Android is a very powerful platform, partly thanks to its flexibility and openness. But in some cases, that openness starts at the process called bootloader unlocking. A process that is generally frowned upon by device makers but loved, nay demanded even, by power users. Trying to buck the trend and appeal to its US fanbase, ZTE has announced that it will allow owners in the US to unlock the bootloaders of their Axon Pros or Axon 7’s. But only upon explicit request and with a big fat warning about voiding warranties.
ZTE’s statement came after a flurry of complaints were hurled against it regarding its bootloader unlocking plans, specifically for the ZTE Axon 7. Earlier, ZTE Community Manager Peter Shih shared that the company was working on trying to make the smartphone’s bootloader unlockable. However, at launch, that claim was shown to be false and customer representatives were apparently singing a different tune. Shih would later refute those and say that bootloader unlocking is still coming.
And come it did and now those in the US can indeed unlock their Axon’s bootloaders for whatever purpose. The process, however, won’t be as straightforward or without consequence. Unlike other OEMs that simply let users unlock their devices willy-nilly, users will have to fill up a form to request for it. But like almost all OEMs, with a few exceptions, ZTE warns owners that unlocking the bootloader voids their free warranty.
That latter part is what has some Axon owners still dissatisfied, citing some brands, like OnePlus, who similarly offer unlockable bootloaders without the caveat. Then again, ZTE isn’t alone in this practice, so it will probably hardly matter at this point. Although some do see unlocking bootloaders and similar activities as simply software processes, the final effects could actually affect hardware in the long run as well.
So why bother? Most Android users will probably live their lives without going through the process, but being able to unlock the bootloader does have its benefits. It opens up the device to Android ROMs and developers, and some publicity on that front probably won’t hurt sales either. But more importantly, it would implicitly give the device an assurance of longevity, with users able to install ROMs and updated versions of Android long after ZTE has stopped supporting it.