The Current State of Amazon Fire TV & Fire TV Stick Rootability

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You may have heard of a new Android vulnerability called Stagefright. It affects most Android devices, including the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, and may lead to a new rooting method in the future. Here is a rundown of the current rootability state of each Fire TV and Fire TV Stick software version, as well as what can and can’t be done with each software version if a new rooting method comes out using the Stagefright vulnerability.

Preface

Software vs Hardware Rooting

This article only covers software rooting. There is a hardware rooting method capable of rooting any software version of the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, but it involves soldering components to the device’s eMMC storage chip, which is beyond the ability of the average person. For this reason, the focus is on software rooting.

Stagefright

Amazon patched the Stagefright vulnerability with Fire TV software version 51.1.6.1_user_516010220 and Fire TV Stick software version 54.1.2.1_user_121065320. These updates began rolling out to devices on July 19th and are currently the latest software versions. If a new rooting method comes out using the Stagefright vulnerability, it is likely that it will not be able to root Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks running this latest software version. Amazon had early knowledge of the Stagefright vulnerability and patched it BEFORE it was publicly announced. It is for this reason why it’s recommended to block software updates and stay on the oldest software version you can bear if you want to maximise your chance of rooting in the future. It is just currently not possible.

Rooting vs Unlocking the Bootloader

Rooting and unlocking the bootloader are two different things. If a Fire TV is rootable, that does not mean you can unlock the bootloader. Unlocking the bootloader is necessary to install ClockworkMod (a custom recovery) and a pre-rooted ROM. There are Fire TV software versions which currently cannot have their bootloader unlocked even if they become rootable in the future. This means that, if a new rooting method is discovered, rooted Fire TVs with bootloaders that cannot be unlocked will be stuck on whatever software versions they are currently running. That does not mean a new method to install pre-rooted ROMs on these Fire TVs will not be found in the future.

Software Version Rundown

Fire TV Versions
  • 51.1.0 (aka 51.1.0.0)
  • 51.1.0.1
  • 51.1.0.2

These are the best software versions for rooting. They are currently rootable and can have their bootloaders unlocked, which means you can install custom ROMs and update them to the latest software version after you root. To learn how to do this, visit the starters guide.

 

Fire TV Version
  • 51.1.1.0

This Fire TV software version is nearly as good as the previous three. The only difference is that it must be downgraded to version 51.1.0.2 before you can unlock the bootloader. This is a minor inconvenience. You can still root this versions, unlock the bootloader, and install a custom ROM using the starters guide.

 

Fire TV Versions
  • 51.1.2.0
  • 51.1.3.0
  • 51.1.4.0

These Fire TV software versions cannot currently be rooted, but are the best subjects for future rooting methods. They contain the Stagefright vulnerability, so a Stagefright based rooting method should work on these software versions. The reason these are the best unrootable versions is because, once you can root these, you should have no trouble downgrading them to software version 51.1.0.2, which will enable you to unlock the bootloader. Unlocking the bootloader means you will be able to follow the starters guide and install the latest pre-rooted ROM. Essentially, if a new rooting method is discovered, these software versions will likely be as moddable as Fire TVs running 51.1.1.0.

 

Fire TV Versions
  • 51.1.4.1
  • 51.1.4.2
  • 51.1.4.3
  • 51.1.5.0
  • 51.1.5.3
  • 51.1.6.0
Fire TV Stick Versions
  • 54.1.0.0
  • 54.1.0.1
  • 54.1.0.2
  • 54.1.0.3
  • 54.1.1.0
  • 54.1.1.3
  • 54.1.2.0

These software versions cannot currently be rooted, but are vulnerable to the Stagefright bug. However, Fire TVs running software version 51.1.4.1 or new can no longer be downgraded due to the eFuse. This means that, even if a new rooting method is released, which can root these software versions, you will not be able to unlock the bootloader. An unlocked bootloader is necessary to install ClockworkMod and pre-rooted ROMs. So, if these Fire TVs become rootable, you will not be able to update them without losing root. It is always possible a new method to upgrade them without losing root will be discovered, but the current method will not work. The same applies to all Fire TV Stick software versions listed.

 

Fire TV Version
  • 51.1.6.1
Fire TV Stick Version
  • 54.1.2.1

These software versions cannot currently be rooted, and are not vulnerable to the Stagefright bug. This means that, if a new rooting method is discovered using the Stagefright vulnerability, it will likely not work on Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks running these software versions.

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7 comments
  1. Some One says:

    For the Fire Stick…where can the necessary hardware for the rooting process be found? Also is there a well written guide on how to do it?
    I’ve watched the YouTube video but it’s not as descriptive as pictures and explanation.

    @AFTVNews
    Have you tried the hardware mod on the Fire Stick? Or would you write a tutorial on it?

  2. n2outlaw says:

    Can you hardware root 51.1.3.0 and then downgrade to a rootable FW for custom roms?

    Can you read this?
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=62238045&postcount=483

    • AFTVnews says:

      I have not done this myself, so I’m not sure, but I believe you can do that with up to version 51.1.4.0. Once you hardware root, you should be able to follow my downgrading guide and downgrade down to 51.1.0.2 and then isntall custom ROMs.

      • YOgun27 says:

        Can AFTVnews or someone else walk me through the downgrade step of the starter’s guide? I have rooted my Fire TV from the beginning and blocked updates. Therefore, I am still on 51.1.1.0_511070220 attempting to downgrade to 510058520. I want to do this in order to unlock bootloader, and get pre-rooted rom. I think this is necessary, with the Stagefright news. Please help.

  3. Alex says:

    http://www.cydiaimpactor.com/

    will this give any hope to a possible root for the AFT?

  4. Robert says:

    51.1.6.1_user_516010220 is still vulnerable
    checked with Stagefright Detector from Zimperium INC.

  5. David says:

    Anybody know if the fire tv sticks shipping from amazon as of September 2015 are running firmware that can unlock bootloader?

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