Yesterday as Google and Motorola announced the new Moto X smartphone, somehow there was some confusion regarding the bootloader being locked down tight. We indeed heard the same thing from Moto, and they made sure to mention unlocked developer editions would be on sale from Motorola.com. However, today Moto's VP of product management is clearing the air once and for all.
For those asking what the big deal is here, an unlockable bootloader allows developers to dive in head first into the phone and software, and allows us modders and Android enthusiasts to flash custom ROMs and make the phone our own. Motorola is notorious for locking their devices down tight, as is Verizon, and apparently nothing has changed. Well, mostly nothing.
The Moto X will have a locked bootloader, but it sounds like Moto will be taking the same approach as HTC and others by allowing us to easily unlock it with their unlock my device site. Moto's own VP of product management Pinut Soni simply states it will be "unlockable" but doesn't go into details exactly as to how. So maybe it won't be locked too tight. But then the sad Verizon news appears. Here's what he had to say over on Google+.
Perhaps this got missed in the launch hullabaloo ...
Moto X on the Sprint, US Cellular, Rogers and T-Mobile networks will have an unlockable bootloader, and in addition, we will be offering a Verizon Wireless Developer Edition and a general North American Developer Edition."
In case you noticed, he doesn't mention AT&T, which is a carrier like Verizon who'd rather the manufacture lock down the bootloader tight so we can't tinker with things. From what we gather, the AT&T model won't be unlockable, but that "North American Developer edition" will work with both T-Mobile and AT&T GSM, to solve that problem. Then of course they'll have a dev flavor with Verizon 4G LTE and CDMA radios included.
The phone isn't any cheaper, and it didn't suddenly get a quad-core (as if that even matters) but at least we have some clarification on what to expect as far as hacking and tweaking the new smartphone.