How to Update Your Windows Phone 8 Smartphone

I recently got my hands on a Windows Phone 8 and I am happy to start covering this new mobile operating system. Like any other smartphone user, one of the very first things I had to do, was to update my phone. In Windows Phone 7.5 this process was a bit cumbersome and I did not know what to expect from Windows Phone 8. Is the process simpler, faster, better? Let's learn the answers to these questions together, from this tutorial.

Prerequisites - Read This Before You Move Forward

Before you do any work on updating the phone, double check that your battery has plenty of juice. During updates, it is best to have the battery full or almost full. You do not want to make any updates when it is only at 10-20% of its capacity.

Also, a working Wi-Fi connection is a better choice than the 3G or 4G network of your telecom provider. You might get better download speeds, making the process faster and you will save on bandwidth costs.

Then, if you are about to install a major update that fixes bugs in the operating system, adds new features, etc arm yourself with some time and patience. Don't expect this to be over in 10-15 minutes. Reserve at least 30 minutes for the whole process.

How to Find Info About Updates & Update Settings

On your Windows Phone 8, go to Settings. Then, in the system tab, scroll down until you find "phone update" and tap on it.

The phone update window opens. There you can see the Update status line.

If something is available, you will be informed that "An update is ready to install". If not, Windows Phone 8 will say that "Your phone is up to date. Last checked... X minutes (hours) ago."

Here, make sure you check the box for "Tell me when updates are available for my phone". This way Windows Phone will actively inform you when new updates are available. Otherwise, you will have to manually check yourself.

If you don't have a generous data plan from your telecom provider, you might not want updates to be downloaded when connected to the 3G or 4G network. Therefore, it is best for you to uncheck the option which says "Automatically download updates if my data settings allow it".

How to Install Minor System Updates

It can happen that Windows Phone 8 needs to install minor updates like text suggestions for a new language you activated. Luckily, such updates are downloaded in the background and their installation is over quickly. You should be done in 5 to 10 minutes. Let's see the process involved:

When Windows Phone 8 says that "An update is ready to install", tap on "show details". A brief description is displayed. Read it and, if you are OK to go ahead, tap install.

The update process starts with a restart and then performs another one. You won't be able to log into your phone between these two restarts.

Then, the update process continues. Minor updates are installed quickly, so you won't wait long. When done, Windows Phone 8 informs you that the update was completed and displays a summary of what was installed.

Tap done. Now you can log into your phone. Enter your SIM PIN and that's it. The phone is up to date.

How to Install Major System Updates

Major updates generally include bug fixes, improvements and new features added to the core operating systems. Such updates take a lot longer and it is very important that your phone is not shut down during the process and that it doesn't run out of battery power. Also, major updates are downloaded only with your explicit approval.

When you are informed that an update is ready for download, tap the download button.

The download process will take awhile, depending on its size and the speed of your internet connection.

Once the update is downloaded, Windows Phone 8 is preparing to install it. This preparation can take a long time too, depending on your phone, the size of the update and how much data needs to be backed up.

If your phone seems stuck at "Preparing to install 100%" do not worry and do not shut down your phone. Apparently this is normal and it can happen for some updates. A few people reported waiting even 30 minutes until the update process continued to the next step. My maximum wait time was 15 minutes until this step was over.

Next you are informed that the update is ready to be installed and that you won't be able to use your phone during the process. When ready, tap install.

The phone restarts and then it shows some wheels spinning. It means that the upgrade is underway.

After a while, another restart is performed and then comes the process of migrating your data. This doesn't take long and the update is completed. When informed about this, tap done.

Enter your SIM PIN and that's it. The phone is up to date.


While updating my new Windows Phone 8 for the first time, I was happy to see that the update process is smoother and less complex than it was for Windows Phone 7.5. The fact that you are not required to connect the phone to a computer and have a piece of software do the updating is a big plus. Before you go, do share with us your updating experience. Was it fast? Did everything work well?