Unlocking your Android Phone’s Bootloader

We shall see step by step how to unlock our Android phone’s bootloader the official way. Keep in mind that not all phones allow this. All Nexus phones allow this, and many of the HTC and Motorola phones to allow this.

Unlocking your Android Phone's Bootloader

Let’s get started:

  • Start by backing up all you need on your phone because this process will erase all the data on your phone.
  • From this link, go to ‘SDK Tools Only‘ on your computer. Download the zip file and unzip it wherever you want to store the ADB files.
  • Now start the SDK Manager. Select ‘Android SDK Platform-tools‘. You can also select ‘Google USB driver‘ if you are using a Nexus phone. Then close the SDK manager.
  • Next, install the USB drivers for your phone. Skip this step if you have a Nexus phone and selected the ‘Google USB driver‘ in the previous step.
  • Reboot your computer if required.
  • Now connect your phone to your computer using a USB cable.
  • Go to the ‘Android SDK folder and open the platform-tools folder inside it.
  • Press Shift and Right Click on an empty area and select ‘Open a Command Prompt Here’.
  • Run the following command at the command prompt:
adb devices
  • It will show you a serial number of your device.
  • Now on your phone, open ‘Settings‘ from the home screen, tap on ‘About Phone‘. Scroll down and tap seven times on the ‘Build Number‘ option. You will see a window prompting that you are now a developer.
  • Go back to the ‘Settings‘ page and you will see a new option added to the list, called ‘Developer Options‘. Select it.
  • Now enable ‘OEM Unlocking‘. No worries if you don’t see this option because it is not required on some phones.
  • Now enable USB debugging. Enter your PIN or password if asked.
  • Connect your phone to your computer. Tick the checkbox on your phone ‘Allow USB Debugging‘.
  • If you are a Nexus phone user, you are all done.

Getting an Unlock Key:

However, if you use a phone other than Nexus, then you will have to do this extra step to get the unlock key for your phone:

  • Go to the manufacturer’s bootloader unlocking page for your phone. HTC phone users should go to this link whereas Motorola phone users should visit this link.
  •  Choose your particular device from the available list. Now and log in or create an account if you don’t have one already.
  • The rest of the steps will be different depending on your phone, but the link will guide you in following the steps.
  • Though the steps would be a little different for every phone, they will mainly ask you to turn off your phone. The boot into fastboot mode. On the majority of the devices, you can boot into this mode by pressing the ‘Power‘ and the ‘Volume Down‘ buttons together for around ten seconds. HTC phone users will need to choose ‘Fastboost’ with the volume down key and press power to choose it. Through the internet, you can easily find the method of booting into the fastboost mode for your specific phone.
  • Now connect your phone to computer via a USB cable.
  • Again go to  Android SDK folder and open the platform-tools folder. Press Shift and Right Click on an empty area. Select ‘Open a Command Prompt Here’. Now at the command prompt, write the command as specified by your phone’s manufacturer to get the unlock key. HTC phones will run the following command:
fastboot oem get_identifier_token

Motorola phones will run the following command:

fastboost oem get_identifier_token
  • The command prompt will give you the token which will be a long string of characters. Copy it and paste it, without any spaces, in the required box on the manufacturer’s website. Now submit the form.
  • If your device is can be unlocked, then you’ll receive an email with a key or file. Otherwise, you will get a message telling that your device is not lockable.

Unlocking the Phone Finally:

  • Now we will finally perform the unlock. If you are not already into fastboot mode, enter into fastboot mode. In the platform-tools folder in your Android SDK folder, press Shift and Right Click on an empty area. Choose ‘Open a Command Prompt Here‘.
  • Run the following command i the command prompt:
fastboot oem unlock

This command will work on most of the Nexus devices. For the newer devices, it’ll be a little different:

fastboot flashing unlock
  • For a non Nexus device, your manufacturer will tell you what command to run. e.g Motorola devices, using the unique key received from the email, will run the following command:
    fastboot oem unlock UNIQUE_KEY
  • Your phone will ask if you want to unlock for sure. Confirm using the Volume Keys.
  • Now reboot your phone.
  • You will see a message prompting that the bootloader is unlocked. After a few seconds, it’ll boot into Android.
  • Tadaa! You have successfully unlocked your Android phone’s bootloader.
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