The OnePlus One is a pretty awesome phone. Especially after the Nexus 6 turned out to be an overpriced monster. And now, it’s also relatively easy to acquire. There’s an open sale every week and invites are easier to get. I like to say that OnePlus One is the new Nexus. It’s a mid-range phone with flagship-level specs and it’s really easy for geeks to tinker around. Rooting is easy. You’ll find lots of awesome custom ROMs and mods for the phone, and it has a thriving developer community.
But before you can do any of that, you need to gain root access. For that, you need to flash a custom recovery, which means you need to unlock the Bootloader. It’s an easy affair. Shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes if you follow the guide below closely.
Alright, let’s get this bad boy off its leash.
1. What You Need to Know Before We Start
This guide is for a OnePlus One running KitKat (4.4.4).
The process of rooting requires you to unlock your Bootloader. And unlocking the Bootloader will completely wipe your device (btw, we recently wrote how to do that manually if you intend to sell your device).
So please, before we begin this process, back everything up – contacts, SMS, photos, everything.
Also, make sure your phone is more than 50% charged and your Windows PC/laptop is plugged into a power source.
2. Setups and Downloads
Here’s an overview of what you’ll need.
Android SDK, including Fastboot
Recovery file (TWRP)
SuperSU file for rooting
Step 1: First, you need to download the Android SDK. A slimmed down version of just the things we need are available here. It’s a 1 MB file. Click the Download Now button to download the file (not the Download button).
Once the zip file is downloaded, extract it to the Desktop.
Step 2(Optional): If for some reason the slimmed down SDK doesn’t work for you, go to this site to get the full SDK. On the site, scroll to the bottom of the page, select Download for other platforms -> SDK tools only.
After downloading, go to the android-sdk-windows folder and run the SDK Manager file. During the installation process, choose the following packages.
We’ll begin by unlocking the Bootloader. This removes the protection from the internal memory. Without removing this restriction, we can’t install a custom recovery or gain root access.
Again, unlocking the Bootloader will wipe everything from your phone.
Step 1: Turn off your phone by holding down the power button and selecting Power off. Then boot into Fastboot mode by holding Volume up + Power.
The phone will display text saying Fastboot Mode, as you can see in the image below.
Step 2: Connect your phone to the PC using the USB cable that came in the box. Go to Desktop -> android-sdk-windows -> platform-tools.
Step 3: Press the Shift key and right-click in the open space in the window and select Open command window here.
Now, to check if ADB is installed correctly and is working, type in the following.
If you see the version number that means we’re good to go. Or else you’ll need to install ADB again.
Enter the following command to check if your phone is being recognized by your PC. If you don’t see the serial number, it means there’s some issue with the drivers or your phone is not connected to the PC properly.
Step 4: Now we’re going to unlock the Bootloader. It will only take a couple of seconds. Enter the following command.
fastboot oem unlock
After the process is complete, it’s time to reboot the phone.
And that’s it. You’ll see the Android setup screen when the phone is booted. Get to it and set up your phone. Next, install the custom recovery.
4. Installing a Custom Recovery
Before we can install a custom recovery, we’ll need to do two things. Enable USB debugging and disable CM’s recovery protection.
Go to Settings -> About phone -> and tap the build number 7 times. This will open up the Developer options.
Go to Settings -> Developer options -> Enable USB debugging.
From the same screen, disable Update recovery with system updates. This is very important.
Step 1: Again, turn the phone off, put it in Fastboot mode and connect it to the PC.
Step 2: Go to the recovery file we downloaded at the beginning and rename it to recovery.img. Copy the file to the platform-tools folder.
Important: Here, .img is the extension. So when editing the name of the file, all you need to write is recovery.
Step 3: Shift + right-click in the folder and open the command prompt there.
To install the custom recovery, enter the following command.
fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
Once that is done, reboot your device.
5. Rooting OnePlus One
Now that the custom recovery is installed. It’s time to root the phone.
Step 1: Connect the phone to the PC and transfer the SuperSU file to the root folder on the OnePlus One. Now, disconnect your phone.
Step 2: We’re going to go into TWRP (pronounced twerp) custom recovery now. Power off your phone and boot it up while holding Volume down + Power.
Step 3: Once you’re in the custom recovery, click Install. Scroll to look for the SuperSU file and tap it.
Step 4: You’ll then see another screen. Just swipe for confirmation.
Step 5: Once the process is complete, tap the Reboot System button to reboot.
After the phone is rebooted, you’ll see a SuperSU app installed on your phone.
If you want further confirmation that your phone has indeed been rooted, download an app called Root Check.