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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

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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

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glossywhite
Jun 22 2012 10:03 PM
One question:

Apart from Paul, who on here actually has any REAL, in depth, low level Linux & terminal hacking knowledge? I am not being sarcastic, merely trying to ascertain whether most people are just following Paul's tutorials and training muscle memory, or do lots of you actually have in depth knowledge of bash commands? Flashing is easy, but how many people actually have experience with low-level hex editing, NV items etc... as it's impossible to judge skills, as I know noone on here, in real life.

The reason I ask, is that not many people, save a select few, seem to do the modding on here. It seems many people nod in agreement and mention helping... Oh, I dunno... can't explain myself...

:)
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Urgh turns out the Honor only has an Adreno 205 too...

On the "hacking" side the facts are pretty much laid out, the bootloader is locked down, it has some sort of checksums so can't flash non signed official images and hex editing will break the signatures and possibly result in a brick.
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Checksum :wacko: sounds like they really dont want us messing about to me.I watched a youtube video about OSD and the intel guy was making a big deal of the security of customers with this device,so my guess is that intel have locked it down not orange,as they dont know there head from there arse really.
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glossywhite
Jun 22 2012 11:01 PM

Urgh turns out the Honor only has an Adreno 205 too...

On the "hacking" side the facts are pretty much laid out, the bootloader is locked down, it has some sort of checksums so can't flash non signed official images and hex editing will break the signatures and possibly result in a brick.


Yes... for now

This reminds of me of when, back in 2002-2003, lots of people over @ thissitesucks.org were confidently *stating* that "Oh, DCT3 calculators are impossible - it just doesn't exist, because... <blah blah>" - and whaddayaknow - a few months later, a DCT3 unlocking calculator came along.

Yes, it's locked... for now. A locked bootloader is just a challenge awaiting a solution, as is any problem. I don't see fear or "impossible", just because the masses run and hide at the slightest hint of something being difficult - it IS NOT "impossible", but yes - it is hard, but isn't it worth it? YES!
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@glossywhite,what kind of methods do you have in mind here exactly to crack bootloader I would like to hear some of your ideas ?
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glossywhite
Jun 22 2012 11:37 PM

@glossywhite,what kind of methods do you have in mind here exactly to crack bootloader I would like to hear some of your ideas ?


I've no idea until I see it - I have never unlocked one, but I learn fast... and faster with the thing here. :P
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You have never unlocked one before so what makes you think you can do it when paul who is experienced at this cannot ?

Not saying you cannot possibly do it as I know nothing of you really or paul for that matter,just interested as to what you think you can do.

But as you are saying you do not know until you get the device,it does not put much confidence in the would be donater.
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glossywhite
Jun 22 2012 11:57 PM

You have never unlocked one before so what makes you think you can do it when paul who is experienced at this cannot ?

Not saying you cannot possibly do it as I know nothing of you really or paul for that matter,just interested as to what you think you can do.

But as you are saying you do not know until you get the device,it does not put much confidence in the would be donater.


I am autistic, and a lateral thinker. I work best alone, hacking. I cannot quantify my thought processes, but I am a Christian, trustworthy guy. Check my ebay "mfoo6672", ask Paul.

Talking of Paul, okay - he can't do it... so? Remember, as clever as he is, he's just a guy, and with totally different life experiences, thoughts and knowledge to someone else. That means nothing, moot argument. Maybe he still will... maybe I will... or maybe this small "risk" people won't take, means noone will ever know.

My other work:

1/ Helping, and discovering the QCN backup process for OMC

2/ ---> http://www.the-screa...ms/t31206.html?

3/ LOTS more... http://youtube.com/unlokia

4 ---> http://www.the-screa...ums/t22658.html
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massive fail...

maybe when they see how bad this phone fails they will learn...

its a shame because development on this phone would of been a massive help with any other Intel based phones...
bad move for your fist android device intel...

who ever attempts to unlock the bootloader is going to be doing a lot of bricking..
hope they have this kind of money to throw away...
i don't think its worth the risk, would rather wait and see if Intel change there mind (when the phone fails to sell)
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I am autistic, and a lateral thinker. I work best alone, hacking. I cannot quantify my thought processes, but I am a Christian, trustworthy guy. Check my ebay "mfoo6672", ask Paul.

Talking of Paul, okay - he can't do it... so? Remember, as clever as he is, he's just a guy, and with totally different life experiences, thoughts and knowledge to someone else. That means nothing, moot argument. Maybe he still will... maybe I will... or maybe this small "risk" people won't take, means noone will ever know.

