Asus releases Zenfone 9 bootloader unlock tool and kernel code

All it needs now is the attention of LineageOS or Paranoid Android

Asus is a brand generally associated with laptops, but its smartphones certainly set their own pace. The latest phone – the Asus Zenfone 9 – includes the formidable Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC and efficient power management. While the Taiwanese company’s ZenUI software skin can compete with stock Android, users who want more options can get it. To make it easier to create and install custom ROMs, Asus opens up the Zenfone 9’s bootloader for unlocking and releases the kernel source code.

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As noted by our friends at sister site XDA-Developers, Asus distributes a bootloader that unlocks APK through its website. Users then need to install the APK and follow the directions provided by the app. As always, unlocking a bootloader will trigger a factory reset — so tinkerers should make sure they have their data backed up or just make peace with losing everything — and void the device warranty. This also means that future updates will have to be installed manually.

All of the above gives way to the fun stuff: the company has also shared the kernel source code for the phone. Developers can use this to create their own custom ROMs. Previous models in the Zenfone series also received a lot of attention from modders and we expect this phone to be no different.

One concern we had about the Zenfone 9 is that Asus offers only two years of OS updates, while similarly priced phones like the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro offer three years of OS updates. That’s the beauty of custom ROMs, though: they pave the way for bringing new features to later versions, as long as the enthusiasm (and development pipeline) for the device is alive and well, long past its expiration date.

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