This is a complete tutorial on how to use Android Flash Tool to update Google Pixel and other supported devices with the latest Android builds. To automate the process of flashing (firmware installation) and make it easier for users and developers, Google launched a web-based Android flash tool for its Pixel phones. So now instead of having to deal with commands, manual download of factory images and other configurations, Android Flash Tool automates all that directly from the Google Chrome browser.
Android Flash Tool is designed to work across all major operating systems: Windows, macOS, Linux – you just need a browser with WebUSB built-in. Whether it be flashing official firmware to restore your Pixel phone to factory settings or updating it manually to enjoy the latest Android build, Android Flash Tool is a great utility for Google Pixel owners and developers. We have a covered a list of compatible devices that work with this flash tool.
Why use Android Flash Tool?
Other than Android Flash Tool, if you want to install factory firmware on your phone, you need to go through with a pretty lenghty process. This process will include downloading the firmware first, extracting it, configuring your computer with the right utilities and then executing the correct commands. Over the years, we have extensively covered the steps for each Google Pixel device, but Google has made it much easier now with an official flash tool.
With the use of Android Flash Tool, a compatible device only needs to be connected via USB and the rest is handled by the tool — including downloading the correct latest Android build (factory image / firmware). More, this utility removes the need of first finding the firmware download itself which can be tricky for new users. And for first timers, there is always a chance of getting your device permanently bricked.
On a related note, Android 11 was just released for the Pixel phones. And to quickly install it on your device, you can use the following tutorial for Android Flash Tool.
Is my device compatible with Android Flash Tool?
Google maintains a detailed list of phones and devices that are compatible with Android Flash Tool. The tool supports all Pixel phones launched after the Pixel 2 series, plus the compatibility list also supports a couple of other devices.
Android Flash Tool – Compatibility List:
- DragonBoard 845c (db845c)
- HiKey 960
- Glass Enterprise Edition 2
- Pixel 4a
- Pixel 4 XL
- Pixel 4
- Pixel 3a XL
- Pixel 3a
- Pixel 3 XL
- Pixel 3
- Pixel 2 XL
- Pixel 2
Based on comments and user queries about the use of Android Flash Tool, here are some more FAQs:
Is Android Flash Tool compatible with Android tablets?
No, you cannot use Android Flash Tool with Android tablets. This tool only works with select Android development devices and some Pixel phones.
Can you flash on Chrome OS devices?
No, this flash tool is not compatible with Chrome OS devices.
Do I need to download and install Android Flash Tool on PC?
A key benefit to Android Flash Tool is the fact that it is web-based. This translates to zero installation on your computer. Yes, you would need proper USB drivers installed and a supported web-browser but that is pretty much it!
Here are the basic requirements for Android Flash Tool:
Browser: Any browser supporting WebUSB works with this flash tool i.e. the latest Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge 79+
OS Platforms: Android Flash Tool works with the following platforms:
- Windows (requires an additional USB drivers)
How to Use Android Flash Tool – Complete Tutorial:
There are two main sections to using Android Flash Tool. First, you need to make sure your computer meets all the requirements and is properly configured. Second, navigating and using the flash tool itself.
As always, please read and go through the steps first before actually performing it on your Android device.
Part 1: Initial Preparation and Device Configuration
- Enable Developer options and USB debugging.
- Enable OEM Unlocking in the Developer options menu. If your bootloader is already unlocked, this option is grayed out with Bootloader is already unlocked. Read: How to Unlock Bootloader on Pixel Phones.
- If you’re having trouble enabling OEM Unlocking, make sure:
- Your device is connected to the internet.
- Your device has checked in with Google, which may not be the case just because your device recently connected to the internet. To force a check in, enter *##CHECKIN##* (##2432546##) in the Dialer (no SIM required). After entering the number (no need to press call), the text disappears and a success notification appears.
Part 2: Flash using Android Flash Tool
Step 1 – Connect your device directly to your computer (no hubs, adapters, extenders, or monitors).
Step 2 – Open flash.android.com in a browser on your computer. It should open the Welcome page.
Step 3 – Allow the flash tool to communicate with your test device through adb by accepting the popup that says Allow site access to your ADB keys in order to communicate with devices.
Step 4 – Click Add new device.
Step 5 – Select your device from the list and click Connect. This list may not contain the full device name.
Step 6 – On your device’s screen, select Always allow from this computer and click OK to accept the USB debugging connection.
Step 7 – Select the connected device in your browser.
Step 8 – Search for and select your desired build from the list. You can also select options, such as wiping the device or force flashing all partitions.
Step 9 – Click Install to start the process. The device reboots and enters fastboot mode.
Step 10 – After Flash Complete appears, disconnect the device from the USB cable.
This was the complete tutorial on how you can use Android Flash Tool to install Android builds on the Google Pixel phones. The overall process is much easier and intuitive, instead of entering commands in Command Prompt or Terminal.
If you run into any problems, do let us know in the comments below so someone from our team can help you out.