The LG Nexus 4 may be a great device as it ships directly from Google, but one of the main features of the Nexus line is the ability to easily unlock the bootloader and install custom software. However, although it may be fairly easy to unlock the bootloader, it might not be completely obvious. Even though I’m going to be keeping the stock Nexus 4 software until I’ve reviewed it thoroughly, since unlocking the bootloader with fastboot wipes all user data, I decided to go ahead and get that over with already. The process is, in fact, very easy if you know the steps, so what follows is a short explanation of the process.

As a disclaimer, keep in mind that anything you do to your device is your responsibility. It shouldn’t break, but if it does, then it isn’t our fault. Also, you may want to try making a backup with these instructions before proceeding, because unlocking the bootloader will wipe your data. With that out of the way, here are the simple instructions.

  1. Get fastboot and adb on your computer. This utility can be found on Google’s official Android developers site. If you need some guidance, this ADB basics tutorial may help, and Windows users may find this guide useful.
  2. Put the Nexus 4 in fastboot mode by turning it off, then holding the volume down button when turning it back on. Once a screen with a disassembled Android and the word “Start” appears, plug the device into your computer.
  3. Start fastboot with the fastboot devices command, which may need administrator/root permissions. Fastboot should show a string of numbers, meaning that your device is connected. If it doesn’t, then you may need to check your drivers, although the Android SDK should include all that you need.
  4. Run the command fastboot oem unlock, and select yes when prompted on your Nexus 4.
  5. The phone will return to the previous screen when the unlocking is finished, and fastboot should return a “success” message.
  6. Reboot and enjoy knowing that you have access to your device’s bootloader.

These instructions should make it easy to actually unlock the Nexus 4’s bootloader, but problems are often encountered when trying to install and use fastboot. Feel free to ask any related questions in the comments, and hopefully the problem can be solved.