Even though the Galaxy S9 was already released, the Galaxy S8 is still one of the best Android based smartphones that can be used nowadays – you can also get it on a discount now that Samsung will be focusing in promoting its S9. Anyway, the S8 is still powerful and great so it’s going to receive Samsung’s attention for at least another year. Well, that can be translated into regular updates that are going to improve the general Android experience and to secure your online and offline activity.
Since we are discussing about updates, you also need to know that on your Galaxy S8 you can already test and enjoy different custom platforms offered by different developers. These custom / unofficial updates aims to upgrade general performance and to customize, optimize and personalize everything else. Anyway, the main idea is that you can choose from different update opportunities whether you want to change the default touch or receive everything that’s new in Samsung’s and Google’s world.
But, do you know how to take full advantage of these update solutions? If you don’t, or if you want to learn more about the update operations that can be completed on the Samsung Galaxy S8, don’t hesitate and check all the guidelines that are explained during the following lines. There we will talk about three major update possibilities: smartly flashing OTAs, manually installing the full Android firmware package (for updating or downgrading your device) and applying a custom ROM software such as Lineage OS, AOKP or Paranoid Android.
Each update operation will be explained during individual sections so that you can better understand what must be completed. Additionally, for each update process we will review the advantages, the risks, the essential pre-requisites and the actual flashing steps that must be performed. Of course, everything mentioned during this tutorial is compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S8, so from this perspective you really have no reasons to worry about.
Good; so let’s see what it’s all about.
How to apply OTAs and how to force down a new Android notification
As you know an OTA is an official update released by Samsung especially for your Galaxy S8. This ‘over the air’ firmware can be a major update (if a new Android build is being brought) or a minor update (if we are talking, for example, about a monthly security patch) but it is always automatically received on your Galaxy S8. Shortly, when an OTA is released you will receive an Android notification on your phone. From that point everything you need to do is to follow on-screen prompts in order to resume the flashing process.
The worst part is that usually the OTAs are offered gradually, in phases and for limited markets only. So, a certain OTA will be available for some Galaxy S8 models while for others it won’t. Moreover, due to same aspects, some users might receive the Android notification sooner than others. Also, an OTA can be received only if your Samsung Galaxy S8 is already running on official Android OS and only if tweaks weren’t applied – for example, on a rooted device you won’t be able to receive and apply OTAs.
So, as you can tell, a manual update procedure might be required in certain situations – if the full firmware package is available you can skip the OTA wait and you can apply the update even if your handset was tweaked, customized or optimized by using unofficial ROMs.
Anyway, there are three different ways in which you can apply a new OTA and during the following steps we will detail each process. Before doing so just make sure that there is enough power left on your phone – more than 50%. A backup isn’t required at this moment as while applying an OTA your data will remain safe and secured all the time.
Force down the OTA
- Power on your smartphone and enable a WiFi connection.
- Tap on the Apps icon from the main screen.
- Then, find and tap on the Settings icon.
- Depending on your Galaxy S8 version: select Software Updates, or choose About Device followed by Software updates.
- Now, initiate a search in order to check for new Android updates.
- If an OTA is available you will be prompted with the actual notification.
- From there, just follow on-screen prompts and resume the flashing process.
Apply the OTA using stock recovery mode
- First, of all, on your computer download the OTA package – download this file from any source you prefer and save it on desktop.
- Switch on your phone and afterwards connect it with your computer by plugging in the USB cable.
- Select the OTA file from desktop and transfer it on your Galaxy S8.
- Disconnect your devices as the computer is no longer useful.
- Turn off your phone and then reboot it into recovery mode.
- From recovery select ‘Install zip from SD card’.
- Load the update package and follow on-screen prompts for resuming the flashing process.
- In the end, from main menu of recovery choose ‘reboot system now’.
ADB sideload the OTA package
- The OTA can be installed by running a specific ADB command. For being able to do so, on your computer first install Android SDK: for the Windows platform you can use this guide while for MAC OS X / Linux you can use this tutorial instead.
- On your computer install the Galaxy S8 drivers.
- Also, download the OTA package – save it on desktop and rename it into ‘update.zip’; then transfer the recently renamed file inside the Android SDK folder.
