This guide will show you how to downgrade Android 5.0 Lollipop to Android 4.4 KitKat. This works to downgrade Android 5.0.2 to Android 4.4 or from Android 5.0 to Android 4.4 — walking you through the steps to downgrade to an old version of Android on a Nexus device.
In this Android downgrade guide we will focus on the Nexus line of devices including the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, Nexus 9 and Nexus 10. If you are not using a Nexus device, this guide is not the way you want to downgrade from Android Lollipop to an older version as you will need files and steps not linked here.
If you are not happy with the performance of the Android 5.0.2 update on the Nexus 7 2012, or you are simply experiencing one of the many Android 5.0.2 problems that can impact performance and usability, you will need to use this guide to downgrade Android 5.0.2 to Android 4.4.4.
It is very important to remember that unlike an upgrade, this wipes the device completely. If you don’t back up your Nexus before you downgrade you will lose important information and data. Make sure you backup your Android phone.
How to Downgrade Android 5.0 to Android 4.4.4
These steps show you how to downgrade Android 5.0 in any version to any version of Android 4.4 KitKat that Google still offers as a download for your device. This assumes you are not rooted, but that you are able to connect to a computer and to run an unlock command and other commands to flash software to your Nexus. Flashing is a term for installing software to your Nexus in a special recovery mode while it is connected to a computer.
Download the Factory Image
The first thing you need to do is download the Android factory image from Google. Scroll on the Android Factory image page until you find your device and the right download link. Click to download the Android 4.4.4 factory image for your device. This will take a few minutes to complete.
In order to downgrade Android 5.0 to Android 4.4.4, you will need to use ADB. This is a tool that allows the computer to talk to the Nexus device. You cannot perform an Android 5.0 downgrade without this free tool. You do not need to buy it and it is easy to install on Mac or Windows thanks to helper applications that handle any difficult parts of the installation.
Use the ADB Installer for Windows to install ADB on Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 in about 15 seconds. The six step process will install ADB, Fastboot and the drivers you need to use the tool.
On Mac, you can use a similar tool called Nexus Tools to automatically install the latest version on your Apple computer. Open Terminal on your Mac, go to XDA and copy the command listed into the terminal window and then hit enter. You may need to enter your computer password to complete the installation.
Unlock the Nexus
In order for this to work, you need to unlock the Nexus if it is not already done. This will erase everything on your Nexus, so make sure you are backed up before you use these commands.
You will need to turn on USB Debugging mode in Developer Settings. If you have not already enabled developer settings you need to go to Settings -> About phone -> tap on the Build number at the bottom of the screen seven times. Then go back one page and tap on Developer Settings -> USB Debugging -> On. When you plug it in to a computer it will ask you to trust the computer -> Choose yes.
You can now open a Terminal Window anywhere on Mac and type adb devices and you should see your device connected. On Windows you will need to go to the adb folder which should be at C:\adb and then type cmd in the address bar to open a command window and then type adb devices to see if your device is listed.
With the terminal window or command window still open type or paste the following command.
adb reboot bootloader
This will boot the Nexus into a bootloader menu and you can now type
fastboot oem unlock
You will need to press the volume up button on the Nexus to accept and then power to confirm. This will unlock the bootloader and wipe your data. And now we can get to the actual Android 5.0 downgrade.
Wipe Cache and Factory Reset
On your Nexus we now need to wipe the cache and perform a factory reset. This prepares the Nexus for the downgrade process. You do not need to be plugged into the computer to do this.
- You need to power down the Nexus device.
- Hold the Volume Down and Power button to reboot into the bootloader.
- On this screen you need to use the volume button to switch to Recovery Mode and the power button to select.
- After this boots you will see a small Android logo with No command below it.
- You need to press and hold the power button and then press volume up once.
- On this screen you will see several options and you need to choose to wipe cache partition. Scroll with volume buttons and choose with power.
- Then choose to wipe data/factory reset then scroll to Yes and select.
Install Android 4.4 KitKat to Downgrade Android 5.0
Now you can finally downgrade Android 5.0 to Android 4.4 KitKat. You will need to connect your Nexus to the computer with a USB cable and go to the folder where you downloaded the KitKat factory image.
The Nexus needs to be in the bootloader mode for this to work, like in the image above. To get back there turn the Nexus off and then hold the volume and power buttons until you see that screen again.
You need to open a Terminal window here on Mac or a Command window on Windows.
On Mac you can two-finger click and choose New Terminal at Folder. If you don’t see this option you need to go to System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts -> Services -> check New Terminal at Folder.
On Windows just type cmd in the address bar of the Explorer window and hit enter to start one there.
On Windows type
On Mac type
Then enter your password.
Commands will show on-screen and eventually you will eventually see rebooting and then finished on the Terminal or Command window. This lets you know it is complete.
After a few minutes the Nexus will reboot and you will now be on Android 4.4.4 KitKat instead of Android 5.0.1. You will still get notifications for updates, just don’t choose to install them.