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DOCOMO XPERIA A (Japanese ZR, aka SO-04E) - UPDATED ROOT AND CUSTOM ROM TUTORIAL

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By axel007, Member on 7th October 2015, 10:21 AM
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[NOTE as of July 2016: the below is provided as-is. I'm no longer watching this thread and I don't provide support for this. You do this at your own risk.]

This is an updated tutorial (as of Oct 2015) to root and upgrade the Japanese Sony Xperia A (SO-04E, Android 4.1.2 or 4.2.2) to Android 4.4.4 and then to Android 5. The Xperia A is the Japanese version of the globally released ZR. In terms of hardware there are two differences: the Xperia A has 32GB internal memory; and its NFC chip set is different from the one in the ZR - which is why NFC applications such as digital wallet (osaifu-keitai) will not work after going through the below steps. The Xperia A has a locked bootloader that cannot be unlocked.

I did not come up with the most important moves here. That was done by others in this thread and this one, notably aperception and mgg4000 (a big thanks to those two!). I only updated some steps that no longer work due to DoCoMo updating their firmware and closing the loopholes exploitable in earlier versions, files getting lost, software features changing etc. I also broke this down into more detail for people who are less familiar with the process of rooting and installing unauthorized ROMs. I have to warn that this will take an inexperienced person at least a few hours, possibly a full day. With complications arising, it could be more.

Also, you need an extra (external) microSD card in your phone for this to work. If you don't have one, you can buy one at convenience or electronics stores. Min 4GB should be fine but more is better considering future need for nandroid backups etc.

Anyway, here we go. In case a file linked to in the tutorial is missing, please see if it's among those I backed up in a Mega account, list at bottom of post.
1. Be sure you have an external SD card as per the comment in the above preamble. Note that at various points in the process the phone will ask you whether to install the Sony PC Companion link. Always skip this.
2. Write down all APN settings of your phone – you will need to manually enter them later.
3. Make sure your phone’s Developer Options are enabled, USB debugging is enabled, and Installing from Unknown Sources is enabled (google if you don’t know this stuff).
4. Install the minimal ADB and Fastboot tools from here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2317790
5. Install Flashtool from here: http://www.flashtool.net/downloads.php . Watch this tutorial to do this and the next steps right: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfD9kT1DVz0
6. Power down your phone, hold down the Lower Volume key and connect phone to PC via USB cable. Flashtool will now show your phone as connected in Flashboot mode.
7. Using Flashtool, flash this to your phone: https://www.dropbox.com/s/p0m8fzv22m..._Hong_Kong.ftf
(or another C5503 Android 4.2.2 firmware – find one on XDA) . In the Flashtool settings, make sure you wipe the APPS_LOG and USERDATA
8. Disconnect and reboot.
9. You should now have a clean install of a Sony C5503 stock firmware. Confirm this in /Settings/About Phone.
10. If you check your Storage now, you will see only 4.59GB available internal memory, even though the Xperia A has 32GB total. To fix this, use Flashtool to flash back one part of the original SO-04E firmware here:
https://ftf.あんどろいどのこと.みんな/
I used 10.3.1.B.2.13 which worked fine. When flashing this, you must wipe the APPS_LOG and USERDATA again, and exclude EVERYTHING except PARTITION. In other words, all items in the Exclude list must be checked, except PARTITION.
11. When this is done, reboot once more and check your storage again. You should now see ~25GB of usable internal space. Yay!
12. Now make sure you have wifi or phone network access. Wifi is easiest. For 4G/LTE you will need to manually enter the APN settings from Step 2 above first. Just one of them, the one you usually use is fine (in the case of DoCoMo, the most common one is moperaU)
13. Once your phone has mobile network (or wifi) access, go through the process of enabling Developer Options, USB Debugging and Installing from Unknown Sources again.
14. Log into the Google Playstore and install SuperSU
15. Now root your device with this: http://rootkitxperia.com/
16. Start SuperSU and set it up. Grant permissions as requested. If the installation is succesful, you have root.
17. Now install custom recovery. Get the latest dual recovery for ZR (installation file, not flashable file) from here: http://nut.xperia-files.com/). With the phone connected, run the English language install .bat
18. When done, power down device. Power it back up. As soon as the LED lights up (in other words, when the Sony logo appears) and until after you feel a brief vibration press any button on the phone repeatedly (e.g. the volume buttons) to enter recovery. The Recovery service will boot up.
At this point, if you haven’t yet, you need to familiarize yourself with Clockwork Recovery.
Wipe the cache partition, the dalvik cache (under Advanced), and wipe data/factory reset.
19. Reboot, connect USB cable and place the following file on your external SD card
https://mega.co.nz/#!4o0jlQ6b!ZVxOj-...9paCqsR1EQBlGU
20. Boot into Recovery, go to the Wipe options and Clean To Install New ROM. Then install the above file from the external SD card (the device has two SD cards, one external and one internal). This will install Android 4.4.4. Once done, choose the option to reboot the device. (When I did this the first time, Recovery warned that Root may be lost and asked whether to fix this. I chose “Yes, fix it” and rebooted. The good news was that Android 4.4.4 was installed correctly. The bad news was that Root was lost. WTH??? You may want to try NOT fixing it, see if that goes any better. The second time I went through these steps with someone else's Xperia A, this problem did not occur.) When the device has rebooted (and root was not lost), SuperSU should be present which means that you still have root. You can also double-check with an application called "Root Checker" from the Playstore. You may also want to check if Recovery is still on the phone and working (by rebooting the phone and pressing the volume keys when the Sony logo appears.) If Recovery is no longer present, go back to step 17 and repeat. Then come back here. If you have both root and Recovery, you can now skip to step 22.

