In order to discourage owners from messing with their devices, companies lock devices’ bootloaders most of the times. But for more enterprising users like our readers, this is seen more as a hindrance than a failsafe to rooting and flashing custom ROMs/kernels. Times have changed now and manufactuers are now waking up to the developer community’s contribution that has grown exponentially over the years, and are offering to unlock bootloaders safely. One such company is Sony (previously Sony-Ericsson) and this guide below will show you how to unlock your bootloader if you own a relatively recent Xperia device.
I. Before You Begin
1. Unlocking your bootloader will void your warranty. Sony is particular about this and so are we. Make sure you realize what you are losing before you take the next step!
2. You will be opting out of over-the-air updates when you unlock your bootloader.
3. Back up anything you feel is important before you proceed.
II. Can my Xperia device be Unlocked?
Sony has been adding devices to the unlockable bootloader list over time and if your handset is listed on this page under the Supported Phones section, your device’s bootloader can be unlocked! Another way to check is:
1. Enter *#*#7378423#*#* on your phone dialer to access the service menu.
2. Go to Service info > Configuration > Rooting Status. Check if Bootloader unlock allowed says Yes in this section.
If you found Yes, then you are in luck and your bootloader can be unlocked!
III. Unlocking the Bootloader
1. Install the Android SDK. Use our setup guide (until Step 4) to do this easily.
2. Download the fastboot driver file from Sony.
3. Extract the downloadinf.zip you downloaded to a folder on your desktop. This folder will now contain a single file called android_winusb.inf; copy this file.
4. Go to c:\android-sdk\extras\google\usb_driver and paste the copied file here. If you are asked to overwrite an existing file of the same name, do so.
5. Find your IMEI number and write it down somewhere accessible. To find out your IMEI number, type in *#06# on your phone dialer.
6. Go to Sony Mobile’s Unlocking Site.
7. Click on the Yes, I’m sure button to begin the process.
8. Tick both the checkboxes agreeing to Sony’s legal terms and click on the I accept button.
9. You should now be at the Unlock request page. Enter your name, email and your device’s IMEI number and click on Submit.
10. Your unlock code should now be revealed. Write/copy this down somewhere accessible.
11. Power down your device.
12. Hold the Menu button (Xperia arc, Xperia arc S, Xperia neo, Xperia neo V, Xperia pro) or the Search button (Xperia Play) or the Volume up button (Xperia mini, Xperia mini pro, Xperia ray, Xperia active, Live with Walkman, Xperia S) and connect the device to your PC using the microUSB cable already provided.
13. If you are asked to install drivers, point the driver installer to c:\android-sdk\extras\google\usb_driver.
14. Open up a command prompt window and type in the following commands. To open up a command prompt windows, hit the Windows key + R to open up the Run dialog box, type in cmd in the Open field and hit Enter.cd C:\android-sdk\platform-tools
fastboot.exe -i 0x0fce getvar version
[You should get a response back, something like 0.3, which means your phone is connected and detected properly]fastboot.exe -i 0x0fce oem unlock 0xKEY
[Replace the KEY in 0xKEY with the unlock code you obtained from the Sony website]
Your bootloader should now be successfully unlocked!
If you need help with this procedure, please ask in the comments below or in the forum.
This is part of our Android How To’s. We have how to’s on rooting, loading ROMs, and tons of other tips and tricks for your specific device or for Android devices in general! For all of our Android How To’s, head here.