LG shutting down bootloader unlocking service on December 31st


Earlier this year, LG officially announced that they are exiting the smartphone market. One of the main reasons speculated to be the cause of this exit is the current ongoing chip shortage that has hit the electronics industry, meaning LG could not manage to secure supplies from MediaTek and Qualcomm as these companies give priority to manufacturers like Samsung and Xiaomi who are making orders in much larger scales.

However, despite the exit, LG assured its users that it would continue to provide software updates for some of its newer devices. Now, since this commitment only applied to a few devices, users with older LG devices had no choice but to install custom ROMs in order to experience the latest Android releases on their smartphones.

Despite this workaround being around, for now, LG has published a notice informing users that it is shutting down its bootloader unlock service at the turn of the year.

The bootloader, on an Android system, is a tool that is responsible for loading the operating system. In most mainstream Android phones, the bootloader is normally locked down to prevent unofficial software from being installed. This is because of a variety of reasons including security, and the manufacturers ensuring they have total control over which software you are using so as to target you with ads, or to offer a personalized experience by keeping track of your data.

When the manufacturer offers a way to unlock the bootloader, third party developers can then create and install a different operating system, a modified version of the existing one or a newer version of the existing operating system that may offer different features, remove existing functionalities that are not crucial or a different design altogether.

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LG is one of the few manufacturers that have been giving official tools to anyone who might be willing to open the bootloader of his LG phone. A user could simply request a key to unlock their bootloader. This service however will be cut short on the 31st of December according to the notice published on the Korean company’s website.

The notice says that once the termination process has begun, “all information provided on the website and issuing the bootloader unlock key will not be available”. This will make it very complicated for users who are not technical enough to unlock the bootloader of their LG device and install a custom ROM.

The notice goes further and states that all personal information collected to provide the services will be destroyed. However, the company might still store some personal information for a fixed period of time if it is required by relevant laws and regulations.

LG shutting down its official bootloader unlocking service does not spell the death of LG phones getting custom ROMs. Third-party developers, especially those in the Android scene, are very illustrious and new ways to load custom ROMs should be cropping up in the coming months. The process might not be as convenient as those coming from the manufacturer, but anyone interested in loading custom ROMs already knows this is never a straightforward process.

Editors note:

LG’s move is not new and we have seen this play out before with Huawei. As we anticipate will happen with LG going forward, Huawei shutting down its bootloader unlock service 4 years ago resulted in users finding workarounds from third-party services and anyone wanting to unlock the bootloader on a Huawei device has had options since then. Most recently, a more reliable and open-source bootloader unlock tool for select Huawei devices (based on chipset/platform), PotatoNV, has emerged. Fingers crossed that LG users are just as lucky. For now, if you have an LG phone lying around and want to unlock its bootloader, head over here before it is too late!

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at criskariuki@gmail.com Twitter @KarisNaftaly

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