Google recently started rolling out Android 4.4.3 to owners of Nexus smartphones and tablets. It’s a relatively minor update that doesn’t offer many new features… but it does fix some bugs, so it’s probably a good idea to update your device once you see a prompt letting you know Android 4.4.3 is ready to download and install.

Update: The same steps outlined below should also work when moving from Android 4.4.3 to Android 4.4.4 — or at least they worked on my Nexus 5 and Nexus 7. 

But if you’ve rooted your Android phone or tablet, there are a few things you might want to do first so that you don’t have to root it all over again after updating.

If you’re using a custom ROM such as CyanogenMod, OmniROM, or Paranoid Android, just go ahead and download the latest version of your ROM. The following tips only apply to folks who are running rooted versions of the stock Android software that came with their device. Note that these instructions may not work for all users due to variations in devices or software, but they’ve been tested on my Nexus 5 running stock Android.

443 kitkat

Enable Survival mode in SuperSU

If you’ve got a rooted device, odds are you already have Chainfire’s SuperSU app installed. This an app that lets you decide which other apps can access root file and settings.

While there are a few other SuperUser apps available, this is one of the most popular… and if you’re using a different app on your rooted device, you can always replace it with SuperSU just by installing the app from the Google Play Store.

SuperSU has an option called “Survival mode” which attempts to keep your device rooted even if you’re installing an over-the-air update. It may not always work… but it works just fine when used on a Nexus device that’s being updated from Android 4.4.2 to Android 4.4.3.

supersu survival

Out of the box, SuperSU doesn’t let you check the box next to Survival Mode. You can either pay a few bucks for a SuperSU Pro license to enable the feature… or just check the box that says “Enable Pro.” It gives you all the features of SuperSU Pro without paying for them… although if you find the features useful, it’s always a good idea to buy the app to help support the developer.

Anyway, once you’ve checked the Survival mode box you can go ahead and follow Google’s prompts to update your device. After the installation is complete and your device reboots, you’ll find that all of your root-only apps such as Titanium Backup, Root Explorer, and ROM Toolbox will work perfectly… unless you have the Xposed framework installed.

How to upgrade to Android 4.4.3 when you’re using Xposed Framework

The Xposed Framework gives you many of the benefits of a custom ROM without actually replacing the operating system on your device with a custom version of Android.

For example, it lets you install modules that let change your Quick Settings tiles, add options to your power menu, chance the Google Experience Launcher behavior, and more.

Unfortunately if you try installing an over-the-air update from Google while Xposed is installed, it’ll fail.

The good news is that all you have to do is uninstall Xposed, apply the Android update, and then re-install Xposed. Any modules such as GravityBox, Greenify, or GEL Settings that you’ve installed will continue to work and all of your settings will be preserved

xposed reboot

So here’s all you have to do:

1. Fire the Xposed Installer app on your device.

2. Tap the option that says Framework.

3. Tap the Uninstall button and then reboot when prompted.

4. Install the Android 4.4.3 OTA update from Google.

5. Go back to Xposed Framework, and this time select the Install/Update option and reboot when  prompted.

That’s it. You don’t need to re-install Xposed Installer or any of your modules. Just uninstall the framework, update Android, and then re-install the framework.

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53 replies on “How to upgrade a Nexus to Android 4.4.3 (or 4.4.4) without losing root”

  1. It worked perfectly on my nexus 7 2013 going from 4.4.2 to 4.4.3, but it fails to work from 4.4.3 to 4.4.4. Any suggestion how to solve the problem?

  2. I followed these instructions and now mt phone only boots into TWRP. Help!!!

  3. This was the key. Xposed was keeping me from being able to upgrade. Thankyou so much!

  4. Worked on my Nexus 5 going from 4.4.2 to 4.4.3 and then again from 4.4.3 to the new 4.4.4

  5. This works perfectly on my Nexus 7 (2013) going from 4.4.2 to 4.4.3 and from 4.4.3 to 4.4.4. Had to authorize the install on my custom recovery screen but that was it. Thanks!

  6. Hi,
    Thanks for this artiche. It works for me. I do the xposed framework method.

  7. checked survival mode and tried to update and it says error, installation aborted, in clockworkmod recovery..

  8. Thanks for the info it was perfectly executed on my nexus 5. I’m in the process of reinstalling Xposed right after this commenting. I wanted to ask anyone else who updated root & not rooted, is it just me or doe’s Android now use Android runtime by default? Mines is and I’ve also heard that the nexus 5 battery now lasts’s 50% longer, if this is true could it be because of ART being one of the big fixes and updates going unnoticed? I remember the coons of ART being that app’s would increase size and battery would burn faster, besides the speed improvements… Anyway any thoughts would be appreciated and thanks for the help Bread Linder!

