What is an Android bootloader?

What is an Android bootloader?

What is a bootloader? Here is the question which we will try to answer in this article. In a nutshell, this is the root of the system, it is somehow similar to bios on Windows. With the bootloader, you can flash (install) including another system on your smartphone, and many other things.

What is a bootloader?

Some explanations

Concretely, the bootloader is the root of all the changes related to the system. for example, if you want to install an alternative recovery (recovery image), a Custom ROM (alternative custom system), a kernel (system kernel that converges software and hardware) and / or any other element li one way or another the internal modification of Android's mobile operating system.

Opening the bootloader: at the whim of everyone

To access these possibilities, it is necessary to unlock it using a command. If we take the example of a manufacturer who sells an Android smartphone with a locked bootloader, it will be possible, depending on the encryption key used, to unlock it manually (through a detailed tutorial provided by the manufacturer) or automatically (via a software update of the device).

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At the beginning of Android, manufacturers took pleasure in locking the bootloader of their Android. AndroidPIT

In general, the constructors are not rput to open the bootloader, except in some cases. The official reason is to avoid massive back-ups in after-sales service from users who do not know what they're going for, but the unofficial version is that the manufacturer wants to keep their hands on their Android smartphone. When the mobile is abandoned his fate, what remains after? The community is why a manufacturer must always allow the user the opportunity to open the bootloader to give a second life to the terminal.

Google leads by example with its Nexus and Pixel

To show the example, Google has proven that it was possible on its Nexus (and now on its pixels). Okay, the first models could simply be unlocked, but now it's possible in both directions. For example, I can choose to unblock the bootloader of my Nexus 5 temporarily, then lock it again once I do not need it anymore. Simple, fast and without burrs, this is no longer proof.

Open the bootloader is good, but the guarantee then?

Be that as it may, there are many brands that have adopted a policy that, if you make deep system-related changes, the product warranty will invalidate on the software part. Of course, it is always possible to make up its traces, but it is better to inform yourself before undertaking this or that manipulation. Sometimes the result can be catastrophic and end with a brick.

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Opening the bootloader, the guarantee "on the software part" can take a hit. Shutterstock

In the case where a manufacturer intentionally blocks the bootloader, the latter sometimes offers solutions to unlock it manually, like Sony, among others. As a result, it is expected that in case of manual unlocking, the warranty on the software part becomes obsolete. Unfortunately, some device bootloaders are still dead. Why ? Because, the cipher key chosen by the manufacturer to protect it is too high to be bypassed.

The exploits of the community

In the community, some rare developers have managed to unlock the bootloader of their terminal, but it took several years. We can take the example of the Motorola Droid, also known as Milestone in France. That said, force to do so, a developer was able to confirm the security and break the encryption key that protected him, but that 3 years after its release.

As you can see, it's a long-term job that is more exploitative than useful. On the one hand, because it is very long, impossible to unlock … On the other hand, for the simple reason that a builder must – one more time – to always sell a smartphone with a bootloader dblocable, not to be confused with unlock which does not mean the same thing.

By this article, we hope that you have found answers to your questions. If not, we invite you to write a comment below the article.

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