How to Unlock and Root Your Galaxy Nexus

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The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is slowly making its arrival around the world. For you power users out there, you’re probably wondering just how you can unlock your new phone, and open up its possibilities with root-level permissions.

Like the Nexus S and Nexus One before it, OEM unlocking the Galaxy Nexus isn’t that difficult, but carries with it the possibility of bricking your phone, and voiding your warranty.

Also, these steps were completed on the GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus. Instructions and files may vary for the LTE version.

To OEM unlock your Galaxy Nexus, you’ll need to download and install the Android SDK. Once you’ve got that installed and all the packages updated, grab fastboot (Windows or Mac) and put it in your platform-tools folder.

Next, boot your phone into fastboot mode by holding down the Volume-up, Volume-down, and power buttons. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see some red text on the screen that reads “FASTBOOT MODE.” From there, connect your phone to your computer via USB. If the device fails to install, try installing PdaNet to install the drivers you’ll need.

From there, open a command prompt (with administrative rights) and navigate to the platform-tools folder in your Android SDK folder. To make sure your phone is recognized, type fastboot devices (enter), you should see your device listed. If so, you’re ready to OEM unlock your phone.

Be advised, before you go any further, in addition to the bricking and warranty voiding warnings we mentioned before, OEM unlocking your phone will wipe it clean, including your “sdcard” (which is really your internal storage). Pictures, videos, documents, downloads, apps, music — all of it will be gone. You’ve been warned.

If you’re okay with all that, type fastboot oem unlock (enter), then use the volume buttons on your phone to select YES, and press the power button to commit the change.

Congratulations! You’ve just unlocked your bootloader!

Next we’ll want to root the phone. To do so, download and extract Superboot r2 into your platform-tools folder. Back in your command prompt, change into your Superboot r2 folder. If your phone isn’t in fastboot mode, reboot into fastboot mode (using the same instructions as we mentioned above, checking fastboot devices to make sure your phone is detected).

Windows users should type install-superboot-windows.bat (enter) to run the rooting processes. Mac users type chmod +x install-superboot-mac.sh (enter) ./install-superboot-mac.sh (enter). Your phone will reboot and you’ll be all set!

Once you’ve set up your phone, head to the Market and install Superuser to get all your power tools loaded up.

Congratulations! You’re not only OEM unlocked, you’re now rooted and have some awesome tools installed!

The last thing you may want to do is replace your recovery image with Clockwork Mod Recovery (CWM) (though doing so may mean you won’t be able to install automatic OTA updates). Even if you opt to do this, I’d suggest you either hold off for a while, or use the ROM Manager app to download the best recovery image and flash it on your phone. Flashing it via fastboot didn’t work reliably for us.

Enjoy your new-found freedom!

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.