How to Downgrade Firmware on Nexus S /S 4G /4 /5 /7 /10 /Galaxy Nexus

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Looking at the topic? Need to ask that why do we need to downgrade? The answer lies with every Nexus user here! At times of update, we almost feel like we’re receiving a brand new device with a pack of new features that we desire. But in certain cases, like mine, features of the newer version or its stability cannot always overcome the ones of the older version. Or may be, you might even dislike the newly added features at all on the stake of your older favorite ones. When we find ourselves in such situations, we often think of downgrading to a lower update/version that fulfills all our desires.

DroidViews has already done such an amazing guide to downgrade a Samsung Galaxy devices and today we are here with another easy tutorial on rolling back the Nexus series of devices to an older version of Android. Nexus series devices require flashing of Factory Images to downgrade, which can be achieved in a few steps and is easy to follow. The flashing process is same throughout all the devices; Nexus S (3G & 4G), Galaxy Nexus (GSM, Verizon, Sprint), Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (WiFi & 3G) & Nexus 10, the only thing that differs is the files and their respective names. So, further will be instructions only, all you got to do is replace the file name according to your device related files.

Here is the list of  “till what version” can your nexus device be downgraded:

  • Nexus S > From JellyBean 4.1.2  to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 to Gingerbread 2.3.6
  • Nexus S 4G >  From JellyBean 4.1.1  to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 to Gingerbread 2.3.7
  • Galaxy Nexus (GSM) > From JellyBean 4.3 to JellyBean 4.2.2 to JellyBean 4.1.2 to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4
  • Galaxy Nexus (Verizon) > From JellyBean 4.2.2 to JellyBean 4.1.1 to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4
  • Galaxy Nexus (Sprint) > From JellyBean 4.2.1 to JellyBean 4.1.1
  • Nexus 7 (Wi-Fi) > From KitKat 4.4.2 to KitKat 4.4 to JellyBean 4.3 to JellyBean 4.2.2 to JellyBean 4.1.2
  • Nexus 7 (Mobile) > From KitKat 4.4.2 to KitKat 4.4 to JellyBean 4.3 to JellyBean 4.2.2
  • Nexus 4From KitKat 4.4.2 to KitKat 4.4 to JellyBean 4.3 to JellyBean 4.2.2
  • Nexus 10 > From KitKat 4.4.2 to KitKat 4.4 to JellyBean 4.3 to JellyBean 4.2.2
  • Nexus 5 > From KitKat 4.4.2 to KitKat 4.4

Editor’s Picks for You:

Warning!

  • Do not attempt to try this on any other than a Nexus device.
  • Remember! Device specific files are different, so please do not cross over the files or their names.
  • Read and Understand the Instructions carefully before performing any actions
  • DroidViews Community or any of its members are not responsible for any damage to your device

Preparation Before Downgrading your Nexus

Preparing yourself and your device is very essential. There are certain prerequisites before the actual downgrading procedure, these are mandatory to follow.

  • USB Drivers Installed properly    [Link]
  • Compatible USB data cable
  • Android SDK Installed    [Link]
  • Fastboot binary (Put the file in <sdk_directory>/platform-tools)    [Link]
  • USB Debugging enabled [Link]
  • Backup device storage, Messages, Contacts etc.
  • At least 60% battery life (This is advisable to avoid any mishaps during the process)
  • Unlocked Bootloader

Downloads

All the available factory images for the Nexus devices can be downloaded here. 

Instructions To Downgrade Firmware On Nexus Devices

The steps mentioned are universal for all the Nexus devices. The only thing that differs is the files and the file names in commands, that shall be modified accordingly. We’re here, following the Fastboot method to flash the factory images of lower update to the devices. Lets start and know what is to be done to easily downgrade the mentioned Nexus devices to their corresponding firmware.

The initiative step towards downgrading, is to first wipe off every partition on your device. This could be easily accomplished by a set of simple commands.

