If you try to modify your Samsung phone, Samsung turns off the camera?!
That’s the report coming out of XDA Developers this morning. During the confirmation process to unlock the bootloader of the spiffy new Galaxy Z Fold 3, XDA user 白い熊 discovered that a surprising new message appeared on the phone. “Unlocking the bootloader to install custom operating system software will disable the cameras and may cause your phone or apps to stop working properly,” the post reads.
Part of the functionality of a “bootloader” on an Android phone is to verify that the operating system is signed by the company that manufactured the phone so that the software has not been tampered with. Some payment apps (and oddly enough games dealing with cheaters) require this security check to be in place in order to work. Unlocking the bootloader disables this security check, allowing the phone to boot with an operating system compiled by a third party. The Android community has built up a whole world of custom ROMs so you can erase the stock software and install everything on your phone just like you would on a PC.
Samsung’s bootloader message doesn’t lie. Users who have proceeded to unlock the bootloader have confirmed that all five of the Fold 3’s cameras have stopped working. The device won’t break permanently: if you flash the stock Samsung firmware, which allows you to re-lock the bootloader, the cameras will work again. Samsung just won’t allow phone mudders to use the cameras… as punishment? The payment apps have a plausible excuse for turning themselves off (even though people use banking software on “rooted” desktops all the time), but I don’t think there’s any excuse for turning the camera off.
We’ve asked Samsung for comment and will update this article if we hear anything. While this report focuses on the Fold 3, there’s a good chance that this issue will also affect other recent Samsung phones like the Flip 3.
The custom ROM community is always full of new ideas and experiments, and since no one has actually come up with foldables yet, you might think Samsung would want users to experiment with its wild new form factor. After all, Samsung and other manufacturers over the years have not been shy about raiding the custom OS community on Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile for software ideas. Allowing people to experiment has made everyone’s software better, and root-level control has allowed the community to popularize ideas like themes, a quick settings panel, and app permissions long before these features were officially available on devices. It is inexplicable to see the company doing its best to punish modders in this way.
Samsung software would also get better.