How to Unlock Bootloader on Android! [Android Root 101 #1]

Want to root your Android smartphone or tablet?  Want to install TWRP recovery and enjoy loads of custom ROMs available today for your Android device?  Well, if so, in this tutorial I show you how to do exactly that starting with unlocking the bootloader.  Before you can install TWRP recovery or install custom ROMs on your Android device, you will have to unlock the bootloader in most cases.

NOTE: Unlocking bootloader will ERASE EVERYTHING ON YOUR ANDROID!  Backup anything important before preceding, you have been warned!

This tutorial is part of the Android Root 101 series, if you want to learn about Android root and custom ROMs check out the whole Android Root 101 Series here.

NOTE: This is part of HighOnAndroid “Android Root 101” series.

Which devices are supported by this Bootloader Unlock Method?

Now, this bootloader unlocking method will work for all Android devices except for the following:

  • Samsung devices that can be rooted have unlocked bootloader so you can skip this step.  Newer Snapdragon U.S. models on Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S8, S8 Plus, Note 8, S9, and S9 Plus all have locked bootloaders and there is NO WAY to unlock the bootloader on those.  However, you can get the Exynos international models which have unlocked bootloaders.
  • Most LG, HTC, Huawei, Motorla, and Xiaomi devices require the user to get unlock code through their website to unlock the bootloader, see below for brand-specific guides:

If you have….

Android devices guaranteed to work on:

  • Google devices like any Google Nexus or Pixel devices including Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL and any other Google devices are supported.
  • All OnePlus devices are supported including OnePlus One, OnePlus Two, OnePlus 3/3T, OnePlus 5/5T, and OnePlus 6
  • Any other generic Android devices most likely use this bootloader unlock method such as budget Android smartphones, tablets, or no-brand Android devices.

Step 1. Go into Settings->About Phone and tap on the “Build number” about 5 times.

You should see a message similar to, “You are now a developer” or “Developer mode has been turned ON”.

Step 2. Tap on back button once(or twice) and you should see a new menu option called, “Developer options”, tap on that.

Step 3. In “Developer Options” menu, make sure “OEM Unlocking” is checked ON.  Now, some of the older Android devices may not have this option.  If you don’t see the option anywhere, you can skip this step.

Step 4. Download fastboot.zip and ADB Drivers(for Windows, no drivers needed for Mac or Linux).

Download fastboot.zip & ADB Drivers (https://highonandroid.com/fastboot-zip-android-usb-drivers/)

Once fastboot.zip has been downloaded, unzip/extract all files to “fastboot” folder in your “Downloads” directory.

Step 5. If using Windows, run the ADB Driver program you just downloaded.  This will work for all Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10.  For Mac or Linux, you can skip this step.

You can verify that your drivers are working correctly by going into your Windows Device Manager and you should see something like, “Android ADB Interface”.  In my case, it says, “Google Nexus ADB Interface”.  If you don’t see it after installing drivers, try unplugging the USB cable from your Android device and plugging it back in.

Step 6. Go to your Android device immediately and a pop-up window should appear, make sure to tap on “OK” if you see “Allow USB debugging”.  This is so you can use ADB commands to your Android device which we will be doing.

Step 7. For Windows, open a command prompt by typing “cmd” in the Windows search bar.  For Mac or Linux, open a terminal.  If you don’t know how to do this, you can Google it.

Next type the following.

For Windows:
cd Downloads
cd fastboot
adb reboot bootloader

Note: “Downloads” folder is the default download folder for most computers. If yours is different, type that instead here.

For Mac:
cd Downloads
cd fastboot
chmod 755 *
./adb-mac reboot bootloader

Note: The “chmod” command is required to change file permissions on both Mac or Linux before you can execute them.

For Linux:
cd Downloads
cd fastboot
chmod 755 *
sudo ./adb-linux reboot bootloader

Note: The “sudo” is required if you are running your Linux system as a user.  You can also simply type, “sudo -i” to enter root mode then you don’t have to type sudo in front.

Step 8. Next we will unlock the bootloader with the command, “fastboot oem unlock” OR “fastboot flashing unlock”.  It doesn’t hurt to try either but one of them will unlock the bootloader.  This is due to the newer fastboot commands on newer phones.

So type the following.

For Windows:
fastboot oem unlock
or
fastboot flashing unlock

For Mac:
./fastboot-mac oem unlock
or
./fastboot-mac flashing unlock

For Linux:
sudo ./fastboot-linux oem unlock
or
sudo ./fastboot-linux flashing unlock

You should see a message on your Android device asking to “Unlock bootloader”.  Use the volume keys to select “Yes” then hit the Power button and this will unlock your Android.

Your Android device should reboot but if it doesn’t use the bootloader menus and select, “Start” to reboot your Android.

Step 9. Wait for about 5-10 minutes for your Android device to boot fully.

Step 10. You should see a welcome screen just like the first day you got your Android device.  Congratulations, you have successfully unlocked the bootloader, ready to root your Android!

What next?

You should now be able to easily install TWRP recovery and root your device using Magisk.  I should have that tutorial up soon!

This tutorial is part of the Android Root 101 series, if you want to learn about Android root and custom ROMs check out the whole Android Root 101 Series here.

Notable Replies

  1. Sorry to be specific. I tried to root but did a mistake. So I flash back to latest Samsung official ROM. So now I don’t have the OEM unlock. This method able to solve or wait 7 days ???

  2. S8+ exynos G955FD do I need to wait for 7 days?

  3. Paven says:

    Thanks for the feedback.

  4. Help Me Max!!

    I Enabled The OEM Unlock And Restarted My Phone Then It Has Disappeared I Said It’s Okay I Will Wait Another 7 Days

    Then I Changed The Theme Of The Phone From Normal To Black To Save Power

    Is That Will Rest The Timer Of The 7 Days To Get OEM Unlock???

    Please Tell Me What To Do Or Tell Me All Information That I Need To Know About OEM Unlock

Continue the discussion at forum.highonandroid.com

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Max Lee

Max Lee is the founder of HighOnAndroid.com. Max makes Android tutorials and review videos for people who want to get high on Android over at his YouTube channel and Korean YouTube channel.