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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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newbornlife
Jun 21 2012 03:18 PM
well, as other said, its highly unfortunate cause it means I will not buy it either :) Go Blade, go G300!
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Oh well I am stuck with mine now,it is on contract ;)
But it is no biggy as ics update is coming later in the year(I wonder if orange will ruin that with bloat too ?)
Back to my g300 for the real stuff I guess,but this is still a worthy device if you are not bothered with root & custom roms.
Just wish there was a way to get rid of bloat without root then I would be more than happy,but the only option I see here is to use a launcher that can hide apps,so you can just forget about them.
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glossywhite
Jun 21 2012 03:38 PM
A lot of negativity... so here is something to cheer you all up, whilst I crack on with seeing what needs doing :)

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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.


I actually quite like the OMC as the screen is about the right size and the design is very cool even though it's a bit big for my pocket, it's just a pity they didn't use an A8 processor on it and stick an 8 mp camera on it. Plus a forward facing camera so the world can view my bed hair early in a morning.
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glossywhite
Jun 21 2012 04:14 PM

I actually quite like the OMC as the screen is about the right size and the design is very cool even though it's a bit big for my pocket, it's just a pity they didn't use an A8 processor on it and stick an 8 mp camera on it. Plus a forward facing camera so the world can view my bed hair early in a morning.


It's a great phone, apart from dust under the screen (had it on 4/4 Monte Carlo handsets).
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Well the Monte Carlo will be the paradise to ROM developers .

But i hope the bootloader of the OSD will be hackable over time.

And sayin' that someone could develop a virus the spokesman is totally an idiot , when you pay 150 or 250 Dollars/Euros for the device and it becomes obsolete over time , people like me want's the best from the device no matter what method you use to increase it's functionallity
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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.


Co-incidentally I am looking at the HTC HD2 as my next phone, which can run ice cream sandwich.
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Sebastian404
Jun 21 2012 07:25 PM
Someone disappointing (but unsurprising) press statement from Orange.

Orange used to be quite a fun and quirky company, the sort of company who would want people developing interesting apps for their devices.

I guess part of the problem is not so much people rooting devices and swapping ROMS, but more the mad rush of people who want to buy the device on PAYG and then unlock them.. read though the threads on here, and very few people are planning on sticking with Orange.

Telcos these days are not really in the mobile phone business, they all see themselves as 'content providers', they lower the barrier to entry, and make a killing with the monthly charges ,and then all the 'value add' services they push towards you, all those plans and features that are designed to make the telco money.. selling phones, running a Radio network, all that stuff is just a byproduct of providing you a gateway tho their real products.

So really, think about it from Orange's point of view, they have no interested in helping people who will not become customers.
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boristhespie
Jun 21 2012 08:10 PM
They should enable the sd card slot that is there. Purely stupid to knacker it when it exiats. Same with battery. How does allowing flexibility here lose customers? I'm an orange customer. Always have been but having a built in battery is just stupid.
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What do you mean? It is more hackable than the Orange San diego! Not as much as other androids but definitely this phone. Maybe there is still hope for the OSD though...
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Sebastian404
Jun 21 2012 09:04 PM

They should enable the sd card slot that is there. Purely stupid to knacker it when it exiats. Same with battery. How does allowing flexibility here lose customers? I'm an orange customer. Always have been but having a built in battery is just stupid.


The fact that there is a SDSlot in there, probably means its either a late design change (maybe its not all the reliable) OR its more for the service center, maybe to do factory resets..

as for the built in battery... the iphone has one and its not exactly harmed it's sales.
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boristhespie
Jun 21 2012 11:10 PM
The iphone gets away with all manner of lockin as a result of it's market power. Paying 300 quid to change a battery in the latest Apple laptop is not customer friendly.

The OSD is NOT an Apple.

Me personally. On Long out the way and remote trips I like the security of another battery.

Re 10gb storage. Hd video soon eats that up and again long trips without having to resort to a computer to offload photos or video would seem obvious.

Lockdown of hardware removes flexibility.
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boristhespie
Jun 22 2012 02:35 PM
Actually looking at the situation there is a shed load of new devices being announced.

The new Nexus with Jellybean for aound £255 or the new HTC or ZTEs etc.
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Well I'm disappointed by this but not surprised really :(

Good job I didn't buy one of these phones. Maybe I'll get a G300 instead.
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iam_smithers
Jun 22 2012 03:41 PM

...

