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How to update an old Android tablet

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How to update an old Android tablet: You tidied up your desk drawers and, much to your surprise, you found an Android tablet you haven’t used for a long time. You’re intent on getting it up and running again, and for that reason, you’d need to figure out how to upgrade it to a relatively recent edition of the operating system so you can install all the apps you need on it.

If this is the situation you are in, know that this is the guide that is right for you: below, in fact, I will explain in detail how to update an old Android tablet by downloading the official updates made available to the manufacturer, and proceeding (if necessary) with the “forced” replacement of the operating system.

So, without waiting any longer, make yourself comfortable and carefully read everything I have to explain to you on the subject: I’m sure that, at the end of reading this guide, you will be perfectly able to reach the goal you set for yourself. That said, there is nothing left for me to do but wish you good reading and good luck.

Preliminary information

Before going ahead and explaining, in practice, how to update an old Android tablet , let me give you some more information about the update methods provided by the operating system of the “green robot”.

Well, generally you can proceed with the installation of official updates for Android directly from the device in use (via the OTA system , i.e. over the air ) or via PC , using the management software made available by the tablet manufacturer.

This route is undoubtedly safe, as the official updates are modeled directly by the manufacturer and, consequently, almost completely risk-free. In that case, you will hardly be able to get the most recent Android edition ever (i.e. the latest released by Google), but you may be able to install an updated edition of the operating system, which still allows you to download and install the most commonly used apps.

However, speaking of tablets (and, in general, devices) that are not very recent, there is a problem: each manufacturer provides for a certain life cycle for their phones and tablets , after which no more security or functionality updates are released. . For this reason, if your tablet is very dated and / or belongs to the low-end of the market and the latest version of dedicated Android is extremely obsolete (and does not allow you to install applications from the Play Store), you may necessarily need to use a Custom ROM and force the installation of a more updated version of the operating system on the device.

As you will soon discover, such an approach is not without risk and, consequently, this path should be taken only and exclusively if there is no alternative. If you don’t feel ready to take such a step, however, don’t risk it: an outdated and well-maintained Android tablet is definitely better than a broken Android tablet!

How to update an old Android tablet: official procedure

How to update an old Android tablet: official procedure

As just mentioned, the simplest and safest method to update an old Android tablet is to search for any updates made available by the manufacturer through the Internet. Before proceeding, make sure you are connected to a Wi-Fi network or have a fair amount of Giga available on the cellular level: in the event of “massive” updates, it may be necessary to download files as large as several Giga.

Let’s first see how to proceed from the tablet itself . By default, the Google operating system is able to automatically download system updates, but you can also manually check for their presence: to do so, open the tablet Settings by tapping on the gear symbol that resides in the Home screen (or in the drawer), go to the Info sections on the tablet> Software updates (or Information> Updates ) and tap on the word Check for updates (or Download updates manually ).

At this point, if updates are actually available, the operating system will notify you and ask you whether to download and install them; all you have to do, in this case, is to first press the Download / Download button and then the Install button . If no update is available, Android will instead indicate that the most recent updates are already installed .

How to update an old Android tablet: official procedure

Alternatively, you can proceed from a computer using the software distributed by the tablet manufacturer: for example, Samsung provides the Smart Switch program , which allows you to back up the data on the device, but also to apply any available updates, in turn. a couple of clicks. To learn more, you can refer to my tutorial dedicated to the aforementioned utility or, more generally, to my tutorial on how to connect an Android device to the PC .

If you are unable to obtain any updates, I recommend that you search Google for news relating to the support status of your specific tablet model: locate the latest version of Android released by the tablet manufacturer, compare it with the one on the device in your possession. and, if the latter is already updated, check if the manufacturer is about to release new updates, or not.

If so, I recommend that you wait for the official updates to be released and proceed with the download and installation of the same, when they are available, using the procedure I explained to you a little while ago. If not, however, the only way you can go is to replace the original operating system with a custom ROM : you will find everything explained in the next chapter of this guide.

How to update Android on an old tablet: alternative procedure

How to update Android on an old tablet: alternative procedure

Have you checked several times for official updates for your old tablet but, unfortunately, the feedback was not positive? So, as a last resort, you can advance Android to a later version using a custom ROM , i.e. a modified operating system, intended to replace the original firmware version in use on the device. To do this, it is essential to operate using a computer , preferably with the Windows operating system (as the tools you will need to use are optimized for this operating system).

