For a while HTC had a reputation of being a company that was (to a certain extent) hacker friendly. Whilst they didn’t openly approve of rooting and flashing neither did they take active steps to prevent anyone from performing such a task.
That notion quickly vanished when the HTC Thunderbolt was released. With a little work the hacking community soon realized that this and other HTC handsets were being released onto the market with locked bootloaders. This made rooting and flashing a very difficult if not impossible process.
This raised a few concerned voices within the hacking community to the point that HTC eventually responded and released their own tool for unlocking the bootloader.
Whilst this was initially welcome news it has been since noted that the process put in place by HTC is far from a one-click solution. HTC also make it very clear that unlocking the bootloader invalidates the warranty on a device. The process involves sending unique handset information to HTC along regarding your handset.
Presumably this information could be used to identify unlocked phones that are void of warranty should they ever be sent in for repair. Caveats aside at least HTC are making it possible to perform this task.
In this tutorial we’ll see how the process works and also look at a third party solution if you don’t fancy sending your information to HTC.
Download the required tools
The HTC method of unlocking the bootloader involves a number of pre-requisites. The Android SDK, the Java Runtime Enviroment and HTC Sync. The HTC Devs website includes links to all of these as well as installation instructions. You’ll also need to register a free account with the HTC Devs website.
Download the RUU file
Once logged in to the website select your device from the drop-down box and click the Begin Unlock Bootloader button. The next page will supply a list of RUU files, download the one that applies to your device and follow the supplied steps to flash it to your device.
The bootloader and identifier token
The next few pages of the website covers the steps required of accessing the phone via the bootloader, setting up the Android SDK files and obtaining the identifier token from your device. This token must be copied and pasted into the website then submitted to HTC themselves.
Check your email
With the token submitted HTC will send an email to your registered address containing the bootloader unlock file. Save the attached file and follow the prompts on the HTC Devs website to apply this using the SDK command prompt. The phone will display a final warning before unlocking the bootloader.
Doing it without HTC’s help
If you don’t fancy using the free tools supplied by HTC (or letting them know that you’re invalidating your warranty) there are ‘less official’ third party alternatives available. Once such tool is the HTC Super Tool details of which can be found here.
Prep your computer and handset
As per the HTC Dev procedure, you will need to have HTC Sync Drivers installed on your computer. On your handset be sure to activate USB Debugging Mode. This can be done by pressing Settings> Applications > Development and then ticking the USB Debugging box.
Download HTC Super Tool
Download the HTC Super Tool. Download the rar file and unzip it to a folder. Locate the extracted SuperTool.exe file and run it. Connect your device via a usb cable and work through the menu to unlock your device.
Extra unlocking options
HTC Super Tool also includes a collection of other unlocking tools that can be easily applied if need be. It’s even possible to ‘De-Sense’ a handset. This disables the Sense UI instead of deleting it and is worth a try with regards to improving the performance of a handset.
Unrooting a device
Unlike the HTC Dev method the HTC Super Tool includes an option to unroot a handset. This option reverses the rooting and unlocking techniques that have been applied to the device. This is useful for when you’re finished with a handset and wish the pass the unit onto another user.
HTC or Non-HTC
So which process is best? The HTC method has been supplied by the manufacturer and is thoroughly documented. The super tool method whilst not being an official solution does offer a quicker fix with more options. Whichever you choose be prepared to backup your user data beforehand.