Sony refusing hardware repairs on handsets with unlocked bootloaders

by XB on 25th July 2012

in Problems

A number of users are reporting that Sony Mobile is refusing to repair handsets with hardware issues such as the yellow-tint display problem because their bootloader has been unlocked. Some customers who have sent in their handset to Sony have had them returned without repair due to the “illegal unlock” of their mobile. Whilst this is not the case in all regions, it does at least seem to affect those sending handsets to UK and Dutch Sony repair centres.

Re-locking the bootloader before the handset is sent in doesn’t seem to make a difference either as at least one user has reported that the repair was refused as the bootloader was unlocked in the past (we imagine they could tell from the removal of the DRM keys).

As far as we see things, an unlocked bootloader should make no difference whatsoever to any hardware faults (or manufacturer defects such as the yellow tint issue) that may be present on a Sony Xperia handset. Also, this shouldn’t be seen as an ‘illegal’ unlock as most people do it through the official Sony website. By the way, this is what it says before you attempt to unlock your handset via the website:

Please note that you may void the warranty of your phone and/or any warranty from your operator if you unlock the boot loader.

The fact that the statement says that a customer ‘may’ void the warranty creates ambiguity. If the company policy is to flat-out refuse hardware repairs based on the unlocked bootloader then Sony needs to make this much, much clearer to users. If you have had similar issues, please let us know in the comments below. In the meantime, we have asked Sony Mobile for an official statement on this matter.

Thanks Maurice!

  • wyvern

    This has got to be false surely once you own the machine it should make no difference what software is on it. Surely its like buying a pc from dell switching it to linux and dell refusing repairs. What a crock of shit im a sony fanboy but this closemindedness is why i left the iphone. Looks like ill be looking elsewhere when its time to upgrade my xperia s. Disgraceful

  • Sony is still refusing to replace the screen (yellow spots) on my XS because I imported the phone. The phone is out of Hong Kong so I called the Hong Kong service center and was told that they do not take mail in repairs. On top of that I was told that the phone does not have warranty because I did not buy it from an authorized retailer. 
    They will always try to find a way to refuse service. 

  • thats crap! Those guys are entitled for warranty due to sony’s failed quality control.

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  • jx

    well i understand Sony! users should take the risk of unlocking the bootloader and it really void your warranty. If you want your warranty so dont unlock the boot loader and if you have a lot of bucks and dont care about the warranty well just unlock and never ever complain regarding warranty issue. OKAY!!!!

  • Khiem Diep

    I’m pretty sure when you unlock the bootloader, they warn you in a very obvious way (popup screen I think) that you lose warranty. I think even the people at XDA that write the tutorials also warn you. I don’t see why people seem so surprised.

  • Khiem Diep

    Uhm, of course it matters. Software controls hardware. Surely, you’ve heard of overclocking? If they modify the software to make the processor than intended by the company. then of course the company shouldn’t be responsible for what happens to it. 

  • If at August 29th SONY don’t unveil the international version of Xperia GX, then I’ll seriously think about switching to HTC. And actions like this don’t help to stay.

  • goldenblls

    Wasn’t the yellow tint issue caused by the phone overheating?  Could the phone overheating be in anyway related to a software issue? 

  • jx

     Sony is right, you did not purchase the mobile from authorized retailer, i guess you purchase your phone from smuggled goods (a.k.a gray market)for a cheaper price. So dont complaint atleast you have owned Xperia S for 50% cheaper compare to original price with official warranty

  • jx

     no, its hardware issue. If you have that sort of problem sony will replace the unit if you have the official warranty. But i you bought the mobile from non authorized seller well do not expect that they will replace your  mobile

  • jx

     if sony will not unveil any special and high class mobile soon, well i think i will keep eying on Xperia Acro S, i cant find any reason moving away to Sony.

  • rockstar323

    Fairly certain, under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, to void a warranty Sony would have to prove that unlocking the bootloader caused the problem that the consumer was trying to have repaired. Since there are many users walking around with their bootloaders unlocked that will be hard to prove, making what they are doing illegal. It’s similar to when car dealers would try to void warranties because you used an aftermarket exhaust.

