Here is how you can unlock bootloader on Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones using ADB. Google recently unveiled their new Pixel 3 lineup with updated hardware, refined design and new colors. Pixel lineup replaced the Nexus series of phones couple of years back. The Nexus brand was solely targeted towards developers, providing them a good baseline hardware to develop Android apps. However, with Pixel, Google has shifted its focus towards providing a flagship Android experience to all users. Still however, staying true to its Nexus roots, Google still supports development on Pixel devices. With this guide, we will show you how you can easily unlock the bootloader on new Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL by using official commands and utilities.
For general security concerns, Pixel 3 is shipped with a locked bootloader. However, if need arises, users can easily unlock it and once that is done, system partitions can be modified. Simply put, you would be able to flash official firmwares, mods such as TWRP custom recovery, root and more. Few important things to note, during unlocking procedure, the device will go through a full factory reset so make sure to backup your user data. Also, unlocking procedure is officially supported by Google. For complete steps on how to unlock bootloader on Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, continue ahead.
Disclaimer: All the tools, mods or ROMs mentioned below belong to their respective owners/developers. We (TeamAndroid.com) or the developers are not to be held responsible if you damage or brick your device. We don’t have you on gun point to try out this tutorial 😉
There are tons of useful articles and how-to guides on Team Android for the Google Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL, but we think you might be interested in the following posts:
- Root Google Pixel : How to Root Google Pixel on Android 9.0 Pie – Tutorial.
- Try Android 9.0 on Computer: How to Try and Install Android 9.0 Pie on Computer – Complete Guide.
- Custom ROMs: For a complete collection of custom ROMs on Team Android, visit our Custom ROM section!
If you plan on rooting this phone or are still confused for why to root Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL, read: Benefits of Rooting Your Android Device.
Google Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL USB Drivers
You will need to connect your Android phone with the computer. For that, please make sure you have installed the USB drivers for Google Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL properly. If not, you can download the latest official drivers from our Android USB Drivers section here:
Backup and Other Important Tips
Done with the USB drivers? Perfect. The tutorial is on the next page, but first, please take a look at the following tips and important points you need to take care of. These are important, as we don’t want anyone losing their personal data or apps.
Always backup your important data that you might need after you install a new custom ROM, an official software update or anything else. Make a backup for just in case, you never know when anything might go wrong. Read: How to Backup Android Apps, Text Messages, WhatsApp, Call History.
If you already have a custom recovery (ClockworkMod, TWRP etc.) installed on your phone, we strongly recommend a backup using that as it creates a complete image of your existing phone set up. [Tutorial: How to Backup Android Phone using TWRP]
A few more optional tips that you should remember:
1. Having problems connecting your Android phone to the computer? You need to enable USB debugging mode. See here: How to Enable USB Debugging — for Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop, Marshmallow, Nougat and Oreo.
2. Make sure your Android device is charged up to 80-85% battery level. This might help you: How to Check Battery Percentage. Why? Because, if your phone goes off suddenly while installing a custom ROM, flashing an official firmware update or installing mods etc. — your phone might get bricked or go dead permanently. No one wants that, right?
3. Most of the tutorials and how-to guides on Team Android are for factory unlocked Android phones and tablets. We recommend not to try our guides if your phone is locked to a carrier, unless we have specified the carrier name or device model.
If you are a developer and would want to unlock the bootloader, we recommend doing that before you set up the Google Play Store, install apps or anything because the security feature in Android clears out everything from your phone when unlocking bootloader of the phone.
Now, let’s proceed with the tutorial below to unlock Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL bootloader.
How to Unlock Bootloader on Google Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL
We have put together a detailed step-by-step instructions guide on how to unlock bootloader on Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL. If you are used to unlocking bootloaders on any previous Nexus devices, then this should not be any different for you.
Please read every line carefully and make sure you read the tutorial once before actually performing it on your Android device.
- This unlocking bootloader tutorial is only for Google Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL. Please don’t try this on any other variants of the phone.
- This tutorial has been performed on Windows, but anyone familiar with Fastboot on Mac or Linux can perform this as well with the same commands.
- Make sure you backup all your data in your phone before proceeding as it will erase all data.
- You will void your warranty by unlocking the bootloader.
- Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL
- USB cable
- Android SDK with drivers (How to set up? Tutorial link given below)
NOTE: A new checkbox has been added in the Developer options in Settings that you have to enable before proceeding below with unlocking your bootloader. First, enable Developer options. Then check the box that says “Enable OEM unlock”. That’s it. Now you can proceed below to the Step 1.
Step 1 – Download the Android SDK / Fastboot and install all the USB drivers. How to set up? Read detailed instructions here: How to Set Up ADB / Fastboot with Android SDK.
Step 2 – Enable USB Debugging mode on your Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL.
Step 3 – If you already have Android SDK, then you can just download Fastboot and extract it in android-sdk-windows\platform-tools directory. Create directory if not already there.
Step 4 – Make sure you have backup your data as it will be erased. Connect your Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL to your computer.
Step 5 – Navigate to android-sdk-windows\platform-tools directory and open Command Prompt (Shift + Right-click > Open Command Prompt).
Step 6 – Type in the following commands and press Enter.
adb reboot bootloader
Step 8 – You now have to wait for the phone to reboot to bootloader. If it doesn’t, you can try running any apps. If it still persists, please redo the previous steps.
Step 9 – Once it does, execute the following command.
fastboot flashing unlock
Step 9.1 – If you have a Pixel 3 XL, run the following command.
fastboot flashing unlock_critical
Step 10 – If your Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL doesn’t reboot automatically, issue the following command.
That’s it! Your Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL bootloader is now unlocked! You can now install a custom recovery, a custom ROM or any system tweak you like. Just be careful with what you do! 😉