Do you want to unlock the bootloader on your Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL? This guide here will take you through the complete process in a step-by-step manner.
Google Pixel devices are downright the cleanest and fastest when it comes to the software. They have no pre-installed apps or features that we will try/use only once and forget. Another big advantage of owning a Google Pixel phone is how easy it is to modify the software to gain additional features or use root-enabled apps. Thanks to the brilliant developer community, you can now install a custom recovery (TWRP) on your Pixel 3 and root it using Magisk.
Now, whatever you might choose to do, be it rooting to add extra features or use root-enabled apps, installing TWRP or installing a custom ROM, you will first need to unlock the phone’s bootloader. With Google devices, it is quite easy to do this. All you need is your phone, a Windows/Linux/macOS PC, a USB cable, and your fingers.
We have prepared this guide to help you easily unlock the bootloader on Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Even if you’re a beginner, you will find the steps quite easy to follow.
Before You Begin
- Unlocking the bootloader on your Pixel 3 (XL) will not break the phone’s warranty. However, any damaged caused due to external software or mods shall not be covered under the warranty. The process is reversible and you can lock the bootloader any time you want.
- The process will wipe all the data stored on your Pixel including the apps, contacts, messages, and internal storage too.
Step 1: Backup Your Data
As we just told, the process of unlocking the bootloader will erase all the data stored on your Google Pixel 3/Pixel 3 XL including the internal storage. If you have any data on the phone that’s important, make sure to back it up.
- Things like contacts and emails are automatically synced with your configured Google account.
- Photos can easily be backed up to Google Photos. The benefit of using a Pixel 3 is that you get unlimited storage on Google Photos to store all your chosen photos on the cloud.
- For messages and call logs, you can use this highly trustable app to back them up directly to Google Drive. If you choose to take a local backup, make sure to transfer the backup file to your PC.
- Apps and their data are quite hard to back up. However, most apps like WhatsApp offer in-app backup options that you can easily restore. Make sure that you have backups of all the important apps installed on your phone.
- For all the data stored on the phone’s external storage like music, documents, etc, we suggest you manually copy them over to the PC. The time required to copy will vary with the amount of data stored on your phone.
We also have a detailed tutorial on how to completely backup your Android phone’s data.
Step 2: Install Android SDK Platform-tools
Unlocking the bootloader on Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL is done through a dedicated fastboot command. Here “fastboot” is a binary tool and a part of the Android SDK platform-tools. Which means, you will need to install Android SDK tools on your Windows, macOS, or Linux PC.
The could be easily done by downloading the standalone package and extracting it on the PC (Preferably the Desktop, for ease). Once extracted, you will need to open the PowerShell window or Terminal inside the extracted ‘platform-tools’ folder.
- On Windows: Go to the ‘platform-tools’ folder that you extracted earlier. Now, while holding the SHIFT key, right-click on an empty space inside this folder. Select ‘Open PowerShell window here’ from the menu.
- On Linux/macOS: Open the ‘Terminal’ and cd to the location of the ‘platform-tools’ folder. Example:
Once you have successfully configured ADB and Fastboot on your PC, head over to the next step.
Step 3: Enable OEM Unlocking
‘OEM Unlocking‘ is a setting hidden in the ‘Developer options’ menu on your Android phone. Enabling it is necessary if you wish to unlock the bootloader on Google Pixel 3 (XL) and further perform procedures like installing TWRP, rooting, etc. Without OEM Unlocking, you will not be able to run any fastboot commands on your device.
To enable OEM Unlocking on your Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, follow the simple steps listed below:
- Go to Settings > System on your phone.
- Tap on ‘About phone’.
- Scroll down until you see the ‘Build Number’ section.
- Tap 7 times on ‘Build Number’ rapidly to enable Developer Options.
- Enter the lockscreen Password/PIN when prompted.
- You should now see a toast notification on the screen, saying – “You are now a developer!”.
- Now, go back to the ‘System’ menu and tap on ‘Developer options’.
- Scroll down and find the ‘OEM Unlocking’ toggle.
- Simply turn ON the toggle and when prompted, press ‘Enable’ to confirm.
OEM Unlocking should now be enabled on your Pixel 3 (XL).
Recommended: Learn how to Hide Google Pixel 3 XL Notch
Step 4: Boot your Pixel 3 into Bootloader Mode
In order to unlock the bootloader and issue the fastboot command, you must first boot your Google Pixel 3 (XL) into Bootloader Mode.
To do so, first power off your Pixel 3 completely. Then while holding the Volume Down button, press the Power button. Keep holding the buttons until you see the Bootloader screen (Refer to the image above). Now while your phone is in bootloader mode, connect it to the PC using the USB cable.
Note: Make sure to use a spec compliant USB cable, preferably the one that came in the phone’s box.
Step 5: Unlock the Bootloader on Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
Now that everything is set up and ready, you can follow the instructions below to unlock the bootloader on Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
- Open the PowerShell/Terminal on your Windows, macOS, or Linux PC.
- Now issue the following command to verify that your Pixel 3 is successfully being recognized by the PC:
For Linux or macOS:
- The command should return the device ID along with the ‘fastboot’ message. If it doesn’t, make sure that your Pixel 3 is connected while it is in Bootloader Mode.
- Next, issue the following command to initiate the bootloader unlocking process:
.\fastboot flashing unlock
For Linux or macOS:
./fastboot flashing unlock
- As soon as the command is executed, the phone shall prompt you with the confirmation message.
- Press either of the Volume buttons until ‘Unlock the bootloader’ message appears.
- Finally, press the Power button to unlock the bootloader on Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Once the bootloader unlocking process finishes (It wouldn’t take more than a few seconds), the phone will boot back into the Bootloader mode. Simply press the Power button to boot your phone into the OS. When your Pixel 3 enters the OS, you will have to go through the initial setup again, log in with your Google account, and perform the rest of the on-screen instructions.
There you go! You have just been able to unlock the bootloader on Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. If you have any questions regarding the process, please feel free to comment. We will try the best of our knowledge to clear out any doubts that you may have.