  1. Connect your device to PC via USB data cable.
  2. Open CMD window and type in the following command to reboot your device into bootloader:
    adb reboot bootloader
  3. Wiping partitions and re-writing them requires the bootloader to be unlocked, if you already have it unlocked then skip this step and follow from #4, if you haven’t then type in the following command:
    Note: Unlocking bootloader wipes the complete device storage, so make sure to back it up completely before performing this action.

    fastboot oem unlock

    When prompted, use the volume keys to highlight “Yes” and select it using the power button.

  4. Download the respective factory images from the links above for your device.
  5. Right click the download file and select “Extract here“.
  6. A new folder with the name matching that of the file will be created. Open the folder, press Shift key and right click on an empty space inside the folder. Select “Open Command Prompt here“.
  7. Lets start the wiping procedure in the command prompt window that just popped up in the previous step.
    • To wipe the /boot partition (Kernel & Ram-Disk):
      fastboot erase boot
    • To wipe the /cache partition:
      fastboot erase cache
    • To wipe the /recovery partition (This will erase the current recovery; stock or custom):
      fastboot erase recovery
    • To wipe the /system partition (OS files):
      fastboot erase system
    • To wipe the /data partition (complete userdata):
      fastboot erase userdata
  8. Once the wiping process is done, you can proceed towards flashing the factory images to your device.
  9. To flash bootloader image, type:
    fastboot flash bootloader file_name.img

    For example, here I am flashing the bootloader file of Nexus 4 (mako)

    fastboot flash bootloader bootloader-mako-makoz10o.img
  10. Reboot the bootloader now by typing the following command (this process is compulsory to avoid any disturbances during flashing process):
    fastboot reboot-bootloader
  11. To flash radio image, type:
    fastboot flash radio file_name.img

    For example, here I am flashing the radio file of Nexus 4 (mako)

    fastboot flash radio radio-mako-m9615a-cefwmazm-2.0.1700.48.img
  12. Reboot bootloader again:
    fastboot reboot-bootloader
  13. The time is now to write the OS files i.e the factory image. Type:
    fastboot -w update file_name.zip

    For example, here I am flashing the factory image of Nexus 4 (mako)

    fastboot -w update image-occam-jdq39.zip
  14. The flashing will take around 1-2 minutes depending upon the size of the file. Do not disconnect or detach the device from your machine.
  15. Once done, your device will reboot itself into the downgraded firmware.

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Note:

If this tutorial worked for you (and it should work), please leave a comment below and do not forget to mention your phone model and the OS version from and to which you downgraded. It will help others. Thanks!

  • Mirza Wajahat Ali Baig

    Is That Tutorial Work To Downgrade Nexus 4 From Kitkat 4.4.4 To Jelly Bean 4.3 ?
    I Just Downloaded Factory Image Of Jelly Bean But I Don’t Found Flash-all.bat Files Etc Etc.. There Is Only 1 File.. I have kitkat 4.4.4 factory images too and in kitkat i’ve flash-all.bat files and other files.. is kitkat files works in jelly bean ?

  • Yes.

  • Droberto

    Can I downgrade Nexus 10 from 4.4.2 to 4.2.2 in one go or I have to do it step by step? Eg.: from KitKat 4.4.2 to KitKat 4.4 to JellyBean 4.3 to JellyBean 4.2.2?

  • Andriy Voroblevskyy

    Recommend you to add additional point into this instruction:

    x. Install native USB driver (for Samsung phones download from here: http://www.samsung.com/us/support/downloads)

    This will resolve “waiting for device” issue.

  • Emerson Gamarra

    Hello Dhananjay Bhardwaj,

    It worked. My old cell phone is Nexus S. I have downgraded to GB because the cell phone was to slow with Jelly bean. Thank you so much. I am linux user, the process is faster in linux systems. Only 49 seconds to write the last image.

    Thank you again.

