Jan 11 AT 8:23 PM Taylor Wimberly 143 Comments

Video: How to unlock and root a Nexus One

Everyone seems to appreciate it when we do guides and hacks so I thought it was time to film another. Today we will be hacking the new Nexus One.

This is not a beginners guide. If you are a beginner, you should not be hacking your phone. These instructions assume you have previously hacked at least one Android device.

Before we begin

Make sure you have accomplished the following things

  • Installed the USB drivers (grab them from Google or XDA)
  • Confirm your device is recognized by ADB (see CyanogenMod Wiki or XDA for help)
  • Backed up any important data from your device

Watch the video walk through once to get a preview of the entire process. Your first time might take you 30 minutes, but it can be completed in less than 10.

How to unlock and root a Google Nexus One from clarklab on Vimeo.

Step 1: Unlock your bootloader

In order to flash a new recovery image, you must unlock your bootloader. This process is quite simple, but it will wipe your phone.

  • Reboot phone into fastboot: Power off device and hold down trackball while powering back on. (The fastboot screen is the one with the Androids on skateboards)
  • Open a command prompt and navigate to your Android SDK tools folder.
  • Type ‘fastboot devices‘ to make sure your phone is recognized.
  • Type ‘fastboot oem unlock‘ to unlock the bootloader.
  • Use volume keys to navigate to yes and press the power button to confirm.

Step 2: Flash a new recovery image

Next we will download a new recovery image that allows us to flash custom zip packages.

  • Visit XDA and download Amon_RA’s recovery image for the Nexus One.
  • Copy the file to your Android SDK tools folder.
  • Open a command prompt and navigate to your Android SDK tools folder.
  • Type ‘fastboot flash recovery recovery-RA-nexus-v1.5.3.img‘. (Note filename will change as recovery image is updated)

Step 3: Boot into recovery mode and flash N1 Addon

Now that the new recovery image is installed, it is time to reboot into recovery mode and flash a custom zip package. Since your phone was just wiped, you might have to enable usb debugging again so ADB and fastboot commands will work.

Double check: Go to Settings > Application settings > Development > USB debugging (enable)

For this guide we will be flashing Cyanogen’s N1 Addon.

  • Visit XDA and download Cyanogen’s N1 Addon. (or any other custom .zip file you want to flash)
  • Copy the .zip file to the root directory of your SD card.
  • Open a command prompt and navigate to your Android SDK tools folder.
  • Type ‘adb reboot recovery‘ to reboot the phone into recovery mode. (The recovery screen says “Android system recovery” with green text on black background)
  • Use the trackball to navigate to “Flash zip from sdcard” and then select the zip file you wish to flash.
  • Follow the on screen instructions. Press the trackball to begin the flash when prompted.
  • When the flash is complete, navigate to reboot and press the trackball to reboot.

Congratulations, you are finished and it is now time to download some root apps from the Android Market. Search the Market for SetCPU for Root Users, Nexus One Torch, or use the term “Nexus root” and see what you find.


If you run into any serious problems please visit our forums and we will do our best to help. The XDA Nexus One forums are also a great resource.

Please share any other Nexus One hacks and root apps in the comments and we will add them to this post.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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