Google has recently released the brand new Pixel 6a model as a mid-budget segment smartphone that offers best-in-class hardware specifications and a nice overall design. As the Pixel 6a comes under the popular Pixel lineup of the ‘6’ family, it also packs in-house Google Tensor SoC, stunning cameras, and more. Now, if you’re also one of the Pixel 6a users and want to Unlock Bootloader and Root Google Pixel 6A, then you can follow this full-depth guide.
We all know that Google Pixel series smartphones come with the stock Android OS with Pixel UI that looks clean, minimal, and distraction-free. This skin is optimized and designed for Pixel devices only. That’s why the performance or smoothness is on the next level. Even though Google releases multiple Pixel models yearly for both the budget and flagship range, the hardware compatibility remains to handle multitasking and daily usage smoothly.
But not everyone likes the stock Android interface or fewer features on Pixel devices. Here the customizations, rooting, bootloader unlocking, and flashing of a third-party ROM come into the light. Root access on an Android device always requires the bootloader to be unlocked before doing anything else. Android’s open-source platform allows developers, advanced users, and even basic level users to perform such customizations quite easily.
Google Pixel 6a Device Overview:
The Google Pixel 6a features a 6.1 inches OLED panel with a 60 Hz refresh rate. It is an FHD+ panel with a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels and an aspect ratio of 20:9. Under the hood, we get the Google Tensor processor built on a 5nm manufacturing process. It is an octa-core processor with two Cortex-X1 cores clocked at 2.8 GHz, two Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.25GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.80 GHz. For handling graphics-intensive tasks, we have the Mali-G78 MP20. The smartphone comes with stock Android 12 out of the box.
In optics, we get a dual camera setup at the rear and a single selfie camera at the front. The dual camera setup consists of a 12.2 MP primary sensor paired with an f/1.7 lens and a 12 MP ultrawide sensor paired with an f/2.2 lens. The selfie camera at the front is an 8 MP primary sensor paired with an f/2.0 lens. The front and back camera systems are limited to 1080p video recording.
The smartphone comes in a single storage variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. We also do not get a hybrid microSD slot for storage expansion. In terms of communications, we get Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, NFC, and USB Type-C 3.1. And for sensors, we get an under-display optical fingerprint sensor, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, and barometer. Powering it all is a 4410 mAh battery that can be topped up quickly using an 18W power adapter. The smartphone has three color options: Chalk, Charcoal, and Sage.
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What is Bootloader Unlock?
To be precise, a Bootloader on an Android device is a set of programs (processes) that integrates by default from the manufacturer. It runs whenever a user powers the handset before loading the operating system and commands the necessary hardware to boot into the system or the recovery mode, depending on which command the user is putting on the device. Generally, boot commands can be done with a combo of volume & power buttons.
The stock bootloader always works as a vendor-specific program that runs in limited criteria and doesn’t allow unauthorized third-party programs or files to get flashed on the device unless the bootloader gets unlocked manually. Here the third-party programs stand for custom firmware, root files, custom modules, etc. Therefore, interested users always prefer unlocking the device bootloader before getting into other root-level customizations.
Obviously, flashing a third-party or aftermarket firmware always requires the bootloader unlocking status because there is no other genuine risk-free way to achieve that. Though some manufacturers officially allow bootloader unlocking methods or tools to increase user interest in their devices, most brands ask their users not to do so because it involves both data loss and the risk of device bricking or bootloop issues.
A locked bootloader only loads up the vendor-signed authorized image file on the device after verifying the secure boot state, which is only compatible with the stock firmware no matter how many times you flash the stock ROM. But the situation reverts immediately whenever you try to flash and load the third-party unsigned image file on a locked bootloader. Manufacturers must set this limitation because a locked bootloader brings security and privacy.
Advantages of Bootloader Unlock?
Now, coming to the benefits or advantages of the bootloader unlocking method, it’ll set your device free to perform advanced or root-level customizations by flashing and tweaking system files. You can enable root access to get advanced permissions on your bootloader unlocked device like never before. Most importantly, you will be able to install custom firmware, GSI builds, etc, compatible with your specific device model.
