Late last month Sony Ericsson made an announcement that it would be opening up it’s bootloaders on the current lineup of Xperia smartphones. The day has arrived, and the bootloader unlocking site is now live.
Bootloader unlocking is provided for Sony Ericsson Android smartphones from 2011 onwards, while previously released models are not (yet?) supported. The current compatibility list requires a SIM-unlocked smartphone and includes the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY, Xperia Arc, Xperia Pro, and Xperia Neo. The unlock comes with a bevy of warnings that are somewhat vague such as “Certain features in your phone might cease to work” and “You might damage your phone permanently”, even a warning that unlocking the bootloader could possibly cause physical injuries due to overheating. As a side effect of unlocking the bootloader, DRM security keys and the secure user data partition are removed, which may result in the loss of access to DRM protected media loaded on the device.
To deploy the unlock, the latest Android SDK and an updated USB driver are required. The fastboot tool in Android’s SDK is used to communicate with the bootloader. Once a connection is established, the unlock key provided by Sony Ericsson is supplied to fastboot.exe, which triggers the bootloader unlock. With several smartphone manufacturers moving to stricter bootloader security such as Motorola and HTC, we hope that other OEMs will join the bandwagon and provide a bootloader unlock in the future.