  • Jan Tchärmän

    Hi,
    this worked great for me and my Nexus S. I downgraded it to Gingerbread as it was getting slower and slower with every upgrade to a Android 4.x version.

    But how did you get rid of the upgrade notifications, always prompting to upgrade to Android 4? I want to stay on Android 2 until I can afford a new device…

  • John

    Hi i just tried this today and tried to downgrade my nexus s 4g from jellybean to ics and it said:
    Archive does not contain ‘boot.sig’
    Archive does not contain ‘recovery.sig’
    Archive does not contain ‘system.sig’

    Device verseband is D720SPRLF2
    Update requires (lists some versebands here)

  • Use the tutorial.

  • Thad Thigpen

    Thanks DJ. It worked like a charm. Restored a Nexus 7 running 4.3 down the 4.1.2 on my Mac. Just need to grab a copy of fastboot for Linux/Mac and no need for USB drivers.

  • Try ROMs based on 4.2.2 like PA or CyanogenMod.

  • Sadaddin

    Hai can anyone let me know which is d best OS for Google Nexus S…should b gd in performance, RAM, etc…Thanks in Advance

  • Wiryono

    Sorry , don’t know how to do that. When my phone start it go to fastboot mode – no boot and recovery img.

    I try using the stock jelly bean 4.1.2 it same as above

  • I think the bootloader has corrupted. Try to go back to the Jelly Bean firmware from where you tried to downgrade.

  • Wiryono

    Ok looks like I brick everything … all version 2.3.6, 4.0.4, and 4.1.2 cannot fastboot flash bootloader and directly -w update didn’t work too i_i

  • Wiryono

    Same Problem stuck there, Here is the history

    C:downloadssoju-imm76d-factory-ca4ae9eesoju-imm76d>fastboot erase boot
    erasing ‘boot’…
    OKAY [ 0.035s]
    finished. total time: 0.038s

    C:downloadssoju-imm76d-factory-ca4ae9eesoju-imm76d>fastboot erase cache
    erasing ‘cache’…
    OKAY [ 1.696s]
    finished. total time: 1.700s

    C:downloadssoju-imm76d-factory-ca4ae9eesoju-imm76d>fastboot erase recovery
    erasing ‘recovery’…
    OKAY [ 0.036s]
    finished. total time: 0.038s

    C:downloadssoju-imm76d-factory-ca4ae9eesoju-imm76d>fastboot erase system
    erasing ‘system’…
    OKAY [ 0.127s]
    finished. total time: 0.130s

    C:downloadssoju-imm76d-factory-ca4ae9eesoju-imm76d>fastboot erase userdata
    erasing ‘userdata’…
    OKAY [ 0.187s]
    finished. total time: 0.189s

    C:downloadssoju-imm76d-factory-ca4ae9eesoju-imm76d>fastboot flash bootloader
    bootloader-crespo-i9020xxkl1.img
    sending ‘bootloader’ (1536 KB)…

    ===stop here and got FASTBOOT STATUS – DATA00180000 on the phone ===

    This is my phone variable
    C:downloadssoju-imm76d-factory-ca4ae9eesoju-imm76d>fastboot getvar all

    (bootloader) product: herring
    (bootloader) serialno: 3932BF2711D700EC
    (bootloader) version-hardware: REV 52
    (bootloader) version-baseband: I9020XXKI1
    (bootloader) version-bootloader: I9020XXLC2
    (bootloader) secure: yes
    (bootloader) unlocked: yes
    (bootloader) off-mode-charge: 1

    Any idea ?

  • Downgrade to ICS first and then to GB.

  • Wiryono

    Hi I got stuck when doing “fastboot flash bootloader bootloader.img”
    It only show as sending ‘bootloader’ (1536 KB) …. then nothing
    Do I need to downgrade to 4.0.4 first

    I want to downgrade my Nexus S to 2.3.6 due to battery problem

  • Glad to know it worked for you. 🙂

  • Worked like a charm thanks :). For me, just need to use sudo for fastboot command 😉

  • dafu

    adb reboot bootloader is not a reginised command or batch file

  • Marta Jiménez Blázquez

    In the package for downgrade the nexus 10 from 4.3 to 4.2.2 there is no radio image. ¿where can I download it?