It can't be such a big deal, if NOONE is willing to spend... or "risk", £5 - the price of two beers, on it. Wow...

People like me, don't mind doing this - we enjoy it - but it is really disheartening when NOONE is willing to even toss you a few pound coins, and yet, they expect everything to, eventually, be solved for no cost. It would be polite (not meaning you) if at least a COUPLE of people considered the people behind the scenes, and how they give time away with almost no thanks or a token gesture... not that it's *expected* or needed, but noone even considers that a donation could brighten someone's day, and encourage them, and it's a really sad reflection on modern society - self-indulgent, self-interested.

I *want* to help, but I am unemployed, and unable to claim benefits... hacking is my passion! Have faith!!

:)

My other work:

1/ Helping, and discovering the QCN backup process for OMC

2/ ---> http://www.the-screa...ms/t31206.html?

3/ LOTS more... http://youtube.com/unlokia

4 ---> http://www.the-screa...ums/t22658.html


Glossy is a very good hardware hacker, he has no problem dismantling to check for test points and loopholes.

Glossy, you got a donation link?

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massive fail...

maybe when they see how bad this phone fails they will learn...

its a shame because development on this phone would of been a massive help with any other Intel based phones...
bad move for your fist android device intel...

who ever attempts to unlock the bootloader is going to be doing a lot of bricking..
hope they have this kind of money to throw away...
i don't think its worth the risk, would rather wait and see if Intel change there mind (when the phone fails to sell)


the phone is not failing to sell, they sold 500 in two weeks since Orange launched it, and that's before the mass advertising has got under way.
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TouchyAndalou
Jun 23 2012 10:21 AM
I think this phone will sell. The majority of everyday customers don't have a clue what a bootloader is or what root access does, so it's not going to be an issue for them.

Also, Orange's advertising campaign looks like it could be a success, pushing the Intel name and the speed of the device. They were on the front and back pages of the Metro last week saying: "Our fastest smartphone ever". Of course, the fine print indicates that "our" means compared against other Orange branded handsets only, but a number of people will see stuff like that and think, "OMG, faster than a Galaxy SIII!!"
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With or without rooting this device will be popular with its high specs for a mid device price.And as has been said in the past,the most customers are the average users,us modders are a small portion of there sales.
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It is ok saying this,but how many times must this be repeated ? the chances of you bricking it will be high!

I've bricked 2, although I just about managed to recover 1!

As soon as you try and modify ANYTHING it has a fit. ;-)

P
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Ok so I arent a hacker and only know how to follow simple instructions but... the last phone i had the moto defy had a locked bootloader and yet there are loads and loads of hacks and roms for it. In fact in one way having the locked bootloader is a benefit because it means the phone is virtually indestructible.

So with this in mind why cant the same be true for the orange san diego? Like i say i dont know much but i am sure an exploit was found that allowed some cleverer people than I to install a modified custom recovery and from there on in it has been gravy all the way.

Too be honest if this phone fails it wont be because of the locked bootloader it will be because it is an orange exclusive. Most people couldnt care less about the locked bootloader or even know what one is. hell i dont and i like to tinker with my phones. they do care that it wont work on their network though and i think if intel have made a mistake it is by signing some sort of exclusive deal with orange.

Anyways if the phone gets the sort of development that has made the defy such a fun a phone to play with then i will buy it bootloader locked or not. if it doesnt then its no big shakes its only a phone at the end of the day albeit a half decent mid ranger but still just a phone.
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glossywhite
Jun 23 2012 01:39 PM

It is ok saying this,but how many times must this be repeated ? the chances of you bricking it will be high!


Chance, not certainty. Anyhow, I am unwilling to sit here debating "the chances of bricking". How do you know I won't think of something *none* of you considered? You don't, no offence to anyone.

I'm buying one soon; we'll see...

[EDIT]

As everyone seems to have become distracted by rooting, flashing etc... has anyone considered cracking the SIM lock, to allow this to be used on other networks? That would be a start, instead of wasting time complaining about the bootloader.

I'm up for that... get it started, guys - you have the handset - I don't *yet* ...
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I've bricked 2, although I just about managed to recover 1!

As soon as you try and modify ANYTHING it has a fit. ;-)

P


That is worrying :wacko:

Intel are making a big deal about security with their devices and one of those risks to them is android hackers I guess.With android hackers in mind,they made the bootloader unhackable based on the known methods of android hackers,which they of course must have studied in depth,just a theory,but sounds credible.

