Turns out getting the Android 5.1 update for Nexus 6 on AT&T takes a little extra effort – here’s how

Turns out getting the Android 5.1 update for Nexus 6 on AT&T takes a little extra effort – here’s how
This past weekend, we shared the word that it looked like the AT&T branded Nexus 6 was getting the Android 5.1 Lollipop update. However, a lot of people (including our own AT&T device) did not seem to be getting much by way of any notification that the update was making progress.

Looking at AT&T’s support page for the Nexus 6 shows that the current OS build is still Android 5.0.1, released back in January.

As it happens, it appears it was a bit of a fluke that the update was received, okay not a fluke, let us call it, “an alternate route.” For all the awesomeness of the Nexus 6 and Android Lollipop, there are a few annoying bugs in the hardware and software’s behavior. So what gives? Well it appears that Google and Motorola are not in as much control over system updates as we would hope. The Android 5.1 update for the AT&T Nexus 6 is apparently slated for an official rollout in June. June?

If you are not the type of person that likes to mess with bootloaders and sideloading, there is a remedy, and we got it to work on our own AT&T branded Nexus 6 for good measure. Follow these steps to grab the Android 5.1 update:

  1. Backup your Nexus 6 (go to “settings” >> “backup & reset” >> select an account to back-up by clicking on “backup” and selecting the account you want to backup)
  2. Remove your SIM card
  3. Reset your Nexus 6 (go to “settings” >> “backup & reset” >> “factory reset data”)
  4. Restore your Nexus 6 during set-up but DO NOT insert your SIM card

That last step is the key. Connect your device to your Wi-Fi network, and allow it to restore sans-SIM card. You will then see the prompt to update your Nexus 6 to Android 5.1 Lollipop. Once the update is complete, reinsert your SIM card and enjoy all the enhancements of Google’s latest version of Android. This process gives you the benefit of an OTA update without having to erase everything and start from scratch thanks to Google’s great back-up features.

While we discuss that, the looming issue is how Google and the carriers manage what is fragmentation at the very top of the Nexus food-chain. Branded Nexus devices, and perhaps even non-branded Nexus devices, may be at the whim of the carriers when it comes to system updates. What used to be a timely update window measured in weeks, may now be a process that spans months. Google's own Nexus support page denotes, "Based on your carrier, it may take longer than two weeks after release to get an update."

Did this update method work for you? Are you using a Google Play purchased Nexus 6 on AT&T and have you received the update yet?

source: Android Guys



1. Bjray

Posts: 199; Member since: May 29, 2014

Why do carriers even care about the core OS on Nexus devices... It's not like their deeply integrated as other OEM devices. Just a app or two... Nothing to warrant delaying updates months at a time.

2. mike2959

Posts: 696; Member since: Oct 08, 2011

More proof it's not the carrier's or OEM's, it's Google. Always has been.

3. Awalker

Posts: 1981; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Let me get this straight. You think Google is forcing AT&T to hold the update back, right?

4. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

You sound ridiculous. Google releases the update to carriers and OEM's at the same time. Its on them to then update the device.

5. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

I believe I said something on here about this method Sunday. It works like a charm and no AT&T bloatware.

6. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I really am getting fed up with Google and Android. I bought an AT&T Nexus 6 because they promised earlier access to updates. But June is not early for something that is available now. Despite what Google might say about the benefits of Android the truth seems to be fragmentation is a bigger mess than ever. But are there any real alternatives? WP seems to be sticking to the low and middle priced phone market which is not for me. Apple is just too inflexible for me. And as much as I used to like BlackBerry their future does not look very good.

7. Sean22

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

Any chance this would work on a Google Play Store purchased device that's working on the Verizon network although not "officially " just a Sim swap. Trust me I tried to give them the IMEI number and they won't add the device and yes the rep sent a request to add it and yes they still denied it for "security concerns" to their network despite the fact I'm typing from my N6 on their network at the moment

16. _zZz_

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 27, 2015

I've done it last night. It works Motorola bough Nexus 6 used in Verizon. 5.1 update was not available. By following this method (sim removal) I am now in 5.1 Still wondering why Verizon was not allowing it... The nexus 6 sold by them has 5.1!

8. gsw90405

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

THANKS!!! Have a T-Mobile Nexus 6 that failed to update. T-Mobile tech, via phone, unable to help, sent me to store for update, stores don't have diagnostic tool to do it, told update is OTA...tried T-mobile phone tech a second time; ha. FAIL, transferred me to Motorola service. FAIL: they told me update not available yet for T-Mobile. Tried your ATT Trick. Worked like a Charm. recommend this trick for any other T-Mobile Nexus 6 users with same issue. Thanks...this blog has a new fan.

11. Nobodey

Posts: 76; Member since: Jan 03, 2010

I was REALLY hoping someone would verify it would work for a TMO device. You thank the article, and I thank you. =) I really didn't want to wipe my device if I wasn't sure it would work. =)

9. heartrem

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

this seems to have worked exactly as described for me on my google play nexus 6 that is used with att sim thank you phonearena

