How to Update OnePlus 2 to Android 7.0 Nougat

Android 7.0, also known as Android “N” was just released for Android devices. We are going to tell you the benefits of updating your Android device to Android Nougat, and how you can go about doing that.

Why Upgrade to Android 7.0 ?

Unlike Android 6.0 Marshmallow, 7.0 isn’t a gigantic leap forward in terms of Operating System features or design. But, this hardly means it should be ignored, because what it does lack in innovation in these two departments, it more than makes up for in efficiency, security, and plenty of other minor improvements.

After updating to Android 7.0, you may notice that your phone will use less battery as well as less data from your network. One of the biggest issues to be resolved from Android Marshmallow was the tendency for the phone running it to run “hot” due to repeated callback attempts. This would happen when an app stopped functioning properly, or when synching did not occur in the expected manner. Users who have had short battery lives as a result of this may discover a charge lasting hours longer than before, and those gigabytes of data lasting at least a little longer than they had in previous months.

In terms of security, Android 7.0 Nougat offers two significant upgrades over its predecessor.
The first is that on the development side, more apps aimed at Android Nougat will have less permissions. Instead of letting apps have essentially free reign over your phone, many developers will have their apps limited only to folders within the phone that would be needed. For example, with android Marshmallow and before, if you gave an app permissions to access photo folders, all would be accessible. This would mean if you had an SD card full of photos, and just a few on internal storage you wanted to use for the app, both would be available to said app. In Android Nougat, with what’s called “Scoped Directories”, the app in question would be only able to access the internal storage unless explicitly stated otherwise.

The second is more on the user side, where Direct Boot has been implemented. Direct Boot more or less allows apps to function even after a reboot has occurred and you’ve yet to re-sign into your phone. Now, this does not mean that data encrypted by your login is available for either apps or users, in fact, that’s the major improvement for both security and functionality; Key features can still be accessed even if you don’t realize a reboot has occurred, while keeping your data safe at all times.

Now that we have covered some of the key features that may make you decide on upgrading to Android 7.0, let’s take a look at how to do so with your OnePlus 2.

Step Zero: Back Up Your OnePlus 2

Whenever you plan to do anything that messes with the files of your device, it is often a wise idea to back it up. For OnePlus devices, it is easiest to back up your contact and app data by going to Settings, and then selecting both Auto Sync and Back Up Data. For picture, video and music files, the easiest way to go about saving them is direct transfer of them via USB cable to your PC.

Method One: Wait for OnePlus 2 to Get an OTA Upgrade

For those who don’t want to get knee deep into the tech of dealing with upgrading, unfortunately the OnePlus 2 only really has one option at this time: Wait. Android Nougat is expected to be released for Over The Air upgrades in the next two to three months of time of writing. When the rollout does get initiated, you should have a notification on your phone that the OTA update has been downloaded (or is ready to download) and is ready to be installed. Simply confirm you want the update (and be on Wi-Fi connection if it has to fully download) and you should be all set.

Method Two: Find an Android Analog

Given the fact that there hasn’t been a truly official copy of Android Nougat to be released yet for the OnePlus 2, you would likely think we’ve hit a dead end. However, the lovely developers at the XDA forums have been hard at work making custom Operating Systems based off Android 7.0 architecture. This often means that you get the benefits of Android Nougat, having customizability, and overall a unique experience. However, this comes at the cost of an upfront time investment, and a bit of technical work. Luckily, in terms of protections, OnePlus is one of the few phone manufacturers that encourage hacking devices and still offer warranty protections.

While not the prettiest tool around, 15 Second ADB lives up to its name.
While not the prettiest tool around, 15 Second ADB lives up to its name.

Our first bit of work is to install two programs that will allow us to access and alter the bootloader of the OnePlus. The first of these programs is an Android Debug Bridge, which runs Linux commands to your android device (typically for use in app debugging) from your PC. Now, as you may have noticed, it’s Linux based, and if you have a windows machine, this presents quite the problem as that would be similar to requesting a cat to bark. However, there are multiple programs available to make such an action possible, such as the 15 Second ADB .

After downloading the file, open the .exe setup file, and you will see a command prompt open. It will ask if you want ADB and Fastboot, and if you wish to install this program system wide. To confirm, press y after each question to get everything up and running. You may need to restart your PC afterwards, as some (but not all) users have experienced limited functionality otherwise.

Next, we will need to enable development options on your OnePlus 2. To do so, go to Settings, then About Phone, and rapidly tap Build Number about 10 times. Next, go back to settings, then select the new Developer Options, and Enable OEM unlock. Also make sure that USB debugging is enabled by filling in the check box.

Now, connect your phone to your PC via USB. Then, using ADB, set your OnePlus 2 into Bootloader mode by entering the following (with new lines indicating where you should hit enter):
Adb reboot bootloader

fastboot oem unlock
Do keep in mind that the first command may require a response to a notification from your phone asking to allow USB debugging. The second will, alongside opening up the bootloader, will wipe your phone and cause it to restart.

From here, we need yet another tool, TWRP Recovery. This is what is called a Disk Image File, which will allow you to install custom roms, among other tools. To download, press the download button just above the Sharing Links table. It is recommended you save it in the same folder as ADB and Fastboot have been saved.

Next, open up ADB to enter the following commands:

adb reboot bootloader
fastboot flash recovery oneplus2-twrp.img
fastboot reboot

This will open up the bootloader, load the TWRP image file (which may be named differently than shown above, if so just replace it with the proper .img file name) and reboot the phone.

Now with Fastboot and TWRP installed, we can get to the fun stuff: Your custom ROM, and the standard Google apps. For your custom ROM, I encourage you browse the XDA Developer Forums development for the OnePlus 2 and see which option you would like to explore. Here, we will show how to install CyanogenMod 14.0 Nightly Build. In general, CM ROMs have been remarkable at not only faithfully reproducing but building upon the Android Nougat architecture, and the nightly builds allow for the most recent developments to be included. Next, download the zip for Gapps (your standard Google Apps), in this case through baNkS  .

Be sure to wipe the data from your phone, as previous paths and settings can cause issues with the new OS.
Be sure to wipe the data from your phone, as previous paths and settings can cause issues with the new OS.

Next, take all the files you have just downloaded and transfer them into your devices internal storage. Then, shut off the device and restart it into TWRP recovery mode by pressing the volume up and power buttons at the same time.

Then, select Wipe from TWRP, and do a Swipe to Factory Reset. After that, go back to the main menu and tap Install, then select your desired ROM’s .zip file. Then Swipe To Confirm Flash on the bottom of the screen. This may take a few moments, so go grab a drink or just relax for a bit. After the ROM is fully flashed, you’ll need to select Wipe Cache /Dalvik and Swipe To Wipe. Then, repeat the process of pressing Install, selecting the files, and confirming the flash for the Gapps Zip.

Reboot the device one final time, and you should now have a brand new Android Nougat based OS, months before anyone else.

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Cody Carmichael
University graduate in Psychology, and health worker. On my off time I'm usually tinkering with tech or traveling to the ends of the globe.