Though the official stock firmware is more stable and considered bug-free in terms of performance and regular updates, pretty basic functions are available in the settings menu. Except for launchers or without root apps, you can’t do many changes. That’s why customization lovers and custom firmware fans mostly prefer deep-level changes, which will only be possible after unlocking the bootloader.
Well, there are a couple of disadvantages as well that we should mention. During the bootloader unlocking process, if you’re not careful enough or perform wrong actions, your handset may get bricked or stuck on the bootloop screen until you flash a stock ROM to get it fixed. Additionally, the bootloader unlocking method will immediately delete the device data, user settings, etc. While bootloader unlocking might void the manufacturer’s warranty.
What is Rooting and Why is Magisk Root Important?
Rooting or Root access is an additional privilege (like admin access) on your Android device to change, edit, delete, and tweak system files. Apart from custom firmware installation, you’ll get superuser access on your handset that allows you to install custom modules, delete system apps or bloatware, tasks, etc. These things aren’t possible on a stock firmware without root access.
The Magisk Root is a more seamless rooting method on the Android device without breaking or touching the vendor-specific files. So that the user can get all the root-level benefits and enjoy the seamless experience. Google implemented a SafetyNet security system for Android that offers an additional layer of protection from using monetary or banking apps on rooted devices. But Magisk rooted devices can easily use those apps.
Though some other well-known rooting tools or apps are available online, they’ve multiple issues with the device compatibility and limitations. Additionally, the Magisk patched boot image file is advantageous because it works well. The flashing Magisk file using the TWRP Recovery method isn’t accessible for all device models. A special thanks to topjohnwu (senior XDA recognized developer) for Magisk rooting.
How to Unlock Bootloader on Google Pixel 6A
Here we’ve provided a full guide on how to unlock the Pixel 6a bootloader step by step. Make sure to follow all the requirements and download links properly before heading over to the guide below. Now, without further ado, let’s jump into it.
It’s highly recommended to go through all the pre-requirements steps one by one below because skipping any method or step will eventually cause errors, and your device might get bricked easily.
Download ADB and Fastboot Binaries/Tools
You should download and install ADB & Fastboot Tools [Platform Tools] on your computer because it’s really necessary. Yes! You’ll also require a desktop/laptop and a USB data cable for connecting the Pixel 6a with the computer.
Download Google USB Drivers
The second thing you’ll have to do is simply download and install Google USB Drivers on your computer so that the connection bridge between PC and mobile device will get strong enough during flashing files. It’s also important.
Enable USB Debugging and OEM Unlock
Another important step is turning on the USB Debugging mode and OEM Unlock mode on your Android handset. These options can be found on the Developer Options menu, which comes hidden inside the device Settings menu. You’ll have to follow the simple steps below to perform this step.
- First, open the device Settings menu > Tap on About Phone.
- Tap on the Build Number 7 times continuously to see a message ‘You are now a developer!’.
- Once you see the message, you’ve enabled the Developer Options menu.
- Now, go back to the main Settings menu page > Search for Developer Options and open it.
- You’ll have to turn on the OEM Unlock toggle and the USB Debugging toggle to enable them one by one.
Download Pixel 6a Factory and OTA Images (Firmware)
Make sure to download the Google Pixel 6a Factory Image or the OTA Image as per your preference from the given links below. Once downloaded, you’ll have to keep it on the PC and extract the zip file of the firmware. [Remember the location where you’ve extracted the firmware folder]
- Factory Images | OTA Images [Grab the latest one always]
You should know what you’re doing. Unlocking the device Bootloader isn’t recommended by the manufacturer, and doing the same will void the device warranty (if applicable). We at GetDroidTips won’t be held responsible for any issues or damages to the device during/after following this guide. Make sure to take a full data backup before unlocking the bootloader, and do it at your own risk. You can also take someone’s help.
