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How to install Android on a Raspberry Pi to turn your mini computer into a smartphone? Step by step guide

With constant technological update, there are different types of devices that have Android installed by default. Apart from smartphones, we find televisions and emulators that allow us to turn a computer into an intelligent equipment.

But if you are developer, surely you want to entertain yourself in a new project and invest time and resources in an innovative idea. And with that intention, we bring this guide that is based on using the incredible Raspberry Pi cards in a bridge so that your mini computer fulfills the functions that a smartphone would have, not as an emulator but as computer that has Android installed on its Micro SD card.

Once the installation is complete, you can use your Raspberry Pi with games, office applications and entertainment, all downloadable from Google play. We create a diagram with the step by step that must be given to install Android on these cards and we will tell you which versions you should choose to avoid having any problems.

Learn step by step how to install the Android operating system on a Raspberry Pi from scratch

The potential of the Android operating system becomes more evident due to the fact that programmers have their source code available, open and configurable when creating their own applications and adapting them to a device, such as a Raspberry Pi.

Let’s see the steps to follow:

Have at hand

Before entering the installation steps, you should know that you are going to need a Raspberry Pi that is one of the highest power and performance.

You will also require the following items:

  • A fountain feeding.
  • A pendrive.
  • A touch screen in case you do it as if it were a smartphone.
  • A computer if you will do it the conventional way. It is recommended to have Windows 10 installed.
  • The Micro SD card of your Raspberry Pi, which must be 10th generation.

Programs to be used

  • As far as software is concerned, you must have LineageOS installed which is open source and free, together with Balena Etcher, which will give the option of flashing the program image on the memory card.
  • Finally, you must have the OpenGapps program, which will provide us with customization options for the applications.

Opengapps official website

Now yes, we start with the steps we must take so that the Android system works smoothly on our Raspberry Pi.

Prepare the Micro SD card

The card must be in perfect condition and it is recommended that it be the original one that your Raspberry Pi brings, so you will avoid installation problems:

  • If we haven’t already done so, let’s install Etcher on the SD card.

Install Etcher on a Micro SD card

  • Out of the three available options, select LineageOS image from the download directory.
  • Now insert the card into the computer, which should be selected automatically. If so, press the option “Flash” to start copying.

Installation on your Raspberry Pi

After you prepare the card, as indicated in the previous step, it may take a few minutes for it to restart:

  • Connect the board to power, it will last a long time in order to have all the settings ready.
  • When I’m done turning on, you will see the wizard to finish setting up.

Android installation wizard in Raspberry

  • In the first instance, set time zone, language and connection wireless.
  • When you give “Next”, the desktop of Android and you will be able to scroll on the screen and use some basic applications such as the browser and email.

Now we go to the installation of the rest of the functions, what includes the Google Play Store for downloading applications. Next, you must take some additional steps, since an official version is not being used.

Therefore, you have to enable the “Developer Options” as follows:

  • Login to “Settings” and at the end of the list, find the option About the tablet”.
  • Locate the file “Build number” and hold down the option for a few seconds.

Build number in Android installation in Raspberry

  • After several attempts, it will indicate that you have enabled the “Developer Features”.
  • Once I grant you the permissions, you go back to “Setting”, you open the system and you will see the development possibilities.
  • You have two options to follow: the first is to go to “Local terminal”, with which you are going to restart in recovery mode or failing that by “Root access”.
  • Now, you hold down the key “F5” and you’re going to reboot the board.
  • When you turn on, you have to observe the available terminal application. When opening it inserts the following command: su rpi4-recovery.sh reboot and then access the permissions requested by the application.
  • Now, it will reboot into recovery mode. When it starts, you can install the Google Play Store.

Complete installation of Google Play

As you know, the only legal and safe way to enjoy all the benefits of Android, is if you have your official store.

Therefore, you must ensure the installation of Google Play:

  • Click on the option “Mount” to mount your USB, go back to the main menu and install by selecting the correct storage key so that all the files appear.
  • Locate the file “Open Gapps” and install your content.
  • At the end of the installation, click on the option “Confirm” and we restart in normal mode.
  • When it turns on, go back to “Mount”.
  • Check that the boot partition is ok and finish the verification by going through “Advanced and Terminal”. In this way, it should be started in normal mode.

Google Play on Raspberry Pi

  • Finally you will see the Google Play Store application, open it and enter with your Gmail account.
  • If it sends you alerts or errors, click on the option “Wait”. It is normal that it happens the first times it is used.

Know the best versions and models of the Raspberry Pi in which you can use Android without problem

It is recommended that the version you are going to buy of Raspberry Pi is the most recent, so you will not have an extra worry about errors in the Android installation:

Raspberry Pi 2 B

Although with a bit of complications due to compatibility issues, it is possible to install the Android system. Its processor is 900MHz and, for this version, the memory was expanded to 1 GB RAM, although it is shared with the graphics.

Raspberry Pi Zero W

A 1GHz processor opens the door to the operating system, although its little RAM memory, only 512Mb, it could be an additional problem. It has in its favor having a port for a camera and the Bluetooth 4.1 system.

Raspberry Pi 3

This version begins to gain ground with respect to its predecessors. Its 1.20GHz Quad-Core processor, combined with 1 GB RAM memory, allows the system to run smoothly and at a good speed.

Raspberry Pi 3 model B +

In this version, the processor increased a bit more to 1.4Ghz, a point in favor for Android, but also Wireless connectivity that went up to 5GHz helps, a highly favorable element for internet connection.

Raspberry Pi 4

Four updates have come out of this model that change each other due to the amount of available memory. Quad-core processor reaches 1.5 GHz, has VideoCore IV and with wireless connections Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac. Includes dual monitor support.

In the case of RAM, you get 1, 2, 4 and up to 8 Gb. Of course, a higher capacity increases the price of the plate a little. As you have seen, each of the models has its advantages. The most recent, for its power and compatibility with new software versions, are located in the position of honor in our list.