  9. Followed instructions, says up to date, still 4.4.2. Do I really have to wait a few days for it to prompt again? Is there any way to just force it to?

    1. Go to Settings-Apps find Google Frameworks, delete the Data file. Back out, reboot. After its booted up go to Settings-About Phone-System Update, and it will show you have an update, if you do in fact need an update. It worked for my Nexus 4.

      1. I can’t find Google Frameworks in Settings>Apps. : Oh well, 4.4.3 is only a bugfix to bugs I haven’t even encountered.

        1. Open SETTINGS, then APPS, then ALL, then GOOGLE SERVICES FRAMEWORKS. Delete the Data file. Back out, reboot. Goto SETTINGS, then ABOUT PHONE, Check SYSTEM UPDATES. You will see… “ANDROID 4.4.3 SYSTEM UPDATE”. Download…
          It worked for me… Good Luck!

          1. Oooh, I scrolled to where “Google F” would be, and didn’t see anything. Thanks for the clarification.

          2. I’m stuck in some teamwin thing saying select .zip – fone died trying to find some fucking zip idk even exists now im back where I started, typing on a shitty laptop thst probably has viruses infesting it so I don’t want to log in. WHERE IS THE ZIP!?!

          3. If you downloaded the .zip file it should be in /cache or /download. What device do you have? Is it stock? Rooted?
            If you are stock, unrooted, once you have accepted the update it should have updated, rebooted and you should have 4.4.3
            Don’t panic its not a big deal. Unless you drop the thing into water, or smash it, it can be fixed, and relatively easy.
            OTA updates are for Stock Nexus devices. If you have altered it the update senses something different and won’t allow it to go through. It seems like you have TWRP Custom recovery. If that’s the case, you have a few options…

            1) ADB Sideload using your laptop.
            2) Flash just the update after reverting to stock recovery.
            3) Download the 4.4.3 Image file from Google and install the KTU84L (Nexus 4 – MAKO)

        2. Yeah, re: “Bug fix to bugs I haven’t encountered”. I have not had any of the issues I am hearing about with the 4.4.3 update. Never did. My Nexus 4 is rooted, Stock ROM, Franco #208 kernel, running ART. I removed Xposed as I didn’t really need it. But so far so good… We’ll see, you never know.

  10. Thanks for the instructions! Unfortunately, this only worked for me up until Step 5. When I attempt to reinstall Xposed Framework, I get the error message “Failed to get root access. Make sure your device is rooted properly and you have not blocked shell commands”. Xposed v2.6.1 was functioning normally prior to the 4.4.3 update. Am I missing something here?

  11. First – Thanks a bunch!
    Also like a few fellas here I did everything you wrote but after downloading the OTA, and pressing restart&install, it rebooted, seemed like installing, and then went straight to TWRP boot.
    After pressing shutdown and powering up the nexus 4 again – nothing has changed and I’m still on 4.4.2.
    What was the problem in your opinion?
    Thanks!!

    1. I had this problem on my Nexus 5. I disabled XPosed and enabled survival mode in SuperSU. After the OTA update downloaded, it rebooted into TWRP and then started the install. But it failed due to a checksum problem with the build.prop file. I had modified the build.prop to increase the screen density. I will try to edit it back to the original ro.sf.lcd_density value. If that doesn’t work, I will have to grab an original build.prop file from someone else.

    2. I am not 100% but will an OTA update work if you even have a custom recovery? If you have custom recovery then why not a custom ROM? I am on 4.4.3 on a note 2 and 3. Running aosb probam. http://www.probam.net or its on goo.im app

  12. Hello, I have a Nexus 4. There must be something I did wrong, because my device is now in a boot loop. After installing the OTA it told me that root could’ve been lost, and if I wanted to flash (or recover, I can’t remember the word) it, or not. I chose to do it. Could it have been that?

  13. Thanks so much! Very clear and straight forward instructions 🙂 did everything step by step and now I’m running 4.4.3 without losing my root! Much appreciated

  14. I tried to update my phone to 4.4.3 before reading this article so it failed to update. I did what you said for the superSU and tried to update but my phone says “Your system is up to date.” but I still have 4.4.2. How do I update to 4.4.3..

