How to downgrade to a previous Android version

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Marie-Ange Demory
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The installation of a Android update on your mobile is not a definitive process. If you are not happy with the changes, or if some kind of problem arises, you can revert to an older version of Android and get everything back to normal.

And, if that is true it is not entirely advisable restore a previous version of the system, the reality is that in some cases it is essential because of software or hardware incompatibility problems, critical bugs that the manufacturer does not plan to fix, or many other cases that could lead you to want to return from Android 9 to Android 8, from Android 10 to Android 9 or even return from Android 11 to Android 10.

Either way, the steps to follow to go back to the previous version of Android are similar. In this article, we explain how can you do it step by step.

You can revert to an older version of Android if you are having trouble with the latest update.

First of all, what is downgrading?

When we talk about downgrade, we refer to the technique which consists of replace a more modern software version with an older one.

You can make the app downgrade, when you go back to a previous version of an application, or even the firmware of the phone itself, by restoring an Android software version to as such.

It is not a very common practice since android updates come generally released to introduce changes for the better. However, there are times when such updates they do more harm than good. That's when the downgrade comes into play.

3 things to keep in mind before downgrading your mobile

If you think a recent software update is the cause of your mobile phone problems, chances are you have considered going back to an older version of Android to get rid of it. However, there are several things you should keep in mind before doing this:

  • It is not always possible to downgrade: some manufacturers, or Google itself, may block the downgrade by preventing the installation of an Android version older than the one installed on the device. And even when possible, this process can come with some risks to consider.
  • All your data will be deleted: when you downgrade, all data stored on your device will be completely deleted. That is why it is highly recommended that you do a full backup of your mobile before reverting to a previous version.
  • Sometimes, formatting your mobile is just as effective: Since you are convinced to go back to an older version of Android, and therefore you will have to delete all data from the mobile, a good idea could be to format the mobile, as this simple process can solve some of your mobile problems, without this it means having to stop enjoying the news of the latest version of the system.

How to downgrade to an older version of Android

Pixel 4a and 4 XL, both with Android 11 inside.

Now that we've seen the risks and things to consider before restore an older version of Android on mobile or tablet, it's time to get to work. Unluckily, it's not as simple as it sounds.

And it is that, as indicated above, not all manufacturers allow downgrades on their phones. And in those that are possible, we can find procedures that change completely depending on the mobile we are about to downgrade. Something common in most devices is that you will first need to unlock the bootloader and have the ADB drivers installed on your computer.

However, the steps to follow are quite similar in most cases. When it comes to downgrade to an android mobile, here's what you should do:

  1. Make a complete backup of all data on your mobile.
  2. Download the firmware of the mobile phone you want to install. In the case of mobiles from brands like Google or OnePlus, it won't be hard to find as companies offer repositories from which to download previous versions of their software.
  3. If necessary, download and install the necessary tools to downgrade on your computer, such as Xiaomi Mi Flash Tool, Samsung ODIN or similar.
  4. Install the old version of the software on your phone. You can be guided by the steps of our guide to update Android or the guide to manually install an update on Android.

That's all. If all went well, you will boot your mobile with an older version of the software. Keep in mind, of course, that not having the latest version of the operating system can have consequences such as the fact that some applications are no longer compatible, or that you cannot enjoy the latest Android news.

Other downgrade alternatives you should consider

One of the best ROMs you can install, LineageOS

While it is an effective solution, I fear that the downgrade also has its drawbacks. However, they do exist alternative to the process of restoring an older version of Android which does not present much risk.

One of them is, as I said before, format your mobile. By deleting all your data and settings - with a previously created backup - it is very likely that the problems introduced by the new version disappear, and you will still be able to enjoy the changes and news of the latest version.

Another equally effective solution is to resort to third-party Android ROMs. Typically, these modified versions of the software introduce improvements and changes compared to the official editions. Therefore, installing a ROM can be a good idea if the latest software available for your mobile doesn't convince you, but you don't want or can't go back to a previous edition of the operating system.

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