Steps to Unlock Bootloader on Pixel 6A
- We assume that you’ve already enabled USB Debugging and OEM Unlocking. If not, do that right now.
- Ensure to install the ADB Fastboot Tools (Platform Tools) on your PC after extracting the zip file.
- If you haven’t installed the Google USB Drivers on your PC yet, make sure to do so now.
- Once done, just connect your Google Pixel 6A device to the computer via a USB cable.
- Now, go to the installed ADB & Fastboot (Platform Tools) folder on the PC.
- Click on the address bar inside the folder and type cmd then hit Enter to open the Command Prompt window. [If prompted by UAC, click on Yes to allow the admin access]
- Next, type the following command line in the command prompt window and press Enter to check whether your Pixel 6a device is connected to the adb mode or not:
- If the device is connected successfully to the PC in adb mode then it’ll give you a random device ID. So, you can head over to the next step.
- If the device ID isn’t showing then disconnect the USB cable, re-install the USB Drivers, and retry the steps again.
- Once the device is ready in adb mode, you can run the following command line to reboot the device into the bootloader mode:
adb reboot bootloader
- Now, execute the following command line to unlock the device bootloader:
fastboot flashing unlock
- It may take some time to complete > Once done, make sure to open the extracted firmware folder on the PC.
- Here you’ll find out the bootloader image, the radio image, the image-device-buildnumber.zip file, etc.
- Simply extract the image-device-buildnumber.zip file > Here you’ll get the stock boot.img file and the vbmeta.img file.
- Just copy and transfer the stock boot.img file to your device’s internal storage (keep it without any folder).
- Then run the following command to flash the vbmeta image file on your handset:
fastboot flash vbmeta --disable-verity --disable-verification vbmeta.img
- Once done, run the following command to boot your device into the system:
- Wait for the process to complete as it may take some time for the first time.
- Once the device booted into the system, you can go through the initial setup process (if you want). Otherwise, skip setup and jump into the Magisk rooting method below.
How to Root Google Pixel 6A
- Now, it’s important to copy the stock boot.img file to your desktop screen and on your phone’s internal storage via the USB cable. [Don’t skip it]
- Make sure to download and install Magisk Manager on your Pixel 6A via Magisk Canary.
- Once installed, launch the Magisk Manager app > Hit Install > Select Install again.
- Next, tap on Select and Patch a File > Go to the internal storage on your phone.
- Head over to the transferred stock boot.img file and select it.
- Now, tap on the Let’s Go button at the top-right corner > Magisk Manager will automatically start patching it on your device.
- Make sure to wait for the process to complete.
- You’ll get the All done! message on the device screen that means patching the boot image file is successful.
- Next, go to the ‘Download’ folder on the internal storage section of your phone. Here you’ll find out the magisk_patched.img file.
- Just transfer the magisk_patched.img file to your PC (inside the Platform Tools folder).
- Again check whether the USB Debugging option has been enabled on your device or not. If not, turn it on.
- Disconnect and reconnect your device to the PC via the USB cable to refresh the connectivity.
- Now, head over to the installed ADB & Fastboot folder (Platform Tools folder) again.
- Type cmd on the address bar and hit Enter to open Command Prompt. [If prompted by UAC, click on Yes to run it as administrator]
- Now, run the following command line on the Command Prompt window to check whether the device is properly detected in fastboot or not:
- Then run the following command to easily boot your Pixel 6A device into the Fastboot (Bootloader) mode:
fastboot reboot bootloader
- Once done, execute the command line below to boot your Pixel 6A using the Magisk Patched Boot.img file: [If you don’t run this command then you may face the “Can’t load Android system. Your data may be corrupted.” error]
fastboot boot magisk_patched.img
- Next, run the following command to flash the patched boot image file on your Pixel 6A device:
fastboot flash boot magisk_patched.img
- Once done, make sure to reboot your device to the system manually. It may take some time to load.
- Enjoy! You’ve successfully enabled root access on the Google Pixel 6A.
That’s it, guys. We assume this guide was helpful to you. For additional queries, you can comment below.
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