It's Official: Pixel Phones from the Google Store Will Be Rootable with Unlockable Bootloaders

The one big question remaining about Google's upcoming Pixel phones has finally been answered: Yes, the Pixel and Pixel XL have unlockable bootloaders—at least, if you buy directly from Google.

We reached out to Google looking for a firm answer on the topic, and Google Spokesperson Iska Saric told us the following:

Yes, Pixel owners who purchased the device from the Google store will be able to root their devices.

Pixel phones purchased from the Google store will ship with an unlockable bootloader.

— Iska Saric, Google Spokesperson

We already knew that Pixel phones purchased from Verizon will not have unlockable bootloaders, but it's great to hear that the Google Store version will not suffer from this same issue.

An unlockable bootloader means that users will be able to install a custom recovery on their Pixel phones by running a few ADB commands, which, in turn, means that the devices will be easily rootable. Utilities such as CF Auto Root rely on an unlocked bootloader to work their magic, though they would need to be updated for compatibility with the new Pixels.

But while we had Google's ear, we pressed a bit further. Until now, we were holding out hope that the new "seamless updates" feature in Android Nougat might help with the age-old problem of updating a rooted device, but this won't be the case.

Just like with Google's old Nexus devices, being rooted will mean that you cannot apply regular OTA updates. Saric told us: "Rooting involves modifying partitions on the phone. If the partitions are modified the OTA will fail to apply."

Everything about the Pixel lineup signals a shift in Google's overall strategy with Android, but it's nice to see that at least one of our favorite aspects of the open-source platform is here to stay. Rooting has become an Android staple by this point, and it appears that Google is aware of this fact.

If this news didn't satiate your need for Pixel-related information, we've got tons more coverage right here on Gadget Hacks. A great place to start would be this Pixel vs. Nexus 6P comparison, with videos, photos, and benchmarks from the upcoming Pixel XL:

Cover image by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

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