FP4. Manage the bootloader

The Fairphone 4 (FP4) 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 offline.

-IMPORTANT-
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

To unlock the bootloader, you need a code. To get the code, you will have to provide the IMEI 1 and the serial number of your Fairphone.
After, you will also have to enable developer options on your device. Then you can use the unlock code to unlock your device. Follow the instructions below to guide you.

 

Before starting

Please follow the instructions of the article to update to the latest software. If you skip this step, the procedure will not work.

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

 

1. Get your unique unlock code

To get the code, follow these instructions:

  1. Find the IMEI 1 of your device:
    1. Via the software: go to SettingsAbout phone → scroll down to IMEI (SIM slot 1).
      IMEIFP3.png
    2. Printed inside the phone:
      1. Take off the battery cover.
      2. Take out the battery module.
      3. The white sticker with the IMEI 1 printed on it in black - accompanied by a barcode - is located on the side of the battery housing of the Core Module.
    3. Printed on the underside of the original box of delivery.
    4. Printed on the delivery note.
  2. Find your device's serial number via the software: go to SettingsAbout phoneModel & HardwareSerial number: Ie. 357801234567890.
    serialFP3.png
  3. Go to the dedicated page for the bootloader code:
    1. Enter the IMEI 1 and serial number in the text fields of the form.
    2. Click the blue button Get your unlock code.
    3. You will then get your unique unlock code with further details.
    4. Write down the code somewhere if you can not enter it in your phone immediately.

If you encounter an error, try:

  • again at a later time.
  • with another browser.
  • on another device.
  • to type the correct identifiers again, you could have entered a typo.
-IMPORTANT-
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, please contact our Customer Support.

 

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. Press Build number seven times until you see a small message telling you that Developer mode is enabled.
  3. Go to SettingsSystemAdvancedDeveloper options.
    DevOpFP3.png
  4. Scroll down until you find OEM unlocking and set the toggle to On.
    _a_FP3_developer-options_oem-unlocking.png
  5. The device then can ask you to re-enter your chosen PIN, password, or pattern for unlocking the lock screen of your Fairphone.
  6. Enter the unlock code (see step 1.3.3) you received from us and press Enable.
      1. If it is not possible to enter the code into your device, please make sure the device is connected to the internet and you have updated to the latest software version.
        _a_FP3_developer-options_input-verify-code.png
      2. Now unlocking is enabled.
  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(s) for Microsoft Windows systems:

  1. Windows 10.
  2. Your computer needs to have a working internet connection.
  3. Your system drivers need to be up to date.
    To make sure of this, in your Windows 10:
    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. Please 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.

Please, check the animation below for additional help.

driver_installation_v3.gif

 

Unlock your bootloader 

  1. Install the command-line tool fastboot on your computer.
  2. Connect your Fairphone to your computer using a USB data cable.
  3. Put your Fairphone in fastboot mode. You can do so in one of the following ways:
    1. If you have installed the command-line tool ADB.
      1. Start a Command Prompt (Windows) or a terminal (macOS).
      2. Use a USB data cable to connect your FP4 to a computer via a USB cable.
      3. Type ADB reboot bootloader and press the Enter ↩ key.
    2. Alternatively, you can disconnect the USB cable, turn off your Fairphone, then connect the cable and hold the volume down button. After a few seconds, you'll see the fastboot mode.
  4. In a Command Prompt (Windows) or a terminal (macOS), type: fastboot flashing unlock and press the Enter ↩ key.
    -IMPORTANT-
    If this doesn't work on your macOS, try ./fastboot flashing unlock and press the Enter ↩ key.
  5. Follow the instructions on the Fairphone screen. This command will wipe all the personal data on your phone.
  6. After the phone reboots, boot into the fastboot mode once again (step 3).
  7. In a Command Promp or a terminal, type fastboot flashing unlock_critical and press the Enter ↩ key.
    -IMPORTANT-
    If this doesn't work on your macOS, try ./fastboot flashing unlock_critical and press the Enter ↩ key.
  8. Follow the instructions on the Fairphone screen. This command will wipe all the personal data on your phone.

Now the bootloader is unlocked. You can install your preferred custom operating system when it is made available by the custom ROM manufacturer.

 


Optional: Lock your bootloader

-IMPORTANT-
Please, 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've installed an OS with an older security update, Android's roll-back protection might brick your device when locking the bootloader! Wait until you get a newer security update before locking it.

 

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. If not done yet, install the command-line tool fastboot on your computer
  2. Connect your Fairphone to your computer using a USB data cable and make sure USB debugging is enabled (see Part 1 above).
  3. Put your Fairphone in fastboot mode. You can do so in one of the following ways:
    1. If you have installed the command-line tool ADB
      1. Start a Command Prompt (Windows) or a terminal (macOS) 
      2. Use a USB data cable to connect your FP4 to a computer via a USB cable
      3. Type ADB reboot bootloader and press the Enter ↩ key
    2. Alternatively, you can turn off your Fairphone, then press the power button and volume down button at the same time until the device vibrates. After a few seconds, you'll see the fastboot mode
  4. In a Command Prompt (Windows) or a terminal (macOS), type: fastboot flashing lock and press the Enter ↩ key.
    -IMPORTANT-
    If this doesn't work on your macOS, try ./fastboot flashing lock_critcal and press the Enter ↩ key.
  5. Follow the instructions on the Fairphone screen.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5, but in step 4, use fastboot flashing lock.

Now the bootloader is locked, and your Fairphone is safe again!

 


Known Issues

  • 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 4 Warranty.
  • Sometimes, after locking the bootloader, the phone can not boot anymore. Please contact our Customer Support team if you encounter this.

 


If after reading the article you need more help, get in touch with our Customer Support.