Nexus 6P: fuse blows if you unlock the bootloader

Some developers have already received their copy of the Nexus 6P, and discover with amazement the presence of a QFuse. This little “fuse” physics sole purpose of grilling when the bootloader is unlocked. Note to those wishing to start …

For lovers of software changes, unlock the bootloader of a phone or tablet is often the first step. Sometimes it leaves marks by incrementing a counter called virtual eFuse. The death of this virtual fuse is then used by some manufacturers refuse to take over the unit as collateral in some countries. Many Samsung device users remember for example the famous yellow triangle at startup notified the status unlocked bootloader. Nothing much hassle however, it is easy to remove.

For their part, Huawei and Google have gone further, since the Nexus 6P embarks on her QFuse Qualcomm, a physical fuse grid definitively when the bootloader is unlocked. The existence of this QFuse discovered by Vulpix, forum moderator HardwareZone is confirmed by former leaks phone prior to the announcement, where it is possible to see the reference in the bootloader “Qfuse Status: ENABLED”.

One possible barrier to Android Pay

So even if your phone is restored to its original state, the manufacturer may always know that if the bootloader was unlocked one day … but the phone itself is also capable. Also, even in countries where the cancellation of the warranty due to software modification is not really a danger, as in France for example, the existence of the fuse could pose some problems.

Pay for Android for example, contactless payment service Google, protection could be implemented at any time to prevent any transaction if the fuse is not in its original state. However this is where the most pessimistic scenario, Android Pay currently being blocked not only by root, and not by unlocking the bootloader.

A method already used previously

This is not the first time that this type of protection is used. Frankly, the existence of QFuse is almost as old as the Android system itself, and is noted for example the presence of one of them on the Motorola Atrix, released in … 2011.

Where the security is amazing is that she is here on board the Nexus, showing that Google has taken the opposite of its core program. At the launch of the Nexus One, in 2010, the range was an audience of developers, with all that this implies changes (including the bootloader).

Doubts remain

For the moment, the presence of this fuse has been raised, but its exact role has not been clearly defined. We must therefore expect a reaction from Huawei to see if there is really to panic or not.