The Xiaomi line of phones are quite unique. With consistently good performance, great features and an incredibly low price, it’s quite odd they are a rare find in the United States and Europe. In it’s native China and neighboring countries, this phone is nearly as ubiquitous as the world renowned iPhone series. Here, we take a look at how to update the Mi4 from it’s original software to either the software the Xiaomi system is based off of (Android) or to a new system altogether (Windows).
A Quick Word About Updating
In truth, to go from the original Operating System (a proprietary system by the name MIUI) to a native Android Operating System is quite the challenge for even experienced jail-breakers and power users, and may void your warranty or contract. Therefore, we are going to show you how to do so but advise caution. We cannot always ensure the safety of such actions. Ironically, the jump from an Android based system to a Windows one is in this case, remarkably easy. Either option does offer a plethora of options and may result in fewer restrictions on your phone, so at least to this author, the ends justify the means.
As Always, Protect Your Data
As with any sort of modification to your phone, it is best advised to back up your data so in case of an error, you don’t lose everything. Luckily, the MIUI system has a few very easy ways of going about this process. The most straightforward method is provided by the MIUI system itself:
Step One: Go to Settings, then hit “Backup and Reset”.
Step Two: Click on “Local Backup”.
Step Three: You will be asked to sign up for a MI account, create one if you haven’t already.
Step Four: Go ahead and tap the “Back Up” button, selecting all files. This should take a few moments. When complete, you will be notified your device has been backed up.
Of course, you can also back-up to Google through similar methods if you are so inclined (or perform a backup to your PC via USB connection). In truth, for the following procedure a backup of your backup is encouraged, as we will be covering some rather advanced procedures. With that out of the way, let’s get on to modifying your Xiaomi Mi4.
How to Upgrade Your Xiaomi Mi4 to Android
As mentioned before, switching lanes from MIUI to Android is a bit more dangerous than other options, primarily due to two reasons: Trust and execution. The files I will be using I have tested as of date of posting, and found them to be valid and useful. Similarly, execution of these files have been clean and produced no errors. This does not ensure this will always be the case, however, though the repositories these files are from are curated and updated to ensure that malware is not injected. So if you feel you can trust both this article and the software provided herein, I encourage you to continue. If not, I would advise skipping to the Windows Update section of this article.
If you are still reading, I would like to thank you for your trust. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
Step One: On your PC, create a folder for files we will be using so they can be easily found. Then download the files from here, here and here. They are an Android 5.1.1 ROM (140MB), a signed version of gapps (92.1MB), and a ClockWorkMod Recovery distribution (for this, both R8 and the most recent version should be downloaded. Both are around 13MB in size).
Step Two: plug in your Mi4, and transfer all files from your initial folder into the internal storage folder of the phone. This may take a few moments.
Step Three: On your phone, go to Tools, and select Updater. Click on the menu button on the top right hand side of the screen. Then tap Select Update Package.
Step Four: Scroll down until you see the file package of CWM R8, and select it. Then, reboot when prompted.
Step Five: Now, once the device is turned on again, go into the updater as before, but this time select Reboot to Recovery Mode. Keep in mind that once you are in recovery mode, you can use volume buttons to go up and down the menu, and a tap on the power button is a selection.
Step Six: Highlight and select Install Zip. Then, tap Select Zip from SD card, and then the 0/ option. After that, scroll down to CWM R11, and select it. Then select System One, and in the following menu, click Yes.
Step Seven: Once completed, select the Go Back option, and select Reboot System Now, selecting No on the screen thereafter.
Step Eight: Again we find ourselves needing to go back to Updater as we have before, and again we need to reboot into Recovery Mode. Now, we go to Wipe All Data. It is strongly recommended you have backed up your phone before now. This is your last chance to do so. Select Yes, and wipe all user data. Next, go to Wipe Cache Partition, and click Yes.
Step Nine: Now, select Mounts and Storage, and select Format/ System One. Click on Yes. Go back to the previous screen and select Install Zip.
Step Ten: Choose Select Zip from SD Card, selecting 0/ thereafter, and select the AOSB file that will appear in the directory.
Step Eleven: select System One, and click Yes on confirmation. You will now have a few moments to wait before everything installs. I encourage you to take this time to congratulate yourself on being resourceful enough to learn how to hack this phone instead of settling for the status quo.
Step Twelve: If the device is rooted, it may ask next if you want Root Access to be fixed. Select No.
Step Thirteen: Now go back to the previous selector, Choose From SD Card, select 0/ again, and this time select the gapps file set. Select System One, and click on Yes one more time. Again, select No in regards to Root Access.
Step Fourteen: Now, go back to the option to Wipe All Data, and do so once again. Then, select Reboot System Now, and select No in regards to Root Access one last time.
Step Fifteen: Start the system back up, and Android should appear as your new Lollipop OS. It may take a few moments longer on first boot than it will thereafter. Be sure to set up the phone as you desire, and import all data and contacts as you see fit from your back-up. Congratulations, you have successfully switched to Android.
How to Replace MIUI on Your Mi4 with Windows OS
The Mi4 is rare in the android world in that it has an official recognition of and actually encourages a switch over from Android to Windows 10 as part of a partnership arrangement. Instead of getting into the guts of the system, we can easily flash the system to get Windows 10, and if desired, flash it back to MIUI. It should be noted that at time of writing, this procedure only works for Mi4 LTE or 4G devices.
To begin, you will need to register with MUIU to download the flash kit, which you can do here.
Next, download the kit HERE.
To flash the system, follow the steps below:
Step One: After downloading the kit, a menu will appear notifying you of the installation of MiPhone Tools, go ahead and click next. There may be a security warning from your firewall, as the package is unsigned. Proceed with installing the driver software regardless.
Step Two: Download Windows 10 Firmware from the Insider.windows.com site by registering, or by using this direct download link.
Step Three: By time you are done downloading the firmware, the MiPhone Tools should be done installing, and you can click finish, double clicking the program to open it up.
Step Four: After download of the Firmware, unzip the files to a folder (it’s advised to do this into an empty folder). In the mean time, make sure your phone is fully charged, on Wi-Fi connection, and has Developer Mode on. To do this, go to Settings, then About Phone, and tap MIUI Version five times. Then, go to Settings, Other Settings, Developer Options and enable USB Debugging.
Step Five: Plug your Mi4 into the computer, and open up the Command Prompt.
Step Six: find the directory to the MiPhone Tools. To do this, type the following: cd C: \ Program Files (x86) \ Xiaomi \ MiPhone \ Google \ Android , hit enter, and type in C: \ Program Files (x86) \ Xiaomi \ MiPhone \ Google \ Android again, adding to it: adb reboot edl and hit enter again.
Step Seven: Now return to the MiPhone Tools program, and click Refresh. A new item, COM, should appear in the tool list. Now, go to File Manager on your computer, and click where you extracted your Firmware download to. Then go up to the address bar, and copy the line. Then click Flash to put it on your Mi4.
Step Eight: Once the flash has completed, you can restart your phone, and remove it from the PC. You should now have a Mi4 with Windows 10 installed.