The new budget-friendly Chromecast HD from Google has been released and now that I’ve run it through a few benchmarks I’ve started digging deeper into what it has to offer. One surprising aspect of the 1080p Chromecast is that, much like Google’s Pixel phones, the Chromecast HD’s bootloader can be unlocked with the simple flip of an option in its settings.
The 2020 Chromecast 4K does not allow its bootloader to be unlocked by default, which is why it’s surprising that the new Chromecast HD does. It wasn’t until mid-2021 that an exploit was discovered to unlock the Chromecast 4K’s bootloader. There’s no need to wait for an exploit with the Chromecast HD because once you enable developer options, as is done for sideloading, the “OEM unlocking” option is revealed.
Unlocking the bootloader of an Android device allows for full access to the device’s operating system, which is the gateway to installing a custom recovery and/or gaining root access. The fact that the Chromecast HD comes from the factory with this wide open window for low-level system changes should speed up the modding community’s efforts with the device nicely. There’s always the possibility that the OEM unlocking option was left in by mistake and will be removed in a future update, but only time will tell if that’s the case. For the record, my Chromecast HD is fully updated with all the available software updates as of today.
It’s starting to look like Google may have just forgotten to remove the OEM unlocking option and the bootloader actually can’t be unlocked. I haven’t tried to unlock the bootloader yet but Mishaal Rahman on Twitter tells me all of his attempts to unlock the bootloader have failed.