    1. Just wait a day or two, seriously. I’ve tried updating twice now and thought my recovery was screwing it up.

    2. You can probably find the .zip file you downloaded in your /cache partition using Root Explorer. Copy it to your /sdcard partition and flash it manually using TWRP or CWM. If that all sounds like gibberish, just wait until your phone prompts you to perform the update again. It’ll probably happen within the next day or so.

      1. The update file can be found in the “cache” folder from root. If you’re using TWRP, tap install, go all the way up to root, select the cache folder and tap the file. You’ll be asked to add files to the flash if you wish. Slide to install and you’re good to go. You do have to uninstall the Xposed framework.

        Thanks for the tip. Truly appreciated

        1. I tried that and when I flashed the file using TWRP it said failed so I rebooted and I’m still on 4.2.2

  15. i uninstalled xposed installer but now in system updates it says your system is up to date but im on 4.4.2

    1. You shouldn’t uninstall Xposed installer. *Use* that app to uninstall Xposed framework, using the steps outlined in the article. The installer app can and should stay installed throughout the process.

      1. Also, the update is rolled out in stages depending on your device ID (rather than per-click of check update)

        It’s luck of the draw when you get it. I think it goes week by week.

  16. Great article! But I have MultiROM installed and running, too. I wonder how that will affect OTA or any other manual updates. Shall I uninstall it before trying the update?
    And I take it as I have to reinstall custom recovery after the OTA update as well?
    And if I were updating from version 4.4 instead of version 4.4.2, I cannot just download an OTA zip from the internet and flash it right? I need to wait for my personalized 4.4 to 4.4.3 OTA to appear?

  17. I ran into a problem with uninstalling XPosed. It was unable to find app_process.orig file so the uninstallation did not work and OTA would not flash. I had no choice, but to use the full image. But fortunately, I didn’t have to wipe my data. I used this excellent guide to install the full image without deleting my data.
    https://nexus5.wonderhowto.com/how-to/update-your-rooted-nexus-android-4-4-3-without-losing-any-data-0155334/

    If you don’t have the problems I did, then the information in this article is definitely the way to go.

  18. I tried several times to download the update with a rooted Nexus 4, following your instructions. Get an error message every time. Any suggestions? I already tried unchecking “enable superuser” to temporarily unroot the phone.

    1. What’s the error message? And are you using Xposed framework on your device? If so, did you uninstall the framework first?

      1. The error message I received first was “update cannot be installed”. Received that twice, so I googled the problem and found out that 4.4.3 can’t be installed on a rooted device. So checked further and found out one can temporarily disable root by unchecking “Enable superuser”. I did that, but left survival mode on. This time, the update began to install (with the graphic of the android doll with its belly open), but then a few minutes into the installation, a red “x” appeared on the android doll’s belly with the message “Error!”. The phone then temporarily “bricked” and wouldn’t turn off. Finally it did, and rebooted, but back into 4.4.2. And not, I don’t have Xposed installed. Any ideas? Evan

          1. Thanks Brad. That’s the article that I read, which is why I hoped for a simpler solution. Should I try it again, but leave my root “on”, i.e. super SU active?

          2. Honestly, I don’t know, since I’m not sure what’s causing your error. Does it say anything before update cannot be installed?

            Are you using twrp or cwm recovery?

          3. I have TWRP manager installed, but to be honest I don’t know how to use it. I’m sure later in the day or tomorrow I’ll get another notification that I have update ready to be downloaded, so I can let you know. If you have any advice on what to do after I do the download, but before the phone automatically resets, I’d be most obliged.

          4. I think you can trigger the notification by going to Settings > About Phone > System Updates. I figured out Brad’s process by trial and error a few days ago and updated my Nexus 4 without any problems.

          5. That’s no good, sorry to hear it. The process that worked for me was 1) survival mode on in SuperSU Pro, 2) remove framework with Xposed Installer (I uninstalled Xprivacy too, which may have been overkill), do system update, reinstall Xposed framework and Xprivacy. I suppose if it comes to that, you could flash your phone back to stock, upgrade, and then root, but that seems like a lot of work just to get 4.4.3.

          6. What’s “remove framework with Xposed Installer”? I never installed in the first place. Looks like I’m just going to have to remove root completely.

          7. best guide for rooted nexus 5 don’t be afraid follow the instructions. works best.

          8. I am seeing a common thing in this thread that the OTA update might not go through if you have a custom recovery? As most on here that have it don’t even know what it is

  19. Thanks for the guide! Really appreciate it. Have been searching a lot for a guide like this. Big thumbs-up! *

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