I guess part of the problem is not so much people rooting devices and swapping ROMS, but more the mad rush of people who want to buy the device on PAYG and then unlock them.. read though the threads on here, and very few people are planning on sticking with Orange.

Telcos these days are not really in the mobile phone business, they all see themselves as 'content providers', they lower the barrier to entry, and make a killing with the monthly charges ,and then all the 'value add' services they push towards you, all those plans and features that are designed to make the telco money.. selling phones, running a Radio network, all that stuff is just a byproduct of providing you a gateway tho their real products.

So really, think about it from Orange's point of view, they have no interested in helping people who will not become customers.

Especially since they can't be making all that much for the phone, if anything. Its incredibly heavily subsidised to get it down to £210. They were never going to make the same error they made with the Blade (well, error to them at least), where they sold a cheap phone and made pretty much nothing on it and then lost all their potential business to other networks. I wouldn't be surprised to see future Vodafone mobiles being a bit more locked down to be honest, unless a significant number of people who bought the G300 are staying on Vodafone, which seems unlikely.

The networks care first and foremost about making money, as they really have to, and aren't particularly concerned if doing so means that some people who like modding their phones (who represent only a fraction of their business) won't be buying phones from them.
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Sebastian404
Jun 22 2012 05:53 PM
An Intel Rep asked me for my feedback on the SD today, I told him about my displeasure at the locked of Bootloader and not being able to get root, and all those issues with Apps that require root. And how as a developer I'm not motivated to work on the device.. also how I'd not buy one till it was resolved (lies), to be fair to the guy he wrote it down and promised to give it in feedback.

He also mentioned a date of November for the ICS update, and very interestingly said Orange had sold 500 devices in the first 2 weeks, and they where more than happy with that, since it's a new device from an unknown company (in the mobile sector). There's going to be a big marketing push over the next few weeks.


To put those figures into some context last week I was talking to a girl in one of the flagship stores and she told me footfall (people going into stores) is really low over the last few weeks, and at about 4pm on a saturday, she'd only sold 1 phone.
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Sebastian404
Jun 22 2012 05:54 PM
It's also worth mentioning that Intel have Reps in every Orange store for the next few weeks... if your bored go into store, express lots of interest in the device and then mention the locked bootloader and lack of openness as the ONE THING that is stopping you from buying one.


Also, I did not tell you to do it,
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I might go and have a look and a play on Sunday nosey around for an Intel rep too. See how much i like it and if it will be worth waiting possibly 5 months for ICS... Or if i should just pay the same amount of money for a slightly inferior Huawei Honor and have ICS NOW.
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I might go and have a look and a play on Sunday nosey around for an Intel rep too.


I will come with you frankish,I got a big real of duct tape in the shed :lol:

I think you should get one but only if you got a root device too,mine comes in the morning :)
No root is a real pain,but this device is an absolute steal,and I think there is always a possibility of bootloader being cracked or inside help coming to the rescue.This device with root would be the blades successor.
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Could go into the Northampton store with n4y4nrules and raverrr, or take a trip to the Milton Keynes flagship store
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I will come with you frankish,I got a big real of duct tape in the shed

I think you should get one but only if you got a root device too,mine comes in the morning
No root is a real pain,but this device is an absolute steal,and I think there is always a possibility of bootloader being cracked or inside help coming to the rescue.This device with root would be the blades successor.


That's the problem, i'm such a nice guy once i buy a new phone i'm giving mine to the mother! So if i got an SD it would be my only device at least for now...
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glossywhite
Jun 22 2012 09:56 PM
@frankish - remove smilies from quotes - they mess up - didn't you check it after posting?! LOL!
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That's the problem, i'm such a nice guy once i buy a new phone i'm giving mine to the mother! So if i got an SD it would be my only device at least for now...


Ah that is a tough one then,maybe the honor would be better,which is a very good device too.
I also give my devices to family,my blade went to my sister,and skate to my mother,but g300 is going nowhere unless my o.s.d gets a lucky break.
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Only thing is Honor 512mb ram OSD 1GB, Honor has no NFC, lower res....damn why did Orange make this soooo hard!!!
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Only thing is Honor 512mb ram OSD 1GB, Honor has no NFC, lower res....damn why did Orange make this soooo hard!!!

I know it makes me want to cry :( the osd has so much potential and orange screw it up,or maybe it is intel who locked it down?
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