I took a leap of faith the other day. It was either brave, or foolhardy, and I haven’t yet decided which. Just before Christmas I bought a Huawei MediaPad M1 8.0 off of eBay, and I have been loving it.
I have caught up with series 2 of Arrow on there, and am planning to start watching The Wire series 2 (again) as well. I read articles I have saved to Pocket, as well as The Week and tablet editions of the Daily Telegraph.
One thing has been bugging me though; it wasn’t operating on the latest version of Android. Lollipop is only just out, so I am not expecting it to use that, however it would be nice if it was running on KitKat. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the tablet, I am just a neophile.

So I did my usual; I started visiting the XDA forums. Folk were talking about rooting the MediaPad, which I didn’t see the need for, as there are no custom ROMs available. But there was mention of KitKat, or a KitKat version, available on a Baidu server somewhere in China. The XDA link is here, and the Baidu page is here. I tried to download the package from the Mega mirror, but after taking an age to download, the website advised that the “file is empty”, so that was gutting.
Then I found something on a Russian website, which said it was for the S8-303L, which I thought was a naming error, so I downloaded that and tried to install it. I should clarify at this stage my tablet’s model is S8-301LV. You need to be very careful with the naming, as there are several similarly-named versions out there. You have to do some extra stuff with the ROM, like extract the “dload” folder and paste that into the tablet’s SD card. Then the download process will recognise that a new version is available. With the Russian 303L version, it started performing its checks and then advised that it couldn’t be installed. Maybe there is actually a S8-303L model, it may be a Russian variant? I also saw someone asking if there was an update for a S8-306L, so maybe there are a couple of different regional variants…?
So, emboldened by the fact that the tablet performed some checks itself before installing the software, I went back to the Baidu webpage and downloaded the zip file. It took an age, but once I had downloaded it, I started the install process. I extracted the dload folder, and then transferred it onto the tablet. Then I ran the local update process.
My heart was in my mouth as the familiar black screen appeared, displaying the green android figure. The various milestones ticked by pretty quickly: checking system, writing modem, flashing etc. Then it got to “writing system”, which took an age, and I was worried that I had bricked it. But eventually that message cleared (probably after only 90 seconds), and the tablet rebooted.
I could see instantly that there was a difference; the splash page had a big “Powered by Android” message at the bottom, which I don’t think was on the previous version. Then it took a while for the homepage to appear, but it did.
I was relieved; I was prepared to end up with a brick. The tablet only cost me £65 off eBay, so if I did destroy it, I wouldn’t have lost much. But someone on XDA had written that it had worked for them, so I was hopeful that it would work. An additional benefit is that voice calling is enabled in the update, I swapped the SIM out of my phone and tested it.
A slight downer is that people are now reporting that an OTA (automatic Over The Air) package is available, and I am slightly worried that the version I have downloaded and installed might not be on the update path, so I may be stuck on KitKat for a while. But, we’ll wait and see how things turn out. So the update is good, but if you are considering installing it, you might want to wait to see whether you get the OTA.
Good luck, people!

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