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Sony Xperia Z3 Has A Locked Bootloader On T-Mobile USA

October 24, 2014 - Written By David Steele

Justin wrote recently as to why Sony made a good choice to give T-Mobile USA the exclusive of the Sony Xperia Z3 and it ultimately boils down to getting their toe into the American market by whatever means are available to the company. T-Mobile USA are in a happening place as regards networks and carriers in the USA and Sony ought to do well by jumping onto that particular bandwagon, but there’s something of a fly in that particular glass of champagne: yes, the new Xperia Z3 has been arriving earlier than expected but unfortunately as the unofficial Sony Xperia blog has discovered, the Z3 has a locked bootloader. The last Sony Xperia smartphone to be launched on T-Mobile USA, the Xperia Z1, also came with a locked bootloader and this crippled third party development for the device. We were hoping that Sony or T-Mobile would have had a change of heart… but these have now been dashed.

The locked bootloader means that gaining root access, installing third party ROMs and kernels on the T-Mobile variant is going to be a massive challenge for developers. The ability to root – or gain full control on all aspects of the device – will depend on an exploit being discovered for the device. Developers did discover an exploit for the Xperia Z1 but this took several months after release. This news follows the story earlier in the month that unlocking the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact removes Sony’s specialist (and DRM protected) camera algorithms and hurts the camera’s low light performance.

For most users, the inability to easily hack their device is not going to matter. They just want to buy their ‘phone and use it for the two years until they’re due an upgrade, when they’re able to rinse and repeat. When Android Lollipop arrives, Google have secured our devices against hacking attacks in more sophisticated ways compared with earlier versions of Android so for the hacking community, things are going to get worse. But T-Mobile’s mantra of being able to upgrade your device whenever you want will encourage people who are interested in smartphones to use the network and pick up the Sony Xperia Z3. It’s these customers who will be most disappointed with today’s discovery.

What do you think? Do you hack your Android smartphone and install a custom ROM, or do you just want to use the device as it comes from the manufacturer? Would you personally boycott a manufacturer or carrier that seemingly goes out of its way to make it difficult to modify a family of devices?