How to update your phone: For a few days now, your smartphone has been “pestering” you with an update request: initially you were willing to accept, but then you panicked. You are not really a technology expert, on the contrary, let’s say that you are at the very beginning with smartphones, and you are afraid that by installing a software update your phone could freeze and cause you to lose all data.
I understand you: yours is a legitimate concern, but it is wrong to panic. If you update your phone following the official procedures provided by the manufacturer, the risk of losing data and blocking the device is practically nil. Indeed, a software update often brings numerous benefits, such as the ability to take advantage of new features and to have a more protected system against attacks by cyber criminals. It is true, in some circumstances, especially if you have a phone that is not of the very first hair, updates can slow down the performance of the system, but it is a price that you have to learn to pay in exchange for the benefits we have just talked about.
So, are you ready to proceed? If you want to know how to update your phone without risk and want to try the functions of the latest versions of Android or iOS, take a few minutes of free time and put into practice the instructions I am about to give you. I bet you will be amazed by the simplicity with which you will be able to do everything and by the advantages you will get by updating your device!
Updating a phone using official channels, such as the OTA update system or PC software released by manufacturers, does not delete any data. However, as they say, caution is never too much and therefore, before proceeding, I strongly recommend that you make a complete backup of the data on your device.
Going into more detail, I suggest you make a local copy of the data, saving it on your computer or on an external memory card, and take advantage of cloud backup systems, such as Google Drive (if you use an Android terminal) or iCloud ( if you have an iPhone) to have an online copy of photos, videos, contacts, calendars and all your most important files.
If you need help backing up the data on your phone, follow the instructions you find in my tutorials on how to make an Android backup and how to make an iPhone backup . Another guide that may be useful to you is the one on how to download photos from mobile to PC .
How to update an Android phone
If you have an Android smartphone, you can update your phone by following two different ways: you can start the search for updates directly on the device (in this case we are talking about OTA updates , ie updates over the air) or you can connect the mobile phone to the PC and use the software provided by the manufacturer (eg Huawei or Samsung ) to search for and install the latest operating system updates. For more details, read on: everything is explained below.
OTA updates for Android
The easiest way to update an Android smartphone is to resort to OTA updates , i.e. updates that manufacturers release via the Internet and which can be installed directly on the phone without connecting it to the PC. For the procedure to be successful it is necessary that the smartphone has at least 50% of remaining charge and is connected to a Wi-Fi network (if it is connected to the 3G / 4G network, you risk consuming all your Giga!).
To check for OTA updates on your phone, access the Android Settings by pressing the gear icon located on the home screen or on the screen with the list of all the apps installed on the device, then go to Info on the phone> System updates and start the search for updates by pressing the appropriate option.
If available updates are found, tap the Download button (or Download in Wi-Fi ), wait patiently for the software download to be completed (you can follow the download progress by calling up the Android notifications menu, with a swipe from the top of the screen to the bottom) and press the Install Now or Install and Reboot button to start installing the update.
If Android has already notified you of updates automatically, you can skip all the steps described above (except those relating to backup) and proceed with installing the update simply by calling up the notifications menu, selecting the notification relating to the update and pressing the Install now or Install and restart button . The smartphone will restart by itself and, after a few minutes, will allow you to use the new version of Android, in which you will find all your data, your apps and system settings intact.
After the Android update, you may be asked to also update the Google Play Services : a component necessary for the functioning of Google services, such as the Play Store. Therefore, expand the notification menu by swiping from the top of the screen to the bottom, select the item relating to Google Play Services and proceed to download the update from the Play Store. If any steps are not clear to you or you need more information on how to update Google Play Services , read my tutorial dedicated to the topic.
If your smartphone is equipped with a customized version of Android, you may need to follow slightly different steps to start searching for new updates. For example, if you have a Huawei device equipped with the customized EMUI interface, you need to go to the Settings menu (the gear icon located on the home screen), select Updater (or System Update ) from the final part of the screen that opens and press the button to start the search for updates .
If a new version of Android available is found, tap on New version XX , press the Quick Update button and wait for the update to be downloaded and installed. If the phone has already notified you of updates, you can skip the steps described above and directly select the notification relating to the update from the Android notification menu (you can set the automatic search for updates by going to Settings> Updater and pressing the button Menu located below). If you need more information on how to update your Huawei phone , read my tutorial dedicated to the topic.
Even in the case of Samsung smartphones , searching for OTA updates is very simple: just go to the Settings menu > Device info> Software updates and press the Download updates manually .
Alternatively, if the device has already reported the presence of updates (the automatic search for updates can always be set in the menu that I have just indicated), you can start the download and installation of the latter by selecting the appropriate item from the Android notification menu. If you want more information on how to update your Samsung phone , follow the directions in my guide about it.
