I’ve been using WiGlE for some time (<a href=”https://wigle.net/”>here<a>) for Wireless Network Mapping since late 2017, when d4rkm4tter finally convinced me to try it. As an old-school wardriver, I was intrigued.
My old rig was a Compaq iPac 36- or 3800-series with a PCMCIA sleeve, a Lucent Orinoco Gold card, and either a Yagi or Omni antenna. Microsoft Windows Mobile and ministrumbler was used on the software side. I kept those logs till this year, when I uploaded them to the worldwide database.
WiGlE works by looking for wireless networks, Bluetooth, and cell phone towers, then trilateralating them with GPS. It only works on Android for mobile phone devices, and Google’s Android Pie breaks it due to severe limits on how often the wireless can be polled.
Astonishingly, I was able to find a nice Pixel for $100 from someone who’d purchased an S9 to replace it. Seemed legit, and all was well. It came with a Tech21 case and had a 3M/Scosche metal magnet mount on it, which was handy. The USB A-C cable and LG charger was worth $15 alone.
Now the issues with Android Pie are known about in late 2018, and there’s not currently a workaround to keep WiGLE able to do it’s job. The Pixel had been updated to Android 9, but hey, this is a Google device so it’s super easy to unlock the bootloader and flash Oreo, right? Right? Well…
For some reasons, most of which are stupid, but some of which make sense, Google has partnered with Verizon in the US market for Pixel sales online and in stores. This has undoubtedly helped the Pixel line sell more phones, but it enrages users like me who want to have the true Google experience, on a Google device, but without the barriers. I remember the pain of Sprint Nexus S and Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners went through, and I was hoping someone had figured out a workaround.
Some quick work to get the Android Studio and following some guides got my phone connected and I was able to shake off some cobwebs to get the proper components downloaded. fastboot was able to see the phone, but in my case, under Developer Options, the item called “OEM Unlock” was greyed out. My worst fears were coming true.
I rapidly searched for a workaround and came to an insightful, relatively clear, and eventually rewarding thread on the wonder of sites that is XDA. The thread can be found <a href=”https://forum.xda-developers.com/pixel-xl/how-to/how-to-unlock-bootloader-verizon-pixel-t3796030″>here</a> and I suggest reading the main post and comments before proceeding with an unlock.
Now, with this guide I was able to unlock the Pixel. The most important step I needed to keep in mind is that “OEM Unlock” one, and patience at that point. When I checked it after following the adb command, it was still greyed out, but after a minute or two, it lit up and I was able to successfully unlock.
After a download of the Android 8.10 image from Google, and following some other instructions, I used the “flash-all” script to get Oreo installed, and cross the finish line.
While the battery may be a little tired on this two year old phone, I still like it and will be using this alongside my Verizon G6, whose bootloader remains hard locked and to which no workaround has been found.
WiGLE works great, and I’m finding some interesting results between the G6 and Pixel, especially given that they’re both using the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC. Must be some different antenna designs and implementations between HTC and LG.