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How to Unlock the Nexus 5X Bootloader

Unlocking the bootloader on any device is necessary before attempting a root, and this is no different for the Nexus 5X. Currently, and unfortunately, the only way to manage this on the Nexus 5X is by using ADB fastboot commands through OEM unlock.

Nexus 5X OEM Unlock Option

This method will absolutely wipe all of your data when unlocking the bootloader. As such, please make sure you’ve backed up everything possible before attempting this unlocking method. I’ll repeat it once more; this will wipe all of the data present on your phone.

There are a few prerequisites to using ADB commands that you’ll need to take care of before an unlock attempt.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A data cable to connect your device to your PC.
  • Proper OEM USB drivers for your device to be recognized and use fastboot.
  • ABD fastboot tools through Android SDK and the required commands (the commands will be given in this How to).
  • Patience and hopefully not a fear of entering codes into a command prompt.

I’ll work through the perquisites in the first few steps, if you already have everything you need, skip to Step 4.

As a general warning before you start attempting any of these steps, please backup your device and exercise caution to not incur any damages.

Related: What is Android Bootloader? A Quick Guide

Step 1:

If you’re using a Windows computer, much like these steps will assume, you’ll need OEM USB drivers for your PC. To get these drivers, you’ll need to find the appropriate company link for support.

oem-list

Since we’re dealing with the Nexus 5X, to unlock the bootloader you’ll want to go to LG’s support section with your model number on hand. As an additional option,you can find separate links for Nexus drivers here.

Step 2:

Installing the OEM Drivers can differ depending on your version of windows, but more or less follows a similar formula. If you have no pre-existing version of these drivers:

  • First connect your Android device to your PC, powered on.
  • Your PC should attempt to detect the new hardware, and may give you the option to locate and install driver software.
  • Select to locate the driver software, if instead you are given the chance to search for driver software online, deny this.
  • If you are asked for a disk, make the selection that will show you other options.
  • Now select Browse to find the downloaded drivers, and install them.

If your PC does not ask about the drivers on its own after your Android device has been connected, you can:

  • Right click on Computer wherever possible, and then select Manage.
manage
  • On the left pane, select Devices, and then expand Other device over on the right.
  • Right click the displayed name of your device, and then select Update Driver Software.
  • From here, you’ll launch the update wizard and will be able to Browse for driver software.
  • Now browse to, and select the Google USB drivers.

If you are upgrading the drivers instead of just installing them fresh:

  • Instead of opening up Devices with Manage, go to the Device Manager
  • Locate the ADB Interface, you may need to expand your Android device if you don’t see it.
  • Once you’ve found this, right-click it and select Update driver software.

From there, browse and locate the Google USB drivers just like any other instance.

Step 3:

Next, you’ll need to download Android SDK tools from the official source if you have not already.

sdk-tools

It’s recommended that you do the full download for Android Studio, but to use ADB fastboot all you’ll really need are the SDK tools.

For the full details on how to setup Android SDK, and ADB,you’ll need to refer to our guide.

Step 4:

Now that you have the Google Drivers installed, and Android SDK tools all good to go, you’ll need to open the command prompt in your platform tools folder. If you haven’t gotten intimate with the command prompt before, expect to now.

cmd

Just to make sure everything was setup correctly, you’ll need to enter a few commands. Inside of your platform tools folder, open the command prompt (Shift + right-click, and then select open command window here).

platform-tools

Enter the following command:

  • adb version
command-example

You should get a result similar to what I have above, if not, your SDK fastboot tools may not be setup correctly.

Next we should see if your connected Android device is ADB ready. To do this, enter the following command while your Android device is booted up, unlocked, and with USB debugging enabled:

  • adb devices

You should see your device serial number displayed if you entered this command correctly, which will confirm your device is ready to be unlocked.

Step 5:

Next you’ll need to boot your device into the bootloader. To do this:

  • Power off your device completely.
  • Now hold power and volume down until your phone boots again.

Additionally, with your phone ADB enabled, you can enter the following command:

  • adb reboot bootloader

Booting into the bootloader won’t take long.

Step 6:

Once you’re in the bootloader, confirm your fastboot connection with the following command:

  • fastboot devices

If the command prompt shows you your serial number, you’re good to go ahead and enter the last command.

Step 7:

Before entering this command, I would like to warn you one more time. Completing this step will wipe your phone’s internal and external storage completely. If you have not backed up your device, you will lose all of this data forever.

warning

Additionally, unlocking your bootloader and leaving it unlocked will make your device more vulnerable to attack if additional measures are not taken afterwards. With this in mind, please remind yourself why you are unlocking your bootloader.

The last command you need to enter in the command prompt is:

  • fastbootoem unlock

You will be asked to confirm this decision, using your volume keys to scroll, and the power button to confirm your selection. Once the process has been completed, enter the command:

  • fastboot reboot

Once the reboot has finished, you may safely disconnect your USB cable and enjoy your unlocked Nexus 5X.

Be forewarned, do not lock your bootloader unless your firmware is entirely stock. If you do, you run a major risk of bricking your device.

Conclusion

While you only have one option for unlocking the Nexus 5X, it’s a quick operation where most of the time used is in making preparations beforehand. Once your bootloader has been unlocked, you’re free to explore multiple opportunities that a locked bootloader didn’t allow you.

If you’ve wanted to root your Nexus 5X, then after unlocking your bootloader is the perfect time to make your Nexus 5X one of a kind.

Now that you’ve unlocked your bootloader, why not tell us what the first thing you’re going to do is in the comments below? If you have any questions about the unlocking process, we’ll be happy to answer them.

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4 Comments

  1. The phone in boot mode says Device Locked. It was connected to a company network via mobile iron. But it is not being recognized as registered on the device management site for me to try to remove administrative rights. I went through the command process and tried to do the fastboot oem unlock command and get a message that says “OEM unlock is not allowed”
    The phone is in boot loop mode – this is the reason why I’m trying to take these steps – it won’t let me replace the image because the phone is locked. Help!

  2. Hello,

    I got locked Nexus 5X with unkknown screen pattern. Therefore I went through all instructions here, however it stopped at “adb reboot bootloader” with announcemnt “Error: closed”. So probably, in my understanding, without allowing USB debugging in the settings, it cannot be unlocked. (But without pattern, I cannot enter settings…) So chicken-egg problem (?).
    Anyway, thanks for the help 😉
    P.

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