How to update your Verizon S5 from KitKat to Lollipop without losing root or your apps

As usual, everything that would be routine on the desktop is infinitely harder and hacky on mobile.

As with previous guides, this one is more detailed version/composite of forum posts, which are linked to. The aim here is to make the process easily understandable for those who aren’t used to flashing or rooting. It applies to the Samsung SM-G900V only.

Phase -1 (OPTIONAL, for adventurous rooted KitKat users): Take the Lollipop OTA update

Yes, you will lose root in the process. But you’ll also get your apps and data updated in-place to Lollipop and ART, thus possibly reducing the odds of CPU/battery life/heat problems later. I haven’t tried this myself, but it’s an idea. Remember to unfreeze/restore any apps you may have disabled or frozen via Titanium Backup first, or the OTA may fail.

Phase 0: Back up all your apps and data

  1. Ensure you have a 32+ GB microSD card installed. The entire update process relies on external storage, and the last thing you want is run out of space.
  2. Back up your apps and data. This guide uses Titanium Backup Pro (TBP), which is the most widely used and thus has the most community support. Unfortunately, it requires root in the first place, which means unrooted users on Lollipop will have to try an alternative such as Helium.* The basic process should still be the same, however: backup your apps and data initially, then restore your data only (if coming from KitKat, to avoid ART & Dalvik conflicts) afterwards.
    1. Install TBP.
    2. Open TBP.
    3. Set the location of the backup folder:
      1. Tap MENU.
      2. Tap Preferences …
      3. Ensure Auto-sync TB settings is checked.
      4. Under Backup settings, tap Backup folder location.
      5. Select (or create if one doesn’t already exist) a folder on your SD card.
      6. Tap Use the current folder to save your setting.
    4. Return to the app’s front page and tap the batch ✔ icon to the left of MENU.
    5. Under Backup, tap RUN for Backup all user apps.
    6. Tap SELECT ALL. If you have Microsoft Office installed, uncheck it. For some reason TBP chokes when attempting to restore data for it, so just omit it.
    7. Ensure the Pause active apps radio button is engaged. This will ensure all your apps get backed up even if they’re currently running.
    8. Tap the ✔ icon and wait for the backup process to complete. It may take a while depending on how many apps you have, so be patient. When that process completes, head to Phase 1.

Phase 1: Download the rooted Lollipop ROM and the recovery environment needed to install it

  1. Download to the top level directory of your SD card. A top level location makes the file easier to find in Safestrap, whose UI is extremely basic.
  2. Download Safestrap-G900V-3.75-KitKat.apk to your SD card.
  3. If you’re on Lollipop, proceed to Phase 2. If you’re on KitKat, proceed to Phase 3.

Phase 2 (unrooted Lollipop only): Downgrade to the KitKat NK2 build

  1. Follow the steps here.
  2. Proceed to Phase 3.

Phase 3: Install Safestrap

  1. Follow the HOW DO I INSTALL SAFESTRAP? instructions here.

Phase 4: Update to the rooted Lollipop ROM

  1. Follow the instructions here.
  2. Upon booting into Lollipop, the OS will ask if you’d like to restore your apps from your previous device. Accept the offer. Note that this will NOT restore the data associated with these apps, despite the prompt’s claim. You’ll do actual data restoration in a later phase. If you’re on a metered data plan, be sure to connect to Wi-Fi as soon as you can to prevent your data being used for app downloads. Wait for the reinstallation process to complete.

Phase 5: Restore your app data

  1. Reinstall TBP.
  2. Set TBP’s backup folder to be the same one you selected in Phase 0 above. This should load not only the backups you made but your previous settings also.
  3. Return to the app’s front page and tap the batch ✔ icon to the left of MENU.
  4. Under Restore, tap RUN for Restore all apps with data.
  5. Tap SELECT ALL.
  6. Ensure the Data only radio button is engaged.
  7. Ensure Exclude system APKs is checked.
  8. Tap the ✔ icon and wait for the restore process to complete. Note that some system apps, such as Smart Remote, won’t be restored and so you’ll have to set them up from scratch instead. If you are coming from rooted KitKat originally, I would not suggest you try to restore them either as they could have been under the hood changes that may not play well with the restored data.

Phase 6 (Optional): Wipe your system cache

  1. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s useful in case you have CPU usage/battery drain/heat issues after the update. Follow these instructions.

* Having never used Helium before, I can’t provide or verify any instructions for it. Sorry.