It appears that while the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 bootloader will be locked up tight, not all carriers will be following a similar path as Sprint confirmed to Gotta Be Mobile today that its Galaxy S4 is shipping with its bootloader unlocked.
Earlier today, we heard that the Samsung Galaxy S4 for AT&T would be coming with a locked up bootloader, something that wasn’t expected given that the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 bootloaders on AT&T was unlocked. This is important because an unlocked bootloader allows for owners to load up their own customized software, software like CyanogenMod. Without an unlocked bootloader, this type of customization is impossible.
As we’ve seen, the Android community has found workarounds for locked bootloaders in the past, but it’s not a given that the community will be able to find a way around AT&T’s encryption.
And while AT&T’s bootloader is indeed locked and Verizon’s Galaxy S4 will likely come with a locked bootloader as well, there are other carriers that won’t offer consumers similar problems.
There have been rumors swirling around today about which devices will be coming with their bootloader unlocked with at least one claim saying that all Galaxy S4 devices in the U.S. would be coming with their bootloaders locked up tight. However, Sprint has confirmed to Gotta Be Mobile that its bootloader is not locked and that the device is shipping with an unlocked bootloader, something that is great news for those that bought a variant for the Now Network.
Sprint did not elaborate only saying that “the bootloader is unlocked for Sprint.” So this means that at least one variant in the U.S. should allow owners to fully customize their device.
Samsung has seemingly deferred questions about bootloader status to the individual carriers which seems to hint at this being a decision by AT&T and Sprint rather than a decision made by Samsung and enforced by the carriers.