" it to yourself, and the big joke was the phone has e-mail support but could not access images from the e-mail app (by design). Same with loading ring tomes. It was firmware specifically designed to make you pay for things you used to be able to do free. I predicted this movement would hit android as soon as i heard about it.

        Apple has the might to ensure that doesn't happen to their OS. Remember, the data plan was the first ever unlimited plan, visual voicemail (which required extensive new provider owned server infrastructure) and even included 200 SMS, ad push e-mail services, and a way to make your own ringtones for $99 each. Apple pushed HARD to get Cingular to agree to all that. The release presentation even said: "why MMS when you can e-mail for free." and Steve noted it took a lot of strong-arming to get cingular to even let that be the case. To GET the iPhone (and make sure Verizon didn't), Cingular bent over and sacrificed all their core revenue streams. (call minutes were their 4rd most profitable venture behind ringtones, mms, and sms). Google does not have the power to force providers (or manufacturers) to do this, so it was inevitable.

    4. Michael C

      I'll take that bet

      especially since apple has denounced such a practice in the past, and openly supports the jailbreak movements. Apple has routinely left a jailbreak unpatched through several iOS releases, only closing it when an actual security threat is presented associated with that hole. Yes, your warranty is void if you jailbreak, big deal. The warranty on the engine on my car is void, as is the warranty on the electronics, if i modify it in any way (including changing the car's CPU, installing a new radio, and more). That is not unusual.

      Apple breaks jailbreaks in most releases because the jailbreakers use published security vulnerabilties that could be used for other attacks. NOT closing those would be an issue. Also, NOTHING forces you to upgrade the OS on iOS (unless you want the new features it released or to use software that uses a newly available API). On Android, OTA patching can litterally force you to upgrade, not only breaking jailbroken phones, but potentially also rendering purchased software useless or incompatible. At least with iPhones i can voluntarily roll back. On many android phones, if you do, they'll just push the update again. (some can be overridden, some can't, ad if they feel its necessary, they'll push a patch you can not stop. iPhones have no OTA patch system, they considder the existing of one a security issue that could be exploited, as they should).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Not approved?

    Which Android Apps are not approved by T-Mobile? Does it all block installs from SD Card?

  6. dylan 4
    Terminator

    so what happens to official firmware updates then?

    Is one to assume that there will never be an official firmware update to this device? You'll be stuck forever(*) with firmware version 1.0 regardless of bugs or potential for new/improved functionality?

    *forever = until you give up on your crippled device and buy a new one...

    1. Anton Ivanov

      Sign 'em ship 'em

      I guess they require a sig from HTC or from the operator or both.

    2. CaptainHook
      Thumb Up

      signed updates

      I would imagine official updates are signed against a private key hidden somewhere in the hardware, if the modifcation has the correct update then it doesn't get wiped at boot time.

      Find that key and you should be able to sign your own updates as being official.

    3. Jon 86
      Thumb Up

      @dylan 4

      I would guess either HTC or T-Mobile will have the means to allow the user to upgrade their firmware.

      The good news is, their "means" will be used by others to "jail-break" the phone.

      So all is not lost for the "jail-breakers"

      /j

  7. skeptical i
    Unhappy

    But will the average (l)user even notice, let alone care?

    As long as the phone looks cool, has quick and easy access to TwitBookSpace, has a decent camera, and plays music, the vast majority of the potential customer base will be happy enough with it to fork over the cash. Sad but true.

    1. Sceptic

      @skeptical

      It is the same as the much vaunted iPhone Jailbreak. Apart from the US where users are tied to AT&T, who cares if I cannot muck around and break my phone. The average Rest of world user just wants a phone that works.

      The iphone 4 fits the bill nicely. In the UK I can get an unlocked phone and select from 5 carriers whichever contract free pay as you go service and top it up every month, or change networks. It is surprising that the UK is ahead of the US here but it had to happen sometime

      1. Mick F

        @skeptical

        I have a developer friend who made the mistake of getting an iPhone. Once he realised the massive limitations inflicted by Apple he hated the phone - until he he jailbroke it and was allowed to set it up how he wanted (and not just pages of icons).

        I agree iPhones for the iDiots.

