Manage the Bootloader

This process does not apply to the Fairphone 2! To install Fairphone OS on the Fairphone 2, follow the instructions in the article Fairphone 2 OS manual installation.

The Fairphone gives you the freedom to unlock your bootloader. Opening the bootloader allows you to install an alternative custom operating system (ROM) or Install Fairphone OS Manually.

Be aware that unlocking the bootloader also disables essential security features. Only open the bootloader if you know what you are doing!
An unlocked bootloader allows any expert users to take ownership of the device and perform operations that might compromise the security of your Fairphone and the data stored on it.


Part 1: On your Fairphone

Before you start

Make sure you're running the latest software available. If you are not running the latest software, or you are not sure, update your Fairphone to the latest Fairphone OS.

If you skip this step, the procedure may not work.

Back up all your data from your Fairphone. Unlocking the bootloader will erase all your data.


Step 1. Get your unique unlock code

To get the code, follow these instructions:

1. Find the IMEI 1 of your device:

  • On a working device: go to SettingsAbout phone → scroll down to IMEI (SIM slot 1).
  • On a non-working device:
    1. Take off the battery cover.
    2. Take out the battery.
    3. On the side of the battery housing of the Core Module, there will be a white sticker with the IMEI and a barcode. Click to see how it looks on the Fairphone 3 and Fairphone 4.
  • Printed on the underside of the original box of delivery.
  • Printed on the delivery note.

2. Find your device's serial number.

Go to SettingsAbout phoneModel & HardwareSerial number.

3. Generate the bootloader unlock code

  1. Go to the dedicated page for the bootloader code.
  2. Enter the IMEI 1 and serial number in the text fields of the form.
  3. Click the blue button Get your unlock code.
  4. You will then get your unique unlock code with further details.
  5. Write down the code somewhere. You'll need it later.

If you encounter an error:

  • Check for typos with similar letters or numbers, for example "O" and "0".
  • Try again at a later time.
  • Try with another browser.
  • Try on another device.
The code changes each time. If you wish to unlock your bootloader again, you will have to repeat the procedure.
If it doesn't work, contact our Customer Support.


Step 2. Enable OEM unlocking

First, you will need to enable the Developer Options on your Fairphone. To do so:

  1. Go to SettingsAbout phone.
  2. Scroll all the way down and tap the Build number seven times until your phone asks for your screen lock (PIN, Password or Pattern). After you enter your screen lock, a small pop-up will appear, saying "You are now a developer".
  3. Go to SettingsSystem (→ Advanced) → Developer options.
  4. Scroll down until you find OEM unlocking and set the toggle to On.
  5. If asked, enter your PIN, password, or pattern for unlocking the screen of your Fairphone.
  6. Enter the unlock code you wrote down in step 1.3.3 and press Enable.
    Note: This means that you allow unlocking. The bootloader is still locked at this step.
    If it is not possible to enter the code into your device, make sure you are connected to the internet and you have updated to the latest software version.
  7. Scroll down some more until you find USB debugging and set the toggle to ON.


You're now ready to follow the next part of the instructions.


Part 2: On your computer (Windows and macOS)

Prerequisite for Windows - Update USB drivers

  1. Windows 10 or newer.
  2. Your computer needs to have a working internet connection.
  3. Your system drivers need to be up to date.
    1. Click the Start menu, type Device Manager, then press the Enter key on your keyboard. A new window will open.
    2. Scroll down the list and select Other Devices. Follow the next steps if you see an item named simply Android, preceded by an escalation dot.
    3. Click the Start menu, type Check for updates, then type the Enter key on your keyboard. A new window will open.
    4. Click on the button Check for updates located in the top right part of this window and wait for a couple of minutes. Below the button, you will now see View optional updates.
    5. Click on View optional updates.
    6. Click on Driver and updates.
    7. Scroll down the list if needed and select all the drivers starting with Google, Inc -...
    8. Click on the button Download and install.
    9. Once done, reboot your computer.
  4. The connection should now work.

Check the animation below for additional help.


Unlock your bootloader 

  1. Connect your Fairphone to your computer using a USB data cable.
  2. Download the Android platform tools on your computer.
  3. Extract the .zip you downloaded in the previous step and move the unarchived folder to your desktop.
  4. Open a Command Prompt (Windows) or a terminal (macOS/Linux). You'll use this to send commands to your Fairphone. For starters, navigate to the platform tools folder.
    • On Windows, type the command cd C:\Users\[YOUR USERNAME HERE]\Desktop\platform-tools_r34.0.4-windows\platform-tools
      and press Enter ↩.
    • On macOS/Linux, type the command cd ~\Desktop\platform-tools_r34.0.4-windows\platform-tools
      and press Enter ↩.
    • Note that the exact name of the platform tools folder may be different from the example above.
  5. Type adb devices and press Enter ↩. You will see a pop-up on your Fairphone asking if you allow USB debugging on this computer. Tap Allow.
    • Note
      If a command doesn't work, try prefacing it with ./. For example: adb devices./adb devices.
  6. Next, type adb reboot bootloader and press Enter ↩. The phone will now reboot into fastboot mode.
  7. While in fastboot mode, type fastboot flashing unlock and press Enter ↩. Follow the instructions that appear on your Fairphone's screen. This action will wipe all the personal data on your phone.
  8. After the phone reboots, boot into the fastboot mode once again.
  9. Type in fastboot flashing unlock_critical and press Enter ↩. Once again, follow the instructions on your Fairphone to finish unlocking. This action will wipe all the personal data on your phone.


Congratulations - the bootloader is unlocked! You can now Install Fairphone OS Manually or your preferred custom operating system.


Optional: Lock your bootloader

Be aware that:
  • You should always use the latest available package to flash Fairphone OS on your device.
  • If you installed a 3rd-party OS, locking your bootloader might prevent your device from booting correctly
  • To prevent unauthorized access to your data, locking the bootloader will delete all personal data on your phone.
  • If you install an OS with an older security patch level than your previous OS, Android's roll-back protection might brick your device when locking the bootloader! Wait until you get a software update with the same or newer security patch level before locking the bootloader.


To protect your data in case of theft or loss of your Fairphone, we advise you to keep the bootloader of your Fairphone locked.

To lock the bootloader of your Fairphone again, follow the instructions below:

  1. Connect your Fairphone to your computer using a USB data cable and make sure USB debugging is enabled.
  2. If not done yet, download the Android platform tools on your computer.
  3. Put your Fairphone in fastboot mode.
  4. In a Command Prompt (Windows) or a terminal (macOS/Linux), type fastboot flashing lock_critical and press the Enter ↩ key.
    If this doesn't work, try ./fastboot flashing lock_critical and press the Enter ↩ key.
  5. Follow the instructions on the Fairphone screen.
  6. Repeat steps 3 and 4, but this time type in fastboot flashing lock.


Congratulations - the bootloader is locked!



Fairphone does not support the use of the TWRP (Team Win Recovery Project), as it might cause malfunctioning.
If you need our assistance after installing such software, you will have to restore your device to its original state. If not, usually we will consider it as out of warranty. For more information, you can check our Fairphone Warranty.


If after reading the article you need more help, contact our Customer Support.