The opinion on Android P, at the moment, is rather divided among Android faithful. There are those of us who feel that it’s bringing an unnecessary disruption to an otherwise peaceful vessel while there are also those of us who prefer to pick bits of the upcoming new version of Android that include features we like. It’s hard to get a consensus right now but, hopefully, by the time Android P is ripe and ready for everyone’s consumption, we’ll all be rooting for it.
In order to be able to thoroughly test the next version of Android, as has been the case in recent years, Google has availed it early enough to developers and anyone else who can, to help test it. In previous years, that has usually meant the handful of users who are lucky to have Nexus and Pixel devices. Give or take some few lucky owners of past Android One devices.
This year, with the release of the second developer preview of Android P at Google I/O, Google did a first: it also included devices from unlikely quarters. Sony, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, Nokia, OnePlus and Essential (a company founded by the founder of Android). Who would’ve thought?
When that announcement was being made at Google I/O, I was excited. I had with me the Nokia 7 Plus and heck, I was even using the device to live tweet the keynote. HMD Global, which has been very diligent when it comes to releasing updates for its expanding portfolio of Nokia-branded smartphones, did not waste time. It put the Android P beta for the Nokia 7 Plus, the only device taking part, on its developer website.
While I could’ve simply done what I do best, download the update files and flashed them right away, I opted not to. I had just had the Nokia 7 Plus delivered to me by the good people at HMD Global East Africa’s agency a few days earlier for review purposes and going ahead to flash Android P would probably have resulted in me getting a different feel of the device than what one would get if they walked in to a shop today and ordered the 7 Plus. So I opted to take the device through its paces using the software available to every user in the country and only when I would be satisfied that I had seen and experienced enough to allow me to pen a review that can stand the test of time would I make the switch to Android P.
I have finally done so and even penned the review (look out for it soon). So, naturally, Android P had to be next on the agenda before I get to return the device.
In order to do this, I needed to get a few tools. The first one, obviously, are the update files which I would be flashing on the Nokia 7 Plus so as to upgrade it to Android P. Since I had already previously registered on Nokia’s developer website when upgrading the Nokia 6 last year, I simply needed to log in again. For first time users of the Nokia developer website, you will need to sign up. It’s an easy and straightforward process.
One thing you will need to remember here is that this is not for everyone (it’s targeted at developers, after all) and proceeding is purely at one’s own risk. Also confirm by going to the About Phone section in your phone’s settings app (Settings > System > About phone) to make sure that the device’s model number is TA-1046 or TA-1055 as those are the only models of the Nokia 7 Plus that are eligible for Android P beta at the moment.
After signing up/logging in, one has to add the device they intend to enroll to the beta programme. This is by adding specific details such as the device’s unique identifier (IMEI), country, mobile network operator and so on. Then wait for a few seconds for the device to be validated. This will be confirmed by a check mark with the words “Validation OK” displayed next to it in green.
Note: You can check your device’s IMEI by dialing *#06# in the phone’s dialer or through About Phone in the settings app (Settings > System > About phone) or on the box of the device.
On a good day where the folks at HMD Global are feeling sufficiently philanthropic, as was the case with the Nokia 6 last year, that would be all. Unfortunately, since HMD Global has not availed Android P beta over-the-air (OTA), yet, we have to go manual which is why the next step is equally important.
Just below the validation check described above is an option to manually download the update files. Click “Install manually”, scroll through the instructions and once you are satisfied that you are in the know, acknowledge the same in the check box below and click on download to download the update files.
The update files are just 1.06GB. I am saying “just” because in case you are not lucky to be on Wi-Fi, you can easily get them by purchasing a 1GB Tunukiwa bundle from Safaricom for just 99 shillings (check the mySafaricom app or dial *544#). Why Safaricom? Because you need to have the files downloaded and already sitting on your computer by the time you get to the process section below and, as far as I am concerned, you might need a bit of luck accomplishing the same elsewhere. I digress…
Manually flashing an Android smartphone means that you will need something else to facilitate the process. Most times, that something else is the proper environment that allows Android apps to be developed. So, ideally, you will need to set it up just like an app developer would.
These days, the process has been simplified and all that you need are the corresponding files for your platform of choice (Mac, Windows, Linux…) from here. However, while I’d still recommend one to go that route and setup everything, it can be overkill. More so when you don’t do this (tinkering business) often. Someone has put together an easy-to-use all-in-one tool. Download the ADB (Android Debug Bridge) tool from here. For the sake of this article, this is what we are going to use and constantly make references to. If you manage to set up using the other method, still the process outlined below will remain the same.
Once you have both the update files themselves and the ADB tool then you are good to go.
Just to recap: make sure you have registered your Nokia 7 Plus on the Nokia developer website, make sure you have downloaded the update files and, lastly, make sure you have downloaded the ADB tool referenced above. Very important.
Some more housekeeping stuff:
- Make sure that your Nokia 7 Plus has been charged to at least 60%.
- Backup your stuff and keep it somewhere else, away from the phone’s local storage, safe.
- Make sure you have enabled developer options. This can be done by going to Settings (settings app) > System > About phone and then clicking on the Build number 7 times.
- Once developer options have been enabled navigate to them and enable USB debugging i.e. under Settings (settings app) > System > Developer options then scroll down and toggle on USB debugging.
- Shut down your Nokia 7 Plus.
- Hold down the volume up and power buttons simultaneously and wait for the Android One logo to show up. Stop pressing immediately it does.
- You should see the Android robot and a red exclamation mark with “no command” written below it. Like this…
- Hold down the power button and press the volume up button once. The device should enter into recovery mode.
- Connect your Nokia 7 Plus to your computer.
- Run the ADB tool you downloaded previously. Once it has completed installation then fire up the command prompt (cmd).
- On the phone’s recovery mode, use the volume down button to scroll down to “Apply update from ADB”. Click on it (by pressing the power button).
- Get back to your computer. On the command prompt, type adb devices .
- The command you entered in the last step is to just list the connected adb devices and let you know if they are in the correct state. If that is the case then you are free to proceed. The next step is to point to where the update files you downloaded previously are located. In my case, I placed them at the root of the directory I was working with, echen. In case you have the files elsewhere then simply change the directory to that. It’s easy. For example, say my update files were downloaded to the desktop, I’d simply type C:\Users\echen>cd C:\Users\echen\Desktop in the command prompt. cd is the command for changing directory. Ideally, just open Windows PowerShell from the folder where the update files have been downloaded to by holding the shift key and right clicking then choosing “Open PowerShell window here” from the resulting context menu.
- Type adb sideload update-files.zip (remember to replace update-files.zip with the actual name of your update file. Like in my case, that was adb sideload B2N-3050-0-00WW-B01-update.zip).
- There should be a progress report of some sort on both devices (the Nokia 7 Plus and your computer). Wait for the installation to complete. Once it does, scroll up (using the volume up button now) and click “Reboot system now”.
- That’s it, wait for a couple of minutes and your device will boot right into Android P beta.
Things to note:
HMD Global recommends that you wipe data from your device while in recovery mode since a simple factory reset won’t get the desired outcome. I did not do that and, so far so good. Maybe it is a step that you may want to include but, according to me, it is largely unnecessary. You can still do the data wipe after installing Android P in case you run into some issues like apps constantly crashing and whatnot. Just remember to back up your data before doing so.