  • Yes, you need not root for that.

  • SUHAS ATITKAR

    Is this without rooting??

  • Download the 4.2.2 Factory Image for Nexus 10 (manta): https://dl.google.com/dl/android/aosp/mantaray-jdq39-factory-d79f489e.tgz

    Once downloaded, head over from Instructions towards the end.

  • SUHAS ATITKAR

    How to downgrade my Nexus 10 from 4.3 to 4.2.2?

  • Eaglesh

    My nexus S is juicing battery in very speed, kindly someone guide me that either is that my phone problem or something else?

  • I’m sure you either missed something or flashed the wrong files. Please mention your Nexus S model number?

  • Sukhbir

    i did use the nexus s factory image.. but now the phone has stuck on the boot-up screen and is not even getting connected to the computer via usb

  • Please download and use the factory image meant for your model. Extract the downloaded .tgz file
    Now, there are three files to be flashed accordingly
    The Bootloader first, then reboot bootloader.
    The Radio image second, then reboot bootloader again.
    and finally step #13, the system image (rom). Final reboot.

    Please make sure to replace and use the file names as delivered in your factory image. Above is an example meant to be used for Nexus 4.

  • Sukhbir

    i was trying to downgrade from android 4.1.1 to 2.3.6 in nexus s.. i did every step here but on my mobile screen i’m seeing “FASTBOOT MODE-NO BOOT OR RECOVERY IMAGE” so what should i do now? & on the cmd i get the error that “archieve does not contain boot.sig , recovery.sig & system.sig.

  • All required files can be found in the ROM package. Download and extract it first.

  • Hayden

    What is the radio image??? You never mentioned where to download that

  • mohit ahuja

    thanks bro, just add that sudo should be used with fastboot

  • peter

    OK sir. Tq

  • Well, both of these aspects are subjective.
    Signal > Depends on your region and availability of Network
    Battery > Depends on your Installed Apps, Mods and how constantly you use the device and its features.
    Yet, It has been up in the air that 4.1.2 JellyBean is the most used and preferred.

  • peter

    I’ve successfully downgrade my nexus i9250 from 4.2.2 to 4.0.4. All of the phone technician in my area didn’t know how to downgrade but now I able to done it by my self. Thank you for your guide and this method really work for my device. What is the most appropriate android version for nexus i9250 in term of signal and battery life sir?

  • You’re welcome. Good luck with downgrading.

  • peter

    Tq sir

  • Or, there is a simple solution. Try this toolkit to install ADB/fastboot drivers.
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1392310

    Please make sure to read the developer’s post for more detailed info.

  • peter

    My hardware ids value are USBVID_18D1&PID_4E30&REV_0100 and USBVID_18D1&PID_4E30. What should i do in order to install driver correctly?

  • The first step here, is to determine your device hardware ids.

    To do this, Right click on Android 1.0, go to Properties and then Details. Now, from the dropdown menu, select Hardware Ids.
    Something similar to this will be shown: http://goo.gl/QLfxv
    Make note of these two Ids.

  • peter

    Yes.. How can i overcome that problem?

  • The problem is with the fastboot/adb interface not being setup properly. In simple words, its the drivers.
    In several cases the device Hardware IDs are different from those in drivers.
    Please check Control Panel > Device Manager when your device is connected in bootloader mode. Is there any thing like “Android 1.0” being displayed?

  • peter

    Why i can’t unlock my bootloader sir? When i enter fastboot oem unlock in CMD, the output is (waiting for device). What is the problem? My phone is galaxy nexus i9250 and i want to downgrade JB to ICS.