Smartphones come with locked bootloaders so the customer knows the only software that’s on it is officially from the OEM. This is great for devices we just buy but some of us want to install certain mods on the Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra. For us, we need to unlock the bootloader before we are able to.
Bootloaders are allowed to be in two different states. Virtually all of them ship with a locked bootloader which means the software installed on it has to be digitally signed by the OEM who sells it. Some times those digital signatures can be discovered (I remember it happening on an LG device a while back) but that’s rare.
This means we need to unlock the bootloader before we can install unofficial software on it.
By unofficial, I mean software that has been coded by a 3rd-party developer. Popular mods in the Android community include Magisk, TWRP, Xposed, etc. Many of these mods enable us to install other unofficial code but it all starts with an unlocked bootloader. Since the Samsung Galaxy S21 ships with a locked bootloader, we need to unlock it.
How to Unlock the Bootloader of the Samsung Galaxy S21(Exynos Variant)?
Initially we suggest on checking (for a) / performing software update even if you don’t have an update to download. Our goal here is to ensure that the Exynos S21 has checked for an update. It will commence a timer that usually ends in 7 days (waiting period) before we can unlock the bootloader. If you have an Exynos Galaxy S21 and you are not finding the OEM unlock toggle within Developer Options then it is as a result of the Persistent RMM state is currently set to pre-normal and we have to wait. Some users online claim they’ve seen periods of 7 days as up to 30.
Open up the Settings application.
Scroll down and tap the “Developer Options” menu
Tap the “OEM Unlocking” toggle to enable this option.
If this option is grayed out you either need to wait longer (for Samsung’s internal waiting period) or your device is unable to be unlocked.
The tap the “Turn On” button when it appears at the bottom.
Then power off the smartphone.
Use the USB Method here.
Press and hold the Volume Up button when you arrive at the blue splash screen.
And press the Volume Up button to confirm you want the bootloader unlocked.
Wait for the Galaxy S21 to restart.
You’ll be asked to press the Power button to continue each time you reboot. This can be bypassed with a custom kernel if you choose to install one.
Wait for it to perform a factory data reset.
And then wait for the smartphone to reboot again(It may take some time as it’s normal, so don’t worry).
Finally, activate Android like you normally would.
Note: PLEASE REMEMBER: THIS MAY VOID YOUR WARRANTY, THIS MAY BREAK SOME APPS OR SERVICES SUCH AS SAMSUNG PAY OR SAMSUNG SECURE FOLDER. APPS/SERVICES THAT DEPEND ON KNOX MAY BE BROKEN BY UNLOCKING THE BOOTLOADER OR ROOTING THE DEVICE.
We’re not seeing anything new here when it comes to the bootloader unlock process. Samsung has had this method for a couple of years and they seem to be in their groove right now. Google is always packing different security features into the Android OS so this could change in the future.
As of right now though, unlocking the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra is rather straight forward.
So This Works on the Snapdragon Galaxy S21 Variants?
Currently we can only provide a way on how to unlock the Samsung Galaxy S21 Exynos Variant. Please bear in mind that these are not sold in the United States and in some cases must be imported if you plan on attempting the suggestions here in this article.
What’s the Difference Between SIM Unlock and Bootloader Unlock?
I know that some countries sell what is referred to as an “Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S21” smartphone. Whether it’s the S21, S21+, or S21 Ultra, they are sold to the public as “unlocked” devices. This almost always means the SIM is unlocked…not the bootloader itself. And it doesn’t mean the bootloader is unlockable either.
SIM unlock means the smartphone can be used on any wireless carrier.
I wish I knew why things were this way but it’s just how it is. Lots of people will say it’s the carriers who are forcing the OEMs to keep the bootloader locked. This makes sense for devices sold by the carrier themselves. Buying a SIM-unlocked device means it isn’t tied to a carrier so they shouldn’t have any say when it comes to the bootloader.
Experiencing difficulties with your Device, check out our “How To” page on how to resolve some of these issues.