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Some Pixel 8 phones are shipping with unlocked bootloaders

An unlocked bootloader is great if you want to tinker with your phone, but not great for security.

Published onOctober 20, 2023

google pixel 8 pro vs pixel 8 front
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
  • Some users are reporting that their Pixel 8 phones have unlocked bootloaders out of the box.
  • This represents a security risk and also means some apps won’t work.

The Google Pixel 8 phones are now on sale, and these devices look like great purchases if you haven’t upgraded in a while. Unfortunately, it seems like some users are reporting a weird issue with their newly purchased phones.

Some Pixel 8 series buyers on Reddit are reporting that their phones are arriving with an unlocked bootloader. The issue doesn’t appear to be widespread at first glance, but it seems to affect both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

“The bootloader is unlocked and software integrity cannot be guaranteed. Any data stored on the device may be available to attackers. Do not store any sensitive data on the device,” reads a message upon booting up an affected phone.

Why is this a bad thing?

This is a pretty serious issue as far as privacy and security go. An unlocked bootloader is generally a prerequisite for users to install a custom ROM, enable root access, or install a new operating system altogether. However, this also opens the door for attackers to compromise a phone with malicious software.

An unlocked bootloader also has other consequences, such as some financial apps not working on the device. In fact, a couple of affected Redditors noted that contactless payments don’t work.

It’s possible for users to lock the bootloader using ADB commands, although two users noted that Google is replacing their phones. Either way, we’ve asked the company about this issue and will update the article accordingly.

Thanks to Android Authority reader Tyler Ney for the tip!

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