How to install OTA updates on Android manually

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One of the great advantages of being the owner of a terminal from Google’s Pixel family (old Nexus) is, neither more nor less, receiving the new versions of Android when Google releases them. It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest attractions for those who decide to bet on them. These updates are known as OTAs, and they are released in a staggered manner to avoid overloading Google’s servers (which may mean that it will arrive with some delay, although it will arrive). In case you don’t want to wait for the update to reach your terminal, you can always install it yourself manually through a process known as flashing. We tell you how below.

What is an OTA?

The term OTA refers to the acronym of the English voice Over The Air (“through the air”) or wirelessly, which is the method by which Android updates reach our terminals. To receive them, all we need is an Android phone and a stable Internet connection.

Google distinguishes between factory images and full OTA updates, which may look the same but differ in one fundamental respect. Factory images are upgrade packages that, once applied, leave your phone looking like you’ve just taken it out of the box. All user data and information is lost during the update process.
Full OTAs however allow you to upgrade to a new version of the operating system without losing user data. Installing an OTA manually is equivalent to waiting for the new version notification to appear on the phone.

How to install an OTA on an Android

Before you even start thinking about the installation process, keep in mind that you must have the USB drivers for your phone installed, which you can easily find through Google (or, if you don’t want to get too complicated, you can supply with the driver universal that you can download a little further down).

You will also have to make sure you have USB debugging turned on. If you are not sure or have not activated it, go to the path Settings> Phone information> Build number. This information is usually at the end of the section:

Android build number locationAndroid build number location

Tap on it until the message You are now a developer! or something similar. Once it has appeared, go back and go to System> Developer Options. Here, make sure to enable USB debugging:

USB debugging enabled on AndroidUSB debugging enabled on Android

Now you can connect your phone to the computer. Next, download Minimal ADB & Fastboot from the button that you will find a little further down and run the program.

In the console that will appear, type the following command:


If this is the first time that your phone has been connected to that computer in question, the following message will appear on the screen:

Trust the PC trying to connect to the phoneTrust the PC trying to connect to the phone

Make sure the phone trusts the computer every time you plug it in and retype the command. When you do, something similar to this should appear on the screen:

List of devices connected by ADBList of devices connected by ADB

Next, go to the Android developer website, find the image that corresponds to your Pixel or Nexus model and download it. Save it to the location C: / Program Files (x86) / Minimal ADB & Fastboot and return to Minimal ADB & Fastboot. Now type the following command:

adb reboot bootloader

The phone will reboot in bootloader mode. From there, you will have to access the recovery mode using the volume keys and then pressing the power key when the Recovery mode option is highlighted to access it.

Next, the device will restart and will leave us with a screen that shows the image of the green robot and a red caution sign. You have to press the power button first and, about a second later, the volume up button to access the recovery.

Again using the volume keys to navigate the menus, hover over the option Apply update from ADB and press the power button to access it:

Apply update from recovery modeApply update from recovery mode

Now we go back to the computer. In the Minimal ADB & Fastboot console and we write the following:

adb sideload [NOMBRE DEL ARCHIVO DE LA OTA].zip

The device will begin the installation process. When finished, it will automatically restart and boot into the new version of Android that we just installed.

While it is true that the bulk of this article is intended for Pixel and Nexus terminals, it is also true that the process for almost any other manufacturer is totally valid and that only in a few cases really varies. Of course, not all other manufacturers offer their OTAs for download and flash.