Motorola’s eagerly anticipated Droid X smartphone is expected to hit the hot summer streets in just a few hours. But don’t plan on hacking, rooting or modding the Android-powered device anytime soon.
In addition to locking down the smartphone with an encrypted bootloader, Motorola has instructed its obedient Droid to brick itself if the kernel, bootloader or ROM becomes noticeably compromised.
“The technology at work here is known as eFuse. It has a simple purpose: to check the version of the bootloader, kernels and ROM of your phone against those which eFuse is programmed to look for,” explained David Ruddoc of Android Police.
“[So] if the check fails, eFuse corrupts your bootloader, rendering your phone completely useless. To fix it, you must take your phone to a Verizon store and presumably they would have to ship it to a Motorola facility where the necessary hardware exists to resuscitate your device.”
Ruddoc noted that the stringent security precautions would undoubtedly have “major ramifications” for those attempting to unlock the Droid X.
“One wrong move could destroy hours, days, or weeks of effort. It would also be likely that Verizon (or Motorola) would also charge for this ‘service,’ since you are likely aware that trying to unlock the phone will void your warranty,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mike of GadgetSteria criticized Motorola’s typically unsympathetic approach to the rooting community.
“I totally get protecting your IP and securing customers from rogue attacks by hackers. But come on…devs are still trying to crack the Milestone’s (European Droid) locked bootloader in order to flash custom ROMs.
“Motorola is completely failing to read and understand a fair chunk of their user base and what drives them towards Motorola Android devices – customization. In the end, I guess it’s pretty simple. If you favor tinkering with your device or customizing your heart out, do not buy Motorola handsets.”
For its part, Motorola insists that hardware lockdowns have been a “common practice” for years.
“This…is driven by a number of different business factors. When we do deviate from our normal practice, such as we did with the DROID, there is a specific business reason for doing so.
“[Still], we understand there is a community of developers interested in going beyond Android application development and experimenting with system development and re-flashing phones.
“For these developers, we highly recommend obtaining either a Google ADP1 developer phone or a Nexus One, both of which are intended for these purposes.
“At this time, Motorola Android-based handsets are intended for use by consumers and Android application developers and we have currently chosen not to go into the business of providing fully unlocked developer phones.”