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How to Unlock the Galaxy Nexus Bootloader (Verizon)

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One of the special things about the Galaxy Nexus 4G LTE on Verizon is that you can unlock the bootloader to open up greater customization and ROM possibilities down the road.

Read: Galaxy Nexus First Impressions

This process requires patience, a Windows computer and being OK with possibly voiding your warranty. If you are OK with that, this is the first step you should take before you try to root the Galaxy Nexus 4G LTE on Verizon.

Warning: This will erase your Galaxy Nexus, so be sure that you have backed up any information you want to keep. I recommend MyBackUp to do this.

How to Unlock the Galaxy Nexus Bootloader

For now, you will need a Windows computer to complete these steps, borrow a friend’s or stay tuned for a Mac tutorial as soon as we find one.

Turn on USB debugging

Turn on USB debugging

Step 1. Go to Samsung.com to download the Galaxy Nexus 4G LTE drivers.

  • Install the drivers by double clicking on the downloaded file and following the prompts.

 Step 2. Turn on USB Debugging on your Galaxy Nexus.

  • Settings -> Developer Options -> USB Debugging

Step 3. Download the Android SDK (to get the adb program.

  • These directions will walk you through installing adb on you computer. This is the program you use to unlock and eventually root the Galaxy Nexus. (This can be tricky, but if you follow the directions closely you shouldn’t have any trouble.)

Step 4. Download fastboot.exe and save it to this folder “C:\android-sdk-windows\platform-tools”

Step 5. Plug your phone into your computer.

Step 6. Hold Shift and Right click in your “C:\android-sdk-windows\platform-tools” folder and choose “Open Command Window Here“.

How to unlock the Galaxy Nexus 4G LTE on verizon

Using adb to unlock the Galaxy Nexus 4G LTE on Verizon

Unlock Galaxy Nexus Verizon

Unlocking the Galaxy Nexus Verizon version.

Step 7. In the command window type:  adb reboot bootloader

  • This should restart your phone and send you to the bootloader.
  • If you get an “error more than one device and emulator” message, try restarting your phone and doing step 7 again.

Step 8. Type: fastboot oem unlock

  • The window will say waiting for device, be patient. Do not press the start button on your phone.

Step 9. When asked, use the volume keys to choose Yes. Press the volume button to select it.

Step 10. Your bootloader is unlocked.

Step 11. Use the power button to select Start to reboot your device.

  • If the phone loops during boot, do not remove the battery. You may need to unplug the USB cable or wait for the device to do a factory wipe before it boots

Now you are ready to root your Verizon Galaxy Nexus.

If you need additional help unlocking your Galaxy Nexus 4G LTE on Verizon, the video below from Droid-Life may be of help.

If you run into issues, please let us know and we will try to help. If you have successfully unlocked your Galaxy nexus please chime in with tips for beginners.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

30 Comments

  1. DonJulio

    12/16/2011 at 8:44 am

    Thank you. Got my gnex last night..

    • Manny Subia

      12/16/2011 at 10:21 am

      Me too!!…..and I LUV it!!

  2. RT

    12/16/2011 at 10:27 am

    Windows 7
    You have to force using the VZW Samsung drivers to make this work.  Once you’ve installed the drivers, go to device manager, right click “android 1.0″ and choose “update driver.”  Choose “let me pick from a list on my computer” then ADB Interface, Samsung v5.xxx.

    Worked perfectly but took some digging.  Otherwise, this post covers the process.

    • DonJulio

      12/16/2011 at 11:01 am

      thanks, this is helpful to me.

    • Nick

      12/17/2011 at 2:27 pm

      I can’t find where it says “ADB Interface, Samsung v.5xxx” when it let’s me pick from a list. All I see related to the Nexus is the category “SAMSUNG Android Phone” and when I open that up, I get a list of 2 versions: “SAMSUNG Android ADB Interface Version: 2.9.104.921 and 2.9.310.1125. Am I doing something wrong?

    • tbatt

      12/17/2011 at 8:39 pm

      This is a good call from RT.  The message that I got was something like ‘Device not recognized’ after typing adb reboot bootloader 
      into the cmd window.  Click on the message and that’s where you follow the directions that RT provided.  (There were two entries for the ADB v5, but I’m guessing either one would work fine.)

      Thanks!!

    • Tonygonzalez319

      12/21/2011 at 6:09 pm

      Thanks RT this worked for me, I was wondering why it was taking so long for the bootloader to unlock. Your instructions on forcing the update saved me a lot of time, thanks again. 

  3. Mikefish96er

    12/16/2011 at 5:07 pm

    whenever i try to open the sdk manager it just open for a split second then closes. what is going on?

    • Bartdyer

      12/17/2011 at 11:46 am

      you install Java SDK?

  4. Andyman

    12/16/2011 at 8:30 pm

    I have gotten as far as “adb reboot bootloader”  and that gets me to the screen that you have displayed about with the start button i type “fastboot oem unlock”  and it doesnt ask anything…. what am i doing wrong… all the other steps worked ok

  5. Aad

    12/16/2011 at 8:44 pm

    thanks bro nice post…..
    http://techunlock.xtreemhost.com/

  6. Mo Elinsky

    12/17/2011 at 8:34 am

    Same problem here, when I type fastboot oem unlock it hangs on “waiting on device”. Any tips?

    • jj

      12/17/2011 at 9:08 am

      follow RT’s comment above

  7. Ominous

    12/17/2011 at 10:31 am

    So I successfully unlocked the bootloader, but now it get’s stuck on the Google logo when I try to reboot/battery pull and when I go into recovery mode, all I see is the android with the red exclamation point. Am I SOL?

  8. Anewhouse1

    12/17/2011 at 10:49 am

    I tried following RT’s instructions but android 1.0 did not show up in the device manager. Am I supposed to install the drivers to a specific location or what else might I have done wrong? 

  9. Eric

    12/17/2011 at 2:12 pm

    I can’t get the driver to install?  How do I get out of Bootloader mode safely?  Power off? Recovery mode?

    • Eric

      12/17/2011 at 7:56 pm

      I finally got it.  Damn USB drivers were a bitch to install.

  10. reid

    12/17/2011 at 2:29 pm

    In reference to RT’s post to “force” driver, i see android 1.0 in the device manager but there is no option to select “ADB interface, samsung v5.xxx” when trying to update driver.

  11. reid

    12/17/2011 at 2:35 pm

    ok i figured it out, after your first command in the promt, open up device manager then try to update, i had to click samsung phone or something like that, update driver then enter your second command, and poof, it worked.

  12. Drapierrot

    12/21/2011 at 10:51 pm

    Wow, I’m getting royally scr00wed.  Followed the instructions for unlocking  bootloader via adb (android sdk), and superboot with the recommended usb driver via Samsung and PDAnet… and I’m still getting the “waiting for device” prompt with no follow-up options.  

    What am I doing incorrectly?  Is my device and unlockable device (if that exists)?

  13. DaveKid

    12/28/2011 at 8:56 am

    On Windows 7….adb sees my device and I can reboot into bootloader but once I do adb no longer sees device and I get the “waiting for device” without end (which I would expect considering that adb isn’t seeing the device).

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