How to sideload Nothing OS OTA updates on the Nothing Phone

The Nothing Phone 1 is finally here, and it comes with a lightweight Android skin called Nothing OS. It may not have gotten some of the first-party secret sauce that the Google Pixels get, but the UI is a surprisingly vanilla experience enriched with a subtle touch of Nothing’s design language all over the place. However, the software hasn’t been without issues and Nothing is well aware of this fact. The company is periodically rolling out Nothing OS updates to squash out the bugs and introduce new features.

There are times when you may want to manually install a software update before it arrives over the air. Worry not, we’ll show you how to sideload a Nothing OS OTA update on your Nothing Phone 1. This is not a terribly difficult process, but if not followed correctly, you may have to completely wipe your device and start afresh.

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How to sideload Nothing OS OTA updates on Nothing Phone 1

To start with the sideloading process, first, you need to grab the appropriate OTA update package for your device variant. To do so, check out our Nothing Phone 1 Update Tracker and download the ZIP file corresponding to the Nothing OS version you want to install.

For each Nothing OS release, you should be able to find two types of OTA files: Full and incremental. The full update packages are recommended for sideloading, as they upgrade the phone no matter what prior version is installed. They are also useful when you’re rooted, as you can extract the stock boot image from them, patch it, and flash it afterward to keep root access. An incremental update package is comparatively smaller than the corresponding full OTA, but it can be only applied on an untouched base.

This manual installation process won’t wipe your device, but it’s good practice to backup any irreplaceable data in case something goes wrong.

Package validation

Before attempting to install a Nothing OS update manually, you should verify the SHA-1 hash of the downloaded package. In this case, the SHA-1 checksum of the recovery ZIP should be exactly the same as the filename (minus the *.zip extension). Even a single character difference is sufficient to indicate a tampered file. This is how you can detect a corrupted download.

Android comes with a CLI tool named sha1sum for SHA-1 checksum calculation. You can use it to verify the hash of the OTA file.

Install via recovery

The Nothing Phone 1 comes with a Google Pixel-esque recovery mode. As a result, you can easily sideload the update packages through the recovery interface.

  1. Download the update ZIP file on your PC/Mac/Chromebook.
  2. Make sure the Nothing Phone 1 is discoverable by ADB from your computer.
  3. On your computer, run the command:
    adb reboot recovery
  4. You should see “No command” on your phone screen. Now press and hold the Power button of your phone. While you hold Power, press the Volume Up button and let go of both buttons quickly. You should the Android recovery menu.
  5. On your phone, select the Apply Update from ADB option.
  6. On your computer, run the command:
    adb devices

    This should return a device serial with the “sideload” next to its name, indicating that your device is connected to the computer in sideload mode.

  7. On your computer, run the command:
    adb sideload "filename".zip

    Where “filename” is to be replaced with the full path, followed by the name of the file downloaded in Step 1.

  8. The update should install on your phone. Once the installation is complete, choose “Reboot system now” on your phone to reboot into the new build.

Install via Local System Update wizard

Nothing OS comes with a built-in system update installation app, but the company has yet to expose it as a user-accessible option. Nonetheless, you can launch it using a custom dialer code or through any activity launcher app.

  1. Create a folder named “ota” (without the quotes) at the root of the internal storage of your phone. Then copy the update ZIP file to that folder.
  2. Dial *#*#682#*#* to open up the offline update tool.
    • You can also use an activity launcher app to locate and execute the “OfflineOTAUpgrade” tool. The package name of the tool is com.nothing.OfflineOTAUpgradeApp.
      Nothing OS Offline OTA Upgrade
  3. The wizard will try to locate any valid OTA file present in the internal storage and install it. In case it fails, it offers you to manually browse for the OTA package.
  4. After selecting the OTA file, the wizard will apply the update and reboot the device.


Verification

A simple way to check if you have followed all of these steps correctly and sideload the OTA file properly is to head to Settings > About phone > Software info on your Nothing Phone 1.

Nothing Phone 1 software info

This should be on the exact Nothing OS version that you have sideloaded, indicating that you’ve successfully managed to complete the installation process.

Nothing Phone 1 XDA Forums

Nothing OS is still in its infancy, which is the reason why you can’t find many customization options in it just yet. Nonetheless, it is possible to manually enable the hidden Glyph-lighting music visualization feature on the current public build. If you don’t own a Nothing Phone 1, but like to apply the Nothing OS aesthetics on your current Android device, you can also do so by downloading the stock wallpapers.


What do you think about Nothing OS and the Nothing Phone 1? Let us know below!

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