How to Install Android 12 Beta on Your Pixel Phone

After going three long months through the early developer preview phase, Google finally unveiled Android 12 at its opening I/O 2021 keynote on May 18. The first public beta is now available for Google Pixel phones (Pixel 3 or newer) and some other devices from Asus, Nokia, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Tecno, TCL, Vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE. 

The newest version of Android brings the biggest visual overhaul since Lollipop. Google has made radical changes to the UI, animation, widgets, lock screen, theming system and added a cornucopia of new privacy and security features. The notifications and quick settings shade has also seen significant changes in years. The company calls this new design language “Material You,” a successor of Material Design. 

If you are a lucky owner of one of the compatible Pixel devices, you can try out the new Android 12 Beta 1 today and get a glimpse of Android’s bright future. We have prepared this detailed step-by-step guide to install the first Android 12 public beta for those early adopters willing to test out the new features.

List of phones that currently work with Android 12 Beta

  • Google Pixel 3 or 3 XL
  • Pixel 3a or 3a XL
  • Google Pixel 4 or 4 XL
  • Pixel 4a or 4a 5G
  • Google Pixel 5

Google has also worked with ten popular third-party Android phone makers to make the Android 12 Beta accessible to a wider group of testers. Here are the devices:

  • Asus ZenFone 8
  • Nokia X20
  • OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro (CPH2173)
  • Realme GT
  • Sharp Aquos R6
  • Tecno Camon 17
  • TCL 20 Pro 5G
  • Vivo iQOO 7 Legend
  • Xiaomi Mi 11, Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 11i (Mi 11X / Redmi K40 Pro), Mi 11 Pro (China-only)
  • ZTE Axon 30 5G Ultra

This guide focuses on installing the Android 12 Beta on Pixel devices only. If you have one of the following non-Google devices, we recommend visiting the manufacturer’s community forum for detailed instructions to sideload the public beta image. The installation process differs depending on the manufacturer.

Install Android 12 Beta on your Pixel device using the Android Beta Program

Google has made it easy for everyone to try the Android 12 public beta on their Pixel devices by offering the Android Beta Program. All you have to do is visit the portal and opt-in to the program. Soon after that, you will receive an over-the-air update to the beta version.

  1. Start with visiting the Android Beta Program website from a web browser on your compatible Pixel phone.
  2. Tap the Sign in button and log in with your Google account credentials if you haven’t already.
  3. Next, scroll down to the “Your eligible devices” section and tap the Opt in button under the device you wish to enroll in the beta program.
  4. Agree to the terms of the beta program, then tap the Confirm and enroll button.

That’s it! You should soon receive a notification on your Pixel phone to download and install the Android 12 Beta OTA update. You can also check for the update manually by going to the Settings > System > System Update menu and tapping the Check for update option.

Note that it takes a few minutes before you receive the notification about the software update. However, it may also take a few hours or a full day for the update to appear on your Pixel phone, so have some patience if you don’t get it immediately.

Leave the beta program

There’s a downside to testing out new software earlier than everyone else, and it’s bugs– in fact, a lot of them. Google allows app developers and testers early access to their software to collect bug reports, telemetry data, and feedback. It helps the company to iron out major issues and refine the experience based on user information.

The first public beta is unfinished, has a few bugs, and missing many features that are planned to make their way to the final release. It’s still in an active development phase; thus, we don’t recommend regular users install the Android 12 Beta 1 software on their primary devices.

If you happen to enroll in the Android 12 Beta Program but don’t want to continue using it, simply Opt-out from the Android Beta Program portal. However, you will need to factory reset your Pixel phone to roll back to Android 11, so make sure to back up your important files. Anything stored in your Google Drive won’t be deleted.

If you stay enrolled until the end of the beta program, you will continue receiving pre-release updates (e.g., feature drops, bug fixes, performance and stability improvements), and eventually, the stable public build of Android 12. In that case, your Pixel phone won’t be wiped.