        1. Maliciously Crafted Packet

          @Mick F

          "I agree iPhones for the iDiots."

          Looks like HTC phones are going in the same direction.

          Unless you are prepared to stump up the cost of a sim free phone it seems like the advantages of Android are being slowly eroded by bloatware and lockdown with every new handset release.

          1. Manu T

            Andoid is going the wrong way, indeed :-(

            Yeah at this rate we'll be glad that Symbian is "open" .

            The question (raised above as well) is: what is the real definition to this "open".

            is it "Open" to us? So we can do with it what we (end users) want? Or is it open to Telco's so THEY can put bloatware, cashware or other crap onto it to actually limit our freedom of (fair) use?

            In the case of Android I think most tech-geeks have the wrong idea. It's as much open as Windows Mobile was/is. Sure we can can exchange ROMS and put them on similar devices (and because all these smartphones are small ARM-based pocketcomputers they're luckily all alike) but there's certain area's of the code that users/programmers don't get (especially from the handset-manufacturors).

            I think I'll stick with Windows mobile 6.1 for now. It has the largets application base (sure, you have to look around a bit but that's actually part o/t fun). Now that M$ has ditched the platform it's finally matured and even looks nice. That's a pitty. Android had much promise but after Motorala started this lock-down shit, it's clearly going to wrong way. This could get worse than iOS. The bizarre part is that Google (the owner of the OS) didn't do a thing to get Android from being the new nice kid on the block to become the new bad asshole on the street.

            I wonder how Maemo will fare?

    2. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
      Headmaster

      ....easy access to TwitBookSpace...

      I think you will find it is YouTwitFace.

  8. bazza Silver badge

    Could it be...

    ...just miscommunication?

    Imagine that somewhere in HTC some engineer, who's naturally pro hacking, thinks of an anti-bricking mechanism. With this, put what you like on it, if it all goes completely and hideously wrong just reboot and hey presto, back in the land of the living. Brilliant! But it's not much of a vote of confidence in upgrades is it? And if that were the intent then it's pretty clumsy. Surely a special key combination to 'activate the restoration' would be better.

    But sneaking it out like this unadvertised naturally arouses suspicions of attempted iphone style lockdown. And if that is the motivation, then T-Mobile / HTC are completely barking mad. Hardly anyone is interested in the networks' or manufacturers own services. Trying to force them on customers like this is just going to drive people away.

    I wouldn't naturally consider going to T Mobile anyway. This just re-inforces my prejudicial view. It's also put me off HTC. And I'm now slightly worried about the direction of Android as a whole too.

    If handset manufacturers generally start pulling this trick to lock people in then there's literally no point to Android at all. As previous posters have said, it would become something not quite as good as iPhone with all the same drawbacks.

    1. D@v3
      Thumb Up

      Restoration mode...

      "Surely a special key combination to 'activate the restoration' would be better."

      Much like the iPhone in fact. If you brick your device (to some extent), or just want to un-jailbreak(?) it. you can put it into DFU (device firmware udpate) mode by holding down the power and home keys for 10 seconds while the phone is switched off. It then asks to be connected to iTunes to restoer the firmware.

  9. Charles Burrows
    WTF?

    sim-ple-free solution

    Chris 86 is absolutely right, why not just buy the phone sim-free if you don't want operator restrictions; this deal is for people who can't think for themselves, hence they don't cater for you 'software artisans'.

    Most networks offer a much cheaper deal for a sim-only, rolling 30-day contract anyway, meaning if you buy the phone sim-free and use the 30-day contract you'd only be paying about the same amount for the phone over the equivalent of a normal contract term anyway.

    Plus you can sell it after 6 months, without having to pay unlock fees, and buy the next new model instead of waiting (a ridiculous) 18m.

  10. Insane Reindeer
    WTF?

    Seriously confused

    1) I thought that the whole point of an Android powered phone was that it was not locked down in any way except maybe being SIM locked if brought under contract from a MNO. The easy way around this being to buy the thing SIM free. Now it seems as if I was very wide of the mark on this. Why I was so confused over this I will never know...

    2) If this proves to be a case of needing to replace a PROM chip to get it to work could this see HTC duplicating the legal moves that Sony have made recently with regards to people modding their PS3's?

