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How to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow on a Samsung Galaxy S4

For the Samsung Galaxy S4, you can update the operating system to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. In this article, we’ll let you into the secret of how to do this.

Preparation steps

Thanks to a whole range of alternative firmware, you can still upgrade your Samsung Galaxy S4 with software updates that Samsung no longer supplies. However, please note that doing so will mean exclusion from your guarantee and you will do so at your own risk.

First of all, you will need the Samsung driver for Windows PC, Odin 3.10.7 and Heimdall. After downloading these, you need to install the Samsung driver. Linux and Mac users can skip this step. Next, you need to unpack Heimdall and open its directory.

Turn your Galaxy S4 on in download mode. To do this, turn the phone off and when you switch it back on again, press and hold the volume down, home and power buttons simultaneously. Next, press the volume up button to confirm that you wish to enter download mode.

Check whether your computer can communicate with Heimdall. Open the Heimdall front end, go into the Rider Utilities and click on Detect. When the detected output device appears, you can continue. If problems arise here, you might have to switch to the ADB Driver Installer and follow the given prompts.

root s5
This is what the download mode of the Samsung Galaxy S4 looks like. / © ANDROIDPIT

Installing Recovery

The next step is to change over Recovery. This system allows you to interact with the partitions of your smartphone. This is essential in order to change the firmware and install system apps such as Google Apps.

Download the latest .img file of TeamWin Recovery Project (TWRP Recovery). This Recovery version has the best support. Now go to the display. Move the file to the Heimdall directory. Right click in the folder window and open up the command prompt. Type the following in:

heimdall flash –RECOVERY recovery.img –no-reboot

Instead of recovery.img, type tw and then press the tab key. The corresponding name of your recovery file should then be automatically completed. If you get the message: libusb error: -12, you must also replace the Samsung USB driver. To do so, open the device manager in Windows, search for other devices and uninstall the MSM8960 driver. Unplug the USB from the phone, install the driver and plug the cable back in again. Then repeat the steps for Flash. If successful, you must reboot the Galaxy S4 in Recovery mode. Hold down the power and home and volume down buttons to do this.

AndroidPIT Nexus 6 TWRP recovery install 2
TWRP Recovery welcome page. / © AndroidPIT

Download and install firmware

After installing Recovery, we can finally begin the main part of the process and install Marshmallow on your Galaxy S4. You can find the corresponding firmware on the CyanogenMod download page. In the column CyanogenMod Build, you can get ZIP files with the so-called Snapshots of CM 12.1 or Nightly Builds of CM 13. The former are based on Android 5.1 Lollipop and are less up-to-date but therefore stable. The latter are based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and are updated almost daily but not yet fully developed. Choose which one you want and download the ZIP file.

If you don’t want to miss out on using the Play Store as your App source, you will need an extra ZIP file that contains Google-Apps. The easiest place to get this is Opengapps.org. Download the ARM variant for your Android version. We recommend the Micro Package for a better calendar and Gmail.

Copy the ZIP file to your Galaxy S4. Change in TWRP Recovery to Wipe and then to Advanced Wipe. There, select Partition Data and System in order to delete the Samsung Android version from your Galaxy S4. Your App settings will be lost but your files and photos will be untouched.

twrp wipe
Empty the data and system partitions. / © AndroidPIT

Next, go into the TWRP Recovery startup screen and click on Install. Go to the directory with CyanogenMod and select Per Select ZIP. With Per Add more ZIPs, you can install the Google Apps afterwards. Swipe the lower edge to start the Flash process. The contents of the ZIP file will then be unzipped in the previously emptied partition.

twrp flash
Add the two ZIP files and confirm Flash. / © Androidt

After the flash process, you will see the suggestion: Wipe Cache/Dalvik. Click on this in order to avoid errors in the startup process. The system will reboot itself. The first time it restarts can take a while, so you'll need to be patient.

Monthly updates will be available from then on.

New device setup

Because you will have lost your Google information, you must redo the setup of the device again. You will also need to log into Google again and re-install all of your apps. You will be able to enjoy future updates long after Samsung has stopped theirs. The future updates are automatic and don’t require such a complicated installation.

Helpful link

The XDA Developer community can give you a helping hand if you have problems. Especially the popular Samsung Galaxy S4 is extremely well documented.

What is your opinion on Modding?

What do you do when the manufacturer stops support? Do you install the update yourself or do you just buy the latest device and forget the old one? Or do you not hang on to your device long enough that its life cycle becomes a problem? Perhaps you just make do with the firmware, even when the support has stopped? Let us know what you do in the comments section!

12 comments

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  • Hey Thanks for the Post, I'm having issues with the process. It says ERROR: Partition "ECOVERY" does not exist in the specified PIT. and I'm trying to get it to recovery but it only reboots the phone.

  • I have an S4 from Sprint SPH L720 and always when I go to CM13, I lose the Service for ever untill I change the ROM.

  • When starting this process, does it matter what version of Android is installed? Also, do you need to be rooted previously before beginning these (above) steps?

  • I do indeed, and I have flashed stacks of 'em, but for everyday reliability I choose Cyanogenmod..... although that Dirty Unicorns 6.0 looked good.. but when I flashed it the WiFi didn't work...!!!

  • Dwarfer66 2 months ago Link to comment

    Flogging of Cyanogen roms again, you do realize there are OTHER roms out there don't you?

    • Eric Herrmann
      • Staff
      2 months ago Link to comment

      There are, of course. CM is a good entry, tho, since it's really well documented. Feel free to recommend other options.

      • Dwarfer66 2 months ago Link to comment

        There are plenty I used when I had my S4 - Echoe Rom, Phoenix Rom, Omega Rom, Albe95 Rom, BobCat Rom, etc.

        Now I have an S7 edge I still use The Echoe Rom.

  • I rooted my S4 i9505 ages ago, and am currently running Cyanogenmod 13, Android 6.0.1,Snapshot, and it's a very smooth and stable ROM.. as well as fast..!!!

    • Andy 1 month ago Link to comment

      I tried with above method. Video not working, Screen gets switched off when calling some one and other issue. I am in Canada

  • Hilko R. 2 months ago Link to comment

    note: nightly builds are current development-in progress and are usually only tested by the developer on his own phone, hence these are buggy as f*ck.
    for normal day phone use: dont use these.

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