Unlocking the boot loader in the new Xperia™ smartphones

With its new generation of 2011 Xperia™ smartphones, Sony Ericsson will allow advanced developers to unlock the boot loader in a secure and legal way. We will enable this opportunity later this spring, although it will only be possible for certain releases of these phones.

Find out the details after the jump.

Over the few last years, Sony Ericsson has received several requests from the Android™ community to allow advanced developers to unlock the boot loader of their phones. Up to now, the answer has been “No”. The reason is that we haven’t had a secure technical solution in place to support this. Furthermore, the boot loader could not be shared since that would violate important business agreements with many of our partners, such as operator customers and developers who want to protect their apps and games from being ripped from the secure area in the phones.

But we are developing a solution for this. It will be possible to unlock the boot loader for certain releases of our 2011 Xperia™ phones, such as Xperia™ arc, Xperia™ neo, Xperia™ pro and Xperia™ PLAY. But it is important to point out that this will only be possible for certain releases of the phones.  Basically, your phone has to fulfill a number of requirements. For example, you can’t unlock the boot loader if you have a SIM lock protected phone.

There are other requirements as well, depending on your market and the original configuration of your phone. The only way to determine if you can unlock the boot loader for your phone is to connect your phone to the Fastboot tool in the Android™ SDK. If your phone can connect to Fastboot, the boot loader can be unlocked. For earlier products such as the Xperia™ X10, we cannot allow the boot loader to be unlocked due to technical and legal reasons.

Also, please note that you may void the warranty of your phone if you unlock the boot loader. See your phone’s warranty statement for details.  Additionally, due to the modified phone software, Sony Ericsson’s repair network may not be able to properly test and repair your phone according to our normal procedures.  Consequently, if Sony Ericsson does perform a warranty repair, Sony Ericsson may charge you a handling fee for any additional incurred costs due to your modification of the software.

If you unlock the boot loader and then flash a custom unsigned ROM to your phone, the custom unsigned ROM will not have gone through the thorough tests that we run for each phone and software version that we release. Because of that, the custom unsigned ROM might not work properly on your phone. Certain functions may cease to work, and the performance of the device might not be ideal. You might damage your phone permanently. In worst case, it will cause physical injuries or material damage, for example, due to the phone overheating.

Therefore, you should only unlock the boot loader of your phone if you are an advanced developer with good knowledge of the technology and risks involved. We strongly recommend that standard users NOT unlock the boot loader, as it is not needed. We are proud to deliver great phone experiences through our rigorously tested and official software releases.

However, we hope that this is a useful service for advanced developers, and demonstrates that Sony Ericsson is listening to and working with the open developer world. We will provide more details about this service later this spring. Stay tuned for more information…

Karl-Johan Dahlström
Senior Program Architect at Sony Ericsson

Note: To enable this, we will later launch a web service where an unlock boot loader key can be retrieved by entering your IMEI. This key will be used in Fastboot where you perform the actual unlock boot loader sequence. A more detailed instruction will be provided later, when this service is available.

Depending on the original configuration of your phone, it will be either be possible or not possible to unlock the boot loader. No phone updates are required to enable this functionality.

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  9. By Anonymous

    #9

    Hi is it possible to receive unlock key..for IMEI? the service is offline..

    • By Tobias Nilsson

      #10

      Hi,

      the service is down due to maintenance. We hope to have it back online within a few days. Please check again soon.

      Regards,
      Tobias from Developer World

  10. By Kevin Covey

    #11

    as good as the news is, where in Canada do I buy an unlocked play?. and please don’t say through some third party store online from another country. where can I buy it here in Canada?
    now we know you can’t, so while we all wait for other solutions to buy se phones untouched from carriers why don’t you allow us to unlock the boot loader. better yet I can get a key but without fastboot how can we do this.
    its like giving a hungry man food, but he can only look st it.
    that’s not funny.

    just my 2cents.

  11. Pingback #12

    […] reason for them to commit to something they never did.. But if you want look at this, from Sony: Unlocking the boot loader in the new Xperia Yup, sony is helping people unlock their bootloaders publicly..I have yet to see HTC annoucne […]

  12. By Ming

    #13

    Relock the boot loader Possibility??

  13. By SEfan

    #14

    Thank you SE for doing so.
    BTW they released the web service here:
    unlockbootloader.sonyericsson.com/instructions
    tytytytytytytyty

  14. By Ray Proffitt

    #16

    OK, I’ve got the phone… now where’s the web service????

  15. By Ewald

    #17

    Would be nice to see that progress on X10 (mini/mini pro) and X8.
    I promise that nobody would hate you for this and I think that there would be less spam by “old” Xperia users.
    Cheers.

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