How to unlock the bootloader of your Nexus 6P


If you received your Nexus 6P just days ago and you might ask yourself the question whether you should root it or not. Even if you think that rooting your 6P can wait for now, you should think about already unlocking the bootloader. Down the line, if you decide to root it eventually and your bootloader is still locked, you’ll erase all user data in the unlock process (including videos and images). The smart thing to do is unlock it before you set up your whole phone and start gathering a large amount of images and videos. Again, if you haven’t gotten the gist yet, unlocking your bootloader will erase all of your data!

Some might ask – why unlock the bootloader if I’m not planning on using any custom ROMs? Although this is a good point, having an unlocked bootloader gives you more possibilities, should you ever brick your device. Also, there are some apps that require root access, that you might want to use in the future. Some good examples are Tasker, Titanium Backup, BetterBatteryStats and Greenify. If you’ve never heard about rooting, custom ROMs or these apps, you’re probably good using your 6P with a locked bootloader.

If you’re still with me, then I’m happy to walk you through the unlock process. Let’s start!

Unlock your Nexus 6P bootloader with the following steps

  1. Unlocking the bootloader requires an installation of fastboot on your computer (one of the Android SKD tools). The easiest way is to install Android Studio on your Mac or Windows machine. Afterwards, locate the folder where the installation placed the SDK tools. On a Mac that should be here: /Users/<user>/Library/Android/sdk/ (if you don’t see a Library folder, then you need make it visible first).
  2. On your 6P, you need to make sure that USB debugging is enabled and OEM unlocking is allowed. You need to have access to the developer settings to do so. To get that, go to Settings > About phone and find the build number entry. Now keep tapping it until you see a pop up that tells you that you’re a developer now. Guess that’s something worth adding to your CV :). Go back to your main settings menu and find ‘Developer options’ down at the bottom. In there, allow OEM unlocking and enable USB debugging.
  3. Connect your Nexus 6P with the USB Type C to Type A cable with your computer and start up a command line window from the sdk > platform-tools folder. One way to do that is to type cd into the command line (change directory), drop the folder into the command line window and hit enter. That will change the directory to the platform-tools folder.
  4. Now, in your command line, enteradb devices
  5. You should see your 6P’s serial number below with the word ‘device’ next to it. (Mac users need to start the command with a dot and a forward slash “./”)
    If you don’t that, make sure you are in the right directory and that you installed Android Studio correctly. bootloader-unlock-adb-fastboot
  6. Now you need to reboot your phone into the bootloader by executing this command
    adb reboot-bootloader
  7. If you see a black screen with an opened-up Android on it’s back, then you successfully bootet into the bootloader. Now we need to use fastboot instead of adb to talk to the phone. Let’s check if that’s working. Type the following and hit enter:
    fastboot devices
  8. If you see the same serial number and ‘fastboot’ then you’re good. If you don’t see that, you might have troubles with the installed drivers.
  9. Now comes the important part. Enter and execute the line below. Keep in mind that this will erase all data on your phone. It will be in the same state as when you first turned it on. You need to confirm this process using the volume and power buttons on your phone.
    fastboot flashing unlock
  10. Once the unlock process is finished. You can reboot your device with the following:
    fastboot reboot
  11. You’re Nexus 6P will now boot up into the setup wizard. After going through the whole setup process, you can use your phone normally again. Keep in mind, should you ever decide to lock the bootloader again, make sure you have a stock firmware installed on your Nexus. Otherwise that won’t work. The command to lock it is ‘fastboot flashing lock’. This will, of course, erase all user data.

Congrats, your Nexus is now unlocked! You’re now able flash a custom recovery and other ROMs.

Marc is an online marketer, avid blogger and technology enthusiast. His focus is on Android, tech and gadget reviews. He likes spending time travelling and reading all about what's going on in the tech world. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.