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How to Unlock the Bootloader of the Essential Phone

You can follow this detailed tutorial guide below to fully unlock the bootloader of the Essential Phone PH-1 from start to finish.

Many people have been impressed with the design of the Essential Phone, but felt it was lacking in the feature department due to its price. Thankfully the company has begun reducing the price of the device and that has spurred some involvement from the developer community.

So today I will be talking showing you how to unlock the bootloader so that we can flash various mods on the device such as a custom recovery, custom ROM, custom kernel, etc.

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You should be aware that unlocking the bootloader (as well as locking it) will result in the phone performing a factory reset. This means that you will lose any and all of the data you have stored on the device so be sure to backup as much of it as possible before you begin. The process is similar to other phones but some have reported having an issue with getting the phone to be detected by fastboot after the bootloader has been unlocked. I’ll be discussing this in the explanation at the bottom of this tutorial.

Requirements:
Before you can complete the tutorial below, you first need to install and enable a few things ahead of time.

 - You need ADB & Fastboot tools installed on your PC. I recommend Minimal ADB & Fastboot, but you could just use Android's SDK Platform Tools which are provided by Google.
 - Next, you will need to enable Android's Developer Mode on your smartphone.
 - Then, you'll want to go ahead and enable USB Debugging Mode on the device as well.
 - Don't forget to make sure your PC can detect the smartphone using the ADB devices command.

How to Unlock the Bootloader of the Essential Phone

  1. Download and install the USB drivers from Essential
  2. Enable OEM Unlock within the Developer Options menu
  3. Boot the Essential Phone into Fastboot Mode
  4. Connect the Essential Phone to the PC with a USB cable
  5. Launch a Command Prompt or PowerShell within the same directory as your ADB and Fastboot tools
  6. Type out the following command. . .
  7. fastboot flashing unlock
  8. . . .then press Enter on the keyboard
  9. Read the bootloader unlock warning message on the Essential Phone
  10. Press the Volume Up or Volume Down button until the Yes option is highlighted
  11. Press the Power button to select this option
  12. Wait for the Essential Phone to reboot and perform the factory reset
  13. Wait for the Essential Phone to reboot back into Android

Explanation

If you have ever unlocked an Android bootloader from the last couple of years then this process will feel very familiar. The only issue I had come across was not having the proper USB drivers installed. Google’s generic USB drivers are generally good for most devices but without those installed the computer couldn’t detect the device when it was in Fastboot Mode. So be sure to visit the link in Step 1 of the guide above and install the “Essential device driver for Windows machines” file in Downloads section.

With that done, we can then go into the hidden Developer Options menu and enable the OEM Unlock toggle. This is a layer of protection that Google has implemented into Android to prevent people from stealing your phone and then resetting the software. So you will first need to enable the OEM Unlock option before we can truly begin with this guide. Once that is done though, you can boot the Essential Phone into Fastboot Mode and then connect it to the PC with a USB cable.

Essential Phone Bootloader Unlock
Once you enter this command you’ll be asked if you want to unlock the bootloader on the Essential Phone.

From here, we then need to launch either a Command Prompt or a Windows PowerShell from the same directory as our ADB and Fastboot tools. I do this by holding the Shift button within the folder and then right clicking on an empty spot within that folder. Then we simply need to type out the fastboot flashing unlock command and press Enter on the keyboard to execute the command. If everything has been done correctly up until this point, then you will notice the screen of the Essential Phone has changed.

On the screen you’ll have a warning message about the risks involved in unlocking the bootloader and then a warning about how doing this will result in a factory reset. Since the touchscreen doesn’t work here, we need to press the Volume Up or Volume Down buttons until the Yes option is highlighted. Once the Yes option is highlighted go ahead and press the Power button to select this option and it will begin the process of unlocking the bootloader.

This involves doing a reboot to perform the factory reset and then rebooting a second time. The second reboot will take a while as it is setting Android up again and from there you’ll be able to connect your account to the device again.

Note – After unlocking the bootloader some have reported that the regular Fastboot commands do not work on the Essential Phone. If this is the case for you then you’ll want to use these commands instead. . .

fastboot devices -i 0x2e17
fastboot -i 0x2e17 flashing unlock
fastboot -i 0x2e17 flashing lock

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4 thoughts on “How to Unlock the Bootloader of the Essential Phone”

  1. I can’t unlock the bootloader…

    I keep getting an error: FAILED (flashing unlock is not allowed)

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