Earlier in May, an announcement was made by Google that it is planning to sell a “Google Edition” version of the Samsung Galaxy S4. Not so much like the regular Galaxy S4, the Google Edition device will run stock version of Android, and will not include any Samsung-specific features and apps.
Bad news is that the Galaxy S4 Google Edition is available only in the US at the moment and can be purchased via the Google Play Store. But if you still would like to experience the latest stock version of Android on your S4, you can install the software manually via a Windows PC.
Here is a simple step-by-step tutorial to run you through the installation process which should not take you much time to complete.
IMPORTANT: Before you start the installation process, make sure you back up your data on your Galaxy S4 as the installation will delete the entire data on your device.
To back up your Galaxy S4, Go to Settings > Backup & reset and make sure that the “Back up my data” checkbox is checked.
For files which cannot be backed up using your Google account, we can look at other options. You can use the Dropbox app to save your photos. Just use the camera upload menu and select the images that you would want to sync.
The best way to manage this in an ongoing manner is to use the automatic camera upload feature in the settings menu of Dropbox. When this is switched on, any new photos you take with the Galaxy S4’s camera will automatically be uploaded to Dropbox.
You can use the SMS Backup+ app to create a back up of your text messages. It will back up all your text messages using your Gmail account. You can even set it to auto backup at specified times as well.
WARNING: We will not be responsible for any software or hardware problems or damages during the installation process. If you follow the instructions step-by-step, chances are that you might have a completely hassle free installation success. But use this guide at your own risk. Please note that you risk losing your manufacturers warranty if you root your device and install a custom ROM. So go ahead at your own risk.
These instructions work well on GT-I9505 version of the Galaxy S4. The instructions will remove all the apps installed from your service provider. It will also wipe out features like dual camera, smart scroll & S-Voice which are pretty much Samsung specific.
You need to have the Samsung USB drivers installed on your PC system before you could start the installation process. If you do not have the drivers, you can download them here.
Step One: Root your Galaxy S4
There are multiple ways of rooting your Galaxy S4. Here, we would be using the Chainfire Root (CF-Root for short). If you don’t have CF-Auto-Root, you can download it here.
When you have finished downloading, extract the files to the main hard drive. In this scenario, it should be C:\ drive. Once you have extracted the files, you will see a .tar.md5 file.
You will now have to use Odin to root your Galaxy S4. Odin helps you to flash software to your Android device. If you do not have Odin, you can download it here.
After downloading Odin, extract the zip file. Double click on the “Odin3 v3.07.exe”. It will look like this :
Switch off your S4 device. Hold down the power, home and volume down buttons together to put the phone in bootloader/download mode. Hold on to these 3 buttons at the same time till you see the below screen:
Now select the CF-Auto-Root .tar.md5 file in the Odin interface by clicking on “PDA”. You will see a progress indicator on your S4 device and the Odin interface.
Make sure that your USB cable is connected to your Galaxy S4 device at all times during the rooting process. Your S4 device will automatically restart once the process is complete.
Step Two: Install a custom recovery
Install a custom recovery once you have finished rooting your S4 device. This helps in replacing the stock Android recovery and enables flashing new ROMs to your Galaxy S4 device.
Multiple custom recovery’s are available like ClockWorkMod Recovery and TeamWin Recovery Project, but we would be using the PhilZ Touch 5 Recovery in this case. If you do not have PhilZ Touch 5 Recovery, you can download it here.
After you have downloaded PhilZ Touch 5 Recovery in a zip file, extract it to your hard drive. In this scenario, it would be the C:\ drive. Look for a file name that says .tar.md5 file.
You will have to flash this custom recovery as well. You can do it using Odin. Just follow the same instructions given in Step One. Just the different file this time.
Switch off your S4 device. Hold down the power, home and volume down buttons together to put the phone in bootloader/download mode. Next, Press the volume up button to continue.
Use the USB cable to connect the PC to your S4 device. Now select the custom recovery .tar.md5 file in the Odin interface by clicking on “PDA”. Press Start on Odin. You will see a progress indicator on your S4 device and the Odin interface.
Make sure that your USB cable is connected to your Galaxy S4 device at all times during the flashing of the custom recovery. After the flashing is complete, your Galaxy S4 device will reboot in recovery mode. You should select “reboot system now”, post which you need to select “yes” when you see the prompt “disable flash recovery” on your screen.
You will need to uncheck the “autoreboot” box in Odin and repeat the instructions above, if your phone ends up rebooting normally instead of recovery mode.
Step Three: Install the Google Edition 4.3 ROM
You can install the Google Edition 4.3 ROM, once you have finished rooting your S4 device and flashing the custom recovery. You will come across many versions of this ROM, but our favorite is the is Janjan’s version which is available on the Xda-developer forums. This ROM happens to be a direct port of Android 4.3 with no changes.
You can download the Google Edition ROM here. There are older versions available, but in our case we have used the v.1 version.
After the download is complete, without unzipping the file, you will need to copy the zip file to the internal storage of your S4 device by connecting the S4 device to your PC. Switch off your phone after disconnecting the S4 device from your PC. Now straight away boot into recovery mode by holding down the 3 buttons (i.e, volume up, home and power buttons) till you can see the Samsung Logo. Let go of the buttons once you see the logo as holding on for too long might result in your device starting as normal.
In recovery mode, select wipe data / factory reset using the volume buttons. To confirm you will have to press the power key button. Select Clean. Now you can install a new ROM from the internal SD card storage. Navigate to the .zip file that you have copied to your device in this step. Now use the power button to confirm.
After you select “reboot system now”, you will be prompted with a “disable flash recovery” screen, Just select “no”.
Your Samsung Galaxy S4 device will not boot normally with the latest Google Edition Android 4.3 update. In case your device gets hanged on the Samsung logo screen, you can again boot it in recovery mode, wipe the data and reboot again.