    3) Could this really be the answer to Apple's prayer's?

    4) Surely the likes of HTC must see the market for totally unlocked hardware right? What would stop them just having an online site where interested people could just buy the hardware without any operating system at all installed on it?

  11. tempemeaty
    Thumb Down

    No surprise...all your phone are belong to us...

    Well we also know that Android also lets Google uninstall your personal software if they want to so no surprise about this. Yet you still buy Android OS products like it's candy.

    1. D@v3

      SIM free..

      A lot of people on here tout buying SIM free as the option for avoiding operator restrictions.

      I disagree.

      Apart from anything else, it makes the initial purchase a lot more expensive, many phones you will get 'free' (or in the case of iPhones and top end Android phones, heavily subsidised) by signing up to an 18 or 24 month contract compared to maybe £500 or more, to buy outright.

      However, you still need an operator to provide you service.

      Last time I looked at the SIM only deals (some of which still carry a 12 month contact) you are still signed into a 1 month rolling contract. You are still at the whims of the operators, yes you can change at the end of every month if you want, but what happens in 6 months, when you have been on every network, and for what ever reason your not happy with each?

      Also, because the networks aren't getting as much money from you they (often) give less 'goodies' to those on SIM only deals, less mins/txts/data, and of course you can keep changing till you find the right plan for you (giving all your details to every network each time you switch)

      And then yes, if you feel the need to change your phone every 6 months to keep with the bleeding edge, you can sell on, and (probably) get a fair deal less that you paid for your SIM free phone. Where as when selling contract subsidised phones that were cheap at the out set you are likely able to get more or less what you paid for them, selling them 18 / 24 months later.

      one last thing, most of these comments on this specific article are criticising 'operator restrictions' i would like to point you to a line from the article

      "But HTC seems to have upped the ante with a hardware-based approach"

      note HTC and Hardware.

      that is all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No goodies

        Well my Orange Sanfrancisco cost me £99 plus £10 for a topup, on top of that I paid £3 to unlock it.

        I now have a t-mobile sim for which I pay £10 a month and get unlimited texts, unlimited internet and £10 worth of calls. There's a 1 month rolling tesco sim that gives you 500 mins, unlimited texts and unlimited internet. I wouldn't say that the goodies you get with such a setup are that bad.

        In addition I sold my old phone for 2/3 of the cost of my new 1 year old one on ebay (and I'f I'd held out rather than accepting a BIN offer I could have probably matched the price!)

        I'm far happier with this setup than being forced into a 18 month or 2 year contract

  12. Paul E

    Yes some people do like modding their android phones...

    but I suspect they are a very small percentage of the total.

    Most people want a phone that just works

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on

    Android fans keep ranting on about how the iPhone is a closed system, and you can't do what you want with it, whereas Android is open. So why would you need to jailbreak this supposedly open system?

    I'm not being sarcastic - I would genuinely like to know what Android jailbreakers are wanting from Android that they can't get any other way. Is it simply escaping a SIM lock?

  14. Neil 7
    Linux

    MeeGo

    Why bother trying to constantly defeat the restrictions put in place by the manufacturers, it's just a game of cat and mouse.

    Instead just buy a device running an OS from a company that is far more open and respecting of it's users wishes - Maemo (soon to be MeeGo) comes with xterm built in and getting super user access is a fully approved and supported process.

    Android open? My @rse.

    1. thesykes

      Why?

      Well, mine isn't jailbroken, it is modded though. The mod doesn't allow me install any software that I couldn't do before, either from the market or from a download onto the SD card and install from there, that's built in to Android.

      What the mod does do though, is get rid of the operator logo, wallpaper, and numerous useless operator apps loaded onto to the phone.. none of which work anyway, as I got the phone unlocked within half an hour of buying it.

      So, now the phone runs quicker thanks to the removal of operator crap.

      If the phone was designed to drop all that back onto itself after a reboot, it'd still be on the shelf. After all, who wants their phone plastered with Orange logos when they're not on that network??

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      MeeGo

      No offence but what can you buy apart from an N900?

      Nice phone no doubt but I have tried it, it's more of a portable computer (a reasonably nice one at that) and less of a phone.

