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How to install the latest Android 12 — A step by step guide

Android 12 is here and here's how to install it!

Published onOctober 19, 2021

After going through an extensive developer preview phase, the stable version of Android 12 is here! Google says its main goal is to make Android 12 “more intuitive, better performing, and more secure.” You can learn more about the new Android version in our article here.

Unlike the betas before it, this should be a fully stable release. You can download and apply the update manually or via OTA. That said, the recommended method is an over-the-air update. The downside to this method is that Google rolls out in stages, so it’s not the best method if you’re the impatient type.

While using a factory image is typically the default method for manual installation, we highly recommend skipping the factory images in favor of OTA images. You will still have to install it manually, but using an OTA image doesn’t require you to completely wipe your device. Of course, if you are a developer and want the cleanest method, factory images might be better.

Decide you want to sideload or the OTA? Keep reading.

Editor’s note: The Android 12 steps above and below are compatible with Google Pixel smartphones from the Pixel 3 series forward.

Here’s what you need to get started

  • A compatible Pixel 3 or later device and a USB cable to connect it to your computer
    • Compatible Pixel phones include the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5
  • The Android SDK installed on your machine with ADB and Fastboot command successfully working — check the tutorial here

Now for the actual steps.

Download the proper files to install Android 12

You must download the appropriate file for your device before you get started. We recommend using OTA images over factory images, as the process is easier to do and allows you to keep old files if that’s something you’re interested in.

Click here to grab the OTA image for your specific Pixel device. It’s also possible to use the full factory images (here), which requires extra hoops like unlocking your bootloader and more. If you want to keep things simple, we recommend sideloading the OTA. We designed our directions below for this install type.

Prepare your phone

google pixel 4 vs pixel 3 vs pixel 3a 7

Once you’ve installed the file, you need to reboot your phone into Recovery Mode to apply the OTA. Then, you’ll be ready to install Android 12.

  1. First, shut off your phone.
  2. Next, hold down Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time.
  3. The bootloader menu will now show up. Use volume buttons to scroll down to Recovery Mode.
  4. Select Recovery Mode by clicking the power button.
  5. You’ll be presented with an Android robot with an exclamation mark on it. Now you’ll press the power button and volume up button for about a second.
  6. Release the volume up button will send you fully into recovery.
  7. Next, use the volume buttons and scroll down to Apply update from ADB. Push the power button to select the option.
  8. Lastly, you’ll see a blank screen telling you how to sideload an OTA.

Prepare your PC to install Android 12

Now that your phone is ready, it’s time to make the magic happen.

  1. Connect your handset to your PC via USB cable. Remember, your PC needs to have ADB tools installed.
  2. On Windows, enter Command Prompt. On Linux or Mac, you’ll want to use Terminal. For Windows users, make sure you navigate to wherever you’re storing the folder.
  3. Next, you must enter adb sideload for Windows or ./adb sideload for Mac/Linux.
  4. Now you’ll want to enter the name of the .zip folder from before and hit enter.
  5. Once completed, your phone will return to Recovery Mode, and you can remove the USB cable.
  6. Go to Reboot Now with the volume keys and press the power button.

That’s it. If everything went okay, you were able to install Android 12 successfully.

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