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I have some beginner's questions for clarifying some concepts in Android phone.

I am using a non-branded phone (ASK SP404) running Android 4.0.3. The Android OS in the phone comes from the manufacturer and it is non-rooted. I could use normal apps from Google Play but not the more powerful ones that need root privilege. Recently, I want to find a way to backup and restore my phone's rom (like Norton Ghost). However, from my previous thread : Could a non-root Android 4.0.3 smartphone's rom be backup?, I know that this operation seems impossible without some serious tweakings of my phone. "Tweaking" involves risks so I want to clarify some concepts before performing such potentially danger tasks.

My questions are :

  1. Does every Android phone has a Boot Partition, a Recovery Partition and a Rom Partition ? (Boot Partition stores the Linux Kernel, Recovery Partition stores the BootLoader and the Rom Partition stores the other Android system and application files)

  2. Is every Android phone's BootLoader locked ? How could I tell whether it is locked or not ? (Supplementary Info : I could go into the Factory Mode of my phone by turning on my device with "power on" + "home" key, the Factory Mode has the following menu items :

    Factory Mode
    Full Test
    Item Test
    Test Report
    Version
    Reboot
    

    It seems that my BootLoader does not let me to backup/update my phone's rom. I can't tell whether it is locked. Moreover, when I enter the "Version" option, the following information is listed :

    IMEI1 : 35958561001666
    IMEI2 : 35958561001666
    S/N code :
    MT012345678901234567
    10
    SW Ver. : HTC_A100_V401
    Custom Build Verno : 1331982298
    

    I am not sure whether this phone has used a HTC A100's firmware rom ! ]

  3. Must I unlock the BootLoader if I want to update my phone with a custom rom (e.g. CyanogenMod) ? What exactly is the meaning of "unlock" ?

  4. Must I unlock the BootLoader if I just want to root my phone to run some rom backup programs such as "romdump", "titanium backup" etc ? If not, would I void my phone's warranty by just rooting my phone ?

  5. I know that the "SuperOneClick" program could be used to root many Android 2.2/2.3 phones. Could this program be used to root an Android 4.0.3 phone ?

  6. If the "SuperOneClick" rooting process fails somewhere along its way, would the failure hurt my phone and brick it ?

That's all my concerns before I would actually perform some serious tweakings to my phone. I am sorry if I have asked too many naive questions and/or I am looking for too much, but I hope the answer(s) in this discussion may be beneficial to other Android tweaking beginners.

Thanks for your attention. Any suggestion ?

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closed as too broad by Dan Hulme, ce4, geffchang, Izzy, Zuul Aug 1 '13 at 11:37

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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you should have asked them individually –  Mohamed Essam Jul 14 '12 at 15:31
    
I just want to show the whole context of my concerns. –  user1129812 Jul 15 '12 at 1:20
    
Our rules are "1 question per post", to keep things clear. At least 5+6 could go to a separate post, as they are a separate issue. #1 is also stand-alone. You always can link to other questions for context. –  Izzy Aug 1 '13 at 9:16
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2 Answers

1 : Yes , Android does have many partitions as mentioned Here

2 : By default it's locked unless you unlock it as mentioned Here

3 : Yes , it must be unlocked as mentioned in XDA-Developers's Flashing Guide

4:

A: No you don't have to

B:It depends on your vendor.

5:Yes, It can as mentioned in XDA-Developers's Root I9100G

6:it might brick your phone but for me it stopped in the middle and it didn't brick.

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3. depends. My Droid2 still has its locked bootloader, but runs CM7.2 (using 2nd init) –  Izzy Jul 14 '12 at 18:53
    
well I used a trusted reference which says in the requirements that it needs an unlocked bootloader. –  Mohamed Essam Jul 15 '12 at 11:08
    
That's the better way, sure. But check the custom ROMs for Motorola Droid (especially CyanogenMod). They first start booting the original kernel, and switch to their own using 2nd init. I was sceptical at first, but it seems to work great -- as I can tell from my own experience on my Droid2 with CM7.2 –  Izzy Jul 15 '12 at 18:53
    
Thanks for the links. The video in the "Answer 2" link describes well the bootloader unlocking concept. –  user1129812 Jul 16 '12 at 1:00
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To answer your questions individually:

  1. Not all handsets have those partitions - Sony has boot and recovery combined into one.
  2. Most bootloaders are locked by the appropriate manufacturer. Some are willing to allow you to unlock the bootloader through their website (check with that first)
  3. Yes, the bootloader must be unlocked, that is to enable the overwriting of the boot loader with a custom kernel, in some cases, see Sony above, if overwriting the boot, you are hosed!
  4. see 3 above.