      As a phone it's a bit clunky to use, imho, compared to using your average HTC droid phone or iphone. And if you're not going to use it as a phone to begin with....

    3. Manu T

      Most people want a phone that just works

      That's the problem. These phones never "just work".

      That's why you buy a "smartphone". So you can buy/rent/steal/develop that particular app that you require to make it "just work".

  15. Ben Tasker Silver badge
    Stop

    Missing the Point

    No-one else seems to have posted my first thought, so here we go;

    This 'auto-restore' is presumably counted as a 'technological' measure (much like DRM) so circumventing it would be illegal in the UK under our version of the DMCA.

    Same in Yank land, circumventing the restriction would be illegal under the DMCA.

    So, not only have they made it more difficult for you to mod the phone, they've also ensured that anyone smart enough to bypass the mechanism can be taken to court the second he/she releases details of how to do so (assuming he/she lives in the correct part of the world!). All HTC/T-Mobile need to do is establish that it's a 'copy-prevention' mechanism, because it's clearly effective

    Even if I'm wrong, it's a nasty thing to do

  16. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    This seriously

    needs clarification in a court as what you can do with a device you own. I am guessing even if you bought this "unlocked" it would still not allow a jailbreak.

    Until someone has the balls (and the cash) to hold these manufacturers / carriers to account then it will just continue.

    HTC have just gone down a notch in my estimations.

  17. gav_taylor
    FAIL

    Android jailbreakers? I didn't realise there was such a thing...

    C'mon El reg, why do you keep making this mistake?

    'jailbreaking' is the term given to the process of unlocking an iPhone.

    'rooting' is the term given to unlocking an Android device

  18. bob 46

    How many of you...

    ...actually have a jailbroken phone? I would think a majority of the readers of this site are higher-than-averagely technical. I am - I work as a programmer and have been programming and working with computers since the early 80s. I have a HTC desire which is not jailbroken. Don't need to, it does what i want a phone to do (more or less anyway - its a great piece of kit for reading ebooks, playing games, navigating and watching videos, but it really, really sucks as a phone)

    So come on, how many of you "walled garden" critics have actually taken the time to learn about android and crack your phone?

  19. bex

    you pays your money

    as froyo allows wifi tethering and this is usually a paid for feature this is understandable. I got impatient with t-mobile (UK) and put the generic 2.2 firmware in my desire, the result of this is my phone will provide wifi tethering which I don't actually pay for, which is nice. These non-stories are a bit dumb, most people never mess with the phones firmware, so this will have no effect, for those that do I am sure there will be a way round it eventually.

  20. vegister

    why root anyway?

    is it just because I can?

    i haven't seen any need to root my HTC desire running 2.2, and i'm usually one of the first to invalidate my warranty on new gadgets.

  21. Drefsab

    Not a big whoop

    Its a nice touch this, but not really a big deal, ether the developers are 100% certain they will never need to update the phone (so no new android updates) which I find highly unlikely. Im guessing they have just altered the HBOOT to reflash/restore the rom from a hidden backup. There will be an updater that updates this backup as needed.

    The proper hack for this basically will just revolve around ether disabling this behaviour in the HBOOT or to update the backup rom with a custom one.

    Will be some interesting reading but I don't doubt this will be done.

  22. johnvile

    I was thinking

    of spending hundreds of pounds on a new phone so that I could turn it into a ZX81.

    I don't think I'll bother anymore, what use is a phone if you can't use it?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Rant

    I haven't rooted my Android phone yet but I am seriously considering doing so as Google seem uninterested in the following bug that is important to me:

    http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=1273

    That bug was raised 2 years ago, is currently ranked 4th and has a simple fix yet apparently no one at Google has even looked at it. It appears that Samsung have patched this themselves but for users of HTC the only solution is to root your phone.

  24. Sampler

    If it's copying the firmware back

    Replace the repository it's copying from - job done.

  25. LawLessLessLaw
    Boffin

    I worked at a handset builder

    I got fed up of hearing "if we do that cool thing / don't do that shitty thing we'll never get it on the networks".

    I walked.