@glossywhite,sim unlock would be good in the mean time,but where would we start? I have no real knowledge in hacking things,and certainly wont be taking risks on my device,as right now my g300 is in repairs till next week for testing for a dev which resulted in brick,and I dont mean soft brick,as I know how to recover a device from that.When the device shows no sign of life at all and is not even registered as a usb device or detected with adb devices,it is safe to say goodnight.
The guy at orange today was scratching his head,all he could come up with is plug a charger into it :lol:

Oh and I dont have my OSD either.Went to store to collect today,and some jobs worth told me I cannot have it without photo ID ?
So after several minutes of raised voice I went home and rang orange after care,and they said that photo ID is not needed at all and sounded puzzled why they would ask for it. :angry:
So I still have no device till I am back in town on monday for round two with orange.
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glossywhite
Jun 23 2012 02:10 PM

That is worrying :S

Intel are making a big deal about security with their devices and one of those risks to them is android hackers I guess.With android hackers in mind,they made the bootloader unhackable based on the known methods of android hackers,which they of course must have studied in depth,just a theory,but sounds credible.


You've just talked yourself into believing this is "unhackable". If one man designed it, who's to state that it's "unhackable"? Another man, or team, can crack it... it will just be hard, but so what?
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Nothing is unhackable. :-)

P
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I have not said it is not hackable,but I do believe it was intended that way with extra attention to it,and also believe this will be a much harder job than the average bootloader.
I do not have the skills to do it,and it seems few are interested in this device now,so it is hard to remain positive.

I am willing to help with donations here as long as who takes up the challenge where paul left off has a good knowledge of recovering a brick,as it would all be for nothing if the project device bricks,and from pauls studies/experiments we know that this device does not like to be messed with.

@Glossywhite,or whoever is thinking of giving it a pop,why not set up a topic dedicated to this,with the donate details in that post?
(if that is allowed,sorry if I am breaking a rule suggesting this)
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glossywhite
Jun 23 2012 02:34 PM

I have not said it is not hackable,but I do believe it was intended that way with extra attention to it,and also believe this will be a much harder job than the average bootloader.
I do not have the skills to do it,and it seems few are interested in this device now,so it is hard to remain positive.


Try! :D

You haven't been sentenced to 50 years in jail - it's a mobile phone, LOL!
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Try!

You haven't been sentenced to 50 years in jail - it's a mobile phone, LOL!


As I said on previous page I have no device now,g300 is in repairs for brick(they wont fix it so will be getting a refurb back) and OSD is still sat in shop till monday as orange are being difficult(as usual) about photo ID which I did not have at the time.

And what exactly would I try when I do not have those skills to do it ? Even paul has bricked two and he knows what he is doing,I would without doubt 100% brick it.
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glossywhite
Jun 23 2012 02:41 PM
@Paul

I would put it to you that the thread title *could* be putting people off hacking this device - would you consider changing it? Many people have the mindset "If Paul says it, that's it - done with" - you know what people are like.

Just my view, thanks :)
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Yeah I think you are right glossywhite,it certainly has made me a little uneasy about it,sorry if I am being to negative ;)
I think it is more because I have only just brick my g300 so I am a little sensitive :lol:

Ok sod it,we only live once,wait,no what am I talking about,I am buddhist,I gotta do this crap many times :lol:
Anyway,I am in do you have paypal ? I cannot donate much,struggling myself.As I said above I suggest making a thread dedicated to this with donate details.
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glossywhite
Jun 23 2012 02:55 PM

Yeah I think you are right glossywhite,it certainly has made me a little uneasy about it,sorry if I am being to negative

I think it is more because I have only just brick my g300 so I am a little sensitive


I understand, and don't you think about it. It's just a phone, after all. I forgive you! :)

One negative thing doesn't affect everything else... as a Christian, I know that negativity and doubt is the devil trying to hold us down, whispering in your ear "you'll never make it, you'll NEVER make it..." - but who cares?! The devil is a LIAR. Who SAYS I can't make it? Where is that written? It isn't!

Negativity and resigning to it and its' related symptoms, is a lack of faith. I'll show you a GREAT video, which explains this further, if this breaks forum rules, someone tell me and I'll remove it... but this DIRECTLY explains how negativity is a LIE, and a LIE about who we are, God's creation (do watch it, even if you don't believe in God - it's a GREAT encouragement):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1SGGTWiIcM
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