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Fortnite Chapter 2: How to download and install it on Android phones with less headaches

The wildly popular game Fortnite is a complete mess to install on Android phones, and may not work on them all. Here's how to get it, if you can.

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In August 2018, Fortnite came to a small number of Android phones. With a slew of new phones and Fortnite Chapter 2, we wanted to revisit the process of installing Fortnite on Android.

Charlie Wagner/CNET

If you want to play Fortnite Chapter 2, the battle-royale shooter game that follows the wildly popular Fortnite Season 10 (which ended with a devastating black hole that destroyed everything and left the game in flux), you won't find it in the Google Play Store. The only way to access the game's new map, mechanics like weapon upgrades and a wealth of other changes on Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 ($750 at Amazon) and Google Pixel 4 is to install it yourself. 

Why, when Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, offers the game on the PS4, Xbox One, Mac, PC, Nintendo Switch ($299 at Walmart) and iPhone ($699 at Amazon)? Because Google takes a 30% cut of all in-app purchases, which Epic was unwilling to pay. Apple does the same thing in its App Store, yet it actually hosts the game download.

In 2018, Epic's CEO Tim Sweeney told TechCrunch, "On open platforms like PC, Mac and Android, Epic's goal is to bring its games directly to customers. We believe gamers will benefit from competition among software sources on Android."

Epic came up with a clever, albeit risky, way to get the game onto most Android phones without going through Google's app store: sideload it. Sideloading is when you install an app from anywhere but the official app store; in this case Google Play. It requires you to sidestep security on your phone to install the app, which could make your device vulnerable to malware or viruses. And that's a pretty big downside. For me, no game or app is worth that kind of risk. And yet, the growing popularity of Fortnite allows Epic Games to go this route.

Read more about the security problems Fortnite had on Android and why it's unlikely the game will ever come to the Google Play store

Here is the overview of loading Fortnite onto an Android phone: install Epic Games APK, install Epic Games app, install Fortnite app, install Fortnite. Watch the video below to follow our step-by-step guide.

Determine if your phone is Fortnite-compatible

Unfortunately, not all Android phones can handle Fortnite. Here's what you need to run Fortnite: 

  • Android 8.0 or newer
  • At least 4GB of RAM
  • Ability to run 64-bit apps
  • One of the following GPUs: Adreno 530 or higher, Mali-G71 MP20, Mali-G72 MP12 or higher

Basically, you need a higher-end phone like a Galaxy S8 ($390 at Amazon) or newer, or an LG G5 ($100 at Amazon) or newer. In other words, a budget phone like the Motorola Moto G7 ($158 at Walmart) won't cut it.

If you go to Epic's website from your Android phone, there's a list of supported devices.

Download Epic Games APK file

To start the process of getting Fortnite onto your phone, you need to get the EpicGamesApp.apk file. APK stands for Android Package Kit and is used to distribute and install apps.

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Go to the Epic Games website to download the EpicGamesApp.apk file.

Charlie Wagner/CNET

There are a few ways to get it. If you're on a Samsung phone, go to the Galaxy Store app and download it there. If you have a newer Sony Xperia phone, there should be an icon on the home screen. Otherwise, from your phone's browser search for Fortnite Android and go to Epic's website. Tap the yellow Download button and follow the prompts. By the way, on a Mac of PC, you can go to Epic's Android page and use the QR code to get the same APK file.

Download the Epic Games Android app

1. Start to download the EpicGamesApp APK file. A warning will pop up asking you to approve the download.

2. Open the APK file by going into the downloads folder of your browser (like Chrome Downloads) and tapping the EpicGamesApp.apk file. A pop-up will warn that "for your security your phone is not allowed to install unknown apps from this source."

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This is likely the most risky part of installing Fortnite. 

Charlie Wagner/CNET

3. You'll be prompted to update your browser settings to allow you to open the APK file -- "Install unknown apps - allow from this source."

4. A pop-up window that reads, "Do you want to install this application? It does not require special access." Approve to download the Epic Games app.

Download Fortnite app

1. Open the Epic Games app and tap on the Fortnite banner.

2. You'll either have the option to install the Fortnite app or be told that your device isn't compatible.

3. Assuming your device is compatible, tap the Install button.

4. A pop-up window will inform you that the game needs to take up space on your phone.

5. Allow Epic access to your device's photos, media and files. The Fortnite app will install. This can take a few minutes.

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This is one of several "install" buttons you'll encounter during the process.

Charlie Wagner/CNET

6. A security window about Epic Games will pop up. You'll have to enable "allow from source" in order to install Fortnite.

7. Another window will appear, prompting you to install Fornite. Click Install.

Install Fornite for Android

1. Open the Fortnite app and enable the app access to your storage, contacts and microphone.

2. If your phone is running a new version of Android, like the Pixel 4 running Android 10, you might see a window pop up letting you know that Fortnite was built for an older version of Android.

3. Log in to your Epic Games account.

4. Finally, you'll be asked to install the meat of the game, which occupies 5.63GB of storage.

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The final install button will download 5.63GB worth of files for the game.

Charlie Wagner/CNET

5. Play the game.

6. Fortnite might need to download additional hi-res photos. But other than that, you should be good to go and play Fortnite!

You won't be prompted to do this, but once you're up and running, it's a good idea to disable "allow from source" installs. Doing so will help prevent some malware and viruses from getting a foothold.

Go to Settings > Apps & notification > Advanced > Special app access > Install Unknown apps and choose Epic Games. Then slide the Allow from this device button to off.

Read more: What's new in Fortnite: Chapter 2.

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Originally posted earlier this month.