Note: This is an adaptation of my Nexus 4 update/root post, so it has some duplicate content, but all the instructions and images are specific to the Galaxy Nexus.

Android 4.3 was officially unveiled and released two days ago to the Android Open Source Project. In a surprisingly timely fashion, Google also released both the factory images and OTAs to the Nexus 4, 7, 10, and the Galaxy Nexus.

In this post, I will show you how to easily update your Galaxy Nexus to Android 4.3 JWR66V without losing data or needing root, whether because you are having trouble flashing the OTA, because one is simply not available to you yet (these notoriously take weeks to propagate to everyone), or because you're running something else and want to return to stock. You can root your Galaxy Nexus in the last step if you want.


Disclaimer: Android Police isn't responsible for any harm to your device - proceed at your own risk.


In order to complete the steps below, you need to have the Android SDK installed. The SDK contains the latest version of adb and fastboot, which you will need for flashing. You will also need a MicroUSB cable to execute adb sideload, fastboot flash, and other commands. You don't need a USB cable if you're just planning to download the OTA zip directly to your device and flash it from recovery.

Note #1: You will not lose your data in either scenario. The first one is the same as applying the OTA. In the second one, we'll skip wiping data and upgrade just the bootloader, radio, kernel, and system images manually.

Note #2: You will be able to easily gain root in the last step.

Scenario 1

In this scenario, you're running Android 4.2.2 JDQ39 and haven't modified the system files, which basically means you can cleanly apply the OTA update without getting any errors. If you get errors and can't fix them or run a custom ROM, move on to Scenario 2.

In order to avoid repeating the steps, download the official JDQ39->JWR66V OTA zip from here for takju (Play Store variant with Google Wallet) and here for yakju (international variant without Google Wallet) and then adb sideload it by following my earlier guide here. If something fails, like it did for me, proceed to Scenario 2.

Note: To flash the update via adb sideload, you don't need to unlock the bootloader and have your data wiped if yours is still locked .

Note #2: When you get to recovery, you will probably see a No Command screen (first image below). At this point, press Volume Up while holding Power - the recovery menu will be displayed.

wm_20130726_135448 wm_20130726_135339 wm_20130726_135944 wm_20130726_140023

adb sideload is painless and fast

Scenario 2

Scenario 2 is what I would call plan B. You're here because the OTA failed, you screwed up your device and it's not booting, you're not on 4.2.2 JDQ39, or you're running a custom ROM. Don't worry - you won't lose data, even though the default factory image installation method (the bundled flash-all script) does wipe it.

The idea of this method is:

  1. Download the full takju factory image or yakju factory image, which include the full system, bootloader, recovery, kernel (boot.img), and radio. It's a clean slate for these components - they'll flash cleanly over anything you have now.
  2. Instead of using the bundled script called flash-all, you will unpack the tgz (tar/gz) archive, and then the zip contained within as well. This will put all the components into one folder:
    image image
  3. Follow the excellent guide over here and make sure to omit step D10, which overwrites userdata. While the guide is for the Nexus 4, it's very detailed and applies just as well to the Galaxy Nexus. Here are the commands you will be executing, for reference:
    adb reboot bootloader
    fastboot flash bootloader bootloader*.img
    fastboot reboot-bootloader
    fastboot flash radio radio-maguro-i9250xxlj1.img
    fastboot reboot-bootloader
    fastboot flash system system.img
    fastboot flash boot boot.img
    fastboot format cache
    fastboot reboot

Note: Instead of unpacking the image*.zip and flashing system and boot manually, you can actually do fastboot update image*.zip - this won't delete data (you would pass a -w flag if you wanted that to happen), but it will re-flash recovery back to stock if you were running a custom one. You can then flash it back, or just use the commands above instead. Either way, the result will be the same.


Bootloader in fastboot mode


Rooting a Galaxy Nexus is very easy but requires an unlocked bootloader and a custom recovery. I recommend using TWRP.

  1. Flash TWRP from here (fastboot flash recovery FILENAME.img).
  2. Reboot into recovery (adb reboot recovery or hold Power+VolDn, then select Recovery).
  3. Flash SuperSU from this post. I've seen people complain that doing so via CWM doesn't work, but flashing through TWRP and selecting Fix Superuser Permissions at the end does the trick.
  4. You should be rooted.

Enjoy 4.3 and don't forget to see what's new!

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Mastermind26

    c'mon TORO PLUS!!!
    (please be next!)

  • Amish Crusader

    You can flash these for toroplus and toro... IF YOU HAVE A PHONE THAT HAS A BAD ESN. (or, if you don't mind "retiring" the phone functionality and just use it for chromecast or a small 720p tablet)


    Even though the link for toroplus says v3, it still works for flashing 4.3

    Read the instructions.