- From that location open a command prompt window: press and hold the Shift keyboard key and afterwards right click on any blank space; from the list that will be displayed choose ‘open command prompt window here’.
- Switch on your device and connect it with your computer via USB cable.
- In the cmd window type ‘adb sideload update.zip’ and press Enter.
- The update operation should be automatically completed.
- When it’s done, remove the USB cord, close the cmd window and reboot your Galaxy S8.
Manually Install the Stock / Official Android update on your Samsung Galaxy S8
As already explained, in some situations the best will be to choose to manually install the update package on your Galaxy S8 – of course, that’s possible only if the full firmware package can be used (it must be made available by Samsung, so verify that first).
This is an official update process as the stock / official firmware will be used – the same as the OTA package. So, Samsung KNOX won’t get tripped and you won’t lose access to default apps by using this particular update solution. Moreover, you won’t use third party flashing programs or any other risky tools – for completing the flashing steps from below we will use Odin, an official program developed by Samsung especially for such procedures.
Do note that manually flashing the update firmware package will restore your Galaxy S8 back to its factory state. So, if you are currently using a tweaked device, in the end all the tweaks will be revoked: the bootloader will be relocked, the root access will be revoked, the stock recovery image will be reinstalled and bloatware will be re-applied.
Restoring everything back to default it’s a good thing especially if you are dealing with different software related problems on your Galaxy S8 – in that respect, this particular update operation can be used as a dedicated troubleshooting method during which general problems can be successfully fixed (such as boot loops, lags, hangs, bugs, screen freeze, battery drain, heating problems, signal strength issues, total blackouts and so much more). For further troubleshooting methods compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S8 don’t hesitate and use this tutorial.
Even though while using Odin for updating your Galaxy S8, your personal data, info and accounts should be in safe hands, a backup is recommended – in rare cases a wipe might be required in the end (if, for example, after using Odin your smartphone gets stuck into a boot loop – then, you can fix the problem by accessing recovery mode, a mode from which you need to clear app data cache and complete a full wipe). Therefore, start saving your contacts, call logs, texts, EFS folder, internet settings, images, videos, audio files, market apps, IMEI / NVRAM data and so on.
A computer is needed at this moment – I recommend you to use a Windows powered machine. There you will have to install and run Odin. Anyway, in order to make things work, on this computer install the Samsung Galaxy S8 drivers – Samsung KIES might help you in that respect. Also, on your smartphone you have to enable Developer Options as from there you then have to checkthe USB Debugging feature. Developer Options are located within Settings - if not, first go to About Phone and from there tap repeatedly on the Build Number field, just until you are prompted with the ‘you are a developer’ message.
Once more, make sure that there is enough power left on your Galaxy S8 for the manual update operation. As a general recommendation, you should plug in the charger if the power left is currently lower than 50% - on low power your phone might get turned off, and possible bricked, during the update operation.
Good; now here is how you can apply the firmware file via Odin on your Galaxy S8:
- Download and install Odin on your computer – get the file from here, run the executable file and resume on-screen prompts.
- Download the official update available for your Samsung Galaxy S8 (you can get it from any source you prefer) and save it on desktop.
- Launch Odin on your PC.
- Power off your smartphone, wait while this process is completed and access download mode: press and hold, at the same time and for a few seconds, the Power, Volume Down and Bixby buttons.
- Connect your Galaxy S8 with the computer via USB cable – at this point Odin will have to return the ‘added’ message, while its ID:COM field should be colored in yellow or in blue.
- If you don’t receive that feedback, close the flashing program, unplug the USB cable and reinstall the Galaxy S8 drivers on your PC; afterwards, retry the steps from above.
- On Odin click on the AP button and pick up the firmware package you want to apply.
- Next, click on Start – make sure the Re Partition and Auto Reboot options aren’t selected.
- When the update operation is completed you can notice the ‘pass’ message and the ID:COM field which is now colored in green.
- You can unplug the USB cable and close Odin; also, in the end reboot your Galaxy S8 and enjoy.
If Odin stops from running right while you try to install the firmware file, don’t panic and follow: close Odin on your computer (if you cannot do it otherwise, end its associated processes from Task Manager – press the Ctrl+Shift+Del keyboard hotkeys); unplug the USB cable; force-restart your Samsung Galaxy S8; reinstall your phone’s drivers on your computer; retry the steps explained above.
