downgrade Nexus 5 and Nexus 7

How To Downgrade Nexus 5 And Nexus 7 From Android L To KitKat

I’m sure you all know that Google came out with the Android L developer preview a couple of weeks back. I’ve already written posts for people who want to try out the latest Android version on their Nexus 5 or Nexus 7 Android devices. In that post, I mentioned that the developer preview is not stable and some of you might not be able to use it as a daily driver.

Users have already reported that the Android L developer version has some bugs and a lot of apps are not compatible with the firmware. That being said, installing the firmware is worth it if you want to try out some of Android’s coolest features.

If you’re done having fun with Android L and are looking to go back to your previous stable KitKat firmware, then continue reading to find out how you can downgrade Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 from Android L to KitKat.


Before proceeding with the downgrading process, make sure that your phone is charged at least 70%. As you will be downgrading from Android L to KitKat, there’s not really a point of backing up your apps and other Android L specific features as it will lead to compatibility issues.

However, you’ll still need to back up any internal data, such as photos or videos that you downloaded on your phone after installing Android L. Also, make sure that your phone is up to date with your Google account as this will bring back things like contacts that you created while using Android L. You’ll need a Windows PC and a micro USB cable in order to downgrade Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.

Fastboot Method

This is the only reliable tested method available to downgrade Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 devices from Android L to KitKat. If you followed my Nexus 7 guide to install Android L, then you’ll be aware of the method and the process should be a piece of cake. Using this, you’ll be able to get KitKat running on your Nexus device in just several minutes.

Step 1

Download the KitKat firmware for your Nexus 5 or Nexus 7 device if you don’t already have it on your PC. Go to this website and download your factory image by clicking on the link below the Download tab next to your desired firmware. The file size should be over 400 MB so it might take a while to download.

download firmware

Step  2

Download the Android SDK package on your Windows PC if you don’t already have it on your PC. This is the same package that you downloaded for installing Android L on your Nexus device. Make sure you download the correct 32-bit or 64-bit version. After downloading, extract the SDK package on your PC. You’ll see a folder named ADT Bundle. Alternatively, you  can also download this small package, which has the relevant files, instead of installing the full SDK package.

Step 3

Extract the KitKat firmware package that you downloaded in Step 1 and move the extracted folder into the Platform tools folder inside the ADT Bundle folder that you extracted in Step 2. Now, your KitKat firmware folder should be inside the Platform tools folder that already has the Android ADB files and fastboot files. If you used the smaller Android SDK package, then make sure that the firmware folder is inside the folder that contains the fastboot and adb files. This is an important step when you downgrade Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.

Platform Tools

Step 4

Turn off your Nexus device and boot it in fastboot mode. For Nexus 7, press and hold the Volume Down and Power buttons simultaneously. For Nexus 5, press and hold the Volume Up, Volume Down and Power buttons simultaneously. Don’t release the buttons until you see the fastboot screen on your device.

nexus fastboot

Step 5

While in fastboot mode, connect your PC to your Nexus device using a micro USB cable.

Step 6

Go to the Platform tools folder where the firmware files and fastboot files are located.

Step 7

Hold the Shift key, right click inside this folder and select the Open Command Window Here option. A command prompt window should now appear.

Open Command Window Here

Step 8

In order to make sure that your device is properly connected, type the following command and you should see a device ID message.

fastboot devices

Step 9

Type the following command in order to start the flashing process.


Step 10

Wait for the flashing process to complete. This might take a couple of minutes. Once completed, you’ll see a finished message in the command prompt.

Flash All

Step 11

In order to lock your bootloader again, type in the following command after the flashing process is complete.

fastboot oem lock

Step 12

Unplug your Nexus device from your PC. Your device should now reboot. If it takes a couple of minutes to boot, don’t freak out because this is normal. Congratulations! You have successfully returned your device to its factory state running Android KitKat.


Android L is definitely really unique and it is something that a lot of Android users wanted to see for a long time. Google did a great job at releasing the Android L preview image in order to give Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 users a taste of the new OS. While the developer preview still has most of the features, it isn’t a stable firmware and I’m sure most of you don’t want to run something unstable that hasn’t been officially released.

I definitely recommend Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 users to install Android L and try out Google’s latest offering but once you’re done playing, you can use this guide to downgrade Nexus 5 and Nexus 7. If you managed to install Android L, then downgrading to KitKat shouldn’t be difficult using the steps mentioned above. Make sure that you follow all the instructions properly and if you have any questions, write to us in the comments section below. Feel free to let us know how your experience was with Android L. You also might be interested in Nexus rooting guides or tips and tricks.

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One Comment

  1. This is probably the best explanation I found on how to bootload a nexus. I think it would be helpful to update the article as Google now uses Android Studio instead of Android SDK. Also, it would be beneficial to add information and a link to drivers to interface your nexus device for boot loading. This was an issue for me and something that would be incredibly useful. I found them here:

    But thanks for the easy to follow instructions. For trouble shooting there is always google 🙂

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