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  • Alvaro Aguayo

    They warn you because it can be risky. Not by the bootloader unlocking itself, but for what you can do with the bootloader unlocked. For example, once you unlock the bootloader, you can install a custom ROM or a kernel module to get overclocking, which can cause damage to the processor and other electronic components. On such cases, it would be obvious to refuse a hardware repair(or to charge money for it), as it’s because a bas manipulation of the phone.

    But many users, as me, unlock the bootloader to root the phone, and get more control over the system partition, make some software customizations which do not affect or damage the hardware. On such cases, it would be an abuse from Sony to refuse to replace the screen, considering the hardware came faulty from factory, not by users actions.

  • jx

     Hardware and software problem are covered by the official warranty if you void any of those, your warranty will become invalid. Its just a matter of little understanding.

  • Khiem Diep

    They have no way to know what kind of software you have installed and uninstalled in the time the bootloader has been unlocked. Unless, you want Sony to track your every move. Also, I have not rooted my Xperia S (just got it yesterday) but the process to root my Xperia Arc did not require unlocking the bootloader. That said, rooting the phone will probably void warranty too, as it should. It gives the user access to something that was not intended by the company (such as overclocking). Unlocking bootloader is usually only needed to install custom firmware such as Cyanogen or MIUI and sometimes may provide a way for rooting.

    So yeah, try to look at it from Sony’s side. At the end of the day, they don’t know what you did and didn’t do after you rooted or unlocked your bootloader. They didn’t test for these cases. In fact, you hear this from XDA too, they (XDA users) tell you they do not take responsibility for what might happen to your phone. So there you go, not even those who provided the way for you to root want to acknowledge any responsibility.

  • Khiem Diep

    Technically, it shouldn’t get the yellow tint at all. But overclocking processor or tweaking with certain settings can definitively make the hardware warmer than what Sony tested it on.

  • Steve Blows Jobz

    Fcuked by Sony yet again. Way to go the sinking ship.

  • Sony Mobile is building itself up and sold more smartphones than ever last quarter. IE not a sinking ship.

  • LOL. I paid $700 US for the phone. I did not get it any cheaper than the Sony suggested retail price but I sure wish that it was 50% cheaper. Now the freakn fone is $550 at 
    Should have waited another 4 months. I can buy a iPhone anywhere and the warranty is still valid for a full year after the date of original purchase. That is a good warranty not the crap that Sony Mobile is offering. 

  • M Usman

    tut tut. sony should repair this issue as it is a problem with handsets they have acknowledged and it has nothing to do with an unlocked bootloader. I understand the warranty issue here but they know this has nothing to do with an unlocked bootloader. It took them so long to admit this is an issue and then they expect people after a couple of months to struggle like this, it is embarrassing for any company. I see people here moaning about how customers should know voiding your warranty doesn’t cover repairs. I’m sure we all understand that but this has been an issue since day 1. They should set their egos aside and do what is right for a change. Mine still has a yellow tint issue on both my Xperia S handsets, and after several exchanges, the issue is still there. I haven’t unlocked my bootloader but I was having issues with the Sony UK repair centre saying they aren’t aware of this issue. BullS*it. 

  • M Usman

    it is if it carries on like this. trust me. they’re just being lazy

  • Do you work for Sony? Your comment is based on the official Sony statement but Sony is still slow on replacing the screen even for those with warranty. 
    I have been a big Sony fan for years and still am but how they handled the yellow screen problems on the XS was below any industry standards. Read this and you will understand. 

    There are also several thread on XDA and ESATO of people complaining about the yellow screen issues not being resolved. 

    Some of the people that got new phones had to exchange them 3 times to get a phone that did not have any yellow spots on the screen.

  • Bossmonkey

    So by your “principle” people that buy PCs should not have admin rights unless they want to void their warranty. Your argument doesn’t make sense.

  • Jkae

    They warn you because you will void ur warranty as stated .
    Unlock boot loader is ntg risky .

  • Jk

    So you are comparing a pc to a phone ?
    Just like a bread to a fish in market ?