[21. ONLY if you have lost root like I did, follow these instructions to regain Root (the root kit from step 15 will no longer work on this new version you now have; you can use the Flashtool we installed in step 5, no need to download the official Sony one)
http://techbeasts.com/2014/09/18/how...cked-unlocked/
After flashing the two firmwares and rebooting, each time a “repairs in progress” type of screen appeared and shortly thereafter the phone seemed to power down. I had to remove the battery each time to get the thing started again. Also, while on the Nordic firmware, the phone kept vibrating for no reason. This problem disappears when flashing back the second firmware from the above instructions.]

22. You now have a rooted Android 4.4.4. Presumably you will want to move on to the very latest Android version which is Android 5.1.1. Keep in mind that the Xperia A has a locked bootloader so only ROMs that are designed for a LB will work. I installed this one, works perfectly except for NFC:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/xper...ajeev-t3215063

That’s it. Unfortunately, links included in this tutorial are liable to go dead after a while. Here are the ones likely to vanish, duplicated in a Mega account I set up for this.

Step 7: C5503 HK firmware (C5503_10.3.1.A.2.67_Hong_Kong.ftf):
https://mega.nz/#!R1p2wKII!rs9UFrMHN...pk-451sZEpzv34

Step 10: SO-04E firmware (10.3.1.B.2.13):
https://mega.nz/#!UwgHTT7Z!kKHlcPyPO...5op1IOFZ8fUGIU

Step 19: Pre-rooted 4.3.3 (C5503_10.5.1.A.0.283_NCB_PRE-ROOTED_PRFCreator.zip):
https://mega.nz/#!8tQEEJxY!Xd7HoRwWT...2b_LFXsZWRLgBM

Step 21: Nordic firmware (C5503_10.5.A.0.230_Nordic NCB.ftf):
https://mega.nz/#!koIiRISS!fUH-OWT4s...m6N_rSzm9o_m64

Step 21: C5503 Kitkat (C5503_10.5.1.A.0.292_RU.ftf):
https://mega.nz/#!pw4jmIhL!ClHKkkSX1...Kr9IDfhyiqDT9g
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8th October 2015, 07:02 AM |#2  
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Thanks buddy! You meticulously wrote and setup everything. Hope people will be benefited
18th October 2015, 10:28 PM |#3  
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Thank for the tutorial
Quote:
Originally Posted by axel007

This is an updated tutorial (as of Oct 2015) to root and upgrade the Japanese Sony Xperia A (SO-04E, Android 4.2.2) to Android 4.4.4 and then to Android 5. The Xperia A is the Japanese version of the globally released ZR. In terms of hardware there are two differences: the Xperia A has 32GB internal memory; and its NFC chip set is different from the one in the ZR - which is why NFC applications such as digital wallet (osaifu-keitai) will not work after going through the below steps. The Xperia A has a locked bootloader that cannot be unlocked.

I did not come up with the most important moves here. That was done by others in this thread and this one, notably aperception and mgg4000. I only updated some steps that no longer work due to DoCoMo updating their firmware and closing the loopholes exploitable in earlier versions, files getting lost, software features changing etc. I also broke this down into more detail for people who are less familiar with the process of rooting and installing unauthorized ROMs. I have to warn that this will take an inexperienced person at least one full day, and possibly more. You may want to plan two full days. If you are one of the totally clueless you might save yourself the trouble and simply buy a newer phone.

