[kwlug-disc] Android: rooting and carrier locking

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Mon Jul 30 21:18:22 EDT 2012

Let's take this a little further, and be a bit more generic.

These are questions, not statements. I am certainly not an expert.

Unlocking (sim) lock a phone is using a provided (subsidizing carrier?) 
code, following a manufacturer's procedure to access an internal 
utility, and entering that code there. There is some manufacturer's 
facility within a phone to detect the carrier (type?) of sim card 
present, and limit functionality AND the ability to use the phone with 
sim cards not from the subsidizing carrier's network. Unlocking a phone 
will permit use with other carriers, and probably unlock other 
restrictions, such as the ability to change the branding on a phone. 
e.g. Revert to a manufacturer's logo at startup instead of a carrier's. 
It's possible, perhaps even likely, that other functional limitations 
are in place, per carrier requirements, when the phone is locked. e.g. 
Perhaps (?) restrictions on wi-fi use.

Rooting a phone would be enabling 'root' access / functionality into the 
phone - logging in as root instead of as user. Therefore providing 
access/permission to a greater level of things.

This is different than replacing the internal OS, with, say, a new 
version of Android from git - where, I'm guessing, you're running the 
risk of not using an appropriate version and not having drivers for your 
particular device. e.g. Touchscreen, wi-fi, carrier? I'm thinking this 
would be much like OpenWRT where you want to make sure you have the 
right firmware for your device so it has the appropriate drivers already 
present. [And much like OpenWRT, if you botch it you get the right 
firmware down the next time and load it. i.e. Probably fairly hard to 
brick the phone.]

Each of these 3 are independent of each other.

Unlocking a phone would permit use on other carrier's, IF that carrier 
is using the same frequencies. e.g. At least at one time, Bell and 
Rogers used different frequencies, let alone CDMA / GSM, and Bell wasn't 
using SIM cards. Unlocking an AWS phone doesn't mean it would be useful 
in this area, as carriers don't use AWS frequencies in the K-W area. 
AFAIK. (This gets less absolute since most phones use multiple bands. 
And if you have an AWS carrier's SIM and pop it in when you're in 
Toronto, you're good to go. When you return to K-W pop in the other SIM, 
and get on with your day. Whether this is useful to you is an entirely 
different question.)

Rooting a phone will let you???

Replacing the OS would let you run a stock 'kernel' (Android, I presume) 
removing the cruft the carrier opted to have installed.

In all of this, I'm guessing some level of firmware is never replaced, 
presumably the ability to operate on a network at all, bootloader / 
firmware replacement access, basic hardware functionality, etc.

Have I got any of this correct?

BTW ... this sort of thing extends to other devices as well. OpenWRT et 
al being an example, let alone I run Chdk on my Canon camera - at 
startup the camera loads firmware from the SD card (or, rather, overlays 
on top of it). http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK

On 07/30/2012 08:41 PM, Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 8:06 PM, Adam Glauser <adamglauser at gmail.com
> <mailto:adamglauser at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     Hi all,
>     Despite all the chatter and the excellent presentation recently, I'm
>     still unclear as to how rooting and carrier locks work together.
> Two totally independent things.
> Carrier locking means that you can't do the following:
> - Switch carriers and use the same handset with the new carrier's SIM car.
> - Travel abroad, and use the same handset with a local carrier for
> cheaper local calls and data rates.
>     Is it possible to have a rooted device which is still locked to a
>     carrier?
> Yes.
>     If so, is unlocking as simple as rooting (supposing I pick an easily
>     rootable and/or very popular device).
> No relation of one to the other.
> Rooting allows you to run some class of apps that is not possible
> otherwise. If you don't need one of those apps, then rooting is not a
> necessity.
>     Are there any downsides to unlocking a phone?
> No.
> --
> Khalid M. Baheyeldin
> 2bits.com <http://2bits.com>, Inc.
> http://2bits.com
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