  • Soban

    Actually it would be more like updating Windows Vista to Windows 7.

  • Steve

     When they sell as much as Samsung or Apple per Q, I would agree with ya. For now, they are on their way down. And more they reject new trends like WP8 etc – the faster they go. Not a pleasant thing to say for a person with all-Sony equipment, but their regular fuck-ups are getting annoying beyond the point of being bearable.

  • Gerry

    If you bought the phone through‘ is it authorized or not?

  • Guest

    Just to root you don’t necessarily need to unlock the bootloader, depending on models of course.

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  • Xyro

    Obviously arent so . They void their warranty themself , so they arent qualify to do so as it will be unfair for those who doesnt unlock their phone . 

    Those idiot should buy the lesson as they obviously don know how to read at the 1st place and also on the xda forum ” Unlock the device may void ur warranty ” , ” i will not take any responsibility if you void your warranty ” .
    These people , face too THICK . Wan people to replace your device after you void your warranty by intended action .

  • Vibrator

    Do you actually own the device ? Or you just work for apple and bashing at our site ?

    Just go away . Sony already replace all the yellow tint for people who not void their warranty .
    And ur apple pretended iphone 4 doesnt have any athena problem and sell them like nothing happend .

  • Scott

    Ya agree . The dacha obviously is a iphone fan .

    I bet he dont even have a xperia s on his hand .

  • Traviizter

    They should at least allow people to pay to fix their hardware.
    For example, screen gets cracked. Sony refuse to fix. I should be able to pay for this to be fixed by Sony.

  • Adrian Casillas

    If you tamper with your phone, who knows what you did to it. No reason why Sony should have to pay for people’s stupidity.

  • wyvern

    Your assuming the parts failure here is from overclocking the devices, these people have asked for repairs that have nothing to do with overclocking such as the yellow tint issue. If the phone has the yellow tint it has nothing to do with wether your bootloader is unlocked or not. If you overclock and that breaks it then i agree with sony not fixing under warranty. But hardware faults unrelated to software installed or not should be covered under warranty. This stance really beggars belief and i am seriously questioning Sonys methods here. If they signed up to use Android then surely they should uphold linuxs tradition of openess to choose your flavour of linux. If they want to close off the software they should join nokia and produce generic windows phones. Android is linux and should remain open for anyone to modify the code to their own desire on their own machine.

  • Chathu

    Acctualy its right.All the manufacturer add tones of bloatware there’s no way to remove without root.

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  • Gnirujan

     After rooting there is noway you can do anything to mess up hardware. You can delete files and mess up the OS but not the hardware. I am sure rooting doesn’t void warranty. It makes no sense. Then how rooting lets you to over clock the phone??  To over clock you need custom kernel which requires you to unlock boot loader. So all in all rooting the phone by no means can void your hardware warranty.

  • FRKD

    They refused to fix my flex cable…… so I fixed it myself!!!  F U SONY!!! viva Xperia Play! :P

  • Exodite

    Not that I personally like Sony as a company (though that’s got little to do with Sony Mobile and more to do with the PS3 debacle) but that argument doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    You don’t have to be Apple or Samsung, or sell tens of millions of handsets each quarter, to be profitable.

    Nor is Windows Phone a winning trend in any sense of the word, it’s still got less than half the penetration of Windows Mobile from the last statistics report I read. Indeed, with the upcoming Windows Phone 8 making all current WP handsets obsolete it’s a good thing Sony Mobile didn’t jump upon that bandwagon because they sure as hell wouldn’t be selling many of those now.

    If you need more evidence I give you Nokia, and that’s a company that’s financially backed by Microsoft.

    Sony Mobile is doing well with their hard- and software IMO, what they need to do is avoid blunders like this. Sony overall is suffering from the stigma of being a pariah in geek circuits due to similar events, they can’t afford to slip up further.

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  • EowynCarter

    Hang on, some peaple actually find this normal ???
    No it’s not. And on a hardware  problem reported on non unlocked device, it’s really really not acceptable.  Shame on you sony !

  • EowynCarter

    And there no reason peaple should pay because sony didn’t get the screen right !