Also, you need an extra (external) microSD card in your phone for this to work. If you don't have one, you can buy one at convenience or electronics stores. Min 4GB should be fine but more is better considering future need for nandroid backups etc.

Anyway, here we go. In case a file linked to in the tutorial is missing, please see if it's among those I backed up in a Mega account, list at bottom of post.
1. Cancel all your appointments, hire a dog walker and tell your wife she had best stay with some friends this weekend.
2. Write down all APN settings of your phone – you will need to manually enter them later.
3. Make sure your phone’s Developer Options are enabled, USB debugging is enabled, and Installing from Unknown Sources is enabled (google if you don’t know this stuff).
4. Install the minimal ADB and Fastboot tools from here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2317790
5. Install Flashtool from here: http://www.flashtool.net/downloads.php . Watch this tutorial to do this and the next steps right: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfD9kT1DVz0
6. Power down your phone, hold down the Lower Volume key and connect phone to PC via USB cable. Flashtool will now show your phone as connected in Flashboot mode.
7. Using Flashtool, flash this to your phone: https://www.dropbox.com/s/p0m8fzv22m..._Hong_Kong.ftf
(or another C5503 Android 4.4.2 firmware – find one on XDA) . In the Flashtool settings, make sure you wipe the APPS_LOG, and check none of the Exclude items; if after this process the phone keeps rebooting, flash the same thing again, this time also wiping USERDATA)
8. Disconnect and reboot. If any trouble, see my comment above in brackets (under point 7).
9. You should now have a clean install of a Sony C5503 stock firmware. Confirm this in /Settings/About Phone.
10. If you check your Storage now, you will see only 4.59GB available internal memory, even though the Xperia A has 32GB total. To fix this, use Flashtool to flash back one part of the original SO-04E firmware here:
https://ftf.あんどろいどのこと.みんな/
I used 10.3.1.B.2.13 which worked fine. When flashing this, you must wipe the APPS_LOG (and maybe USERDATA) again, and exclude EVERYTHING except PARTITION. In other words, all items in the Exclude list must be checked, except PARTITION.
11. When this is done, reboot once more and check your storage again. You should now see ~25GB of usable internal space. Yay!
12. Now make sure you have phone network access. For 4G/LTE you will need to manually enter the APN settings from Step 2 above first. Just one of them, the one you usually use is fine (in the case of DoCoMo, the most common one is moperaU) (Or, instead of messing around with the LTE and APN settings - which takes time and will need to be repeated several more times if you want to use your mobile network connection for downloads - enable Wifi; this will usually be easier.)
13. Once your phone has mobile network (or wifi) access, go through the process of enabling Developer Options, USB Debugging and Installing from Unknown Sources again.
14. Log into the Google Playstore and install SuperSU
15. Now root your device with this: http://rootkitxperia.com/
16. Start SuperSU and set it up. Use a root checker from the Playstore to confirm it’s done.
17. Now install custom recovery. Get the file from here:
https://onedrive.live.com/?id=D419E7...&action=locate (or presumably the latest dual recovery for ZR from here will also work fine: http://nut.xperia-files.com/). With the phone connected, run the English language install .bat
18. When done, power down device. Power it back up. As soon as the LED lights up (in other words, when the Sony logo appears) and until after you feel a brief vibration press any button on the phone repeatedly (e.g. the volume buttons) to enter recovery. The Clockwork Recovery service will boot up.
At this point, if you haven’t yet, you need to familiarize yourself with Clockwork Recovery.
Wipe the cache partition, the dalvik cache (under Advanced), and wipe data/factory reset. Once you reboot, you will once again need to reestablish Playstore access etc.
19. Now place the following file on your external SD card
https://mega.co.nz/#!4o0jlQ6b!ZVxOj-...9paCqsR1EQBlGU
20. Boot into Recovery, wipe cache and do a factory reset. Then install the above file from the external SD card (the device has two SD cards, one external and one internal). This will install Android 4.4.4. Once done, power off the device using the according command in Recovery. When I did this, Recovery warned that Root may be lost and asked whether to fix this. I chose “Yes, fix it” and rebooted. The good news was that Android 4.4.4 was installed correctly. The bad news was that Root was lost. WTH??? You may want to try NOT fixing it, see if that goes any better. Anyway, install SuperSU and the root checker from the Playstore and see if you have root or not. If yes, skip to step 22.
21. ONLY if you have lost root like I did, follow these instructions to regain Root (the root kit from step 15 will no longer work on this new version you now have; you can use the Flashtool we installed in step 5, no need to download the official Sony one)
http://techbeasts.com/2014/09/18/how...cked-unlocked/
After flashing the two firmwares and rebooting, each time a “repairs in progress” type of screen appeared and shortly thereafter the phone seemed to power down. I had to remove the battery each time to get the thing started again. Also, while on the Nordic firmware, the phone kept vibrating for no reason. This problem disappears when flashing back the second firmware from the above instructions.
22. You now have a rooted Android 4.4.4. Presumably you will want to move on to the very latest Android version which is Android 5.1.1. Keep in mind that the Xperia A has a locked bootloader so only ROMs that are designed for a LB will work. I installed this one, works perfectly except for NFC:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/xper...ajeev-t3215063