10. osirhc

Posts: 2; Member since: Apr 25, 2012

I think this is ridiculous. Why is the service provider in charge of software updates for phones? It makes no sense; the service provider should be focused on the service. The phone manufacturers and their software developers should be focused on the phones. Furthering this nonsensical situation is the issue that the Nexus 6 suffers from a few huge performance based software problems. For example, my Nexus 6 has issues connecting to and using WiFi networks. I am also experiencing my Nexus randomly shutting itself down, requiring me to turn it back on. I miss calls and other important correspondences because of this. It even shut off while I was on an active call once. These issues actually directly relate back to my service. If AT&T was focused on providing the best possible service and quality thereof, given they are apparently in charge of software updates, then why on earth would they delay a software update that would fix these service related and performance issues for their customers? I'm very unhappy with AT&T, and furthermore unhappy because I believed that Nexus phones were supposed to receive priority when it comes to updates over other phones. Notice how this doesn't happen with Apple devices? When a new iOS update rolls out Apple user is able to download and install it the day it's released. What gives? Every other carrier has rolled out, is starting to roll out, or has already preinstalled this update to their Nexus 6 customers. This lack of customer service and support on AT&T's end is as astonishing as it is frustrating. That being said, I very much appreciate this little work around. I was very unsure about sideloading the new update to my phone as I do not wish to start hacking this device just yet. I will be doing this method so I can finally receive the 5.1 update later today.

12. deoncar08

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

worked like a charm.... just sad i had to do this.... thinking that buying this nexus 6 would give me all OTA updates first...

13. Nobodey

Posts: 76; Member since: Jan 03, 2010

What I don't get is.. why? I mean they are the exact same phone between the carriers, right? No addons, no differences that I can think of.. So why can't the update be put out and the carriers just go.. "Here ya go!"?

21. Stormprobe

Posts: 5; Member since: Jul 10, 2013

The only reason I can think of is they want to hold back a few months in case there are bugs they don't want to deal with.

14. Sean22

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

So I tried this on a Google Play Store edition N6 working with a swapped Sim on Verizon and it worked like a charm. Well played phone arena, well played!

15. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

had a similar experience with my Nexus 6. i had just received a new one from Motorola to replace the one i had broken and since it was the T-Mobile version that's what i received. i use Verizon service with my Nexus 6 and since the Verizon Nexus 6 already has Android 5.1 i didn't expect to receive the OTA so i flashed it on my old phone. the replacement phone i received was pre-loaded with an inactive T-Mobile SIM so as soon as i set it up it prompted me to do the update. maybe everyone with a Nexus 6 should just get an inactive T-Mobile SIM.

17. _zZz_

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 27, 2015

I've done it last night with Verizon. It works Motorola bough Nexus 6 used in Verizon. 5.1 update was not available. By following this method (sim removal) I am now in 5.1 Still wondering why Verizon was not allowing it... The nexus 6 sold by them has 5.1!

18. JoeJoe1

Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 27, 2015

it did work with Tmobile (nexus 6) it's very easy just restore it then you go through the set up process you did like the 1st time going through the user email set up wifi etc.... when that screen comes up where it says check for update just ignore that part when it reach's the home screen this white page would pop out saying to update to Google 5.1

19. cacchip

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 28, 2015

I just did this with a T-Mobile nexus 6 but it seems to be taking forever. Did anyone else have this experience?

20. jwtruver

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 28, 2015

Followed your instructions and worked like a charm. Thanks! Plus the new update took care of my phone refusing to drop down from LTE to H when LTE signal was poor. Autoswitching with no problem now. Thanks again!

22. chambec

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

After attempting these instructions multiple times, i have failed to get the update option. Im not sure what im doing wrong or if there is a step that im not quite understanding of it im not getting the timing right considering that the instructions are really straight forward. any help would be greatly appreciated.

23. djacks

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

I am also NOT getting any update option having followed these instructions. I have a T-Mobile Nexus 6 and have for the past week kept checking if there are any updates available - I am currently on 5.0.1 Build LRX22C which is the correct version that T-Mobile are supposed to be updating from. Anyway, I tried this method documented above, wiped the phone, removed the SIM and rebooted let it go through the email address and wifi option, then it went straight into restoring all apps . Never suggested there was any update available. So having spent 45 minutes on this, I have now put the SIM back in and sorted out my restored apps. I guess I will have to wait for T-Mobile to get around to pushing the 5.1 update to me sometime.

27. Kydex30

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 29, 2015

It worked! I also have a T-Mobile Nexus 6. The only thing I did differently from you was that I did not restore my apps during setup. Instead when asked to choose a backup to restore from I chose "Set up as a new device". And voila! Could make a difference ...

24. whydidigetanexus6

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

Thanks for the instructions on updating. Well done. With that said, I'm super glad I paid for the premium flagship Nexus 6. What a giant pain to have to do work arounds like this to get an OS update that was rolled out to less expensive current devices with no hassel.

25. Nobodey

Posts: 76; Member since: Jan 03, 2010

Has it though? What other devices currently have 5.1? I know its been announced for some HTC's, but actually released? I might be wrong, but I think its still just the Nexus 6. =)

26. Npalumbo89

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 05, 2015

I was able to download the update but i have twrp installed and when the phone rebooted to install it just booted to the recovery and i had no option to install. anyone have this issue?

28. youngjsyn

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 18, 2015

This method worked for me and I'm using Cricket Wireless (an AT&T MVNO or subsidiary). I bought my Nexus 6 in early September 2015 and the only update I received was when I first setup the phone and it went from Android 5.0 to 5.0.1. I was confused since I knew that in September 2015 I should've been up to date already with 5.1.1. This article was very helpful and useful and now I'm rocking the Nexus 6 on 5.1.1 with LMY48M which is the latest version!

29. Stormprobe

Posts: 5; Member since: Jul 10, 2013

Does this method also work for updating to 6.0 Marshmallow?

30. youngjsyn

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 18, 2015

My update to 6.0 Marshmallow was SO easy. The notification popped up on my phone like normal.

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