Here’s how to downgrade to an older version of Android

In general, it’s always best to keep your devices updated. Unfortunately, updates can sometimes damage software, change functions in undesirable ways, or introduce bugs that the manufacturer may not be able to fix.

Switching back to a previous version of Android is generally not recommended, but it is not impossible. Here’s how you can do it.

Before downgrading your device

Downgrade is not a process that is officially supported by the manufacturers. This is not easy, it could void your warranty and you could potentially damage your device. You shouldn’t try this unless you are experienced in modifying your device’s software.

Whether you can downgrade your device at all depends on whether you can unlock the bootloader. Devices from Google or OnePlus can be unlocked easily, while devices from Huawei, Samsung or Nokia may be difficult or impossible to unlock.

You need to do some research on your own device, especially if you bought it from a carrier. Some providers require you to get an unlock token from them first or don’t allow the bootloader to be unlocked at all.

Unlocking the bootloader will erase your internal storage. Make sure you back up all of your data before you start!

Things you will need before you can downgrade

After you’ve backed up all of your data, you’ll need to download an Android factory image of the version you want to revert to and it needs to be designed specifically for your device.

Google offers Pixel users one List of factory pictures. With other phone manufacturers, you will need to find an official factory image for your device. If you can’t find them on the manufacturer’s website, you can find them on the XDA developer Forums.

You’ll also need to download and install those Android SDK to use the ADB and Fastboot tools. Check out our guide to ADB and Fastboot to get familiar with it.

Finally, you need to connect your phone to your PC via USB. So use the original USB cable. If you don’t have the original, use a good quality cable instead.

Here’s how to downgrade your Android phone

We use a pixel smartphone for the demonstration. The process should work on most phones that can be downgraded, but each device is different. Some follow different directions or require different tools.

Check if this is the case with your device before proceeding. The XDA developer forums we mentioned are a good place to look for this information.

Step 1: enable USB debugging

The first thing you have to do is enable the developer options on your phone by going into the settings and the Via phone Section, then tap Build number until you see the message “You are now a developer!” obtain.

Next, go into Developer Options and enable USB debugging and OEM unlock.

Step 2: Connect your phone to your computer

Connect your phone to your PC with a USB cable.

On your PC, navigate to the folder where the Android SDK is stored and place the downloaded Android factory image there. Factory images are usually supplied in ZIP files that contain IMG files. Unzip the factory image right there in the Android SDK folder.

Now, while you’re still in the Android SDK folder, hold layer then Right click in the window, then select Open PowerShell window here.

In the PowerShell window that opens, enter adb devices to check if your phone is recognized. If so, the serial number should be listed. If not, try a different USB cable.

Now you need to boot your device into fastboot mode. Give to this adb reboot bootloader in PowerShell.

Step 3: unlock the bootloader

As soon as your device is in Fastboot mode, we will unlock the bootloader.

Type depending on your device Unlock fastboot oem, and if that doesn’t work, enter Fastboot flashes unlock instead of this. If all goes well, you should see a confirmation on your device that the bootloader is now unlocked.

Step 4: Install the older version of Android

Some manufacturers include a “Flash-All” script as part of the downloaded factory image that will automatically flash everything for you. In this case the script should be in the Android SDK folder along with the extracted IMG files.

Double click on that flash-all.bat Script. A box should appear showing you the flash process. DO NOT unplug your phone during this process!

If you don’t see the Flash-All script, you’ll have to flash everything manually. To do this, enter the following commands in sequence:

fastboot flash bootloader [bootloader file name].img
fastboot reboot-bootloader
fastboot flash radio [radio file name].img
fastboot reboot-bootloader
fastboot flash -w update [image file name].zip

Your phone should now restart. If everything went well, you should now be running a downgraded version of Android. You’ll need to set up your phone from scratch.

If you run into problems, check out our troubleshooting guide for the steps to resolve them.

Alternatives to downgrading to consider

Since unlocking your device’s bootloader will erase all of your data, you should consider doing a factory reset instead.

It’s much less complicated and risky than downgrading, and any errors or performance issues you encountered are likely to go away after a factory reset. In addition, you can continue to enjoy all the functions of a new Android version.

However, if you are determined to downgrade to an older version of Android, you can try installing a custom ROM. Custom ROMs often contain improvements over your device’s official software, and developers sometimes update older versions with security fixes.

It’s an alternative well worth checking out if your phone’s manufacturer doesn’t provide you with pictures from older Android software.

Go back to the past by downgrading

While a factory reset should normally be enough to fix any issues, now you know how to do it when all you have to do is roll back to an older version.

Keep in mind that the method we have explained may not work with your device. There is always a risk of blocking your phone in this process, so make sure to back up all of your data!

Image source: MockuPhone /mockuphone.com

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