How to Unlock the Bootloader on the Galaxy Nexus

December 31, 2011
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Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich looks good on the Galaxy Nexus, but it would be better if you have the power to customize the phone the way you want it. Customizing your phone is possible if the bootloader is unlocked. If you want to unlock your phone’s bootloader, then you’re in great luck–we have a step-by-step guide on how to unlock the Galaxy Nexus’ bootloader.

With an unlocked phone, you will be able to root your phone, install custom recovery images, and install custom ROMs. Read on and follow our step-by-step guide for unlocking the Galaxy Nexus’ bootloader.

Important Reminders

Take note of some reminders before you proceed with unlocking your phone’s bootloader.

  • Make sure you’re using Windows 7 or Windows XP for the instructions in this tutorial.
  • You will need the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) executable file. If you have installed the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) to your machine, you will already have the ADB executable. For instructions on installing the Android SDK (as well as ADB), follow the guide here.
  • Create a backup for all your phone data and files, or transfer all files on your SD card in case it gets erased or corrupted during unlocking the phone’s bootloader. Do not use PC suites in creating a backup for your files. The format used by such software may not be compatible with the Galaxy Nexus.
  • Disable all system protection tools on your computer such as antivirus software, Samsung KIES, and firewall programs. These may interfere during the unlocking process.
  • Unlocking the phone’s bootloader may void your phone’s warranty.
  • Check your phone’s current firmware version before unlocking the bootloader. Take note of your phone’s current firmware version and write it down. This might help you find a solution when an unlikely situation occurs.
  • We will not be held liable for any damage arising from the use of this tutorial. Unlock your Galaxy Nexus’ bootloader at your own risk.

Unlocking the Bootloader

If you’re not having second thoughts, you may now proceed to our step-by-step guide to unlocking the Galaxy Nexus’ bootloader.

  1. Install the Galaxy Nexus 4G LTE drivers to your computer. Get the drivers here.
  2. Enable USB debugging by going to Settings > Applications > Development > USB Debugging.
  3. Assuming that you have installed ADB, place fastboot.exe in the /tools folder inside the Android SDK installation folder. If fastboot.exe is nowhere to be found, download the file here and place it in the same folder as adb.exe.
  4. Connect your phone to the computer via USB cable.
  5. Open a command prompt directly in the directory where both adb.exe and fastboot.exe are located (which can either be /tools or /platform-tools inside the Android SDK installation folder).  To open a command prompt, press and hold the Shift key, then right-click on the folder.  Select “Open Command Prompt Here” from the context menu.  A command prompt window will open.
  6. In the command prompt window, type in the command “adb reboot bootloader” (without the quotes) and press the Enter key. Your phone will be rebooted into bootloader mode.
  7. Afterwards, type in the command “fastboot oem unlock” (without the quotes) and press the Enter key.
  8. The phone will display some policy notice and will ask you to confirm whether or not you want to unlock the phone’s bootloader.
  9. Using the phone’s volume keys to navigate, select Yes and press the Power button to confirm. You have successfully unlocked the phone’s bootloader.

Take note that it may take more time to reboot once you have unlocked the bootloader. In case your phone gets stuck in a boot loop or faces force close errors, you have to initiate recovery mode and clear the cache. You will also need to repeat the process from the start when the process is interrupted in the middle of unlocking the bootloader.

Were you able to successfully unlock the bootloader on your Galaxy Nexus? What are you planning to do next after unlocking?

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