Dan Rosenberg, a well known Android hacker and tinkerer posted a photo this morning showing the AT&T Galaxy S4 with a message ont eh screen showing,
“Samsung Galaxy S4 bootloader hacked by Dan Rosenberg (@djbliss)”
The image doesn’t specifically show any AT&T branding, but Rosenberg’s previous tweets discuss his progress on unlocking the AT&T Galaxy S4 bootloader, so it is clear he is working on this model.
Reversed most of the AT&T Galaxy S4 bootloader. Design seems solid, I don't expect it to be unlocked except by leak or key mgmt mistake.
— Dan Rosenberg (@djrbliss) April 28, 2013
For now there are no details about how he was able to unlock the Galaxy S4 bootloader, but it is expected that Rosenberg will create a free AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 bootloader unlocking tool.
Recently he created a Bootloader unlock for the Motorola Droid RAZR HD, RAZR MAXX HD and other RAZR devices running Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. Users can download the tool tool and run it on Windows or Mac.
Ideally Rosenberg will release an AT&T Galaxy S4 bootloader unlock with similar instructions. We may need to wait for the Verizon Galaxy S4 release in late May. It is very likely that Verizon willship the Galaxy S4 with a locked bootloader and Rosenberg may want to wait to deliver a tool that works on both, though this is speculation.
Verizon has a long history of locking bootloaders on smartphones, and while unconfirmed it would be a surprise if the Verizon Galaxy S4 shipped without a locked bootloader.
Sprint confirmed to Gotta Be Mobile that the Galaxy S4 on their network will ship with an unlocked bootloader in a succinct statement, “the bootloader is unlocked for Sprint.”
An unlocked bootloader is different from a SIM unlocked device. Carriers will often unlock a smartphone after it is paid in full or the contract is completed, but this only allows users to go to another carrier. This does not let them install custom ROMS with tweaks and new features. While the average consumer may not care about an unlocked bootloader, users who want to try out new Android features and upgrade to a new version of Android faster will appreciate this news.