For 4 and 5, the ICS has a different method of exploiting root unlike previous versions, zergRush is the latest for Gingerbread, as for ICS and later, not 100% sure.

As for bricking, now, let's clear up something, bricking is a wrong terminology to use. The only true way of bricking is, doing a firmware update, and halfway through that process, pull the cable... you're well and truly hosed. By firmware definition, I am not referring to ROM updates mind you, its more of hardware update - think of BIOS updates on desktop pcs, then you're not far off the mark there, such as Radio firmware.

The problem is the word brick has become a common parlance among new beginners to Android and often associated with the 'rooting process', and that's FUD.

Think about it, a brick used to build a wall, that's a brick. Phones can be brought back from the dead so to speak with specialized JTAG cables and stripping down the phone to the circuitary level (some have it accessible to avoid stripping down). That is a hardware-brick - can only happen with the above scenario in firmware update - pull the cable halfway through or even, attempting to do a firmware update when the battery is < 5% and the battery dies, that's another way. That is why it is recommended to have the battery have sufficient charge capacity > 85% prior to doing a firmware update.

Soft brick on the other hand - is commonly associated with boot-loops, incorrect ROM flashing. That is salvageable.

You will know if a brick has happened, phone is dead, no power, not responding with a fully charged battery. If on the other hand, you see a boot logo appear, and responds to power, leds lights on, its not bricked.

That is a very simple but important concept to understand to aid in distinguishing when doing the procedures such as rooting it, updating ROMs.

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My definition of "brick" is related to my phone's manufacturer. As the manufacturer has claimed that they won't support user activities relating to rooting, update recovery and/or update rom, I would recognize my phone as "bricked" when the phone hangs (or could not power on) after I have made changes to its system files. Although the phone may not be 100% un-usable, I would not get any official support and it would appear that my phone has bricked. –  user1129812 Jul 15 '12 at 2:26
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As the manufacturer has claimed that they won't support user activities relating to rooting, update recovery and/or update rom, I would recognize my phone as "bricked" - That is absolute BS and incorrect! No you're totally wrong there, what the manufacturer is saying if you root it, alter it, unlock bootloader and install custom rom, they will not support it! Simples really (who's the manufacturer?) –  t0mm13b Jul 15 '12 at 2:37
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BTW if you have custom recovery, custom ROM your phone is not bricked - it is still WORKING! There are ways to revert it back to the manufacturer's ROM should anything happen - which is pretty common among USA customers who return their handsets back for repair and they hit the panic button and consults XDA or similar forum to find a way to revert back to manufacturer defaults, in the hope of having it repaired without the manufacturer knowing about it despite having a custom ROM or recovery on it and accepting some fault on it. That is pretty common with USA carriers such as Verizon etc –  t0mm13b Jul 15 '12 at 2:43
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@t0mm13b: even a "hardware brick" due to corrupted BIOS update can be fixed by unsoldering the BIOS, replacing it with a spare; because it can be fixed doesn't mean that it is not bricked. A phone is bricked for all practical purpose when it requires specialized tools to restore, i.e. something other than a USB/data cable and a laptop/desktop with widely available software. This is particularly more important for no name manufacturers because knowledge about the particularities of the device are less talked about in the internet. –  Lie Ryan Jul 15 '12 at 10:11
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I could restore the original recovery and/or rom and the warranty is still valid. What you have said is absolutely correct, that is why a lot of USA customers of such carriers revert to stock prior to applying a returns for repair. @LieRyan that is what JTAG is for! Agreed that yes, unknown uncertain manufactures especially cheap chinese smartphones/tablets, are more difficult to deal with because it does not have the mass penetration into the western markets, especially Europe and USA. A case of buyer beware! –  t0mm13b Jul 15 '12 at 14:32
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