Android 4.4 KitKat unofficially arrives to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

by: Andrew GrushNovember 3, 2013

Android 4.4 KitKat

After all the rumors and speculation, Android 4.4 KitKat finally was unveiled on Thursday with a promised update coming to most Nexus devices within weeks. For Galaxy Nexus owners, it was also revealed that the older Nexus handset wouldn’t be getting its hands on KitKat through an official release.

The good news is that the developer community is moving quickly to bring some form of Android 4.4 support the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, at least in an unofficial capacity. As we speak there are already quite a few different Galaxy Nexus ROMs starting to surface – for both the GSM version of the handset, and for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any ROMs designed to work with the Sprint Galaxy Nexus at this time. On the bright side, Sprint has one advantage over Big Red: the Now Network officially supports the new Nexus 5.

While there are many ROMs out there, two of them stand out as being the most stable builds currently available, both of which are ‘pure’ KitKat with few modifications made, besides those needed to get the ROM working.

It’s important to remember that while both builds are reasonably functional, these are still alpha projects. That means that bugs are bound to happen.

On the GSM side of the fence, we have SlimKat Maguro alpha build. Based on both user feedback on the XDA Developer’s forum and from the developer’s notes, this build appears to be very functional. There doesn’t appear to be any broken features or functions in the build, though there are some minor graphical glitches.

For Verizon, you’ll want to turn your attention to the new “Shiny” Android 4.4 ROM, from well-known Android developer baldwinguy77. Like the SlimKat rom, this AOSP-based ROM has few to no modifications present. As for stability? Most of the user feedback has been quite positive, and it seems that all of the device’s core features appear to be working.

It’s important to remember that while both builds are reasonably functional, these are still alpha projects. That means that bugs are bound to happen, and so you should proceed with caution of you are considering downloading KitKat for your Verizon or GSM Galaxy Nexus.

For more details on the GSM-compatible SlimKat ROM, head on over to the XDA Developer’s Forum. For the Verizon Shiny ROM, you’ll want to visit Rootz Wiki for more details.

For those that have already tried either build (or perhaps a different Galaxy Nexus KitKat ROM), what’s your experience been like so far? Smooth, or are you running into any trouble?

  • Jayfeather787


  • Nasko Hristov

    Working perfect, despite being an alpha build it is possible using it as a daily basis. Only one or two things not working, tho.

    • Josu

      is it a vanilla android experience? with the transparent notification bar drawer and buttons?

      • Nasko Hristov

        It’s the same like on the Nexus 5, everythink works. Well, OK, Google doesn’t work=too old chip. Bu everything else seems up and working.

        • cmbeid

          OK Google works from the homescreen for me. I am running the Google Experience launcher (4.4 launcher) on my 4.2 Galaxy Nexus.

  • Mos3ad

    If anyone has noticed any battery problems with the 4.4 roms on the Galaxy nexus ? .. cause the 4.3 had a terrible battery life on the galaxy nexus and the on the nexus 4 as well

    • Ivan Myring

      My nexus 4 had better battery life,

      • Oli72

        try the snapdragon app for battery saver it works great on any snapdragon processors phones.

        • Ivan Myring

          I used it when it first came out. It made the battery worse. Though I must admit I am rooted, running a custom ROM, custom kernel, undervolted (150mv) and under clocked (1.1ghz) so I probably get more battery life than most nexus 4 owners get from their phones

          • Oli72

            K. Kool

    • utilitybelt

      4.3 improved the standby time of my nexus 4.

    • AnotherAndroidKid

      4.3 battery was crap. i am getting about 10 hours now on 4.4. more like 3 hours on 4.3. Shiny for both.

  • Ryan Callihan

    I’m running 4.4 on my toro Gnex and everything is fine except for a few graphical glitches when dealing with webview embedded things… Ok Google works from my homescreen and google now, I’ve got transparent bars and all the other good stuff.

  • RanRu

    I’m a bit disappointed to see the Galaxy Nexus not get official support. Am I wrong in remembering that Google usually supports Nexus devices two gens back? Especially considering that the main point of KitKat was to be able to run on low-end hardware.
    Oh, well. Glad to see the devs not disappoint. Waiting for someone to try putting 4.4 on the G1 and see how that works out.

