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Android Firmware Updates

If you have used any version of the Windows operating system (e.g Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7), you might be aware of the term “Windows Update”. Windows update is a Microsoft powered service which allows you to download critical system updates on your computer, so that your operating system is safe from malware and virus attacks, runs smoothly without system lags and supports the latest applications, games and programs.

The Android operating system is no exception when it comes to system patches, software upgrades and newer firmware versions released by mobile companies and vendors. Installing the latest software upgrades is highly recommended, as this ensures a smooth user experience and allows better system protection.

In this tutorial, we will learn how to check for software upgrades on your Android device and how to check whether your Android smartphone has a newer firmware upgrade available.

Important note: There are numerous flashing guides available on different websites, discussing different hacks and modifications for installing a specific firmware on a given Android smartphone. These custom hacks might work well but there is a high chance that you might end up damaging your phone’s hardware or completely ruin its motherboard. We will stick to legitimate ways of downloading software upgrades, as these custom hacks or modifications are not fool-proof and require deep knowledge of what you’re doing.

How to Check for Software Upgrades For Your Android Device

1. Before carrying out the following steps, take a complete back up of all the files, contacts, pictures, videos and other content from your phone’s SD card. Applying the software upgrade won’t overwrite the data on your SD card, but taking a complete backup won’t hurt either.

2. Ensure that the device is fully charged and connected to a local Wi-Fi network with internet access. You may use a 3G mobile network but it is highly recommended to use a fast internet connection with good and stable download speed.

3. On your phone’s home screen, tap “menu” button on the left and choose “Settings”. On the next screen, scroll down and select “About Phone” at the very bottom.

4. Choose “Software Update” and tap on “Check for updates”.

5. Your device will connect to the mobile vendor’s servers and check whether a software upgrade is available for the device. If an upgrade is available, you will be prompted for a confirmation. Following is an example:

6. Tap “Ok” and hit “Download” on the next screen. You’re done.

7. Do not navigate away from the update screen while the software upgrade is in progress. Wait for the upgrade to finish and then reboot the device.

How to Check for Firmware Upgrades For Your Android Phone

Things you will need:

– Your handset.
– PC Companion software provided by the mobile vendor.
– USB cable.

1. Install the PC companion suite on your computer and update it to its latest version. I use a Samsung Galaxy S and the PC companion suite offered by Samsung is Samsung Kies [1], hence I will be using Samsung Kies for demonstrating the firmware upgrade procedure. The following steps should also work for PC companion suites of other mobile vendors.

2. Close all running applications on your Android and connect the phone with your computer using the USB cable.

3. Samsung Kies will detect your phone and it will search for firmware upgrades automatically, as shown below:

4. If you see that the version number of the currently installed firmware on your device is different from the version number of the latest firmware, click “Update”. You will see the following message on the next window:

Note: Before hitting the “Start Upgrade” button, please take note of the following:

– Phone should be fully charged, preferably running on AC power.
– You can’t make or receive any calls while the firmware is upgrading. Phone should be kept at an idle state while the upgrade operation is carried out.
– Do not connect any other removable drives, camera, SD cards, external hard drives to the computer while the upgrade is in progress. Only your Android device should be connected to the computer using the USB cable.
– Do not try to navigate away from the upgrade screen or disconnect the USB cable during the upgrade process.
– Ensure that your phone and the computer is connected to a fast internet connection (Broadband preferred).

5. After you hit “Start Upgrade”, the PC companion suite will request you to back up important data from your phone to your computer’s hard drive. Back up all the stuff, should take only a couple of minutes.

Important: In case the firmware upgrade fails, you might have to reset the phone to its factory defaults. Hence, do not skip the backup option.

5. When the backup is in place, the PC companion suite will download all the files required for the firmware upgrade. Keep your phone connected to the computer and do not navigate away from the update screen.

6. When the upgrade is done, your Android device will reboot on its own.

That’s all, now you’re ready to enjoy the latest official firmware on your Android.

~Amit Banerjee