Do you want to unlock your Android device’s bootloader? Then you must first enable the OEM Unlocking option. In this post, we will talk about what OEM Unlocking is and guide you further on how to enable it on your Android device.
Android is well-known for its open-source nature and the possibilities to push it beyond the limitations set by the OEM. Talking about the boundaries, the device manufacturers often tend to limit the OS’s functionality with a software switch, to disallow any outside customizations. That is encouraged to allow day-to-day users to preserve the integrity of their Android devices. But what if a user chooses to deliberately tinker with the preinstalled software? Well, as far as the “official” word is concerned, it is not supported in most cases. Which means unlocking an Android device’s bootloader will straightforward lead to destroying the warranty. Just not in the case of OnePlus or maybe Google itself.
Now, if you’re really interested in customizing your Android phone with third-party software, you will first need to unlock the bootloader. But in order to do that, you will be required to enable the ‘OEM unlocking’ option in the phone’s settings. We shall be covering it all below.
What is OEM Unlocking?
OEM Unlocking on Android is an option in the phone’s settings that needs to be enabled in order to unlock the bootloader. It was introduced by Google in Android 5.0 Lollipop and is also sometimes referred to as “OEM Unlock”.
Enabling this option sets the “unlock_ability” flag to “1”, thus giving the user the ability to run the “fastboot flashing unlock” command to unlock the phone’s bootloader. Once enabled, this option stays persistent across reboots and factory data resets, until disabled manually.
The option itself is generally hidden to prevent any accidental access, just like “USB debugging”. It could also serve as a recovery process to revive your device if anything goes wrong with the software.
Why would you need to enable OEM Unlocking?
Before we even get to the instructions and enable OEM unlocking on Android, let us go through the complete understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of unlocking the bootloader. We will further be adding what actually “OEM unlocking” actually is and why is it necessary.
The standard process of installing a custom ROM, kernel, or some famous mods like ViPER4Android, etc would require your device to have root permissions. Rooting itself relies on a custom recovery like TWRP in most cases. Furthermore, installing a custom recovery would require you to have access to write the device’s partitions. A locked bootloader prevents just that. It wouldn’t allow you to overwrite or modify the existing partitions. Thus, the first step towards rooting an Android device is to unlock the bootloader. The illustration below will help you further understand the situation, in case everything in this paragraph sounded gibberish.
So what is a bootloader? – It is a software program that runs from the minute your phone is turned ON. It is loaded with the instructions to boot the operating system kernel and OEM provides the required permission for the user to modify or access the bootloader. An unlocked bootloader will also allow flashing factory images in case of Google Nexus/Pixel, Razer and more.
An unlocked bootloader has its benefits, yes! But it also has a few disadvantages of its own. So before we head to the instructions to enable OEM unlocking on Android, take a look at a few common ones have been listed as follows:
- The foremost disadvantage is that you’d lose your official warranty or support in the majority of cases. Except for OnePlus.
- Second, your device will be wiped the instant you unlock the bootloader.
- It may prevent you from using DRM-enabled features on your Android device.
Steps to Enable OEM Unlocking on Android Devices
Over to the thing, we are actually here for today. We have split the instructions into three steps so that you can easily understand the complete procedure.
Step 1: Backup your Android Device
It is strongly advised to backup your device completely including the apps, messages, contacts, and internal storage. While enabling OEM unlocking itself would harm your data. It’s likely that you’ll proceed further to unlock the phone’s bootloader. Which will result in a complete data wipe. You can follow our guide on how to backup Android devices.
Step 2: Enable Developer Options on Android
As we mentioned, the option itself is hidden by default under the “Developer options” menu. In order to enable OEM unlocking, you will first need to reveal/enable Developer Options in the phone’s settings.
- Go to the app drawer and open “Settings”.
- Scroll down and find the “System” section. If you’re using a device with Android Nougat or below, look directly for “About phone”.
- Tap on the “About phone” section. You shall then see the device information like Android version, security patch level, etc.
- Find “Build number”.
- Tap 7 times on “Build number” rapidly. If you have a PIN/Password set, you will be prompted to enter it.
- Post that, you shall see a toast notification towards the bottom of the screen, saying – “You’re now a developer!”.
- Go back to the “System” section. On Android Nougat and below, simply go back to the main settings.
- You shall see a new section named “Developer options”.
You can now follow the instructions below to enable OEM unlocking on Android.
Step 3: Enable OEM Unlocking (OEM Unlock) on Android
- Go to “Settings” and tap on “System”.
- Select “Developer options”.
- Scroll down through the options and find the “OEM unlocking”.
- Simply tap on the toggle next to it. Again, if you have a password/PIN set, you will be asked to enter it.
- You shall be prompted to confirm the process, so press “ENABLE”.
So there you go, you now know what OEM Unlocking is and how to enable it on Android device. You may further go ahead and unlock the bootloader using the fastboot command. Once unlocked, you can easily install TWRP recovery and root your phone via Magisk.
That was easy now, wasn’t it? We hope the article was able to explain to you well about the whole concept. However, if you still have questions, then jump down to the comments below and ping us.