The HTC One X is a powerhouse. It’s fast, beautiful and infinitely capable. At least it is on paper. According to some digging by XDA-Developers members, using HTC’s own bootloader unlocking tool renders it, and the sibling One S, partially damaged. While the extent is not fully known at the moment, it seems that unlike previous devices like the Sensation and Amaze 4G, once the bootloader is unlocked on a One X it is not able to flash recoveries and boot images, the essence to being able to install custom ROMs on the device.
Once unlocked, the One S Fastboot menu displays a huge ****TAMPERED**** sign right above where it indicates that the bootloader is unlocked. Though the Rogers One X doesn’t display this behaviour, its presence in general is new to current-generation HTC devices, and is likely used to indicate to the carrier that the device was manually unlocked and didn’t come like that from the factory.
RootzWiki, a site dedicated to tweaking and hacking Android phones, has written a great piece titled “Dear HTC, Can We Have Our Phones Back?” It details how, despite the company’s public displays of affection towards the developer community, ceding one of the first bootloader unlocking programs in the industry, they’ve taken steps in the One Series of devices to prevent users from getting at its innards once it is unlocked. As Steven Smith, the piece’s author says of his experience: “I am going to let everyone know now: do not plan on just stopping at rooting this and calling it a day, I tried to remove bloat with Root Explorer and came to a brick wall of denial. I found out you also cannot flash custom kernels in recovery mode.”
It turns out that even with an unlocked bootloader, you cannot flash anything in the boot partition, only to the tmp partition that, once rebooted, restores the original kernel to its rightful place. This prevents user from easily, and safely, using code that isn’t approved by HTC. Not to mention that the phone doesn’t have a removable battery in case it gets into trouble with a particular hacking exercise.
The gist of the piece is this: by unlocking the phone’s bootloader, users are forgoing their rights to warranty. This is understood. But HTC is further preventing users from enjoying their phone once it is us unlocked, potentially crippling what could be a fantastic custom ROM experience, and that’s not right.
There will no doubt be ways around this: Android developers are nothing if not resourceful. But it shouldn’t be this way, which is why RootzWiki wants users to spread the word and ask HTC to give us our phones back.
For regular users, however, the HTC One X is currently our favourite Android phone. You can also read our review.