That’s it. Unfortunately, links included in this tutorial are liable to go dead after a while. Here are the ones likely to vanish, duplicated in a Mega account I set up for this.

Step 7: C5503 HK firmware (C5503_10.3.1.A.2.67_Hong_Kong.ftf):
https://mega.nz/#!R1p2wKII!rs9UFrMHN...pk-451sZEpzv34

Step 10: SO-04E firmware (10.3.1.B.2.13):
https://mega.nz/#!UwgHTT7Z!kKHlcPyPO...5op1IOFZ8fUGIU

Step 19: Pre-rooted 4.3.3 (C5503_10.5.1.A.0.283_NCB_PRE-ROOTED_PRFCreator.zip):
https://mega.nz/#!8tQEEJxY!Xd7HoRwWT...2b_LFXsZWRLgBM

Step 21: Nordic firmware (C5503_10.5.A.0.230_Nordic NCB.ftf):
https://mega.nz/#!koIiRISS!fUH-OWT4s...m6N_rSzm9o_m64

Step 21: C5503 Kitkat (C5503_10.5.1.A.0.292_RU.ftf): https://mega.nz/#!pw4jmIhL!ClHKkkSX1...Kr9IDfhyiqDT9g

2 things:
1. What is the "decryption key" for the mega links?
2. I flashed my so-04e previously in a similar procedure, but SOMEHOW corrupted my TA partition. I think it's the TA because the phone will not acquire a signal and when reflashing in flashtool one of the rolling messages is something about TA I never saw before. I'm wondering if maybe I'm bricked. I think it happened with I wiped the data partition in order for the phone to recognize the extra internal memory.
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19th October 2015, 12:25 AM |#4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jatyeo

2 things:
1. What is the "decryption key" for the mega links?
2. I flashed my so-04e previously in a similar procedure, but SOMEHOW corrupted my TA partition. I think it's the TA because the phone will not acquire a signal and when reflashing in flashtool one of the rolling messages is something about TA I never saw before. I'm wondering if maybe I'm bricked. I think it happened with I wiped the data partition in order for the phone to recognize the extra internal memory.

Jatyeo,

Regarding the second question, I have no idea. I am not technically informed, I just hammered together the tutorial based on what I could find here and there and made it consistent.

Regarding the first question, I did not realize that Mega downloads require a decryption key. Can you please try the following link and let me know if this works? The key is part of the link. This is the HK firmware.


https://mega.nz/#!R1p2wKII!rs9UFrMHN...pk-451sZEpzv34
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19th October 2015, 01:59 AM |#5  
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This link works now, can you fix the rest?
19th October 2015, 02:16 AM |#6  
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All links updated, pls confirm back that they work for you.
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22nd October 2015, 07:53 AM |#7  
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All working
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26th October 2015, 05:24 PM |#8  
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Nice work bro. Keep up the good work..
28th October 2015, 05:12 PM |#9  
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Any chance you speak Japanese?
3rd November 2015, 07:54 AM |#10  
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By the way, the "above instructions" in 21 don't exist because the link is dead, I see you appended the file at the end of the description but there are no instructions.
3rd November 2015, 08:45 AM |#11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jatyeo

By the way, the "above instructions" in 21 don't exist because the link is dead, I see you appended the file at the end of the description but there are no instructions.

I have no idea what you mean by this.

To answer your other question: yes, I speak Japanese.

And to answer your question from the other thread: as you can see, I am being very detailed with this tutorial. If there were any special points to keep in mind with the PureX ROM I link to in step 22, I would mention them. That is, as far as I know. I had no problems with it. It installed flawlessly and works great.
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