Have you rooted your Android smartphone and can’t download OTA updates for it? It’s a normal thing. Many times, in fact, the root prevents you from installing the updates that manufacturers release via the OTA system. To remedy the problem, you could turn to solutions such as FlashFire : a free application available on the Play Store that allows you to install the updates that manufacturers release via OTA and to install them in a “forced” way by flashing them on the device.
The application itself is very intuitive, but since it is an unofficial tool and acting in a profound way on the system, it can lead to problems such as the boot loop (i.e. the continuous reboot of the device) forcing the user to perform a complete format of the device. In short: before resorting to such a solution, think carefully and inform yourself about its compatibility with the phone in your possession. For more details on this, check out my tutorial on updating Android , in which, among other things, I also told you about FlashFire.
Update Android from your computer
As mentioned above, it is possible to update an Android phone also via computer, using the official software released by the manufacturers. Thanks to these software, it is possible to connect the smartphone and the computer (as they contain the drivers necessary for the recognition of devices by Windows or macOS), perform complete backups of the data on the phone, manage contacts, apps and much more.
Another function offered by the programs in question – the one that interests you most at this juncture – is the one that allows you to check the availability of updates for Android and install the latter on your smartphone: all in a handful of clicks and without deleting the data on the device.
Below you will find the list of the main programs to manage Android devices from your computer, with links to download them at no cost.
- Samsung SmartSwitch – this is the program that allows you to manage (and update) Samsung devices from your computer. It is compatible with Windows and macOS.
- HiSuite – Huawei’s official application to manage and update the Asian giant’s devices from PC. It is compatible with Windows only.
- Motorola Device Manager – Motorola’s official software for managing and updating Moto-branded smartphones. It is compatible with Windows and macOS.
- Sony Xperia Companion – the program to manage and update Sony phones from your computer. It is compatible with Windows and macOS.
- HTC Sync Manager – the official software to manage and update HTC smartphones from your computer. It is compatible with Windows and macOS.
To download the most suitable program for your smartphone, visit its official website using one of the links I have provided and click on the download button for Windows or macOS (depending on the operating system you use).
Once the download is complete, launch the software installation package (the exe or msi file if you are using Windows or the pkg file if you are using macOS) and follow the on-screen instructions. The procedure varies from program to program, but generally it is sufficient to always click on Next or Next and check the box relating to the acceptance of the conditions of use of the software. On macOS, in addition to clicking Next or Continue , you must also type the password of your user account (the one you use to access the system).
Once installation is complete, connect your smartphone to the computer using the supplied USB cable , expand the Android notification menu and, after selecting the option relating to the USB connection , choose the MTP option (in order to be recognized in a correct the device to the computer). At this point, start the phone management program on the PC and click on the option to start searching for updates.
If you have a Samsung device and then use Smart Switch , click on the arrow located next to the name of the phone and press the Update button first and then click Confirm to first start the download and then the installation of updates for Android. If any steps are not clear to you, check out my tutorials on how to connect a Samsung mobile to your PC and how to update your Samsung phone .
If, on the other hand, you have a Huawei terminal, connect it to the PC using the supplied USB cable and activate the USB debugging mode in the Settings> Developer options menu of Android. If you do not see the menu with the “developer options” in the settings of your device, select the item Info on the phone from the Settings menu and press seven consecutive times on the Build Version option or on the Serial number option .
Once the USB debugging on the phone is activated , start HiSuite on the computer, answer affirmatively to the connection request that appears on the smartphone and click on the Update system item located at the bottom right. Then wait for the presence of updates for Android to be checked and, if successful, accept their installation by clicking on the appropriate button. If you are asked to send your smartphone’s IMEI code to Huawei’s servers, accept.
If any steps are not clear to you, read my tutorials on how to connect Huawei to your PC and how to update your Huawei phone : in them you will find all the information you need to connect a Huawei smartphone to your computer and update it.
If, on the other hand, you have a smartphone of a brand other than Samsung and Huawei and you encounter difficulties in connecting the device to the computer, read my “generic” tutorial on how to connect Android to the PC .
For purely commercial reasons, Android smartphone manufacturers tend to distribute updates for their devices with extreme delay compared to the releases made by Google (which is the developer of the green robot system). After 18 months, then, they are no longer required to support phones and therefore, more and more often, they let them “die” without proposing more updates.
To remedy this situation, it is possible to install unofficial updates released by the community of Android fans. These updates are released in the form of ROM and therefore must be flashed, that is, they must be installed in a “forced” manner on the devices using external tools, such as the ODIN software for Samsung smartphones or customized recoveries for devices from other brands.
If you don’t know, recoveries are software that start before the smartphone operating system, therefore before Android, and allow you to perform various operations. Those included “standard” in the phones are quite limited and do not allow you to flash ROMs: hence the need to replace them with custom recoveries, which instead allow you to flash ROMs, install customized packages, create complete backups of the device and much more still.
