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How to Root Pixel and Pixel XL (Verizon too) [Update: Android 7.1.1 NMF26O]

  Update 2 (Dec 5th, 2016): Google is rolling out Android 7.1.1 Nougat update to Pixel phones with build NMF26O. Thankfully, rooting Pixel on Android 7.1.1 is still the same. Simply flash the latest SuperSU (v2.78 SR5) via TWRP and you’ll have root. 
  Update (Nov 17th, 2016): TWRP and SuperSU v2.78 SR4 (recovery flashable) now available for Pixel and Pixel XL. Downloads and instructions included as Method 1 for rooting below. 

Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL had been out for a while, but it took some time for even a renowned developer like Chainfire to get around the phones system partition to gain root access. Why? Because the Pixel phones are built differently.

Rooting Pixel and Pixel XL didn’t turn out to be as simple as we initially thought. And that’s mostly because of the weird and never-seen-before partition structure on the Pixel phones. These phones feature two system, two boot, two vendor, zero recovery, and zero cache partitions. So naturally, any existing rooting tool would have required a bit of re-engineering.

The newly released SuperSU systemless root for Pixel and Pixel XL are not be flashed with the work-in-progress TWRP builds for the devices, because that will simply not work. Chainfire has provided CF Auto Root packages for both and Pixel and Pixel XL with a modified boot that you do not have to flash, but BOOT via fastboot boot command from the command line.

Also, since the process includes rooting Pixel phones using fastboot commands, you need to unlock bootloader on your Pixel phones first to be able to use fastboot commands. If you’re on a non-verizon Pixel phone, unlocking the bootloader is done the traditional way. However, if you’ve a Verizon Pixel, you’ll need to use the dePixel8 tool to unlock the bootloader.

Let’s get started..

Method 1 – Root Pixel via TWRP recovery and SuperSU 2.78 SR5

An alpha release of TWRP recovery for Pixel and Pixel XL are now available officially. The installation of TWRP on Pixel devices is different though due to the new partitions layout. To install the alpha TWRP on Pixel phones you need to temporarily boot TWRP recovery image and then flash a separate TWRP installer zip to install the custom recovery to your phone.

We’ve a helpful guide for installing TWRP recovery on Pixel and Pixel XL on a separate page. Check the link below:

How to Install TWRP recovery Pixel and Pixel XL

Once you’ve TWRP recovery installed on your Pixel phone, download and flash the SuperSU v2.78 SR5 zip from the link below and flash it to your phone via TWRP.

Download SuperSU v2.78 SR5

  1. Make sure you have installed TWRP recovery on your Pixel phone (link).
  2. Download and transfer the SuperSU v2.78 SR5 zip file from the download link above to your phone’s storage.
  3. Boot your Pixel phone into recovery mode.
  4. Tap on Install and select the SuperSU zip file that you transferred to your phone in Step 1 above.
  5. After selecting the .zip file, do Swipe to Confirm Flash on the bottom of screen to begin the flashing.
  6. Once SuperSU is flashed, you’ll get Reboot System option, select it.

That’s it. Your Pixel phone should be rooted now. To verify, download/install any root checker app from the Play Store.


Method 2 – Root Pixel and Pixel XL with SuperSU (boot-to-root) via Fatsboot

This is the old method of rooting Pixel phones when TWRP recovery wasn’t available. We don’t recommend you to use this method to get root access as it conflicts with TWRP recovery. Also, Chainfire won’t be supporting this method in future releases of SuperSU. This was only a temporary solution to root Pixel phones until TWRP recovery wasn’t available.

Still, if you wish to get going with this root method only. Follow the instructions below carefully and you should get root without TWRP on your Pixel or Pixel XL phone.

Download SuperSU v2.78 SR3 (Fastboot files) for Pixel and Pixel XL

Instructions

  1. Setup ADB and Fastboot on your PC.
  2. Unlock Bootloader: Since unlocking the bootloader on Pixel is done differently international and Verizon variants, we’ve separate guides for both:
  3. Enable Developer options and USB debugging on your Pixel phone.
  4. On your PC, download the SuperSU 2.78 SR2 root file for your Pixel phone and unzip the files to a separate folder.
  5. Connect your Pixel to the PC.
  6. Now open a command window inside the folder where you extracted the files in Step 4 above. To do that, “Shift + right click” on any empty white space inside the folder and select Open command window here from the context menu.
  7. Once command window is opened, issue the following command to boot the phone into bootloader mode:
    adb reboot bootloader
  8. Once in bootloader mode, issue the following command to boot the phone with a modified boot image and start the rooting process:
    fastboot boot boot-to-root.img
  9. Wait for a few minutes. Your device will reboot at-least twice during the process.
  10. Once completely booted, your Pixel or Pixel XL should be rooted.

Important Note about SuperSU 2.78 SR2 for Pixel and Pixel XL

  Update (November 4th, 2016): SuperSU 2.78 SR3 has been released and the /system to /system_root/system symlink has been replaced by a bind mount.

This corrects absolute paths to something Android expects, and indeed prevents the System UI crash when battery drops to 15%.

As an unintended side-effect this may also magically make some root apps that manipulate /system work that did not work before. Definitely not all of them, but some of them. 

Chainfire’s systemless root for Pixel and Pixel XL is different because of the odd partition layout on the device. So don’t be surprised if certain or all your root apps don’t work at the moment on your rooted Pixel because the new SuperSU root mounts root at /system_root instead of /system as previous SuperSU root builds did.

What this means is that app developers will need to update their apps going forward to be compatible with the new systemless root method. And until the apps are updated, you won’t be able to use them on your rooted Pixel phones.

We’d recommend you to read this Google+ post by Chainfire to get more detailed info on this new root.

Happy Androiding! 

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Shivam is our resident designer and web developer who also enjoys writing. He loves to meditate, drive on the freeways and hunt for snipers during his Call Of Duty playtime.Email: shivam@theandroidsoul.com