Learning how to downgrade Android devices isn't a universal and straightforward process. It's complicated, tiresome, voids your warranty, and the exact procedure differs from phone to phone.
If you still must learn how to do it, then keep on reading. After all, there are plenty of reasons to downgrade an Android phone.
How to Downgrade Android Devices: Table of Contents
Overall, these are the steps that you must learn to perform in order to downgrade most Android phones or tablets:
- Backup your data
- Unlock the bootloader
- Install a custom recovery
- Find the appropriate ROM
- Proceed with the downgrade
Let's proceed with the details.
As mentioned before, downgrading an Android device isn't a straightforward process. There is no "official" of doing it.
As such, the only viable solution that we can see for most people is installing a custom ROM. And while works for what we're intending to do, there are two catches:
- This voids our warranty
- Not all devices support bootloader unlocking
Not to mention that doing something wrong could result in you bricking your device. If such a thing happens, do keep in mind that Updato won't take responsibility for you.
Without any further ado, let's move on with the guide.
1: Backup your Data
The first and most important thing that you wanna do is backup your important files. This could be anything from contacts to pictures, videos, documents, your choice to make, really.
You can backup your files in numerous ways. Just to quickly mention some of them:
- Google Drive (Cloud)
- Dropbox (Cloud)
- Locally with a PC
- Locally with thumb drives (OTG)
- And more
It really comes down to personal preference and needs. In the rare case that you don't have anything important to backup, then nobody is going to force you either. So, again, your choice to make. Generally, it's highly recommended.
One of the easiest ways to backup mobile data is by connecting your device to a computer. All that you need to do is:
- Connect your phone to the PC
- Pull down the status bar and select "File transfer" or something along these lines (Name slightly differs from phone to phone)
- Select everything from your phone and copy it to a dedicated folder on your PC
The average computer has about a terabyte of memory, which is way more than enough to backup numerous Android devices. Since you're transferring data locally, it's also much faster than the cloud; just not nearly as reliable.
2: Unlock the Bootloader
The bootloader of an Android device is the one thing that loads before anything else does. The reason that we care about it, in this case, is because it also controls what we can and can't install regarding recovery modes and operating systems.
A locked bootloader will prevent you from installing custom recoveries and ROMs, which, in turn, prevents us from downgrading (or upgrading) our phone. That's why the first thing that we wanna do is unlock it.
That's unless your manufacturer offers a stock ROM that can be installed with your stock recovery. It's not something entirely common, but it's worth giving it a try.
Just Google something like " (Device) stock ROMs" and hopefully, you'll find something. If you do, skip straight to step #4. For the rest of you, keep on reading.
Do keep in mind that not every phone allows you to unlock its bootloader. For example, it was about a year ago where Huawei decided that they'd no longer allow bootloader unlocking for security reasons, which is something that they applied to their new OS as well.
And for those of you who can unlock their devices, the whole process of doing it will most likely be time-consuming and tedious. Not to mention that it will delete everything on your device. That's one of the reasons that we mentioned to backup your data. So, do keep that in mind.
The exact process differs from device to device, which is why we're only going to mention Xiaomi devices as a general example. If you've got something
How to Unlock The Bootloader of A Xiaomi Phone (Example)
- By using a computer, download the Mi Unlock Tool
- Extract the files on a folder of your choice
- Become a developer by going to: Settings -> About phone -> MIUI version, and tap on it multiple times
- Then enable developer options by going to: Settings -> Additional Settings -> Developer Options, and enable developer options
- While you are at it, enable OEM unlocking and USB debugging as well
- If you haven't already, create a Mi account
- Log in to your Mi account by going to: Settings -> Additional Settings -> Developer Options -> Mi Unlock Status, then click on "Add account and device"
- Power off the phone and reboot into bootloader mode by holding down the power + volume down buttons
- Connect the phone to your PC
- Open the MiFlash tool on your computer (It's an EXE file)
- Sign in
- Select "Unlock"
- And if everything goes well, that should unlock your bootloader
As you can see, unlocking a bootloader isn't exactly an easy process. We had to compress the process here for the sake of keeping this article short.
Do keep in mind that in the case of Xiaomi phones, you may be asked to wait for a few days up to a whole month before being able to complete the final step.
3: Install A Custom Recovery
All Android smartphones come with a recovery mode installed. It's a sort of separate, stand-alone OS that can be used for phone maintenance.
You can use it to perform a factory reset outside of Android, install an update, and things like that.
If your manufacturer gives you an older stock OS, then chances are that you can downgrade with your stock recovery without having to install a custom recovery or ROM.
However, most of us need to rely on custom recoveries. After unlocking your bootloader, you're free to flash any recovery you want. But, most people prefer TWRP.
To flash TWRP recovery on your phone:
- Install the universal ADB drivers on your PC
- By using the computer, go to the official website of TWRP and select your device
- Download the latest version of TWRP on the PC
- Go the folder when you downloaded the img file
- Rename it to twrp.img
- Hold down the shift button and select "Open PowerShell window here" (This needs to be on the folder where TWRP.img is stored)
- Connect the phone to the PC with a USB cable (Only if you previously enabled USB debugging as previously instructed)
- On PowerShell, type "ADB reboot bootloader"
- Then "Fastboot flash recovery twrp.img
That should do it.
At this point, there is a good chance that you'll come across some sort of weird issue.
In our case, the phone wouldn't go past the "Downloading boot.img" unless we typed the command before plugging in the phone. So, if something similar happens to you, your best bet is to refer to Google for a fix.
Last, but not least, there are many devices that will automatically replace the custom recovery on the first boot. So, after installing the recovery, boot into it before doing anything else and that should prevent your stock ROM from touching it afterward.
The key combination for booting into recovery mode in most devices is the power button + volume up key.
4: Find the Appropriate ROM
At this point, you've hopefully managed to:
- Backup your important data
- Unlocked the bootloader
- Flashed a custom recovery
All that remains is to find a custom ROM that fits your needs and flash it with the custom recovery that we just installed.
At this point, once again, Google is your friend. Just type in "Custom ROMs for "Device" " Ex. Custom ROMs for Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro.
This should bring up a good list of custom ROMs which usually leads to XDA developers. There are tons of options. So, take your time and choose carefully.
One could say that this is the most important part as you don't want to be changing ROMs all the time. That is unless you are a weird geek like us who likes experimenting with this sort of stuff.
Now, you came here looking for how to downgrade Android devices, but depending on why you want to downgrade, you may not have to.
For example, if bugs and stability issues were the reason that you came here, do keep in mind that there are a ton of Pie-based ROMs out there that are extremely stable.
5: Proceed With The Downgrade (Or Upgrade)
That's it. You've unlocked the bootloader, installed the recovery mode, had to deal with all the BS that's involved with those steps, and now all you have to do is practically press a button.
As the ROM developer probably already instructed, you must:
- Transfer the ROM (ZIP file) to the SD card/external storage of the phone
- Reboot into recovery mode (Either with ADB reboot recovery or by powering off the phone and holding down the power + volume up buttons)
- Select "Install"
- Navigate to where the custom ROM is
- And proceed with the installation
If the ROM developer has given any specific instructions, make sure to follow them.
In some cases, you may have to use a different recovery as well. But, most of the time, TWRP works just fine.
How to Downgrade Android Devices: Wrapping Up
We understand that this guide wasn't very specific. But, with all the different phones, recovery modes, flashing methods, and different parameters, that's the best that we could do.
Feel like we forgot to mention something important? Got anything wrong? Any questions? Then let us and everyone else know about them in the comments section down below!
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