Monday, November 17, 2014

Lollipop Android 5.0 installation on Google Nexus 5

Subtitle: Nexus 5 is alive

My attempts to install the Beta Android 5 ROM onto my sick Google Nexus 5 in the last 3 months have all failed.   For me however this was not just /a nice to have/  but a /disaster/.

You see, as I have moaned in considerable detail, ever since upgrading to Android 4.4.4  my Nexus 5 wireless charging has totally stopped and the wired charging is at 1% per hour.  So the phone is essentially useless.

Here is the full Moan

I had hoped an upgrade to Android 5.0 or even a reflash or Android 4.x could correct this issue, but nothing worked. 

And as of the time of writing the OTA (Over The Air) upgrade has still not appeared.  Maybe I could have one last shot at a manual upgrade ...

Thinking of 32bits

Then I had a brainwave!   Whilst upgrading my Minix computer to Android Kitkat 4.4.2  I found that nothing worked until I used, Windows 7, 32bit Operating system as the upgrader platform.

I thought:  maybe this was why all the previous attempts using adb (Android Debug Bridge) had failed.   So I began again, with just a little enthusiasm

Upgrading your Nexus 5 to Android 5 manually

Apologies in advance:  I did not take any notes whilst upgrading, so this explanation is not to our usual standard


  • You need a 32 bit Windows computer,  I had a freshly installed Windows 7 instance.
  • Place your phone in Developer mode and enable USB debugging.  Do this in the Settings, About Screen.  Scroll down to Build number and tap on it 7 times.  No I am not kidding.
  • You need to download and installed the /Minimal ADB and Fastboot/ program.  Get it here version 1.3
  • Install Winrar so that you can unpack the Nexus 5 image.  32bit version here
  • You need to download the Nexus 5, official image, and place the unpacked programs in the same directory as the ADB install  (which for me was C:\Program Files\Minimal ADB and Fastboot ).   Nexus 5 official image here  Unpack the .tgz file with winrar.

This is the files in my directory before I proceeded

OS Preparation

For me I had only just installed Windows 7 and had forgotten to install all drivers to speak to the USB interfaces on my ancient Gigabyte  GA-X58A-UD7 1.0 motherboard.

So make sure that you have done that first

Next download and install specific USB drivers that the adb  (Android Debug Program) is likely to need, ie

Koush drivers

Phone Prep
Make sure that your current Kitkat Android level phone is automatically backing up its configuration.  This is so after your fresh install the install program will give you the opportunity to restore the phones settings and programs from a backup

Backup Data
The re-installation should give you the option to restore your applications but any data will be lost.  So before proceeding backup any and all data from your phone!   Example any photographs.

Enter Bootloader on Nexus 5 Phone

With your Nexus 5 phone off

Press volume down and power button together

With a screen like the above connect phone to your PC

> fastboot devices

This command must return something (i.e the device serial)

Fastboot Blank?

You cannot proceed further until fastboot devices returns something.

  • Did you install the special USB drivers?   If yes then try additional drivers also
  • Check the USB port you are using is working.  For example, plug in a USB flash drive and check it is recognised
  • You are using a Physical (not virtual) and 32 bit Windows base operating system, aren't you!

Continue the Reinstallation

> fastboot oem unlock

Type the unlock command at the PC prompt,  then select YES unlock bootloader on phone, then press power key to action.   Command should then return as shown above.

> flash-all

After flash-all get android working then google logo then moving coloured balls for several  (>3) minutes.  Do not interrupt or power off.

Welcome to Android Lollipop

Now it is time to step thru the standard installation screens. Notice it will re-install applications with updates that were previously installed and this installation takes a further 10 or so minutes (for me) after the desktop screen is finally displayed....

This is why you made the backup before re-installation

The screen shot shows apps with circles around icons that are being updated.  And I even have a picture of my much cleverer wife Agata restored.  Nice to have you back darling!

So after all the downloads for apps have finished you are ready to go.  For me a few last minute customisations, principally that I need to re-authenticate to applications and also

  • Login to Dropbox and configure automatic upload of all photos and videos from Camera photos taken
  • Check automatic machine backup is on
  • Check location reporting is on

Charging Issue is Solved

And guess what.   Wireless charging now works again (recall, before it was busted).  So the phone is entirely usable again.  May I just grumpily remind myself that this phone was refused warranty service by the Swiss authorised repair centre and they said I had to replace the entire motherboard  (at a cost almost exactly the same as a new phone)

In summary

With the brainwave of using a 32 bit OS base I was able to make an adb connection from PC to Nexus 5.  Once this is established updating the Nexus to Android 5 was /a piece of cake/.

All this was necessary primarily because after a week of waiting past the date of official Nexus 5 Lollipop images being posted by google, an OTA (Over the Air) update was still not available.