Android How-To: Downgrade Your Galaxy S5 from 5.0 Lollipop to 4.4 KitKat (SM-G900F Version)


The Samsung Galaxy S5 has been getting a surprise update to Android 5.0 Lollipop recently, so those of you in Europe (specifically in Poland) who have probably been eagerly updating Samsung's spring flagship to Google latest OS flavour are clicking the 'check for update' far too often, hoping for the OTA to hit you. Now, some of you that have either gotten the OTA or flashed the stock .tar file might have some gripes with the new Touchwiz, or with the performance of your device.  Well, if you want to go and downgrade from Android 5.0 to Android 4.4.2, then enjoy this tutorial on how to do so.

First, let's go through your checklist of things you'll need to get this done in one go.  You'll need (or we'll describe the process using/based on)a computer running on Windows, although you can do it on a Mac or Linux however we aren't covering that process of steps here.  You'll need, obviously, your Galaxy S5 running the possibly despised Lollipop update that you want to get back to good old Kit Kat.  Then you'll need the .tar file that matches your country and possibly carrier, if applicable.  Find a list of the firmware .tar files at, under the 'firmware' tab at the top, then search for your model of device; the Lollipop update is officially hitting the SM-G900F, so search for that model, then find the firmware that matches your device, and download it.  Ideally the next thing you'll want is your original Samsung USB cable that came with the device, but any cable should technically work (if it doesn't, just try another cable). Moving forward, you'll need a program called Odin, which allows for the flashing of Samsung stock firmware and we have linked to that here.  Also, make sure to have you device roughly 50% charged or higher, just in case this takes a while. There's one final detail to pay attention to before you continue reading and start this process, a disclaimer and warning: you WILL lose all data, such as pictures, videos, locally-stored contacts, text messages and downloaded files when you use Odin to downgrade (it's like flashing a factory image to a Nexus device). We aren't responsible for any bricks that might occur, and even though the chances that it will brick are low as it stands; you're doing this at your own risk.  Ready to go?

First, download and install Odin (we'll be using Odin 3.09 for this tutorial) on your computer.  Once you have Odin, unzip the stock .tar file so you have a file with the extension '.tar.md5', meaning it's a .tar with a md5 checksum to make sure the file is safe to install.  The idea now is to get your Galaxy S5 into download or Odin mode.  To do that, turn the device off, and then press and hold the power button, volume down, and the home button until you get a screen warning you that custom software can harm your device, and it asks you if you want to continue.  Hopefully, you'll choose yes to be able to downgrade, but feel free not to (though you won't be able to follow the rest of the tutorial, and you won't get back to Kit Kat.  Your call).  Now, once you use the volume buttons to choose either yes or no.  If you chose 'no', we'll see you in a different article later.

If you chose 'yes', you'll be greeted with a screen that has text in the top left corner, and a big green Android logo in the middle.  Next, you'll need to make sure that the Samsung USB drivers are installed on your computer (this often happens automatically, so if you've connected the device to the computer before, it probably has them already so you should be fine).  Plug the device in and it should be recognized, and Odin should flash up in the box in the bottom left 'device added!', meaning it can communicate with and reach your phone.  Now, once that's done, set the device down and head to the computer.  In Odin, look for the 'AP' button, click it, and navigate to where the .tar.md5 file for the Kit Kat firmware is, select the file and let Odin check it out.  Once it gets checked, make sure that only 'F-Reset Time' and 'Auto Reboot' are checked on the left of the window.  Once that is done, make sure that re-partition is NOT checked just to be sure.  Now once that is done, you have the .tar.md5 file checked and ready and your device is plugged in and recognized, go ahead and click 'Start'.

The process can take anywhere from five minutes all the way up to ten, fifteen, and sometimes twenty minutes, depending on various things that can differ between phones, computers, cables, and running tasks.  So, waiting until it's done, go ahead and get a snack or something then come back.  We'll wait. Once the process finishes and says 'PASS' and has a green box at the top of the window, you're good to go, and your Galaxy S5 will boot up into a stock, fresh out-of-the-box Android 4.4 Kit Kat. If the process fails, retry with a different cord if you have one.  That can often solve the problem. Otherwise, welcome to your Galaxy S5 with Kit Kat not Lollipop.  If this worked for you, go ahead and share it around with your friends that did the upgrade as well.  What was your reason for downgrading and rejecting the latest Android version? Which part of Kit Kat will you miss most when you probably eventually get updated to Lollipop?  Let us know down below.

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About the Author

Phil Bourget

Staff Writer
Using Android since 2012 and the Galaxy S III, I'm now running a Nexus 5 paired to a Moto 360 to keep updated on the Internet of stuff. Usually found on Google+ or in class.