Pixel 5 is Google’s latest flagship device released this year. Compared to its previous versions, the Pixel 5 doesn’t have the best specs that a flagship should have. It has a mid-range processor instead of the high-end ones found on more expensive competitors.
There are only two camera sensors on the back instead of the traditional 3+ sensor layout we’re used to seeing on flagship phones. However, the Pixel 5’s price makes up for the lower specs. Add the pure Android 11 experience to the mix and the Pixel 5 is an ideal device for many consumers.
If you’ve used a Pixel device before, you know there are a lot of things you can do with it. You can root your phone, install custom resets like TWRP, and even install custom ROMs. Rooting allows you to take full control of the phone and access files that you are unable to normally do. A custom recovery can flash custom ROMs and various binary files, and a ROM completely changes the look of the software.
Before you can do any of these things on your Pixel 5, you must first unlock the bootloader. The bootloader is locked by default on all Pixel phones, but Google has made it very easy to unlock it via Fastboot mode. Before continuing with the tutorial below, we recommend that you read more about the meaning of a locked bootloader, otherwise skip this part of the article.
Pixel 5 Fastboot and Bootloader explained
Fastboot is a system protocol found on most Android phones. It is used by developers and power users to write data directly to the phone’s internal memory. There are several types of data that developers can write, such as kernels, restores, and custom binaries.
The bootloader is an image file that contains boot instructions for the kernel. A locked bootloader means it does not allow access to the kernel and system files. This is why it needs to be unlocked to flash custom binaries.
How to start Pixel 5 Fastboot mode
This is a simple process that can be done in seconds. The simplest way is through a combination of physical keys. If for some reason that method doesn’t work, there is another way through ADB commands.
1. Key combination
- Grab your phone and hold the power button. Touch Power off to turn off the phone.
- Once your phone is turned off, press and hold the Power + Volume Down buttons at the same time. Keep them pressed and don’t click on them.
- When the phone screen turns on and you see a small Android figure, you can release the keys. You are in Fastboot mode.
2. ADB commands
If for some reason the above method doesn’t work, you can try ADB commands. This is an alternative method and takes longer because a personal computer is required.
- This method involves connecting the phone to the computer using a USB cable. In order for the computer to properly recognize your phone, you need to download and install the correct Pixel 5 USB and ADB drivers.
- After installing the correct drivers, connect your phone to your computer using the original USB cable.
- Open the Command Prompt window inside the ADB folder. Type and run the following code:
adb reboot bootloader
- Once this command is executed, the phone will automatically shut down and boot into fastboot mode.
In Fastboot mode, you will see a small Android logo and a large red text above it. You can change it using the volume up and down buttons. Some of the most important modes you will find are: Boot, Reboot bootloader, Download mode, Recovery mode, Barcodes, Shutdown.
Unlock the Pixel 5 bootloader
Now that you know how to boot your Pixel 5 into fastboot mode, it’s time to finally unlock the bootloader.
Warning: Unlocking the bootloader is a process that will only take a few seconds. However, it will delete all files and data inside the phone. Please make a full backup of all important data before proceeding further.
- Go to Settings and enable Developer Options.
- Go to Developer Options and tap OEM Unlock.
- Boot your phone into Fastboot using one of the methods listed above. If it is not already connected, connect your phone to the PC with the USB cable.
- Open the Command Prompt window from the ADB folder and enter the following code: fastboot flashing unlock
- This code will initiate the bootloader unlocking process on your Pixel 5.
When the whole process is done and the bootloader is unlocked, the phone will automatically reboot and boot into the Android system. Congratulations! You can now fully customize your phone and install custom files.