  • Khiem Diep

    I think you are probably right about the rooting. I’ve never overclocked, just know that overclocking apps require root. However, that said, rooting still gives you access to files that if removed or tweaked could cause problems but there is a chance that it can never bypass the safety guards of the hardware.

  • Khiem Diep

    How do you know what these people do with their unlocked bootloaders? You’re telling me I’m assuming things and yet you do just the same. I actually don’t assume anything, I’m just saying the possibility is there and there is no way of telling what they did.

    Additionally, yellow tint reportedly happens when it gets to 40 degree Celsius. Now it’s not supposed to happen at that temperature, which is why they are willing to fix it, but knowing physics and the fact that material is the same I can make an educated guess that it will probably happen at higher temperature. If you overclock your phone, guess what happens? It gets warmer doesn’t it? Overclocking is just really one of many ways to get your phone overheated when you have an unlocked bootloader.

  • wyvern

    But its not just yellow tint though is it there are plenty of hardware faults that have nothing to do with unlocked or overclocking. To outright refuse all repairs is ridiculous. If you cannot understand that then theres no use arguing the point with you. Your just going to believe what you want anyway. I really hope Sony dont start following apple with closing off software and limiting choice. They make fantastic handsets smart and stylish but if they keep this closemindedness up they will loose even more customers. People choose android because it is free and can be personalised its why people defect from iphones one size fits all attitude. Sony please listen to your customers before you loose them

  • boosook

    SonyEricsson dos not exist anymore, Ericsson is gone, and now we’re starting to see the difference.

  • boosook

     we’re talking about a well-known problem that exists in every xperia S, so it is obvious that it has not been caused by user modifications to the firmware…

  • Okey and what if you Unlocked the Bootloader using Testpoints? you won’t lose DRM keys.

  • Spiritoflove00

    I am experiencing the white screen problem after few months from i bought and due to Bangladesh has no Sony Ericsson Service Center couldn’t fix my XPERIA RAY.
    Please let me know, from where and how I may get this solution.


  • Oscar Mark


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  • Chris D

    This is one of the reasons Sony fails the consumer.  Just sending back devices w/o fixing them is 3rd rate customer service.  

    The other issue is that even though people “may” have voided their warranty they have admitted there was a manufacturing defect and are now trying to wiggle out of fixing them through a loophole.  

    I’ll never buy another Sony device again, I had a X10, an Arc and a XS and feel like I got burned everytime (delays in android upgrades, locked bootloaders, incompatible headphone jacks, yellow display and terrible CS).

    The best thing they can do is get out of the handset market.

  • Traviizter

    Too right.
    I have a Pro so I’ve had no problems thus far, but Xperia S owners with an unlocked bootloader who have the screen problem should (and do) feel disgusted for the reasons you stated.
    It’s a poor showing for those hoping Sony would be able to hold their ground. Yes, their 2011 Xperia range got an ICS upgrade but they won’t even both with JB even though it has a PROVEN performance INCREASE.
    Maybe not leaving the market, but certainly improving their reputation in it.

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  • Sonysucks


  • Tal

    What precisely is the difference? They are both general purpose computers. If all you want to do is make phone calls, go buy a dumbphone. No one’s complaining THOSE are locked. Otherwise, treat them like the personal computers they are.

    Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut?

  • Joy

    I have issues with my phone camera. Will the service center will replace it or repair it.please help

  • Anoop

    I am looking to buy Sony xperia acro S LT26W form Hong Kong, can anybody tell me, where can I get a company unlocked phone from Hong Kong English version or from china ? Please also tell me whether It covers the international warranty or not..?.. Since I am working in china, Beijing,
    I cannot buy this from here, they have blocked many common software’s like Google
    talk, YouTube etc in china, instead of that they provide only QQ chatting software
    made only for china people, even if we convert the phone language in to English
    some major communication software remains same in Chinese language which we
    cannot use it, also cannot download any other software’s from the internet. Can
    anybody help me on this please?

  • Ashish

    but rooting will only void the warranty sony should repair these by taking charges..i guess.

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