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This will probably not be done in practice, but I like hypotheticals.

I believe that when you flash a custom recovery on a bootlocked device the stock recovery will just be flashed back on reboot. This is because stock ROMs have a backup image of the stock recovery. But what happens when you flash a custom ROM without touching the stock recovery? I doubt it can be flashed back.

I can think of two ways to flash the custom ROM: 1) fastboot 2) boot into a non-flashed custom recovery image (using fastboot), then use that to flash the ROM. What will happen if either method succeeds in flashing the custom ROM on a device with a locked bootloader?

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Yes, with root it is typically possible to edit/remove/replace the image that is restored by the bootloader and thus prevent the ROM/recovery restoration. Whether that is done with a custom ROM or not isn't actually relevant. I've done something similar (editing the script that verifies/installs the recovery) on my Dell Streak with stock firmware; check out this answer.

Of course, it's always possible for the bootloader to refuse to boot the phone after you do this, though I don't know offhand of any that are that strict.

  • So typical bootloaders don't care if you hack your stock recovery. Probably because they were designed with the assumption that you can't get root to do that. But if you leverage that by using the custom recovery to flash a new ROM/kernel, then the bootloader should notice, right? So do you get a bootloop? a warning? stuck in recovery? – jiggunjer Nov 4 '15 at 0:02
  • @jiggunjer That will completely depend on the particular bootloader. All of those are possible, as is the case where it errors out and just lets you boot anyways. – Matthew Read Nov 4 '15 at 0:09

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