Install Android 12 Beta on your Pixel device using the Android Flash Tool

Last year, Google introduced its web-based Android Flash Tool, allowing users to flash system images on their Pixel devices without the hassle of using the ADB Platform Tools. Here’s how you can use it to install Android 12 Beta 1 on your compatible Pixel phone:

  1. First, visit the Android Flash Tool website from the Chrome web browser on your PC.
  2. Next, click the Get Started button. If you don’t have the Android USB Driver installed on your PC, you will need to get it first.
  3. Click OK to give the site access to your ADB keys so that it can execute flashing on your Pixel phone over the browser.
  4. After that, head over to Settings > About phone on your Pixel, scroll down to the Build number option, and tap it repeatedly until you see the “You are now a developer!” message.
  5. Return to the main Settings screen again to go to the System > Advanced > Developer options menu.
  6. Scroll down to the “Debugging” section and enable the USB Debugging feature.
  7. Additionally, enable the OEM Unlocking option from the same place.
  8. Now plug in your Pixel phone to your PC using the USB data cable. It should show up in the list of devices on the Android Flash Tool website.
  9. Select your Pixel device in the list and click Connect, then accept the “Allow USB debugging” prompt on your phone.
  10. Next, choose Android 12 Beta 1 from the list of builds on the next screen.
  11. Hit the Install button. You must agree to the terms and conditions to continue.
  12. Proceed to unlock your device’s bootloader by following the on-screen prompts, and let the flashing process finish up.

This is how you install the first Android 12 public beta on your Pixel phone using the Android Flash Tool. Since you are unlocking the bootloader, all locally stored data on the device will be wiped in the process.

We strongly recommend against doing anything on the Chrome browser or your phone during the flashing process. If something goes wrong, you may end up with a bricked device.

Install Android 12 Beta on your Pixel device by flashing the OTA image

If you wish to keep your data, the best option is to flash the Android 12 Beta 1 OTA images on your Pixel phone. Doing so will install the new Android version over the existing Android 11 build on your device, and your data will carry over. However, you need to make sure there are no pending OTA updates on your Pixel. You also have to turn on USB Debugging on your phone from the Developer options.

To get started, click here to download the OTA image for your particular Pixel model. Now you could also use the factory images, but they require an unlocked bootloader. Thus, sideloading the OTA image is still the easiest process.

Assuming you have the Universal ADB Drivers installed on your Windows PC, you can proceed to flash the downloaded OTA image on your Pixel by following the below instructions.

Boot into Recovery Mode

First, power off your Pixel phone, and then hold the Power + Volume Down buttons for a few seconds to enter the bootloader. After that, select the Recovery Mode option in the menu using the volume rockers and press the Power button again.

Soon, you will see the Android mascot with an exclamation mark over it. Simply press the Power + Volume Up buttons for a second to enter the Recovery Mode.

Apply update from ADB

Now that you are in the Recovery Menu, use the volume rockers to navigate to the “Apply update from ADB” option and press the Power button once. Next, connect your Pixel phone to your PC using the data cable.

To see whether your phone is detected, open a Command Prompt or Terminal window and run the following command:

adb devices

Hopefully, you should see your Pixel’s serial number and the “sideload” text next to it. If not, reconnect your device to the computer and try again.

To flash the Android 12 Beta 1 OTA build to your Pixel phone, run the following command in CMD:

adb sideload

In the above command, replace with the actual name of the OTA build you downloaded earlier. For instance, we are flashing Android 12 on a Pixel 4a 5G, so the command is:

adb sideload

Note that the OTA file must be in the same directory as the CMD path for the command to work. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the file to the Command Prompt window, and it should automatically enter the full path.

Once the OTA build is loaded to your Pixel device, it will send you back to the Recovery Menu. Now all you have to do is to use the volume rockers to select the Reboot system now option and press the Power button to restart your device. It will auto-install the update and migrate you to the Android 12 Beta 1 software without wiping any data.

What comes next?

Given Google’s track record, you can expect several updates to the Android 12 beta version throughout the summer. At the time of writing, the company has released a timeline suggesting a final release for the Pixel phones in August 2021. However, a full release across non-Google devices is scheduled toward the end of Q3 2021 (i.e., September).

The Android 12 Beta 1 introduces users to the Material You design language and plenty of privacy features to test. The beta releases will continue till the month of July, so there’s still a lot of work to be

According to Google, their primary goal is to make Android 12 “more intuitive, better performing, and more secure.” Check out the official blog post to learn more about Android 12 and its fresh new look.

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