Unlocking Xiaomi bootloader allows you to install custom firmware and Fastboot ROM, get superuser rights and other actions with the device. Bootloader in Xiaomi, Redmi, POCO smartphones is an additional protection, which is activated by default, and starts working before the operating system boots.
What is Xiaomi bootloader
Xiaomi Bootloader is a program that runs every time you turn on/reboot your smartphone until the operating system starts. Bootloader checks the installed operating system for errors and critical changes, then launches it.
A locked bootloader protects your data from unauthorized people, preventing you from using a stolen or lost device. What happens if you unlock the bootloader and lose your phone — the person who finds the device can reflash it and use it as their own.
Most smartphone manufacturers, including Xiaomi, Redmi and POCO, lock the bootloader from the factory to secure user data. But a locked lock doesn’t give you full control over your device. The open bootloader allows you to install custom firmware and get root rights. Whether your device is Xiaomi Pad 5, Mi 11, POCO X3 Pro, Redmi Note 7, Redmi 4X or any other phone, the procedure is the same.
After unlocking the bootloader, you will not receive OTA updates. Face and fingerprint phone unlocking will become unavailable, Xiaomi Find Device service, Google Pay e-payment system and some other features will be disabled.
Unlocked bootloader allows attackers to gain remote access to the device, making it vulnerable to viruses. Therefore, after you have performed all the necessary actions on your device, you need to unlock the bootloader again.
It is not possible to unlock bootloader Xiaomi without PC. On a phone without a PC, you can only check its status: unlocked or locked.
Unlocking bootloader Xiaomi
Unlocking Xiaomi bootloader consists of two steps:
- Binding your smartphone to your Mi account and enabling USB debugging.
- Unlocking the bootloader using Mi Unlock.
During unlocking, all user data is deleted: the smartphone will be reset to factory settings. Before performing the procedure, it is recommended to back up your data.
Step 1: binding Xiaomi phone to Mi account
In order to work with the bootloader, you need a Mi account to which the device is tethered. If you don’t have an account, you need to create one and follow the tethering procedure. Skip this tap if your phone is already tethered to your Mi account.
Don’t forget to turn off Wi-Fi and turn on mobile internet first. This is a prerequisite.
How to tether your phone to the Mi account:
- Start your phone settings, go to Mi Account.
- Tap the Sign out button.
- Enter your password and click OK. Then go back to the settings list and go to About phone.
- Tap the MIUI version tile 7 times until it says You are a developer.
- Go back to the settings list, select Additional Settings.
- Click on the Developer options.
- Move the OEM unlock slider, then tap Mi Unlock Status.
- Give all necessary permissions using the Agree button.
- Tap the Add account and device to device button.
Tethering process will start, which won’t take long. When it is finished, you will see the corresponding message.
All you have to do is to log in to your Mi account and the device will be bound.
Xiaomi bootloader unlock request can take 168, 360 or 720 hours to process. You can check how much time is left for resolution under Mi Unlock Status.
During the waiting period, you can use the phone normally. But don’t reset it to factory settings or log out of your account after tethering your Mi account to the phone, in which case the timer will be reset to 168 hours and you’ll have to wait for bootloader unlock permission again.
Step 2: enable USB debugging
Debugging activation function is located in hidden settings for developers, that were activated in preparation for the unlock above. It remains to find the right parameter and activate it.
Activate USB debugging:
- Start MIUI settings, go to Additional Settings.
- Select the Developer options item.
- Slide the USB debugging switch to On.
- Confirm the action with the OK button.
Now Mi Unlock will be able to work with the bootloader.
When unlocking the bootloader, all user data will be deleted. It is recommended to make Mi phone backup. For example, transfer it to an external drive.
Step 3: Unlock the bootloader
Xiaomi has created a free program to unlock the bootloader — Mi Flash Unlock. This official utility works on Windows and does not require installation on your PC.
Before using the Mi Unlock program, install the necessary drivers that are in the archive with the program. Without them, unlocking is impossible because the PC will not see the connected smartphone or tablet.
For unlocking it is recommended to use fully working original USB-cable. If the connection is unstable, you may get a brick phone instead of an unlocked bootloader.
How to unlock bootloader Xiaomi:
- Start Windows Explorer, navigate to the directory with the unpacked program.
- Double-click run the driver_install.exe file. This action will install the drivers in “silent” automatic mode.
- Run the file named miflash_unlock.exe to start the program.
- Accept the license agreement using the Agree button.
