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Get To Understand the Android Bootloader

A bootloader is a software code that runs when an Android phone is powered up, whose job is to load the boot image then the rest of the software will be loaded by the boot image. So, when you are powering up or entering into recovery mode, there is a boot kernel that is loaded by the bootloader to memory to execute. The bootloader is locked to make sure the bootable image always remains the same and cannot be altered. To be able to alter or modify the bootable image to be loaded by the bootloader, you need to unlock the bootloader.

The Advantage of an Unlocked Bootloader

The main advantage is that you might be able to flash or put in any bootable image. However, it does not just happen automatically as you cannot just install any image you come across. Every image is specific to a device and may brick a device not meant for it.

Every Android phone comes with a recovery mode that comes in handy to restore the Android phone if the firmware gets an issue and to reset the phone to factory setting when you want to clear all the data on the phone. The stock recovery coming preinstalled on the smartphone is pretty much limited in terms of what you can achieve in the recovery mode which can only be overcome by seeking to install a custom recovery like TWRP, CWM, Carliv Touch Recovery. In order to alter the stock Android software or to install another Android Custom ROM to your smartphone, you have to initially install a custom recovery image.

TWRP is an outstanding custom recovery designed for many or nearly all Android phones out there. After you get started with TWRP recovery on your Android phone, you are able to ROOT your phone, install a custom ROM like LineageOS, Havoc OS, Resurrection Remix etc, on top of other tweaks and mods.

As you have come to find out, there are restrictions that come with a locked bootloader but after overcoming that, you are opened up to lots of possibilities.

What You Need To Unlock the Android Bootloader

  • A backup of your important data before anything else
  • You Android phone
  • A working USB cable
  • A PC
  • USB drivers for your device
  • Google platform-tools setup on your PC (ADB and FASTBOOT)

Step 1

Enable USB Debugging under Developer Options, to make the device accessible via ADB.

Step 2

Open the command window on your PC - (Press Shift + Right Click anywhere on Windows Explorer, or just type the word cmd on the Windows Explorer address bar and hit the Enter Key.

Step 3

Now connect your device to the PC using a USB cable.

Step 4

Enter the following command on the command window:

adb reboot bootloader

This command will restart your phone into bootloader mode in readiness for the actual unlocking step

NB: If your Android device pops up a permission request such as “Allow USB debugging” then just tap on OK to proceed.

Step 5

Run the following fastboot command while in the bootloader mode to check whether your device is properly connected and detected.

fastboot devices

If you see a device ID in the output then your phone is accessible via fastboot. If not check if you have properly installed the drivers and platform-tools.

Step 6

With your phone detected properly, execute the following fastboot command to unlock the bootloader

fastboot oem unlock


fastboot flashing unlock

A message may appear for you to confirm the unlocking process so hit the appropriate key you are directed to in order to complete the process. Mostly you will be asked to press volume keys. Make sure you press the right one.

Step 7

Once the unlocking is done run the following command to reboot your Android phone.

fastboot reboot
Your device may take some time to boot since all the data has been wiped by the time you get to this command so be patient for your device to finish booting. You now have an unlocked bootloader.

It is now time to flash a custom recovery and explore the world of mods, tweaks and custom ROMs. Do not hesitate to comment in case you get stuck or have a question regarding the process. Happy unlocking!


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