I repeat that this procedure is not free from risks and compromises to which to submit, quite the contrary . First, it is necessary to unlock the bootloader of the tablet, so as to make it possible to start an alternative version of Android to the one originally present on the tablet. This operation necessarily involves the complete cancellation of the data present in the memory .

Furthermore, there is a real risk of making the Android device completely unusable , due to a phenomenon called “brick” : in fact, a minor error is enough, the download (and attempted installation) of a custom ROM unsuitable for your tablet or a sudden and unexpected power outage, leading to the complete breakdown of the device.

Again, this is an extremely risky procedure , which should only be practiced by users with a minimum of experience and in the absence of other viable solutions, as the risk of breaking the tablet is quite high . Personally, I do not take any responsibility for it: I warn you!

In any case, since it is not possible for me to indicate a generic procedure valid for all tablets (the steps to be taken, in fact, differ profoundly for each model), I provide you with guidelines to follow so that everything goes smoothly.

  • Make a backup of the tablet , as the data will be deleted following the unlocking of the bootloader: if you do not know how to proceed, please take a look at my guide on how to make an Android backup . Alternatively, if you own a Samsung or Huawei tablet , you can refer to the tutorials that I have specifically dedicated to backing up the devices marketed by the aforementioned manufacturers.
  • Obtain the necessary programs for correct replacement of the operating system: the drivers for the tablet you are using, the ADB / Fastboot utilities (in full or minimal version), or the ODIN software for Windows (only for Samsung tablets). I explained how to get them in the initial section of my tutorial dedicated to programs to have root permissions .
  • Check the Android version currently on the tablet by going to the Settings menu > About device , Settings> About or similar. Also note the exact model of the tablet : this information will be extremely useful for you to download the correct custom ROM and Recovery.
  • Locate and download a custom ROM suitable for your device, possibly based on a version of Android later than the one in use at the moment. To do this, you can Google phrases like [tablet brand and model] custom ROM [Android version] . Among the best known in circulation, I would like to mention LineageOS , but I assure you that there are really many others.
  • Download a customized Recovery , which must be loaded on the device via Fastboot / ODIN and used to install the new custom ROM. One of the best is certainly TWRP Recovery , which can be obtained from its official website (be careful to download the one that best suits your device).
  • Activate the development options and USB debugging on your tablet and, if available, enable the OEM unlock setting , to indicate your willingness to proceed with unlocking the bootloader.
  • After you have obtained and installed everything you need, connect the tablet to the computer via USB cable and restart it in Fastboot mode : generally, it is sufficient to turn off the device completely and turn it back on by pressing the physical Power and Volume down buttons .
  • Use the Windows Command Prompt / PowerShell to unlock the tablet bootloader via fastboot . Following this procedure, all the data present in the memory will be deleted.
  • Still using fastboot via the Command Prompt or PowerShell, proceed with the installation of the customized Recovery .
  • Restart the tablet in recovery mode : generally, you can achieve this by completely turning off the device and turning it back on by pressing the physical Power and Volume up buttons .
  • Once in the Recovery screen, use the Mount / Mount function , in order to activate access to the tablet memory as if it were a USB key; once this is done, copy and pass to the computer the file containing the custom ROM on the device.
  • Finally, go back to the tablet, access the initial Recovery menu, tap the Install / Install button and select the ROM you just copied into memory. When prompted, perform the necessary action to confirm the willingness to proceed (e.g. a swipe to the right or left) and wait for the ROM replacement procedure to be completed completely.
  • Read carefully the output that was provided to you by Recovery and, if successful, restart the tablet to proceed with its initial configuration. Should you receive any errors, repeat the previous two points.

If everything went well, at the next start of the tablet, you should run the chosen custom ROM, based on the version of Android to which you have decided to “advance” the tablet.

In any case, if you have a fairly popular tablet, you may find the specific steps to update it via custom ROM directly on Google , by typing phrases like flash custom ROM [tablet brand and model] . If, on the other hand, you want a concrete example, I refer you to reading my tutorials on how to change operating system on Android .