Android is one of the most popular mobile OS out in the market According to Wplov and a lot of developers have been developing custom firmware for different devices running android. Many OEMs including Xiaomi have started locking bootloaders of their devices for security purposes. For normal purposes, a device with a locked bootloader is fine but for some other valid reasons, the bootloader needs to be unlocked. Most of the OEMs provide official ways to unlock the bootloader of their devices.
In this article, we will see how you can unlock the bootloader of a Xiaomi device.
What is bootloader?
The bootloader is a software program embedded into the firmware of the device that starts whenever the device is powered on. The main purpose of the bootloader is to activate the right operating system whenever the device is powered on. The concept of the bootloader is not only restricted to android devices but all devices that run an Operating System have this piece of software.
Suppose a device has more than two operating systems at once then the bootloader is the part of the device that helps to boot up the operating system depending on the user’s choice.
Why do OEMs lock the bootloader?
OEMs lock the bootloader of their devices to prevent the installation of any other operating systems. Many OEMs ship their devices with their custom versions of Android which they want the users to use. So to prevent users from installing other operating systems, OEMs lock the bootloaders. Though most of the OEMs allow unlocking the bootloader for the more geeky customers who want to customize their device as per their choice.
What are the risks of unlocking the bootloader?
Since OEMs lock the bootloader then obviously there might be some risks related to unlocking the bootloader. Some risk factors depend on the OEM but in general cases, the risks are
- Unlocking the bootloader allows you to modify some parts of the system that may cause permanent damage to the device.
- You will lose the warranty of your device once you unlock the bootloader.
- Unlocking bootloader makes your device more vulnerable to malware attacks.
- Anyone can flash custom ROM and recover your device if it ever gets stolen.
- Some apps and features that demand higher security levels from the device such as banking apps, find the device, etc will no longer work properly.
Why you should unlock the bootloader?
Everything has its downsides as well as upsides too. Similarly, unlocking bootloader, other than the risks mentioned above has a lot of upsides to it as well. Unlocking bootloader has these upsides
- You can root your device to gain complete control over it.
- You can install custom ROMs.
- You can modify system settings if you are experienced enough.
- You can customize your device as per your liking.
Steps to unlock bootloader in your Mi device?
So, if you have decided to unlock the bootloader of your Mi device but don’t know how to, then in this article we will tell you how to. This procedure can be applied to any Mi device with a bootloader. But before beginning the procedure you need some prerequisites that will be needed when unlocking the bootloader.
- Take a full backup of all of your important data before unlocking the bootloader as unlocking it will format your device.
- Install Xiaomi USB drivers that are available with the Mi PC Suite.
- Enable USB debugging options from the developer settings. To activate navigate to Settings > Additional settings > Developer options > Enable USB debugging. If you cant see the Developer options then go to Settings > About phone and tap on “MIUI version” seven times.
- Make sure that you have an official MIUI ROM installed in your device.
- Unlocking the bootloader will void your mobile’s warranty so proceed with caution.
- Make sure you have a SIM card inserted in the device with a working internet connection.
Unlocking the bootloader
In the earlier days, Xiaomi required you to get permission from them 15-20 days prior to unlocking the bootloader. But now Xiaomi has changed its policy and you can unlock your device within 24-48 hours.
To start unlocking your device’s bootloader follow the below-given tutorial
- Firstly you need to download Mi unlock tool from here.
- The Mi unlock tool will be in a zip/7z archive, extract it to your desktop.
Now in your mobile go to settings > Additional settings > developer options and enable OEM unlocking option.
Once the OEM unlocking option is enabled goto Settings > Additional settings > Developer options > Mi unlock status.
- After clicking on the Mi unlock status button you will be taken to a new screen which should show a lock with “This device is locked” and “The phone is secured” written under it.
- Make sure you have a working internet connection (WIFI connection will not work, you need a mobile data connection) and Now click on the “Add account and device” button at the bottom of the screen.
- If you are already logged in your Mi account in your mobile then it will automatically add your account to the unlock process, if not, then you need to log in your Mi account.
- Once it shows a toast saying “Added successfully. Mi account is associated with this device now”, just power off your device and go to Fastboot mode by pressing your power button + volume down button together for few seconds until the screen lights up again.
- If you are successfully booted into Fastboot mode then you should see a picture of a bunny repairing an android robot and Fastboot written under it in blue letters.
- Now on your computer open the folder where you extracted the Mi Unlock tool. Open the “miFlash_unlock.exe” file.
- Make sure you have a working internet connection on your computer. Once you open the Mi flash unlock tool you should see a login screen for your Mi account.
- Log in the same Mi account that you used to log in your Mi mobile and click on sign in.
- After signing in, connect your mobile with your computer using a USB cable.
- The Mi unlock tool should show “Phone connected” and an Attention message below it.
- Click on the Unlock button at the bottom and wait for some time. It will show a popup with a warning text in red color. Click on the Unlock anyway button to proceed.
- Once it shows Unlocked status your device will restart on its own.
- Now you have an unlocked bootloader.
Mi unlock tool shows “Not connected to the phone” even when the phone is connected via USB
- If you face this error it is most likely due to driver issues.
- To fix this issue you will need to install drivers for your phone. To install drivers, click on the small gear icon at the top right corner in Mi unlock tool.
- Now a small window will popup having few options. Now click on the “check” button in front of the option that says “Click the button to install the drive”.
- Now follow on-screen instructions to install the drivers.
Mi unlock tool shows “Couldn’t unlock” status while unlocking bootloader
- This error mostly occurs when you try to unlock the bootloader just after adding the Mi account to the “Mi unlock status” option in your device.
- To solve this issue you have to wait for 720/360/72 hours or whatever time is mentioned in the error.
What to do after unlocking the bootloader?
Once the bootloader is unlocked your phone will restart on its own. If not, press the power button until the screen lights up. Once the bootloader is unlocked, your device will be reset and all the data present on the device will be automatically deleted along with the Deleted Xiaomi Mi account. Now, with an unlocked bootloader, you can do lots of stuff with your device such as installing a custom recovery, rooting your phone, modify system settings, etc.
But if you plan to use the phone with the stock MIUI ROM then you don’t have to worry about OTA updates as they are not affected by the unlocked bootloader.
If you face any problems signing in your Mi account after unlocking the bootloader or if your phone isn’t allowing you to enter into it then you can use mi account unlock tool box.
Unlocking the bootloader has its pros and cons that you need to consider before unlocking it. If you are a geeky user and need complete control over your device than unlocking the bootloader is worth the risks, whereas if you are just an everyday user who doesn’t fiddle with the device much then it’s better to leave the bootloader as it is.