    I've got a G1 atm. (early adopter syndrome) but next time I might just buy one of these :

    http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8700

    1. David Beck

      Me

      I haven't bought a phone from a carrier since the 1990's. SIM free, 30 day rolling contracts only.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not in australia

      Rooting has a different meaning down south!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        hope you've got some vaseline :)

        and not vegimite if you're planning to do that with your phone!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Erm

      guess again.

      PS jailbreak???

      Its now a term used to describe breaking manufactures holds over the general public on any device.

      Now, texted, theres a word that deserves to be buried. Along with "worser".

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Brimming over with wrong-ness

      http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/feds-ok-iphone-jailbreaking/

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Well

      i dont own an HTC (well, my ipaq is technically made by HTC) but if i did, the first thing i would do is root/jailbreak/crack/unlock/hack etc it.

      Its my duty..

      Say after me...

      If its not broken, fix it until it is..

      Every electronic device i own is "hacked" in some way if possible. To ramping up the cpu speed on my pc to chipping my consoles, hacking my PMRs' etc etc.

      Its not abour depriving the company, its about my freedom of choice.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        @cornz

        Thanks for that, must have slipped by me. Tis' not UK specific though, it obviously answers the question for the States though.

        Although we seem to have a fondness for emulating laws the US pass, has a similar decision been made in Blighty or anywhere else that also imposes such restrictions on circumvention?

        Strangely, I can almost see Apple's point in that piece, modifying iOS (by Jailbreaking) does create a derivative, which the license forbids. Not that I'm saying they were right, simply that I can see where they are coming from. OTH the impact had they been successful could easily have been applied to all sorts of other devices

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why root?

      Three good reasons why I rooted my 2.2 HTC Desire: i) OpenVPN, ii) better battery life (by using a governor that limits the processor speed to 250MHz when the screen's off) and iii) getting rid of all the Facebook shite.

    7. hi_robb
      Megaphone

      I have

      I've got a HTC Hero which I bought on Orange when it first hit the market. It seemed Ok but as it was Android 1.5 or 1.6 (can't remember which) it did have issues, nothing major just little niggles. Those niggles were fixed with the HTC release of Android 2.1 for the Hero, but Orange dragged their heels over releasing it for months.

      I got so fed up of waiting that in the end, I rooted and installed the worldwide one.

      I then started playing around with some of the custom roms and realised that actually, while HTC Sense had some decent ideas and features, that it was actually a bit bloaty and was slowing my user experience on the phone down. So I tried some of the custom roms. I could do this because I had root access.

      I've never seen Sense since :-)

      I use a 2.2 Froyo Rom now, something HTC say they will never release on the Hero. It's fast (much faster than the stock htc rom), it gives me access to better apps in the market, far better newer features and because it's rooted it allows me to customise it to how I like.

      Any apps I don't need which were part of the base 2.2 rom (FroydVillian) I've removed, I can overclock the phone and do making it faster to. Oh and I've learnt a bit of Android so I can fix the ickle niggles like facebook always going to the mobile site rather than touch site. On my phone it goes to the touch site, changed by a bit of digging around in Android using ADB etc.

      I've no intention of upgrading my phone for quite a long time due to being able to root and put custom roms on. I've a phone which is exactly tailored to e so why would I want to?

      I think this chip HTC have put in their new phones which stop you doing things what I've done, is probably just a way of trying to generate a guaranteed cash flow per customer for both them and the networks . After all people always want the latest and greatest features and if the only way to get them is by upgrading your phone for a new one, then most people will be sheep and do just that.

      Hopefully some of the talented people over at XDA and such sites will find a way round this chip. HTC will simply then not bother putting it in future phones. If no way is found, then it sets a dangerous precedence. Operators doing an iPhone and taking the tethering feature out of Android, and not allowing 3rd party apps to be installed anyone?

      Rob

    8. Monty Burns

      the point is....

      many of us have. We them show our firmware flashed with custom roms from XDA devs to other people who have then purchased HTC's off the back of this- especialy in the early years!

