Although it appears Android 5.0 (Key Lime Pie) remains well beyond the immediate horizon, Jelly Bean's upcoming point release (4.3) is managing to find its way onto Samsung Galaxy S4 handsets. While not available through official channels, a Galaxy S4-compatible test build of 4.3 has hit the scene; purportedly, it's fully-functional and installable with no necessary modifications.

When it comes to compatibility, the ROM upgrade appears to work on Samsung's standard-issue Galaxy S4 (GT-I9505) and its unadulterated Google Play Edition (GT-I9505G). It's good to see a fully-operational test build materialize so soon, since the lag-time between Google and a carrier release is often times more than a few months.

According to some who've already tinkered with it, Android 4.3 seems to be essentially a maintenance release with mostly "under the hood" improvements. Some of the changes include the addition of Bluetooth tethering for S4 owners, low-energy Bluetooth support and a feature which allows location services to scan for Wi-Fi hotspots even while Wi-Fi is disabled. Tinkerers will also be pleased to find a new camera app, more developer options and a number of other small tweaks.

Here is the installation process:

  • Backup your stuff! Installing 4.3 requires a clean install.
  • Copy the Android 4.3 ROM to your internal memory card
  • Hold Power + Volume Up + Home buttons to enter recovery mode
  • Perform a factory reset
  • Flash your device with the ROM
  • Reboot

Presumably, flashing your S4 to 4.3 is a warranty-voider, so upgrading is only recommended only for adventurers and preferably those already skilled in (and recovering from) flashing Android device ROMs.