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Nexus 5 Android 4.4.3 Kitkat update: how to install manually

So you have a chosen a Nexus 5 over other phones because of the fast OS updates Nexus devices enjoy. While Google has started rolling out the Kitkat 4.4.3 OTA update for Nexus 5 devices already but there’s a good chance that you still haven’t got it yet on your particular Nexus 5. That’s because of the fact that Google rolls out OTA updates in batches and it may take a week or more to roll out OTA in your specific region.



You don’t have to fret because even if you haven’t got the OTA update yet, you can still taste the latest and the greatest and upgrade your device to Kitkat 4.4.3 by adb sideload method. Now what the hell is this adb sideload? We’ll get back to that in a minute.

First check whether or not a OTA has been rolled out for your device. How to check that?

In App drawer, go to Settings >> About Phone >> System Updates.

If there is a OTA update for your Nexus 5, the device will prompt you to download it and then install it. Once installed, the phone will prompt you to restart.  Voila! You now are on Kitkat 4.4.3.

For those of you who haven’t got the OTA update, there’s still the sideload method (which is super easy by the way).  So without further ado, let’s do that.


By doing this update, your Nexus 5 will be updated to build number KTU84M and as such you need to have a Nexus 5 with build  number KOT49H prior to doing this. To check your build number, go to Settings >> About Phone >> Build Number.

Once you have everything in place. Extract the ADB tools file you downloaded earlier to a folder. Place the Nexus 5 4.4.4 update file in the same folder. For the sake of simplicity, rename the nexus 5 update file to something simpler like nexus5-443.zip. Now pen that folder and while holding shift on your keyboard, right-click anywhere on blank space and select ‘Open Command Window here’. Once the command window is opened, minimize it.

Now take out your Nexus 5 and switch it off.

  • Switch it ON.
  • While it is booting, hold down the volume down key and power button. This will open the fastboot menu.
  • Use the volume keys to navigate to Recovery mode and select it by using power baton.
  • Once you see the Android robot with open belly, hold down the power button and briefly press volume up key.
  • This will open the recovery mode of your Nexus 5. Select ‘apply update from adb’ and confirm by using power button.

Now getting back to your computer, connect your Nexus 5 via a USB cable and open the command prompt window which you minimized earlier. Now if you have renamed the update file to the name I suggested which was nexus5-443.zip, enter the following command in command prompt:

adb sideload nexus5-443.zip

This will start the update process. The whole process will take 5-6 minutes. After the process is complete, you will get an option to reboot your phone which you should.

After restarting, your Nexus 5 will be running the latest Kitkat 4.4.3 update.

NOTE: Although this process will not delete your files or settings but you still should make a backup.

About John W Arthur

John is the head of our IT Security team and he writes about Security, IT news on The Next Digit. He was the Employee of the Year 2013 for his selfless support and efficiently setting up the whole security infrastructure. He also occasionally writes on "IT Sec Pro" Print Media of Sweden. All posts by John

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