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Orange: San Diego is bootloader locked and staying that way


Following on from our review of the Orange San Diego, we've been looking into the bootloader lock / rooting / security situation including asking for an official line from Orange. This morning, my worst fears were confirmed... the device is completely locked down.

In the words of an Orange spokesperson...

Security of the platform is very important to our customers. The device comes with an OS that is fairly flexible and you can load a large number of apps that don’t impact the ROM on the phone itself. If phones aren’t security locked it’s possible that someone could develop a virus that could cause a large amount of harm to the device and/or personal security of our customers.

One of the features of our devices is the programmable security engine on the platform. This is done to protect the ROM and the boot loader from corruption or from being overwritten. All production devices are secured utilizing keyed encryption.

For these reasons, the San Diego can’t be unlocked, and we don’t have any future plans to offer the ability to unlock it.


This confirms what I have seen in my research to date - the device will not boot a modified boot or recovery image. This also suggests that if we DO get root via an exploit and manage to write the Superuser files to the system partition, the device then may also not boot if the main system partition is being checked too. We have seen numerous Ice Cream Sandwich leaks for the devices (engineering releases with Superuser access), but these do not flash to retail devices, suggesting test devices have unlocked bootloaders and recovery partitions that flash test signed update zips.

This news will be quite a disappointment to those (myself included) who hoped the San Diego would succeed the San Francisco as the enthusiasts phone of choice. Aside from messing around with ROMs and the like, a number of applications I use on a daily basis NEED root access so the phone really isn't for me (to the extent I now have to decide whether to sell it on).

The big manufacturers have learnt now that this isn't the way forward and giving consumers choice is the way to be successful... it seems Orange have yet to learn this (I was going to write 'the networks' but kudos to Vodafone for shipping the Ascend G300 with an open configuration).

A final thought for Orange / Intel... although you've locked down the phone, you haven't done a great job. A user with a basic (dangerous) level of fastboot knowledge can 'fastboot flash' both the boot and recovery partitions, effectively 'bricking' the phone.

About the author

PaulOBrien's Photo
Paul O'Brien founded MoDaCo in 2002 as a site focused on Windows Smartphones and has grown it since then by concentrating on providing a friendly community for both experienced and beginner mobile enthusiasts.

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206 Comments

This is awful, I'd have thought with it being practically a reference design, Intel would've wanted hackers fiddling to get the most out of the x86 architecture to show everyone Intel can, in fact, make a smartphone.

Intel, I am disappoint.
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Damn i think this has sealed it for me, no San Diego. As nice it is for the price point i would have needed root access eventually, even just a glimmer of hope that it could get it. Now i'll have to look at inferior alternatives in the same price bracket or look at more expensive similar phones.
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I thought this would happen. Orange have been increasingly been locking down phones. The OSF was easy to hack and unlock so they decided to make the OMC and OSF2 harder to unlock but the community to unlock. So the OSD is now practically impossible without a lot of effort.
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Isn't the San Diego based on the Lava Xolo X900? If it is, you might be lucky asking the manufacturer for the bootloader!
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its a shame really, the phone is going to have alot of untap'd potential.
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Well back to the Huawei G300 then unless anyone else comes out with a similar bargain anytime soon (ZTE?). By the way is it not worth reaching out to Intel directly and highlighting the issues with this approach?
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Oh god, Intel is doing the same mistakes than Nvidia ...
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Sometimes the actions of companies baffle me. Intel desperately needs to build support for x86 Android and yet they have one reference design, badged by barely known manufacturers, in a handful of markets, shipping with an old version of the OS, and they've locked those devices down.

Hopefully the rumoured Motorola Medfield phone will be better. But if Intel really want to kick-start x86 Android a Nexus device would be even better.
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Sorry if I sound naive, but does this mean that it can't be unlocked to other networks?
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Sending an a few unlocked phones to CM developers would get them noticed for sure.

Well, it would if anyone was able to use what they could create :ph34r:
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Sorry if I sound naive, but does this mean that it can't be unlocked to other networks?


It can be unlocked through orange after 3 months and for 20 pounds. A third party unlock will almost definitely pop up at some point too.

Unlocking simlock and bootloader are two different things.
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So you have to have it for three months before they will unlock it? What a swizz, that's no use to me, so another customer bites the dust. I could live with it not being hackable, especially if they update to ICS later,
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Yes you must own it for 3 months first. It is rather silly
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WearTheFoxHat
Jun 20 2012 10:46 AM
So, after the huge success of the Orange San Francisco, through the modding community, they have released a potential successor and blocked out their main avenue for getting it seen. Nice one Orange!!
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wearthefoxhate - intel had a say in it too - more so than orange i would bet. i really like the sd, but, according to paul, no root means no use of the 'hidden' microsd slot ... i am running out of space, damn it.
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Sometimes the actions of companies baffle me. Intel desperately needs to build support for x86 Android and yet they have one reference design, badged by barely known manufacturers, in a handful of markets, shipping with an old version of the OS, and they've locked those devices down.

Hopefully the rumoured Motorola Medfield phone will be better. But if Intel really want to kick-start x86 Android a Nexus device would be even better.


Agreed, Intel aren't doing themselves any favours and thus this phone will end up with the also rans already forgotten about and never to be modded

Good luck shifting them Orange ;) now the initial rush has gone and the community know it's a dead duck for development work I cant see this handset going anywhere now.

I have debranded mine now, if a unlock method comes out for it at less than £20 I may keep it and use it, on the Orange network I have no use for it especially without root :/
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Almost certainly going to sell mine and focus budget device development on something else.

P
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So there absolutely no hope?
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There is probably a really slim chance still but too high a risk of bricking for people to continue prodding and poking. I haven't been this disappointed since...well I never have been this disappointed.
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Well, we could get a bootloader unlock tool, an engineering bootloader and a way to flash it, maybe a root exploit and it turns out the /system partition isn't checksummed but there's nothing near that atm.

I in fact HAVE an Engineering bootloader in amongst the ton of files I have accumulated working on the device, but no way to flash it.

P
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Okay ... well, i'll keep mine 'cause I really like this devices ... untill a higher grade intel phone will released.

Still keep a little piece of hope.
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boristhespie
Jun 20 2012 11:52 AM
For me its the lack of sd slot thats the main issue. For a phone that can record hd video it will fill in no time. 10gb simply isn't enough space and I like having sd cards handy with appls etc to swap. Also the built in battery is just pish. Again i like carrying a spare on trips whereby charging abilities are rare.

In all good phone. s*** flexibility. My SF's screen appears to have loose connection and is flickering on off so I was looking at this. Not now. I'll wait for the new ZTEs.
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Shame .. was considering this to replace my backup phone - never mind then!
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Well, we could get a bootloader unlock tool, an engineering bootloader and a way to flash it, maybe a root exploit and it turns out the /system partition isn't checksummed but there's nothing near that atm.

I in fact HAVE an Engineering bootloader in amongst the ton of files I have accumulated working on the device, but no way to flash it.

P


Does 'fastboot flash bootloader bootloader.img' not work??

I'm currently hustling trying to 'get rid' of my one
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I'm relieved that I didn't buy it now...
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