      I can honestly say that in my office right now there are 2 IPhone 4's and about 8 HTC's of various models, 4 of these HTC's have custom ROM's on them. Then again we are in a serious techie environment.... (all network admins/sys admin type people)

  26. rasp
    Pint

    Rollback

    to what ? The Motorola dorks call it a 'recovery partition' -> which one can flash back to something else, so you 'recover' your r00t ;-P

  27. Kimberly Burgess
    Big Brother

    The Missing 2GB is This?

    I guess we just found out why the drive in the phone has been missing 2GB of storage space due to partitioning. On the XDA forums, people have been puzzling over the inability to see all 4GB and initially wondered if they had received the Desire Z's drive. Now that we know the OS can reflash itself at will, the missing 2GB's function is discovered. Shame this is not pure stock Android (missing tethering/wifi hotspot), because I am damn tempted to leave my iphone 3G for this.

    Google, please consider releasing a Nexus 2.

  28. OkKTY8KK5U

    And we're defining "open platform" how, exactly?

    Because I think that Android rather neatly proves that open source does not necessarily lead to an open system.

  29. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Confused?

    I see a few comments here about how Android is bad because of this. If I understand this correctly, this is a firmware issue, with an HTC device. Android sits ON TOP OF this firmware (which in turn sits on top of the hardware in the hardware-software stack), so this has nothing to do with the operating system, and is merely a case of a manufacturer incorporating a method for a device to reset itself to factory settings if it detects it has been modified. I would be surprised if there were no other devices in existence that do this. There are certainly other devices that can detect if they have been modified in various ways, and restrict access (think XBox 360 and access to online games, or the PS3 checking its firmware version when using the Playstation network).

    It can be argued that this level of control over the hardware by the manufacturer is, in essence, not a good thing but meh, everyone is doing it these days.

  30. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Hang on ...

    I'm all for re-purposing, jail-breaking, hacking, re-flashing and the rest but I don't recall it ever written in stone anywhere that anyone has to make it easy or even possible for any product.

    There seems to be a growing indignation from some quarters that what they'd like to do is not possible, not easy, has obstacles in the way, but what they want never seems to have been promised in the first place. It seems to be expectation disconnect from reality.

    Manufacturers make what they want, not what their customers may want. If customers don't want what's on offer they go somewhere else, if nothing suitable is on offer then perhaps it's time to get the placards out and start changing things. Heck, why not form a company to fill the gap in the market?

    There are cases where what was promised isn't delivered and that's fair grounds for complaint but simply not doing what people think something should is not, that's just the reality of it.

    I'd like Paris to come round and tidy-up my house (and I've a few other ideas as well), but apparently that's a "no" - damned cheek; who should I complain to?

  31. Monty Burns
    WTF?

    thanks xda-devs, now F*&K off

    Real kick in the teeth for us at XDA Devs.

    We've spent years developing HTC software from the crap HTC have pushed out. They have even gone to the extent of acknowledging XDA Devs and saying (almost) "thank you"! If it wasn't for XDA-Devs many of us wouldn't be using HTC's now.

    So, if I understand this right (maybe I don't?), they are now saying

    "thanks for creating all these much better ROMS from our phones, now we're big and famous, what about you f*&k off and leave us alone?"

    Do I understand this right?

    (Glad my next phone is a Dell)

  32. DRendar
    Boffin

    BIG difference between jailbreaking iPhone and rooting Android

    BIG difference - HUGE!!

    For iPhone it's being able to install apps that have not been approved by Apple. If you don't Jailbreak you're iPhone you can ONLY install the censored, Apple cult-friendly stuff from the marketplace.

    This is NOT why you root an Android, as all android phones can install any app they want (you just have to tick a setting to permit the use of unsigned apps, then load the apk from your sd card)

    What rooting an Android phone does is give you ROOT access to the OS. This is necessary in order to get direct access to, for example the ipStack, network interfaces and the clock.

    Without rooting the phone, Android (lamentably) is unable to establish an IPSEC VPN to 90% of VPN devices out there. - See http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=3902

    You are also unable to accurately set the clock on an Android phone (i.e. you can set the hour and minute, but not the seconds) and while Android is capable of syncing its clock to the Mobile Carrier using NITZ - this is not something we have in the UK This means that there is literally no way to have the clock accurate on Android for many people. Getting root access allows you to set the clock manually, but also give apps such as "ClockSync" (Which is on the Android Market!) the ability to set the time from an NTP source. See http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=4581

    One other reason to root your phone is to turn it into a WiFi Hotspot - again available through the Market. Although this feature is being included in Android 2.2 (Froyo)

    So you see - they're vastly different, and shouldn't be compared to each other.