- Enter registration data from your Mi account (login and password) and press Sign in button.
- Put your phone into Fastboot mode (turn it off completely, then press Power and Volume Down buttons simultaneously), connect it to your PC with the USB cable, click the Unlock button.
- Confirm the action with the Unlock Anyway button.
Phone will be rebooted while the bootloader unlock procedure is performed. After the restart all user data and third party apps will be removed from the internal memory of your smartphone/tablet.
After the device is fully loaded, you can proceed to configure the device and install the necessary programs.
There are many reasons why the bootloader cannot be unlocked. For example, the waiting time has not elapsed.
Mi Flash Unlock may give errors or not see the phone. We have collected all the possible problems, their causes and solutions in this article about Mi Unlock.
Xiaomi bootloader locking
Mi Unlock software has no bootloader locking feature. The only way to lock or relock the bootloader of Xiaomi, Redmi or POCO is to flash the device in Mi Flash Pro Tool. This free unlock bootloader tool for Windows does not require installation on your PC.
How to lock bootloader Xiaomi:
- Run Mi Flash Pro, select the region you want in the pop-up box, click OK.
- In the top panel, click the Mi Flash tab.
- The first time you run the program, it will prompt you to install the necessary drivers. Accept it using the Install button.
- Press Select button and choose the directory with the unpacked firmware, press OK.
- Connect your phone to your PC with a USB cable and click Refresh for the program to detect the device.
- Check the clean all and lock box at the bottom of the window, and then click Flash.
The flashing process will start, and takes about 5 minutes. After the process is completed the phone will automatically restart.
After the restart, the bootloader will be relocked and you’ll have to perform the basic MIUI setup and enter your Mi account registration data. You will be able to fully use your smartphone only after the setup procedure.
Flashing the phone using Mi Flash Pro is essentially flashing without unlock bootloader Xiaomi. After installing the firmware, all the data from the device will be deleted and the bootloader will be locked automatically.
There is an alternative option to lock the bootloader — through the Windows PowerShell console. It is not suitable for Xiaomi and Redmi smartphones released before 2017 (POCO brand phones are released since 2018). You need to install ADB drivers and enter commands into the console.
First you need to download and install the ADB drivers, then enter commands into the console.
How to lock bootloader via ADB:
- Start Windows Explorer, navigate to ADB directory with the unzipped archive.
- Right click mouse button with Shift key on empty directory, then select Open PowerShell windows here in the context menu that appears.
- Put the phone into Fastboot mode by pressing volume down and power button on the switched off phone for 10 seconds.
- Connect the phone to PC with original USB cable.
- Enter fastboot devices command in the console and press Enter. This command is needed for PC to connect to the phone in ADB mode.
- To lock bootloader enter fastboot oem lock into console, press Enter. If the procedure is successful, you will see OKAY in the console.
- Enter the fastboot reboot command to reboot the smartphone into the system and press Enter.
How to check the bootloader status
The easiest way to check if the Xiaomi bootloader is unlocked is to look at the device’s screen while booting:
- If it says Locked or displays a closed lock icon, the bootloader is locked.
- If the lock is open and it says Unlocked — it is unlocked.
If this simple method does not help you check the bootloader status, you can use MIUI Developer Mode or ADB.
How to check if bootloader is unlocked Xiaomi:
- Go to Settings → About phone → tap the MIUI version field 7-8 times. This will activate the developer mode.
- Open Settings → Advanced Settings and find the Mi Unlock Status line.
- The message at the top of the screen will show that Xiaomi Bootloader is locked and the device is protected, or that it is unlocked.
How to check the bootloader using ADB:
- Turn off your phone, press the power and volume buttons down to enter Fastboot mode.
- Connect your smartphone to PC via USB cable.
- On the PC, navigate to the directory with the installed ADB and Fastboot drivers.
- Right-click with the Shift key on any free space in the folder. From the menu that appears, select Open PowerShell window.
- In PowerShell, type fastboot oem device-info, then press Enter.
- The line Device unlocked will be marked True or False. True means the bootloader is unlocked, False means the opposite.
An unlocked bootloader on smartphones allows you to bypass the restrictions set by the developers and customize the device. At the same time, it has a negative impact on security and is one of the reasons why the phone does not receive OTA updates.
Xiaomi’s official website says that if the bootloader is unlocked, you forfeit your device’s warranty. We can’t confirm or deny this. If you have experience, write about it in the comments. Unlock bootloader Xiaomi, Redmi or POCO makes sense if you know exactly why you need it.