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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

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UnbelievablyScrewed
Jun 20 2012 12:51 PM

I'm relieved that I didn't buy it now...


Amen to that brother. Now I'm seriously considering a windows phone since I don't see anything on Android that is really impressing me anymore :/. I thought the OSD would give me the same fun hacking experience that the OSF did. Bad move Orange... you're only thinking about your gain.
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glossywhite
Jun 20 2012 12:57 PM
Don't wimp out guys, be patient... hold onto them, you're being hasty.
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Anyone want a mint Orange San Diego, in box with everything it came with? But yeah, this is disappointing. When my paypal account activates, I might bid goodbye to the OSD. If Paul's leaving the effort, I don't see the phone moving on from here..
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Amen to that brother. Now I'm seriously considering a windows phone since I don't see anything on Android that is really impressing me anymore :/. I thought the OSD would give me the same fun hacking experience that the OSF did. Bad move Orange... you're only thinking about your gain.


If you want hacking I wouldn't get a wondows phone
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what a bummer...
I'd bouy the phone, but without hacking it's no use for me... I never owned a smartphone that wasn't hackable!
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This must be what it's like to own an iPhone :)
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UnbelievablyScrewed
Jun 20 2012 01:38 PM

Anyone want a mint Orange San Diego, in box with everything it came with? But yeah, this is disappointing. When my paypal account activates, I might bid goodbye to the OSD. If Paul's leaving the effort, I don't see the phone moving on from here..


I'll take it for free :P
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UnbelievablyScrewed
Jun 20 2012 01:40 PM

If you want hacking I wouldn't get a wondows phone


True... but I'm so upset by this! Didn't think my orange theory would actually be true :(
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glossywhite
Jun 20 2012 01:59 PM
Guys... where does negativity get us? You're losing focus, with all respect. Imagine you sell it, and a week later someone says "I found a way to unlock the bootloader", or some developer "leaks" the solution, as with the Monte Carlo... you are going to be MORE fed up, then.

Just have a few weeks patience... something will transpire... I am confident. Negativity distracts from progress... don't LET it. Okay, it MAY all end up futile, but nothing ventured, nothing gained... right? And it's not as if it has been out 3 months and THEN abandoned... come on guys, that's not the hacker spirit!!!

:D God bless you all - I'm still getting mine (eventually) and gonna work HARD on this!!
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This is disappointing, going to save for an s3 instead.
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glossywhite
Jun 20 2012 02:47 PM
Keep at it, I am
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but nothing ventured, nothing gained... right?

I have ventured a lot of time on this with limited progress and unfortunately can't commit any more effort to it. :(

P
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Paul,

Everyone here appreciates your work and personally completely understand your "frustration" with this, which, if I dare to take a guess, was the doing of mostly Orange. However, and please accept my apologies for insisting on this, would it not be worth reaching out to Intel directly and making a case? Orange is after all famous for being, well, rather useless.

Thanks
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Paul,

Everyone here appreciates your work and personally completely understand your "frustration" with this, which, if I dare to take a guess, was the doing of mostly Orange. However, and please accept my apologies for insisting on this, would it not be worth reaching out to Intel directly and making a case? Orange is after all famous for being, well, rather useless.

Thanks

In this instance it's really only worth speaking to Orange, as there's zero chance of Intel doing anything not via them (speaking from experience!)

P
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glossywhite
Jun 20 2012 03:41 PM
Many hands make light work. Something that one person, working alone, may never consider, could suddenly spring to mind, to another!

Come on guys - let's not leave Paul to do all the hard work - let's get together and use our collective gifts and intelligence that God has given us, and free this thing from the shackles of the corporation. The effort is going to be well worth it, I know it. I for one, will not let this go yet, and I hope other like-minded individuals will join me.

@Paul - tell me more about kboot, and what exactly is involved in a "locked" bootloader, as I am new to this area of Linux, but I am a very fast and proficient learner :)

Thanks
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In that case it is safe to say there is very little hope. I guess Orange will be punished for this the very same way they were punished with the Monte Carlo and SFII i.e. low sales.
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iam_smithers
Jun 20 2012 03:48 PM
Disappointing but I wont be getting rid of mine. I honestly don't care about lack of root access since I didn't really use it for anything on my San Francisco and never managed to root my Monte Carlo. Similarly, I can more than manage on the internal storage, am yet to see this terrible battery life everyone keeps bemoaning and it does everything I wanted it for. So if anybody is keeping theirs too, I'll still be around here a bit.

Still, Orange has shot themselves in the foot since power users wont be interested in the phone any more and they have lost themselves a fair bit of business now. Don't see the G300 as anything like an alternative though, it's vastly inferior all round (well, except with root access, but as stated above I don't really care about that).
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Thank you Paul for all your hard work and effort, just got my my PAC code and will be returning when this arrives. I was paying £20.50 on orange so this with free insurance is a no brainer. Now where's the SIII unlocker forum :-)
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UnbelievablyScrewed
Jun 20 2012 04:02 PM

Many hands make light work. Something that one person, working alone, may never consider, could suddenly spring to mind, to another!



This is a totally random question glossy... but are you African? :mellow:
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glossywhite
Jun 20 2012 04:07 PM

This is a totally random question glossy... but are you African?


Nope, but I have Kenyan family - cousins :D

I'm as white as A4 paper... why did you ask?

Blessings :)
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UnbelievablyScrewed
Jun 20 2012 04:13 PM

Nope, but I have Kenyan family - cousins :D

I'm as white as A4 paper... why did you ask?

Blessings :)


Just that your sayings pretty much read African accent to me. Probably because most people who talk like you around me are... But I really love your optimism! :D

Paul you did a terrific job with keeping up with this. Bravo sir!

I keep saying I want to learn how to hack really well but haven't even gotten around to learning the basics... If I knew how to I would join #teamglossy
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Iphone's are alot more hackable compared to the OSD. Havent you heard of Cydia?
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scuzzbucket
Jun 20 2012 04:20 PM
Well colour me disappointed. Now the hunt resumes for my next device. Still, it means I have £200 slush fund now. Might still get one in a couple months if there is a significant price drop.

@glossywhite - have to admire your positivity. Wish you well in your efforts.
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Iphone's are alot more hackable compared to the OSD. Havent you heard of Cydia?

that's genuinely scary... an iPhone!!! More hackable than my phone??? @ glossywhite good luck :)
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glossywhite
Jun 20 2012 04:27 PM
I see no relevance of the iPhone being mentioned. Many things are easier, but let's keep on-topic, with all due respect :)
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