Unofficial Bootloader Unlock Exploit Found For Asus ZenFone 2

Bootloaders are something we all come in contact with, if we have an Android device.  A bootloader is a bit of software that either blocks or allows (depending on whether it's 'locked' or 'unlocked') the installation of firmware, like custom versions of Android, custom kernels, or even custom boot animations.  Many smartphones, especially the flagships, come with locked bootloaders nowadays, with only some being easily unlocked.  The Nexus line has been famous as developer devices, specifically because they can have their bootloaders unlocked then relocked once the necessary firmware is installed or unlocked again for one last test installation.  Phones like the Galaxy S and HTC One, have historically caused root fans and flashaholics trouble and grief.

With the ZenFone 2 from Asus, first announced at CES earlier this year, people got the chance to use Android Lollipop on an Intel Atom processor paired with 4GB of RAM.  Running inside a high-quality chassis with a nice 1080p display and sizeable battery resulted in a lot of anticipation for the device and people eager to buy, once the device finally went on sale through Amazon a while back.  Now, the folks over at XDA have figured out a way to unlock the device's bootloader, so development and hackery may begin at long last.

User shakalaca figured out that the same exploit of installing a different and unsecured bootloader, used previously to obtain root on the ZenFone 5, is functional in the case of the ZenFone 2.  As shakalaca notes in his post (source link below), there are a few steps involved, and this method, since it's an exploit, can be risky.  The method involves accessing the device through ADB using root, installing a file provided by shakalaca in bootloader / fastboot mode and your device's bootloader will be unlocked. At of now, there is no known way to relock the bootloader. So this might cause problems if Asus sends out an OTA (over-the-air) update, since sometimes a device's bootloader status interferes with its eligibility to receive the update package.  So, for those brave enough to take part in the process, you've been warned.  For those waiting for a relockable method, you will have to keep waiting for now.

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About the Author

Phil Bourget

Staff Writer
Using Android since 2012 and the Galaxy S III, I'm now running a Nexus 5 paired to a Moto 360 to keep updated on the Internet of stuff. Usually found on Google+ or in class.