2018 is, unfortunately, turning out to be the year when once developer friendly smartphone manufacturers decided to lock users out of their own devices. It was not that long ago that Huawei moved to block users from unlocking the bootloader on any of the company’s devices. While Xiaomi hasn’t fully stopped users from unlocking the bootloader on their devices, they’ve started to make users wait a month (or even two) for unlocking the bootloader. A one month waiting period isn’t as disappointing as what Huawei did, but it’s still nowhere near as good as Google’s and OnePlus’ approach where you can just use standard fastboot commands.
Last week, we reported that users were facing up to a 2 month (1440 hour) bootloader unlock wait time for several devices, including the recently launched Poco F1. Poco later responded and lowered the wait time to 3 days, but only for the Poco F1. The company says that they have to limit bootloader unlocking because some unofficial retailers install malware or buggy software on Xiaomi hardware and sell them in other markets. While we understand the reasoning behind this move, we wish that Xiaomi would develop a better way to inform potential customers who import their devices that the software they’re running has been modified. Unfortunately, the bootloader unlock waiting period is the solution they’ve come up with, which means that most Xiaomi device users (except for the Poco F1 and the Android One-powered Xiaomi Mi A1, Xiaomi Mi A2, and Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite) will have to wait up to a month before unlocking the bootloader so they can flash an AOSP ROM, root their device, and more.
Xiaomi’s stance in this situation is understandable as they’re trying to keep users secure. But, it’s harming the experience of dedicated, enthusiastic users—millions of whom come to the XDA forums. I hope that locking out users from taking control of their own devices won’t be another trend of 2018, but it’s slowly looking to be the case. We would like to see Xiaomi respond to this situation. We reached out to them inquiring whether the reduction in the waiting period for the Poco F1 would extend to all Xiaomi devices running MIUI, but we did not hear back. If they were able to reduce the waiting time to the still-not-so-perfect-three-days for the Poco F1, they surely they must be able to do it for other devices, too.