This detailed tutorial will walk you through the step by step process for how to unlock the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL bootloader.
Some people question why I do so many tutorials that essentially cover the same thing from smartphone to smartphone. I first started doing this because I felt too many places were pointing to just a generic ‘do this’ guide for every single device. This would happen even though there wasn’t any actual testing on a device so the end user would waste so much time trying things out. It also made things quite unorganized and that’s another goal of mine here on Android Explained.
Today’s tutorial is a big reason why my method of doing things will benefit the community more because there are times in which the regular method simply doesn’t work for a new device. I’ll be showing you how to unlock the bootloader of both the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. However, the Pixel 2 XL has a secondary command that you may or may not need to be aware of. It’s too early in the development cycle of the Pixel 2 XL to know for sure, but I’ll be including both commands in this guide below.
Note – Unlocking the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL bootloader will cause the device to wipe all of your data. This is a security measure done so that a friend or foe doesn’t steal your phone, unlock the bootloader and install some malicious software on it without you knowing. There isn’t any way around it so backup as much of your data as possible before you proceed.
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.
You will then need to open a command prompt within the within the same folder as your ADB and Fastboot tools and execute the "adb devices" command (without quotes) to start the ADB service. Then connect the device to the PC with a USB cable and you should see the prompt to grant USB Debugging Mode access from the PC the phone is connected to.
Once granted, you can then test this by running the command "adb devices" again (without quotes) in a command prompt or PowerShell to make sure the computer recognizes the device.
Pixel 2 Unlock Bootloader
- Enable Developer Mode on the Pixel 2
- Enable OEM Unlock on the Pixel 2
- Boot the Pixel 2 into Fastboot Mode
- Type the following into the Command Prompt. . .
- fastboot flashing unlock
- . . .and press Enter on the keyboard
- Press the Volume Down button on the Pixel 2
- Press the Power button to confirm you want to unlock the bootloader
This guide above will need to be done on both the Pixel 2 (along with step 6 of the guide below) and the Pixel 2 XL to unlock the bootloader. If you own the Pixel 2 XL though, Google says you may need to perform the following steps below.
Pixel 2 XL Unlock Bootloader
- Type the following into the Command Prompt. . .
- fastboot flashing unlock_critical
- . . .then press Enter on the keyboard
- Press the Volume Down button on the Pixel 2 XL
- And press the Power button to confirm this
- Finally press the Power button again (at the Fastboot Mode menu) to restart back into Android
This step by step tutorial is a detailed explanation of a topic I covered on my Pixel 2 Tips and Tricks article. I recommend you read through that if you're curious about learning the ins and outs of the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL.
As you can see, this unlock process can be different if you own the Pixel 2 XL. Again, we’re so early in the development cycle that the second part of this guide may not be required at all. It’s suspected that this second unlock command actually allows the bootloader partition to have a bootloader image installed on it. Google says this second command may be required even when you’re just flashing the stock Android factory images that the company provides.
I just wanted to mention it and I will be talking about if it’s necessary in future guides that I write. This will show you that I have tested it both ways and hopefully that gives you enough confidence to see that if it worked for me then it can work for you. It’s just better to include both commands here for those who are not aware of the new command. Before we begin though, you need to do things like install ADB/fastboot tools, enable developer mode, enable OEM unlock and then boot the device into Fastboot Mode.
With that done, go ahead and connect the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL to the PC with a USB cable. We will now need to execute the fastboot flashing unlock command from the PC. This will display a prompt on the phone with a description of what you’re doing and asking if you want to unlock the bootloader. If you wait too long, it will send you back to Fastboot Mode, but you can type the command back into the Command Prompt to bring the prompt back up.
You’ll want to press the Volume Up or Volume Down button to highlight the option to unlock the bootloader and then press the Power button to select it. Doing so will send you back to Fastboot Mode where you have two options. Pixel 2 owners can just press the Power button here to select the Start option and that will boot you back into Android. Pixel 2 XL users will like need to execute the fastboot flashing unlock_critical command before doing this though.
Either way, just be sure you select the Start option when you’re in Fastboot Mode and the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL will boot back into Android. Since this wipes the data from the device (basically performing a factory reset), the first boot cycle will take longer than normal.
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