Original Equipment Manufacturer Unlock or OEM Unlocking is a feature offered in the developer settings of any Android Smartphone. Unlocking this feature would enable you to unlock the bootloader. Therefore, this is the primary feature that you would want to turn on, before getting on to root any android device or installing a custom ROM. Let’s find out on how to unlock the OEM for any smartphone
Whenever you buy a smartphone, the bootloader comes in locked. The manufacturer has installed the operating system in your smartphone after vigorous testings. It is a blend of the user interface designed by the company and the Android operating system which is the base of all smartphone devices. To ensure that no third party operating system is installed on the phone accidentally, they have this prevention installed which is the bootloader.
Whenever the bootloader is locked, you cannot install custom ROMs or tweak the software to your liking. It can be considered even as a safety feature to your device, meaning no accidental installation can happen. With this feature turned off, not only your phone is secure from any malware or unoptimized software but it also ensures that your phone runs on the operating system that it is supposed to.
Why do you need an unlocked bootloader?
Firstly, it can help you to get rid of the unnecessary third-party apps preinstalled on the phone by the manufacturer. It helps you remove the trash apps and make your phone faster. Secondly, it can help you root the phone. Rooting basically grants you administrator access. There would be no restrictions that are set upon your device and you are free to work with anything that you wish to do so. Finally, it helps you to install custom ROMs that many developers like, for example, CyanogenMod or LineageOS.
LineageOS or formerly known CyanogenMod is a free and open-source Android operating system available for various android devices. The beauty of this operating system is that it lets you update your smartphone to the latest version of Android even if your manufacturer has stopped giving updates to the original operating system that the smartphone came with.
If you are really frustrated at how slow your smartphone works, even with a good piece of hardware then this OS is a must to try on and experiment. In addition, the website offers multiple distributions to download tailored for your specific device
What is the advantage of unlocking a bootloader?
Just unlocking the bootloader itself has no meaning. The bootloader is actually like a security wall that prevents unknown operating systems from being installed on your device. It is similar to the “Safe Boot” feature in our Laptops, which does not allow you to install any other operating system without disabling it.
You should only disable it if you wish to do the following:
- Rooting the device:
- Rooting your device would enable you to remove unnecessary bloatware that comes pre-installed on your mobile
- Getting or installing updates faster than the manufacturer
- Rooting your phone enables you to connect with really fast developers who provide you with the latest security patches
- These security patches are very important for any smartphone
- Overclocking or undervolting the smartphone
- Overclocking refers to increasing hardware performance by providing it with more juice i.e. more power to work with. It increases the performance but degrades shelf life
- In some cases, undervolting the CPU would give you better performance than the manufacturer and increase performance to a great level.
- Rooting allows you to create real backups of your phone
- Real Backups mean complete phone backups, not only the apps and settings
- Titanium Backup is a really good piece of application that is used by most of the rooted phone users, to backup their complete data
- Additionally, you can limit the app usage to save battery life and increase performance
- Installing Custom ROMs to customize your preference and experimenting with new stuff to make your phone look, feel and perform better.
What is the disadvantage of unlocking a bootloader?
There are some disadvantages when you unlock your bootloader and tweak stuff. They are discussed below:
- You lose your warranty while installing a custom ROM or rooting your device. Obviously, this is meant to happen if you play around with different operating systems not supported by your manufacturer.
- There are many companies such as Xiaomi which provides you with support even if you root your phone. They provide you with support because they get a lot of data and statistics which is useful for improving devices.
- It is very difficult to find developers that constantly release stable firmware and software updates for a specific smartphone.
- In addition, common problems such as a brick device while rooting can happen which may put your smartphone in a boot loop
How to unlock the OEM in your smartphone?
It is very simple to unlock OEM in your smartphone.
Firstly, you need to open Settings on your smartphone:
Secondly, you need to be in developer mode to unlock the OEM settings. Therefore, scroll down to about phone
Now you need to tap the build number seven times
Congrats! You are now a developer. Now you need to reopen the settings app.
Finally, in the search bar type “OEM settings” or “OEM unlocking” to find the settings which we need to enable
Now tap on the enable option to be greeted with a prompt to enter your password.
Finally, click enable to unlock the bootloader
You have successfully unlocked the OEM option and you can now proceed with the steps to fastboot and install TWRP recovery. OEM unlock would now enable you to unlock the bootloader
Remember to ALWAYS backup your data before proceeding to root your device or installing a custom ROM
Android Threats: Rooting
Rooting your phone requires OEM Unlock to be enabled. However, this compromises the security of your smartphone. Android is no stranger to malware and hackers tend to target Android Smartphones to achieve better results.
There are 1 billion active Windows users, whereas Android itself has two billion users around the world. Therefore, it completely makes sense for a hacker to develop malware that specifically targets Android devices.
Remote Access Trojans
Remote access Trojans or RATs are very popular malware in Android as they help the hacker to leverage some legitimate apps and exploit vulnerabilities within the mobile systems
Trojans are the type of malware that steals information from the host computer and secretly provides a backdoor for the hacker to steal information. Whenever anyone downloads apps from unauthorized websites, trojans arrive with the .apk that you downloaded. They get executed when the app is installed and slowly helps the hacker to take over your phone, steal sensitive information such as credit card info, etc.
Remote Access Trojans are even more dangerous due to the root permission on your device. The rooted phone makes it even easier for the hacker to get administrator control and easily compromise your data
What is vulnerability?
It refers to the weakness that can be exploited by hackers or crackers in a computer system or a piece of code.
For example, If the back door of A’s house has a weaker lock or an older lock, then the thief can break in using that door. The lock, in this scenario, is a vulnerability that the thief can use to break-in.
Similarly, in computers, if a piece of code is weaker to some input then we can term it as a vulnerability.
How to stay safe from RATs?
- Manage App permissions: It is very important that you review, what access or permissions are given to apps. It is very hard to say what you might have missed getting you compromised
- Install Antivirus: Antivirus can run regular checkups of your device and alert you if it finds something very suspicious
- Backup your device: It is very important to keep regular backups of your device. Even if there is no threat of malware, rooting can crash your phone hence it’s better to keep a safe backup
- Install App-Lock: Enable the app lock feature offered in many apps as well as from the system launcher. It keeps your phone safe and encrypted
- Avoid installing unauthorized apps: Don’t perform any action that you aren’t completely sure of. Installing third-party apps is one of them
- Don’t Remove all the system apps: This is a common mistake done by many users, to remove every pre-installed app that comes with your phone
We learned what is an OEM Unlock and how it can be used to unlock the bootloader to root your device. We learned about the advantage and disadvantage of unlocking the bootloader
CyanogenMod has now changed to LineageOS that provides you with free Android operating. It is available to download for various Android smartphones.
Always ensure to enable security measures to make sure that your identity is secure. One small mistake can compromise your data present inside the smartphone
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