You can follow these steps outlined below to unlock the bootloader of both the Google Pixel, as well as the Google Pixel XL.
Note – This unlock process is for devices that ship with a bootloader that can be freely unlocked. If you bought a Pixel or Pixel XL from a carrier like Verizon or EE who has chosen to not allow this, then check out the tutorial for unlocking the Verizon and EE Pixel Bootloader.
A locked bootloader is done for your own protection. If smartphones didn’t ship with a locked bootloader, then the company/person who sold it to you could install some malicious software onto the phone or tablet. This software could steal your personal data like photos, videos and even usernames and passwords for important websites like banks and retailers who store your credit card information.
Thankfully though, some devices ship with a locked bootloader, but can easily be unlocked with a simple Fastboot command.
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If you purchased your Pixel or Pixel XL directly from the Google Store, then you have a smartphone with a bootloader that can be easily unlocked. This is where I purchased mine from, so today I’m going to walk you through the process for how to unlock the bootloader. It should be known that some carriers also sell versions of the Pixel and Pixel XL with an unlocked bootloader.
Note – Unlocking the bootloader of your smartphone will wipe all of your data from the phone. It will be as if you just pulled it out of the box and you will need to activate Android again.
Pixel Unlock Bootloader
- Download and install the Minimal ADB & Fastboot tools
- Then download and install Google’s Android USB drivers
- Go ahead and reboot the PC after the drivers have been installed
- Enable Developer Mode on the Pixel
- Enable OEM Unlocking on the Pixel
- Enable USB Debugging Mode on the Pixel
- Double click on the Minimal ADB & Fastboot shortcut
- Type the following into the Command Prompt. . .
- adb devices
- . . .then press Enter on the keyboard
- When the ADB service/daemon has been started, connect the Pixel to the PC with a USB cable
- Grant USB Debugging access to the Pixel from PC
- Unplug the USB cable from the Pixel
- Boot the Pixel into Fastboot Mode
- Plug the USB cable back into the Pixel
- Type the following command into the command prompt. . .
- fastboot flashing unlock
- . . .then press Enter on the keyboard
- Press the Volume Up button on the Pixel to highlight the ‘Yes’ option
- Press the Power button to confirm you want to unlock the bootloader
- Wait for 5-15 seconds while the Pixel bootloader is unlocked
- Press the Power button to select the ‘Start’ option when you’re taken back into Fastboot Mode
If you have ever unlocked the bootloader of a Nexus smartphone or tablet then you’ll likely feel right at home with the Pixel and Pixel XL that was purchased from the Google Store. You’ll need to do some things like setting up ADB & Fastboot tools, installing USB drivers, starting up the ADB service, enabling OEM Unlocking and granting USB Debugging access from the PC. This is all standard and if you get confused then be sure to watch the embedded video above.
With all of that done, you can then boot the Pixel or Pixel XL into Fastboot Mode. If you’re unclear on how this is done, then click or tap the link in step 14 above and I follow those steps as I have described previously. Once you are in Fastboot Mode, go ahead and connect the USB cable back to the smartphone and turn your attention back to the Command Prompt.
You’ll want to type in the command fastboot flashing unlock into the command prompt exactly as described in the guide above. This will then give you a prompt on the Pixel and Pixel XL that describes what is going to happen to the phone. You’re told that unlocking the bootloader will wipe the data from your device and it will ask you if you want to proceed or not. Pressing the Volume Up button and then pressing the Power button when the Yes option is highlighted will start the unlock process.
It will seem as if the Pixel or Pixel XL is frozen, but it’s just doing its thing. Wait for 5-15 seconds (it might be longer) and you should eventually be taken back to the Fastboot Mode menu. If you look at the very bottom line, it should say the device is unlocked now. Since the Start option is automatically highlighted, you can simply press the Power button to select it and then the device will reboot.
This will go through the typical boot animation sequence and then you’ll be taken to the standard Android activation screen. So all you have to do from here is set everything back up and you’ll be good to go.