Also, if your smartphone is taken into a boot loop state (that can happen during the last reboot), you should apply: go to recovery mode menu (press and hold Power, Volume Up and Bixby buttons) and from there make a hard reset and clear app data cache by picking ‘wipe data factory reset’ followed by ‘wipe cache partition’; when that’s done, from main menu of recovery choose ‘reboot system now’.
How to update with a custom ROM firmware
As explained during the introductory lines from above, if you are not really into Samsung’s own UI, you can choose to spice things up by using an unoficial port of the stock Android firmware. Of course, we are discussing about custom ROMs, free aftermarket distributions of the default Android system.
Why should you choose such update? Shortly, for upgrading general performance on your Galaxy S8. You see, a custom ROM will offer full access towards its core system, meaning that you can choose to customize, optimize and personalize its functionality. Moreover, you can bump speeds, upgrade the battery life and change the default Android looks. If a stable ROM is used, designed especially for your phone, your Samsung Galaxy S8 should run better than before.
Of course, this update operation is recommended only for experienced users who are used with tweaks and customizations. In that respect you need to know that flashing a custom ROM is not an official operation. So, the steps from this section cannot be associated with Samsung or with Google. An unofficial update is developed by third party devs and will trip Samsung KNOX – shortly, you will most likely lose your Galaxy S8 warranty, which can be restored only if you choose to manually reinstall the stock Android OS (so, by using the previous section of this step by step guide).
Now, a custom ROM can be installed only if your Samsung Galaxy S8 is rooted – an unlocked Android system is required because the new update will have to access, modify and tweak it. Moreover, a custom recovery image must be flashed on your smartphone because the update process can be resumed only through such environment. In that respect, I recommend you to use the latest version of TWRP recovery.
A backup is a must at this moment. Unfortunately, while installing a custom ROM a hard reset will be initiated and completed – otherwise, the new OS won’t be able to run properly. So, if a backup isn’t ensured you will end up in losing everything that wasn’t there from day one. On the Galaxy S8 the backup can be applied within minutes: you can sync certain files with your Google Account, you can save others by using Samsung’s own cloud storage platforms, or you can store everything by using dedicated backup and restore apps from Google Play.
Along with the general backup you should also make a Nandroid backup process. That particular backup operation will help you save the current Android OS that runs on your Galaxy S8. That’s a great thing as if you won’t like how the new update is running you will be able to choose to go back to stock by simply flashing the Nandroid backup package.
Also, make sure you apply the essential pre-requisites which were explained already before: make sure a computer is at your disposal, enable Developer Options on your device, check the USB Debugging feature on your handset and charge it if that’s required.
Good; now let’s see how to update your Galaxy S8 with a custom ROM:
- Download the custom ROM that you want to use on your Galaxy S8 – you can use the xda-developers database in that respect.
- If required, download compatible Google Apps.
- Save both packages on desktop.
- Power off your Galaxy S8 and wait while the shut down operation is performed.
- Reboot recovery mode on your Android device: press and hold Power, Volume Up and Bixby buttons for a few moments.
- In recovery select to make a full wipe: choose ‘wipe data factory reset’ followed by ‘wipe dalvik cache’ and by ‘wipe cache partition’.
- Reboot to Android mode when that’s done.
- Connect your Galaxy S8 with your computer with the help of the USB cord.
- From desktop select the downloaded files and transfer them on your phone.
- Remove the USB cable as the computer isn’t going to be needed anymore.
- Now, go to recovery mode again.
- Tap on Install and load the firmware package you want to flash; then swipe and wait while the update operation is completed – if you are not using TWRP recovery, then choose ‘install zip from SD card’ followed by ‘choose zip from SD card’.
- Repeat the last step and install Google Apps if that’s required.
- When done, from main menu of recovery choose to reboot to Android mode.
- That’s all.
There you have it; the lines from above are describing the easiest ways in which you can apply an update on the Samsung Galaxy S8. So, whether we talk about OTAs, manual update procedures or even about custom ROM platforms, now you should know what to choose for your handset. You can use our ‘how to’ section for further tutorials and Android related tips and tricks available with the Samsung Galaxy S8, or you can just contact us and ask for further assistance – you can do that easily, by filling out the comments form from below.