If you want to flash custom ROMs to your smartphone, you usually need to unlock the device’s bootloader. However, carriers and OEMs are getting more and more strict about bootloader-unlocking (*cough* Huawei *cough*), with Verizon being one of the strictest companies when it comes to the practice.
For example, the Verizon-branded Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL have been bootloader-locked almost since day one (there was a brief time where they could be unlocked, but the exploit was quickly patched). However, we just heard through XDA Developers that a new, incredibly simple method exists to bootloader-unlock your original Pixel or Pixel XL.
To be clear, this does NOT work on the Google Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL. Attempting this on those devices could cause major issues up-to-and-including bricking the phone. Don’t try it!
With that out of the way, unlocking the bootloader of your Verizon-branded Google Pixel or Pixel XL is a snap. We are assuming that you have ADB installed on your computer and know how to use it. If you don’t, get that all figured out first and then come back here to unlock your phone. We also are assuming you know that unlocking the bootloader completely wipes your device’s storage. Make sure you make a backup first!
- Remove any and all Google accounts from your Pixel. Also delete any kind of screen lock (fingerprint scanner, PIN, pattern, swipe, etc.) from the device.
- Take the SIM card out.
- Go through the usual process of resetting your phone (Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset). When the process is complete and your phone is at the initial setup screen, skip through every step of the setup wizard. Don’t add an account, don’t connect to Wi-Fi, don’t add a security lock; skip everything.
- Once at the home screen, go to Settings > Developer options > Enable USB debugging. If the “Developer options” setting isn’t there, you’ll need to go to Settings > About phone and then click on “Build number” a whole bunch of times. Eventually, you’ll enable the Developer Options feature and can follow this step.
- Connect your phone to your PC using a high-grade cable, preferably the one that came with your Pixel.
- Head to your ADB directory and open an elevated command prompt in that location. Type in the following:
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.android.phone
- Restart your Pixel.
- Connect your phone to Wi-Fi, open up Chrome, and go to any website (AndroidAuthority.com for example).
- Go back into Developer Options and click the “Enable OEM unlocking” feature.
- Reboot your device into the bootloader using ADB, and then run one of the following commands:
fastboot oem unlockor
fastboot flashing unlock
That’s it! You now have a Verizon Pixel or Pixel XL with an unlocked bootloader. Keep in mind, unlocking the bootloader voids most warranties and could cause stability issues. But if you know what you’re doing, you can have a lot of fun flashing all sorts of new operating systems.