My first experience with Android phones

Duc A. Hoang 08 Aug 2018 16 Nov 2018 linux

Summary

Recently, my iPhone 5 has been broken. I got a chance to play with an old phone of my sister–a Sony Xperia SP C5303. In this post, I described my experience with installing Android and other apps in this phone.


Unlocking Bootloader

Originally, the phone was installed with a Sony’s version of Android JellyBean 4.3. The system works OK. However, I want to install some Android 8 custom ROMs in this phone. To do that, I need to unlock the phone’s bootloader, as instructed here. Unfortunately, the process somehow does not work with my Windows 10 64-bit, and I have to switch to a computer with Windows 7 32-bit. The steps are as follows.

  1. Check if the phone’s bootloader can be unlocked: Type *#*#7378423#*#*#, then choose Service info --> Configuration --> Rooting status.
    • Bootloader unlocked : Yes (The phone’s bootloader has been unlocked).
    • Bootloader unlock allowed : Yes (The phone’s bootloader has not been unlocked).
    • Bootloader unlock allowed : No (The phone’s bootloader cannot be unlocked).
  2. Install the device drivers and platform tools.
    • For Windows: Download and install the latest USB drivers. Follow the instructions on the site.
  3. Download and extract the Platform tools zip file.
  4. On your device, turn on USB debugging by going to Settings --> Developer options and click to enable USB debugging. For Android 4.2+, the Developer options are hidden by default. To enable, tap on Settings --> About Phone --> Build Version multiple times (around 7 times).
  5. Connect to Fastboot
    • Turn off your device.
    • Connect a USB-cable to your computer.
    • On your device, press the Volume up key at the same time as you connect the other end of the USB-cable.
    • When your device is connected, open a command window on your computer and go to the platform-tools folder within the Android SDK folder. Enter fastboot devices and verify that you get an answer back without any error.
  6. Enter the unlock key taken from Sony, using the command fastboot -i 0x0fce oem unlock 0x[insert your unlock code]

For steps 2 and 3, I recommend download and install KingoRoot. It automatically installs the USB drivers of your phone, and contains a collection of SDK platform tools which we can use.

TWRP Recovery

To flash a customed ROM to the phone, I need TWRP Recovery. Basically, what I did are:

Rooting the device

The instruction is here.

Some apps I installed

  • SuperSU: For managing root access.
  • K-9 Mail and OpenKeychain: For sending email with my PGP signature. Other interesting features of K-9 Mail are exporting/importing app settings, and using dark theme.
  • Orbot: For browsing Internet with Tor.
  • Termux and BusyBox: For playing with Linux commands in Android. You may also need Hacker's Keyboard. At the first time using Termux, you should use the command termux-setup-storage to allow Termux access to your storage devices.
  • SHAREit: For sharing files among different devices.
  • VLC: For playing audio and video files. An interesting feature is that it allows the option for playing music in the background.

Screenshot

Here are some screenshots from the phone after I completed the configuration and settings.