updated 01:40 pm EDT, Tue March 29, 2011
Sony Ericsson to bring service for custom ROM
Sony Ericsson announced it will allow whom it calls advanced developers to load bootloaders and unlock its smartphones in a secure and legal way. Certain phones shipping later in the spring will get the functionality, including some versions of the Xperia arc, Xperia neo, Xperia pro, and Xperia Play. Some requirements will need to be met, including having a SIM-unlocked phone.
Sony Ericsson said the move was now possible as the company had found a secure technical solution. Sharing the bootloader would violate agreements with Sony Ericsson's partners, opening up their apps and games. Users can tell if their phone qualifies by connecting them to the Fastboot tool in the Android SDK.
Users are warned they may void the warranty if they unlock the boot loader. The modified software may also incur extra charges from Sony Ericsson if it comes in for warranty work. The custom ROMs are not tested by Sony Ericsson and may therefore not work properly with the handset and can even cause overheating.
Sony Ericsson recommends that inexperienced users don't unlock their handsets. The company will launch a web service that will provide an unlock boot loader key after users enter the IMEI identifying the unique phone. More information will be revealed later.
When the service launches, Sony Ericsson will be one of the first firms to allow loading custom bootloaders onto its regular devices. HTC until recently was relatively flexible, but Motorola and most others have locked down their firmware to prevent changes. Google has been the only one to consistently offer unlocked bootloaders on the Nexus One and Nexus S.