Back in March Google finally announced and released the highly anticipated Android 5.1 Lollipop update for most Nexus smartphones and tablets. However, the updates have been slow to arrive for most users, and hasn’t arrived at all for others. The Nexus 9 is still stuck on Android 5.0.1, and now this week the Nexus 4 is finally getting Android 5.1 Lollipop. This guide will show you how to install the brand new Android 5.1 Lollipop update so that you can try out Google’s latest version of Android right now on your Nexus 4.
Google released an early developer preview of what was then called the Android L release back in June when they first debuted the new operating system, and in October finally released Android 5.0 Lollipop. That was quickly followed by Android 5.0.1 and Android 5.0.2 updates to fix bugs, and now a major maintenance update has been released.
A few weeks ago Google confirmed the Android 5.1 Lollipop update was currently rolling out over the air (slowly) for some users, but if you want to get it right now, here’s how to do so. You’ll need the newly updated factory images provided by Google to install on your device. In addition you will need to install the Android SDK or at least ADB and Fastboot. Below we’ll go over all the details in a simple fashion for those who’d like to try Android 5.1 Lollipop on their phone or tablet right now.
It’s worth noting that the Nexus 4 Android 5.1 Lollipop update is currently rolling out over the air to most owners, but if you’d rather not wait, the instructions below will get it done right now. Android 5.1 Lollipop promises to deliver tons of under the hood tweaks that should completely improve the Lollipop experience. The first update had tons of minor bugs, memory leak problems causing app crashes, and some users reported poor battery life and device reboots. Google’s addressed all of this and more, so lets get Android 5.1 right now.
The Android 5.1 Lollipop System Image is a download that contains all the files needed to install a stock version of Android 5.1 on your Nexus 4. This is essentially everything that you would download as an over-the-air update for regular Android updates. However, this makes the phone stock like it was out of the box (aka factory image) and will wipe all user data and settings. Repeat, this will erase all user data. This makes the phone like it was brand new, and erases everything. The over the air update installs over your current software and doesn’t erase everything, the steps below, wipes out your phone completely.
If you’d rather not wait for the official update for your device in the coming weeks, you can get it right now by following the steps below. It’s worth waiting for average users, but if you’re up for the challenge, here’s all the details. This guide will show you how to install the latest Nexus Android 5.1 Lollipop update early. This is something you can do from Windows, Mac, Linux or ChromeOS.
How to Install ADB on Windows, Mac, Ubuntu & ChromeOS
Before you can install the Android 5.1 Lollipop release to the Nexus 4 you will need to install ADB and Fastboot to your computer. This is a program that runs on your PC/Mac to connect to your Android device through a USB cable and flash the Android software to your device.
Installing ADB and Fastboot is one of the most annoying parts of installing Android factory images, but several tools make it incredibly easy, and only install the parts needed to flash images or push OTA update files.
How to Install ADB on Windows
If you are using a Windows machine, including up to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 you can use the 15 second adb installer to streamline the process.
Download the ADB installer for Windows. Find the file, right-click on it and choose Run as Administrator. When prompted you need to give the app access to run as an administrator. After the app launches type a Y and enter to select yes to Install ADB & Fastboot, to intsll ADB/Fastboot systemwide and to install Drivers. When a new window pops up follow the steps to install the drivers.
After this is installed you should be ready to install the Android 5.1 update on your Nexus 4.
How to Install ADB on Mac, Linux & ChromeOS
Nexus Tools makes it so easy to install ADB on a Mac, Linux or even ChromeOS. All you need to do is open Terminal on your computer and past in the code from xda. Open terminal by going to search, and simply typing Terminal and opening the program.
This will install ADB and Fastboot on Mac, Linux and Chrome OS without the need to do anything else. It’s extremely easy, and avoids all the ADB package mess that typically takes much longer to complete. This is my favorite method, as I’m on a Mac.
After the script completes you can type ADB or Fastboot to start running either program. This is where you’ll need to be to flash the new Android 5.1 image on your device. Remember to head into settings > developer options and enable USB Debugging first.
How to Install Android 5.1 Right Now
The first thing you need to do is download the just released final Android 5.1 Lollipop System Image for the Nexus 4. You can find it at the link below. Google released this last night, and the OTA has been going for a few days. It looks like the Nexus 9 may be the last Nexus to see Android 5.1 sadly.
You will need to unzip these files to a folder you can access, we just unzipped it to our Mac desktop. After you have the Android 5.1 system image unzipped you will need to find this folder and type cmd into the address bar on Windows, or open terminal and change the folder to this folder on a Mac, Linux or Chrome OS. Reminder, if you’re on a Mac you need to make sure terminal is running inside the folder you just unzipped. If that makes sense.
If your Nexus 4 is not bootloader unlocked you will do that first. We could not install the Android 5.1 System image with the device locked. This will wipe your phone and erase all user data, settings, pictures, etc. So back everything up first.
Open a Terminal in the adb folder and type the command below then hit enter.
adb reboot bootloader
In Fastboot type:
fastboot oem unlock
Then hit enter. Follow the on-screen instructions and choose to erase the device. Wait a minute or so for it to unlock. This removes everything on your device.
Flash the Image
Now open the folder containing the unzipped Android 5.1 System Image file you downloaded. Type cmd in the address bar. Type the following commands posted below and hit enter. On a Mac you can open Terminal in the folder by enabling terminal shortcuts in settings. This is key for Mac users. Head to System Preferences and select Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services. Find “New Terminal at Folder” in the settings and click the box. Now when you’re in Finder, just right-click a folder and you’re shown the open to open Terminal. Or just do it from the desktop where you unzipped the Factory image as shown below.
Once in terminal simply copy and paste the commands below to install the Android 5.1 update to your Nexus 4. Google just posted the 2013 Nexus 7 Android 5.1 image too, so you can use these same steps to install that.
This will flash all of the needed files. If you are on a Mac or other computer you will need to type;
This will push all of the files and update your Nexus 4 to Android 5.1 Lollipop. The files will start pushing and installing and your Nexus device may reboot and you will see an Android figure and then a moving Android logo. The logo screen may stay for a long time. Don’t unplug the device. This may last 10 minutes or longer. When Android prompts you to complete setup you can unplug the Nexus. It took less than two minutes for me.
When the process finishes you can enter your information and start using Android 5.1 Lollipop today on your Nexus 4. Give the new Tap n Go (automatically restore) a try using NFC to automatically restore and and all apps, settings, accounts and more from another device. It works like a charm in Android 5.1 Lollipop. Enjoy!
For those who’d rather not toy around with all this stuff, the over the air update is rolling out as we speak for all most Nexus devices, even if Google didn’t state exactly which devices, so the wait shouldn’t be long. If this is all a bit daunting, just wait for the over the air notification to arrive in the coming days. As a reminder, the above process will wipe all data from your device. So waiting for the over the air update may be a good route for average users. Also, this is a staggered rollout, so the update may not hit all devices right away. Be patient and know it’s coming soon.