If you plan on installing a custom ROM, custom kernel, or even a custom recovery then you will need to follow this tutorial first to unlock the bootloader.
One of my favorite aspects of Android is the fact that I can actually gain full access to the device I purchase. I will often times do tutorials for devices that aren’t easily unlocked but that’s mainly for the audience here and within the Android community. Any smartphone that I keep and use on a daily basis has its bootloader unlocked and I like it when the OEM allows this process to be easy. So similarly to how we used to unlock the bootloader of Nexus and Pixel devices, we go through the same process with the OnePlus 6.
If you ever think that you will want to install an Android modification (like a custom ROM, custom recovery, etc.) then you should go ahead and unlock the bootloader as early as possible. I know a lot of people dislike it when they have to factory reset their phone and both the unlock and lock process of the OnePlus 6 wipes all data from our phone. If you don’t mind a factory reset then you can skip this suggestion but I like to get it out of the way early in a device’s life cycle just so I don’t have to restore as much data.
In order to complete the tutorial below, you're going to need some things set up ahead of time. Please follow the how to install ADB and Fastboot tools guide if you haven't done so already. Then you will need to follow the how to enable Developer Mode guide, as well as the tutorial that shows you how to enable USB Debugging Mode. With USB Debugging Mode granted from the PC the phone is connected to, you can then test this by running the command "adb devices" (without quotes) in a command prompt or PowerShell to make sure the computer recognizes the device.
OnePlus 6 Bootloader Unlock Tutorial
- Enable the OEM Unlock feature within the Developer Options menu
- Boot the OnePlus 6 into Fastboot Mode
- Open up the Command Prompt (or PowerShell)
- Then browse to the same folder as your ADB & Fastboot tools
- Connect the OnePlus 6 to the PC with a USB cable
- And type the following command. . .
- fastboot flashing unlock
- . . .before pressing Enter on the keyboard
- Tap the Volume Down button until the Unlock the Bootloader option is highlighted
- Press the Power button to select the highlighted option
- Wait for the OnePlus 6 to reboot and perform a factory data reset
- Then wait for the OnePlus 6 to reboot again, this time taking you to the activation screen
So I can’t stress this part enough. Unlocking the bootloader of the OnePlus 6 will wipe all of the data from your device. Please be aware of that before you dive head first into this tutorial. If you’re okay with that, then we can begin by getting things like USB drivers, ADB, and Fastboot tools installed on the PC. With that done, go ahead and enable Developer Mode so that we can dive in and enable USB Debugging Mode along with OEM Unlock. You may need to connect your phone to the PC here and run the adb devices command to get a permission request popup on the OnePlus 6.
Then you will want to boot the OnePlus 6 into Fastboot Mode (also known as Bootloader Mode) and then turn your attention to the Command Prompt. Make sure your Command Prompt (or PowerShell) is in the same folder as your ADB and Fastboot tools before you begin typing the following command: fastboot flashing unlock. If you’ve done everything right then as soon as you press Enter on the keyboard you will see the screen change from the Fastboot Mode menu to the OnePlus 6 bootloader unlock warning message.
This is just telling you that you need to unlock the bootloader if you want to install any type of custom software (such as a custom ROM, custom kernel, or a custom recovery image). The warning part comes into play after that message as OnePlus is unable to ensure the integrity of the software once the bootloader has been unlocked. This process allows us to install images onto the OnePlus 6 that have not been signed by the OnePlus software team and that is the case when it comes to these custom modifications.
So just go ahead and press the Volume Down button a couple of times until the Unlock the Bootloader option is highlighted in blue. You’ll then need to press the Power button to select this option before the process will begin. You can follow along with me in the video above, but the first thing you’ll see is a screen saying the bootloader is now unlocked. It will then begin to perform a factory data reset and wipe all of the information from the OnePlus 6. When that is done it will reboot again and take you to the OxygenOS activation screen.
Just be patient during this second boot cycle that is taking you to the activation screen. Since we just performed a factory data reset on the OnePlus 6 this boot cycle will take a few minutes to complete.
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