How to upgrade your Android phone to Lollipop


These days getting onto the next Android dessert is something most of us crave.  When the love of chocolate Kit Kat wears off and one wants the sweet sugary features of Lollipop on their device, one needn’t lose sleep over the process, it is actually a relatively simple endeavor!

So what is so cool about Lollipop?

Well right now you might be asking yourself why you even want to update.  One thing that really stands out is Google’s new Material Design UI has vastly improved the Android landscape with new icons, a bright aesthetic color scheme, and transparent layers that seemlessly blend everything together.  It is also easier than ever to apply custom themes for specific devices.

Another feature is a new built in battery saver option that allows for up to 90 minutes according to Google, for those times when you are hopelessly stranded with no charger in sight and don’t want to get in trouble with the better half for failing to reply to text messages…


Hitting the volume button now allows for silencing options, including for a specified amount of time or excluding certain contacts, and ability to create a use profiles and a guest mode is a major addition to the operating system.  These and other features make it worth your while to upgrade your device.

Alright I’m on board, now how do I update?

I’m glad you asked!  Let’s take a look at a couple ways to do this.  The first thing you want to do is back up all of your data just in case.  Now the actual updating:


The easiest way is by OTA (over the air) update.  If your phone is primed and ready for the update, then you are in luck!  Most phones manufactured within the last year or two will have an update.

First let’s go to Settings > About phone

Find Software update or Check for updates to see if your phone can download an OTA update, if it finds one go ahead and do the update, but you might need a wifi connection.  Different phones might have slightly different wording, but the general procedure is the same.


Manually updating


To manually do an update on some Samsung phones (some older models might require this method) you’ll need to connect to the Smart Switch software on your computer to do the update.  To get this going simply download and install the Smart Switch software then connect your Samsung phone via USB to your computer and fire up Smart Switch to see if you can update that way.  It may take a minute or so install some drivers when you plug your phone in.

Make sure you phone is at least halfway charged

With Smart Switch you can actually create a backup of your phone, this is recommended as a first action.  Click the Backup button at the bottom of the screen.

Once the backup is done, you are ready to update.  Click the Update button near the middle of the screen, this will give you another prompt window that wants to make sure you actually want to update.  Click on Update again to continue, and it will give you an informational window about backing up data and having enough charge etc.  You can click OK to begin the actual process.

Do not disconnect your device at any time during this process, which may take up to a half hour.  Once it is complete your device may take longer than normal to boot up, which is normal.


Manually updating an HTC Device is similar to Samsung, but you’ll be using the HTC sync software found here.  Once you download the software package, install it on your machine.

Plug in your HTC device and let it install any drivers that may be needed.  Once that it is recognized by your computer HTC Sync will tell you automatically if there is an update   If there is, a window will pop up telling you that it is available.  At this point you can click on Upgrade which may prompt a Software Upgrade Assistant page.  Here you can select your device from a list and click on Upgrade to begin the process.

It will now download the software and proceed to update your phone.  The phone will restart a few times during the update, just let it be until the entire process is complete, at which time it will boot into the home screen again.

Other Devices

Some other OEMs have proprietary tools that do a similar update procedure.  For LG you actually have to get an individual installer for your specific device on the support page.  Here is the one for LG G3.  Depending on what device you have, you need to search it out in the search window and once you get it locate the software update link, which will lead you to the proper tool for your specific device.  In the end it’s probably easiest to use the OTA method if you can.

Custom ROM

Do you have an older device that is not getting an official update?  Fear not my good friend, for there is yet a solution for you!  Custom ROMs are a great way to get up to the latest Android version, while it takes a little bit of sweat to get one loaded on your device at first, it becomes second nature after a while.

In order to get a custom Lollipop ROM on your device, you will first need to unlock your bootloader, and get a custom recovery loaded.

The following guides will help you get to the point where you can load a custom ROM on your device.



One Max : Use this paid tool in order to unlock your bootloader –  Link

and this will get you a custom recovery loaded, TWRP is a very popular one.-  XDA Thread

One  Mini:  You can unlock the device using HTC Dev Unlock here:  Link  You just need to find your device from the list and click the green button to get going.  Once you have done that, you can flash the TWRP recovery from here:  XDA Thread

One Mini 2:  You can unlock the device using HTC Dev Unlock here:  Link  You just need to find your device from the list and click the green button to get going.  Once you have done that, you can flash the TWRP recovery from here:  XDA Thread

HTC First:  You can unlock the device with this guide- XDA Thread and get TWRP recovery here: XDA Thread

HTC Evo 4G LTE:  You have to use devunlock to get this device unlocked- Link  You just need to find your device from the list and click the green button to get going. You then need to use romrunner located here for S OFF- XDA Thread.  You need to make sure to follow all directions.  Then we get a custom recovery going here- XDA Thread which gets you where we need to be.

Droid Incredible 4G LTE: This device is a little comlex, but following the instructions laid out in this thread for bootloader unlock- XDA Thread and this one for S OFF- XDA Thread you can get your custom recovery flashed here- Link using fastboot.


Galaxy S3;  The best method on this device for unlocking and rooting and even custom recovery is mskip’s toolkit found here: XDA Thread

It works for virtually every variant and will get you where we need to be.

Galaxy Note 2: you can use CF Autoroot for most of these.

GTN7100, GTN7105 –  XDA Thread

AT&TXDA Thread

SprintXDA Thread

T-MobileXDA Thread

Verizon:  A little more complicated  XDA Thread

Galaxy Note

GT-N7000  XDA Thread

i717 XDA Thread

Now these are the most popular devices that do not have any official Lollipop update, but do have custom ROMs available.  Once you have your device rooted and with a custom recovery, you can find all of the 5.X ROMs in the Android Development and Original Android Development for that device.  Use the “find your device” box at the top right to locate the correct development device forum here:   XDA Forum Directory

Make sure you check out the bugs listed in the first page of the threads to get the most stable version, and happy flashing!

Ok, I’ve updated my device, now what?
Now feel free to explore the new features and UI, and in good time when you start to actually get that itch for a new dessert flavor, head back and we’ll get you onto some Marshmallow goodness!

About author

Ronald Comstock
Ronald Comstock

Home theater and Android enthusiast. I work with the sponsorship team on XDA to create and publish content for the latest in Android and smart home tech.

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