The installation of the custom recoveries is quite simple, but it requires the unlocking of the bootloader , that is the software that gives the instructions to the phone during boot. Unlocking the bootloader is another rather simple operation (which varies from terminal to terminal), but has several drawbacks: first of all, it involves deleting all data on the device , then invalidating the manufacturer’s warranty .
If your desire to install a more updated version of Android “beats” all the limitations and problems you may encounter, visit specialized sites on Android modding (eg the famous XDA forum ), access the page dedicated to the device in your possession, find out which ROMs are available for the latter and consult the tutorials related to their installation.
I recommend: before proceeding, carefully check that the downloaded ROM is designed specifically for the smartphone model in your possession (check the exact name of the device in the Settings> About Android device menu , because there are different variants of the same models phone), otherwise you risk bricking the phone and making it unusable.
For more information on unlocking the bootloader and installing custom recovery and ROMs, see my tutorials dedicated to root, such as those on how to unlock Huawei and how to root Android .
How to update an iPhone
Like Android devices, Apple iPhones can also be updated using OTA updates or by physically connecting them to a computer . In the first case, the iOS updates are downloaded incrementally, therefore they are lighter to download (as only the “needed” part is taken compared to the iOS version already installed on the device); by updating from PC, on the other hand, the full version of iOS is downloaded and therefore the download is slower. In both cases, no data, apps or settings on the “iPhone by” are affected: everything remains in its place. So ban the chatter and let’s take action immediately!
OTA updates for iOS
To start the search for an OTA update for iOS , open the Settings menu of your iPhone (the gear icon located on the home screen), go to General> Software update and wait a few seconds for the availability of updates to be checked .
If successful, ie if updates for iOS are available, tap the Download and install item , type the unlock code of your “iPhone by”, press the Accept and Accept buttons and wait for the software to be downloaded. When the download is complete, you decide to install the new version of iOS now and wait for the device to restart.
When the iPhone restarts, you will see a progress bar that will mark the progress of installing the new version of iOS. After the update process is complete, you may need to log back into your Apple ID and confirm again that you are sharing your usage stats with Apple and the developers.
Note : for everything to go the right way, the iPhone must have at least 50% of remaining charge and must be connected to a Wi-Fi network (connecting it to the 3G / 4G network would risk consuming all the Giga of your data plan) .
By default, iOS should automatically check for software updates and notify you about them. When a system update is available and you are notified about it, you can choose whether to install the update now or later .
By choosing the option to postpone the installation of the iOS update, the user is asked to type the iPhone unlock code and the phone updates automatically during the night (provided that the “iPhone by” is connected to a power source and a Wi-Fi network).
If you want to check the activation of automatic updates in iOS, go to the settings menu > iTunes Store and App Store of your “iPhone by” and, if it is not yet active, move the lever relating to the Updates function to ON .
Note: if you put your iPhone to jailbreak process , updating iOS Cydia and you will lose all its tweaks. Think carefully about proceeding. And if you are no longer interested in jailbreaking, first restore the iPhone in DFU mode and then install the latest version of iOS accordingly. You can find all the details about it in my tutorials on how to remove the jailbreak and how to put the iPhone in DFU .
Update iOS from your computer
To update an iPhone from your computer you need iTunes , Apple’s famous multimedia software that is included “standard” on all Macs and is available as a free download for Windows PCs. If you use a computer animated by Windows and have not yet downloaded it, connect to the Apple website and click on the Download 64-bit button if you are using a 64-bit operating system or the Download 32-bit button if you are using an operating system 32 bit.
When the download is complete, start the exe file you just downloaded on your PC and, in the window that opens, first press the Next button and then Install , Yes , Yes and Finish to complete the setup.
After installing iTunes, connect the iPhone to the computer using the supplied Lightning cable and authorize the communication between the two devices by pressing the Authorize button that appears on the “iPhone by” screen, typing the unlock PIN of the latter and clicking on the Continue button that appears on the computer desktop.
At this point, if a new version of iOS is available, iTunes will notify you and you can install the update on your “iPhone by” clicking first on the Download and update button and then on Next and Accept . Then wait for all the data that make up the update to be downloaded (the process could take a long time, given the large download ) and, at the end of the operation, the iPhone will restart to install the latest version of iOS.
If when you connect the iPhone to the computer no warning appears regarding the availability of updates, force the search for new versions of iOS by clicking on the “iPhone by” icon located at the top left, selecting the Summary item from the iTunes sidebar and by pressing the Update button on the screen that opens.
If any steps are not clear to you and / or you need more information on how to update iOS or how to connect iPhone to PC , consult my tutorials dedicated to these topics.