Android 12 beta 5: How to download and install Google’s phone OS on Pixel, OnePlus and more

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Android 12 beta 5: How to download and install Google’s phone OS on Pixel, OnePlus and more

Android 12 is almost ready. We’ll tell you how to get started and what to know. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Google just released Android 12 beta 5, the final beta before the new operating system officially arrives. Android 12 includes several features and changes, with the most notable being a new design that changes the entire look of Android. It’s called called Material You.

If you’ve been holding off on testing Android 12 because of its beta status, right now is arguably the best time to sign up for the public beta and get an early look at the update. You’ll be able to check out the improved privacy controls, and play with the Material You design that adapts the interface and changes the color of your phone’s looks to match your wallpaper. Another benefit? Android devices will also now work better with other devices, like Chromebooks and Android TVs thanks to a new remote feature

Below I’ll walk you through the process of signing up for the fifth and final beta of Android 12 as long as you have a compatible device

Can I install the Android 12 beta on my phone?

Google’s Pixel phone and some of the company’s hardware partners, such as OnePlus, ZTE, TCL, Oppo, RealMe, Sharp, Tecno, Vivo, Xiaomi and Asus, have kept pace with the Android 12 beta schedule with updates for select phones. If you own a device from one of the listed partners, Google’s developer website has a list with links directly to the instructions for your respective phone.

The installation process for each vendor varies, and each phone-maker limits which models are included in the beta. For example, OnePlus is currently offering the Android 12 beta for the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, and strongly suggests that only developers install the beta for now. However, if you insist, you can install the beta. You’ll need to download the update package on your computer, transfer it to your phone’s storage, and then go through the process of installing a “local OTA” update. OnePlus lays out the steps on this forum post, which also has a giant warning in red that the update may brick your phone. Yikes.


There are plenty of partners this year. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

TCL has released an Android 12 preview for the TCL 20 Pro 5G, and warns that the process will wipe all information and data from your phone. The installation process requires you to flash (install) the update using a program TCL built specifically to install the beta using a Windows computer. Here are the instructions.  

If you don’t have a Pixel phone, I’d proceed with caution and, realistically, I’d opt to wait for the official release later this year, or at the very least, until closer to the official launch when each company has had more time to fix any major issues. 

Google’s install process isn’t as scary, but it doesn’t come without its own share of risks. Here’s a list of the specific Google Pixel models that can take part in the Android 12 beta: 

  • Pixel 5
  • Pixel 4A
  • Pixel 4A (5G)
  • Pixel 4
  • Pixel 3A
  • Pixel 3A XL
  • Pixel 3
  • Pixel 3 XL

Pick which device you want to install Android 12 on. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

How do I start using Android 12 beta on my Pixel phone?

Here are the steps I followed on a Pixel phone. Start by visiting the Android Beta Program website. Sign in to the site using the same Google account you’re using on your phone. Google will present you with some warnings about using a beta operating system. Read through the information and agree to it when you’re done. 

At the bottom of the page will be a list of phones linked to your account that are eligible to participate in the beta. Click the Opt-In button for the phone you want to enroll in the program. Accept the terms and conditions and click Confirm and Enroll when you’re finished. 

Next, grab your phone and go to Settings > System > Advanced > System Update > Check for update. Your phone may need a few minutes to show the update, so if you don’t see a pending update the first time you tap on the update button, give it a few minutes and try again. Once your phone does show the update, install it as you would any other update. But this time when your phone reboots, it will be running this early test version of Android 12. 


The Pixel 5a isn’t part of the Android 12 beta program… yet.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Can I leave the Android 12 beta?

If you decide that the Android 12 beta is too buggy or battery life isn’t great, you can leave the beta program. But… and this is a big but… you’ll need to factory reset your phone to go back to Android 11. You should be able to use an old backup to restore your phone to its Android 11 form, but it’s entirely possible you’ll lose some data during the transition. 

To leave the beta, visit the beta website again, but this time click on the Opt-Out button below your device. Wait a minute or two, then check for a software update on your phone in Settings > System > Advanced > System Update > Check for update. Install the update, which will factory reset your phone, and when it’s done you’ll need to set your phone back up, starting with signing in to your Google account. 

My best advice? If you’re unsure about anything with the word “beta” in it, just wait until Android 12 is officially released. To prepare for the launch of Android 12, be sure to check out our favorite hidden features, as well as the features we’ve loved using during the beta.

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