How to Unbrick Google Nexus 5

How to Unbrick Google Nexus 5

This guide will teach you how to unbrick and restore your Google Nexus 5 smartphone to stock Android.

Unbricking your Nexus 5 isn’t that hard, but you need to know that it will remove root, custom recoveries or any type of customization that you might have installed on your device. Also, any data files will be completely wiped in the process, as you will end up flashing a Factory Image of Android OS.

At the time this article was written, the Google Nexus 5 only had the Android 4.4 and  4.4.2 KitKat factory image files available for installation. A Factory Image is a full stock copy of Android that anyone can flash on their devices when these get bricked.

Also, installing an Android Factory Image can be used instead of a Factory Reset whenever you wish to get rid of all files including those stored on the internal sdcard.

If your device isn’t bricked, then you should backup all important files before starting the unbrick process. However, if your device refuses to boot, load recovery or it becomes unresponsive to booting attempts, then there is nothing that can be done and all data will be lost.

The phone can recover from a brick state, but you should read the entire post, starting with the preparation guide below:

  • use this tutorial only with the Google Nexus 5 codenamed ‘hammerhead’.
  • download and install the Nexus 5 USB Drivers for your computer.
    – make sure to install the USB Drivers on your computer’s C partition in the SDK folder.
  • for this process to work your device has to be on an unlocked Bootloader.
  • enable USB Debugging from Developer Options menu.
    – if Developer Options is not shown, then you should open Settings > About Device and then press seven times on the Build Number section.
    – Developer Options will show up, open it from Settings and then enable USB Debugging.
  • check your Nexus 5 battery charge level and make sure that it is over 50%, so that the phone will not power off.
    – if the device doesn’t boot in normal mode and you can’t check the battery charge, then you should turn it off and plug it into a power socket for an hour.
  • IMPORTANT: this tutorial will wipe all data from your phone.
    – the unbrick / restore to stock Android process has to be applied by advanced users.
    – we will not be held responsible in case for any lost files.
  • read all instructions listed in this post and make sure not to skip any steps.

Before getting to the tutorial you will need to make sure that your phone’s bootloader is unlocked, so you should follow the instructions below.

How to unlock Nexus 5 Bootloader:

First you will need to boot the Nexus 5 in Fastboot Mode to check Bootloader lock status. Check the ‘LOCK STATE’ value and if it says that it is ‘locked’, then you should continue to apply the steps listed below.

Launch a command prompt in the Android SDK/ platform-tools. Connect your device to your computer via USB and then send the following command: fastboot oem unlock.

After the process is complete you can disconnect the phone from PC. Unlocking the bootloader will wipe the device clean.

If the phone’s bootloader is unlocked, then you can skip this part and continue to the ‘How to Unbrick Nexus 5′ part of this post.

Now that you’ve applied all of the above, you can continue to the next step and learn how to unbrick the Nexus 5 and restore it to stock Android using a Factory Image file.

Unbrick Google Nexus 5 using Factory Image from Google:

  1. Download the latest Android factory image for Nexus 5 “hammerhead” from here.
  2. Extract the .tgz archive contents on your PC.
    – save the files on your PC.
  3. Switch off your smartphone.
  4. Boot the device in Fastboot Mode.
  5. Use the USB Cable to connect the Nexus 5 to your PC.
  6. Go to the Factory Image folder created in step 2 and launch “flash-all.bat’ script on Windows or the ‘flash-all.sh’ on MAC and LINUX.
  7. Wait for the installation process to complete.
  8. After the install process is finished you should go to your device’s Fastboot screen and select Recovery option.
  9. Press Power to boot Recovery Mode.
  10. Select the ‘wipe data/ factory reset’ option. Confirm.
  11. Use the Reboot option and wait until your device boots in normal mode.

You can unplug the USB cable only when the Nexus 5 boots in Android stock operating system.

These were all steps that you had to take in order to complete this tutorial. If you have any other questions use the comments field below.

Google Nexus 5 Articles

  • Kenny Bateman

    Is it me or is the back of that nexus 5 silver or white? How is that?

  • cavy8

    Even after it says I’m done in the command prompt, on my phone it still says writing and is inoperable.