    Download the maguro rom as a flashable zip, the one I used was named maguro_JWR66V_deodexed.zip

    Make sure after flashing the script zip you answer 'no' to 'replace recovery' after clearing cache / before rebooting into system again (for TWRP users).

  • Rence12

    Thanks, AP!

  • syntaxxerror

    Note that the 4.3-based Cataclysm ROM adds many customization features (liek changing navbar height) not available on the stock ROM. http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1995801

  • krackers

    So using either of these methods will not erase your installed apps, wallpaper, ringtones, etc..?

    • Guest

      no it shouldnt. I did the exact same thing with my nexus 4 yesterday, and nothing got erased. I just updated the phone, I didnt root. its just giving you the update from a sideload instead of an OTA, but other than that, its the same thing.

  • jazzruby

    Your "Flash TWRP from here" links to the Nexus 4 page not the Galaxy Nexus GSM page.

    Just sayin....


    Unofficial CM10.2 is out on XDA ;)

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/rsrmean rMean

    maguro ftw!! :-D

    • abby725

      just as Debra replied I am dazzled that you able to make $8764 in a few weeks on the internet. have you seen this web site w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Gnex

    Verizon should have their update out pretty soon.

    But not really.

  • aashish

    "make sure to omit step D10, which overwrites userdata." where is step d10?

  • Philip Kahn

    Thanks AP! Flawless update. Still irritating that to unlock the bootloader requires wiping data, but oh well. On a Nexus you almost don't need root anyway.

  • Squeeky

    Thanks! Worked perfectly. Is there any downside to not also flashing userdata.img?

  • Wanker

    My clock disappears at the lockscreen, after unlocking it's back. Normal feature for 4.3?

    • Kevin Verdesca

      Does your clock appear in the top right corner of your lockscreen when you dont have the clock as a lock screen widget?

  • mk11

    I have an unrooted Galaxy Nexus that was bought from a carrier (Fido) and it's running 4.2.1 Does this instruction to 4.3 allow me to update from 4.2.1 or do i have to be on 4.2.2 first?

    • flug32

      Should work--just skip directly to Scenario 2.

    • skewbasteve

      wanted to know if this worked for you or not

  • Ari

    Google said the Galaxy Nexus would immediately get 4.3. It's Sunday & I never got it. Makes me wonder if fragmentation will raise it's ugly head even with Nexus devices when and if 5.0 is released in the Fall. Keep wondering if Google is purposely making me want to switch to an iPhone... I have the Nexus cuz it was cheap.. Altho I got mine free.. And as unlocked and unsubsidized, I've been able to use it on a $45 prepaid plan that has saved me $600-800 per year.

    I used to get previous OS updates within 3 days at most

  • Ari

    Why can't Android just run smoothly and be easy. It seems to get the most of it, you have to be a super techie, root your phone etc.

  • Erik Andrén

    If you have a maguro galaxy nexus. Download this TWRP version: http://techerrata.com/file/twrp2/maguro/openrecovery-twrp- the linked one in the article doesn't work for your device.

  • Keltik30

    This guide sucks. Says I can flash it with Downloading 4.3 straight to my phone without hooking it up to my PC and using SDK and then tells me to hook up my phone to my PC and use adb sideload.

  • morelo

    the TWRP method worked well, i am on 4.3 and rooted but... where is the stock T9 dialer???? anyone else missing that too??

  • Gav456

    Ok, so just force-updated my nexus 7 (no Root access) to 4.3 by clearing data in "Google framework" app and checking for updates (worked on 4th attempt) have to say I don't like the way Google have handled restricted profiles. When 4.2 was released I made my lad a Google profile (which you are made to do to gain access to the play store, on which he now has paid apps) and used lightning launcher to restrict access to apps and settings. Although this worked nicely I was still excited to see that Google had implemented a native way to restrict user profiles. Needless to say my excitement was misplaced.
    Upon creating a new user profile you are given a choice between giving them access to their own Google account and full tablet access, or a restricted profile piggybacking on your Google account... this may not seem like too big a deal at first, but there are more areas that are poorly planned. The Gallery app restriction is linked to camera app. Gallery has access to Google+ photos. Thus, to restrict access to your private g+ photos, you'd have to deny access to the camera. Install a 3rd party camera+ gallery app..? Sure, maybe, but why should we?I'm miffed enough about this on a 1st gen n7 with a shocking front camera and no main camera, I'm sure it'd be worse on a nexus 4 where photosphere would be denied to resolve the issue.
    Glad I bought a nabi...

    Anyone else this annoyed, or an I being melodramatic?

  • TZ

    Thank you so much!

  • Micaiah Reese

    this doesnt help much

  • Andy Lu

    When I try to run the fastboot flash etc... the command thing just says 'fastboot' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file. Please help!