    Dash

  33. Sam Liddicott

    TytnII with 2.2

    I'm using an old TytnII with Android 2.2 (instead of the shipped WM6) - much thanks to the XDA devs.

    I want to buy a shiney new android phone but they are all hobbled in some stupid way. I've been waiting for the "phone for me" for over a year, but each new model has a major flaw - daft ones like this locked-down business.

    It's a shame and a credit to the XDA guys that a 3 year old TytnII is the best I can get!

  34. James Bell 1
    Thumb Down

    Not Buying the G2 as a result

    My brother is ready to buy a nice Android T-Mo slider and I recommended the G2. After seeing this new feature (and that tethering was removed) I've told him to hold off. HTC & T-Mobile lose a sale.

    1. Monty Burns

      me too

      I was originaly waiting for a Dell Lightning but then toyed with the idea of a G2, read this story ..... back to plan A.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have fun

    I remember 20 years ago when I spent all my time just tweaking all the settings for all my things until they were all JUST RIGHT. So I guess I can't complain about how much energy you guys are putting into this. These days I just try to buy stuff I like and not mess with it as much as possible. I can't help but roll my eyeballs when somebody shows me their jailbroken iPhone that has some kind of animated wallpaper (so what?) or their Android that they rooted to play a Flash game at 2 FPS.

  36. NinjasFTW

    Desire Z affected?

    I recently pre-ordered the Desire Z SIM free from Amazon. I have just sent an email to HTC asking them if this 'feature' is present in the Desire Z.

    If it is I will be cancelling my order.

  37. nemo20000
    Alert

    Counter productive

    I was going to get a G2 next month. Now I will install Cyanogen 6.0 on my G1 instead.

    And SwiftKey makes me think I could do without a hardware keyboard anyway.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    BWAAHAAAHAAA

    Hang on They think a single chip with a copy of the os on it is going to stop people modifying the ROM !!!

    I see fix commoning up that involves

    Screwdriver / Soldering iron / Micro C4 charges <- take your pick :D

    remove / Damage the secure rom chip how the hell will it overwrite the OS.

  39. Len Mackin
    Pirate

    I regularly flash my desire...

    The misleading title of the my post aside, I am on Orange and the first thing I do is get rid of their dreadful colour scheme and rubish software. It makes for a better user experience in my opinion. When I recieved my Desire in April from Orange, the first problem i noticed was that the storage space for apps was very poor. This was made even worst because Orange had decided to install demo games and other software that COULD NOT BE REMOVED!.

    In the last few months I have rooted my desire and seen a huge performance boost as a result, my application storage space has gone from 22mb to 80 (even after installing a shed load of stuff from the Android Market). Oh,,, and I also flashed my phone to Froyo 2.2 and gained even more benefits months before Orange bothered to pass this to their users.

    I update my rom once per month and I can do this without having to reinstall any settings or apps, If I hate the latest ROM i can revert back and go with a different model.

  40. Araxian
    Stop

    missing the kernel

    This is most likely a function of the kernel, and of course there is no such thing as a "jailbreak" for Android, it is termed root or the action of doing it Rooting and even then its not really synonymous with what "jailbreak" for Iphone does.

    To root a android most use an update.zip applied during recovery, it can be done manually but its more cumbersome.

    The kernel or other system system module could be tagged to watch for modifications that resemble root and undo them. An easy fix for this "unrooting" is to wait for htc to release the source code for the kernel and a ROM developer to remove the offending code.

    If its not in the kernel, it would be even easier, a ROM developer can simply pull out the module with this function and rebuild a new ROM without it. These ROMS are also usually better as they have all the Bloatware already removed and other features that make them better than stock.

    HTC and any other handset manufacturer are required to release their source code except for driver source code thru the gpl license under which they developed android for their device.

  41. Wortel

    Heh

    Sounds like they used something similar to Reborn:

    http://www.bnc-distribution.com/products/reborn

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