    • Travis Danger Guilliams

      If I’m not mistaken, there’s an 18 month official support time. I can’t remember the exact day the Galaxy Nexus was released, but it may be passed the 18 month period that I’ve heard about.

      • Hugo Oskarsson

        You’re right, but they could have given 4.4 to Galaxy nexus anyway, just to prove it works on less powerful phones.

      • Mozaik

        Because of this other OEM will not support older device , google should have set example by upgrading the nexus s and galaxy nexus .

        • AnotherAndroidKid

          Most are blaming TI and not Google for the lack of GNex support.

          that said, Shiny is doing quite well for me. Not perfect, but within reason, baldinguy77 hit it out of the park yet again.

    • adam evans

      Would have been good statement to prove project sveltes purpose

  • NeedName

    Now people can stop saying the reason for Google not putting 4.4 on the gNexus is due to TI OMAP drivers. . . clearly 4.4 can go on the gNexus without a problem. And Google (and Android OEMs in general) clearly have an official end of software support at 18 months after device introduction.

    So, now we all know, software support ends at 18 months, not that OEMs will update for “at least 18 months.”

    • The Android Enforcer

      I agree… the only reason I can think of is that they want everyone to upgrade

    • Cloduar

      The problem is more about providing a somewhat stable Android experience. Which is not the case of the (alpha) ROMs for the gNexus… Why would Google take the risk of offering KitKat on a model which main component is no longer “supported” by the manufacturer? Glitches on community-made ROMs are more forgivable. Glitches on an official Google ROM are not (in most users’ point of view). I’ve been experiencing this for more than a year with my Galaxy Note and its ****** SoC…

      • Oli72

        i read that same info on another site. thx for bringing that up. just bought nexus 5 will be selling my nexus 4

        • Troy Leonard

          How much want for you nexus 4?

          • Oli72

            Will let u know.

    • Brian Shieh

      Any, if not most old (2011-2012) flagships can easily support JB/KitKat. It’s a matter on how willing the manufacturer is to push to update.

      • Troy Leonard

        Don’t forget how willing the carrier is to approve the update. Especially if you’re on big red. Just look at the updates on the gnex for proof. Oem’s can push the code to the carrier but the carrier want to sell new phones and doesn’t approve it the user is screwed.

  • mehisMEH

    nexus phones are bland, boring, and lacks features and even some good hardwares

    • Motaz Alqaqa


    • adam evans

      Yeah it really pisses me off when my nexus doesn’t fall asleep with me and I really wish it had s voice !

    • Oli72

      thx for ur opinion but we are not buying ur lifestyle. sounds like u drink apple juice.

    • John Garlits

      You talk like a lolcat

  • Ivan Myring
    • SeraZR™

      It’s fixed

    • Andrew Campbell

      Im getting the same thing along with random reboots all the time.

  • The Android Enforcer

    I also covered this topic on my site:
    It’s still a pretty new site, but I would really appreciate the exposure

  • Oli72

    all vz customers have been screwed when vz didnt want to galaxy nexus then. google learned from that and now screw u vz for not getting the nexus 5. thats why people is jumping ship off vz. there is other options out there we have choices if we make that decision.

  • John Garlits

    I wonder if it improves ram usage and battery life.

    • AnotherAndroidKid

      Shiny, yes to both.

  • Michael Shmelev

    Could care less as long as my nexus 4 has it:)

  • Nixon

    Will the battery drain rate be as bad as 4.3 because ever since I updated from 4.2.2 on my N4 to 4.3 the battery drain has become ridiculous, hell it can hardly last a day…

  • kevin

    how do i update/ upgrade my nexus 4 form 4.3 to 4.4 today? how long would it take and is there a direct way with no hiccups?

    • utilitybelt

      If you want a custom AOSP ROM look to paranoid android and I can’t remember the other one. There is no factory image yet so we’re all SOL until they provide the factory image or push out the update.

  • utilitybelt

    Glad I left Verizon and got a nexus 4 a year ago. Now I’m just waiting for 4.4 to roll out to my phone officially. Hurry up, Google.

  • Hope #Kitkat roms rolls out for download for Galaxy devices..