For as long as bootloaders have been a part of phones, Motorola has been delivering handsets with locked bootloaders. This ensured that developers and modders had very little chance of making any major improvements or changes to the stock ROMS and absolutely no chance for kernel improvement. This is going to change though as Motorola has decided to start releasing handsets with unlocked bootloaders starting with their next Sprint Android phone, the Photon Q 4G LTE set to be released either next week or the week after next.
When it announced the new handset Photon Q, Motorola said that they have worked with carriers in the recent past to preserve network security while allowing unlockable bootloaders on their devices. This moves grants modders and developers a chance to turn Motorola devices into powerhouse or customize them into whole new devices with ease. In the past, Motorola has developed devices with impressive specs but their decision to keep bootloaders locked and lack of development support made them unpopular with many users.
We do not know though whether Motorola has any intention of unlocking bootloaders of previously released devices and releasing them to the public the way HTC did on its HTCdev website or this only applies to devices released from now on. Motorola has developed some devices with high end specs in the recent past, case on point the Droid X2, and it would be a big relief to many if they provided unlocked bootloaders and offer better development support – even if for Android devices only.
What will carriers say, now that even devices on their network will be easily unlockable? Carriers often have a lot of say when it comes to what should be locked and what should be unlocked. Motorola’s new handset, the Photon Q, is being released on Sprint – a more flexible network – and may not cause unnecessary hype on the issue. Verizon and AT&T on the other hand are known for their habits of taking advantage of people and their wallets and might demand locked bootloaders for phones in their networks. We hope that since Google is steering Motorola now, and because Google is a listening company, it will make decisions that will benefit developers and modders from now on.