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ROG 2 phone soft bricked

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gaya4

Member
Apr 7, 2013
45
4
ASUS ROG Phone II
Hello,

today I did have a strange experience with my ROG 2 and my best guess is that there is some UFS problem, but a second opinion or ideas are welcome.
During a bike ride when I was wifi scanning (apps: "Tower collector", "Radio Beacon"), navigating and listening to an audio book, the phone just went dark. I thought from previous experience on a Note 3 that it might have overheated. Pretty much stress proofed from the previous phone.
Yes - it was warm in its bike pocket but really not overly hot.

The phone is an ebay buy 2 months old and has been ever since with omnirom, stable so far. I only noticed that the RGB LED here has no blue light, but I plainly did not care.
I tried to boot it after some 10 minutes again and the phone would not go past its omnirom boot screen until it reboots after some time, boot loops.

30 Minutes later at home I wondered then what is going on, and I copied off the TWRP backup from the phone I took two days ago, just in case.
I then tried to restore the same backup, but the phone switched off during restore after ~30%. This was reproducible, so I thought this may be something with the backup, maybe I cannot restore a partition. When I restore I had all partitions marked and I tested them one by one. The restore of single partitions worked, one by one, except vendor as it was marked read only and data as it failed unpacking (my recent backup then is dead?).

I then tried formatting the partitions, so "data", originally f2fs. I lack experience with journal recovery on f2fs so went to ext4. System was ext4 and was just wiped. I lost of course other data on the internal storage so tried to restore again with my copied backup. It restores, but it cannot boot and just bootloops. I now formatted all partitions, including vendor.

Finally, I tried downloading omnirom again and installed it. It won't boot, it doesn't even get to the boot animation, but just boot loops.
I reformatted data back to f2fs. But no change here.

Trying more: lineageos won't flash for unknown reasons, it immediately dies as "Error installing zip file". Checksum of the downloaded zip is correct.
I downloaded a stock rom and installed it. This is now the best result so far - It does want to boot.
Here I get a boot animation and this incredibly lame "tching" sound (it is a phone, not a sword...). But it also stops there and never continues. Yes, first boot takes longer, but not 10 minutes.

Any ideas what else to try with this phone?
So far, I can boot twrp via sideload and interact with it fine. But that will be it; ran out of ideas.

Happy for suggestions.

Gaya
 

venkatesh321

Member
Mar 4, 2019
43
14
Use raw firmware to restore everything.
Install latest firmware zip on both slots.
After installing custom roms go to wipe -> format data by typing yes. Otherwise rom wont boot
 

gaya4

Member
Apr 7, 2013
45
4
ASUS ROG Phone II
thanks for getting back, If by raw firmware you meant the ASUS stock, I did. Not sure why data wipe after installation or double install to a/b partition would make a difference, but in the end I am new to this a/b concept, looks though like standard dual boot to me. Tried it, but no difference.

- installed asus firmware to inactive B
- switched to B partition
- installed asus firmware to inactive A
- wiped data
- started, so far same behaviour after 15 minutes of waiting (boot animation with sound, then it repeats boot animation until ...).
 

venkatesh321

Member
Mar 4, 2019
43
14
There are Two kind of rom raw firmware (used to restore bricked device) and recovery rom (zip file we use for update)
Raw firmware will flash ROM to both the slots, while recovery rom only flash to one slot. So you need to Only select reboot to recovery after flashing ROM to switch to the updated slot.
No, stock rom is not exactly raw firmware. RAW firmware uses EDL mode (in bootloader) to flash the stock rom. Download A10 raw from here version .90.

when extracting it you will see some files.
Steps To flash Raw:
* enable usb debugging in phone.
*connect the phone via side port to pc
open command prompt and run this command
adb devices
adb reboot bootloader

Now go to the folder where you extracted the raw firmware & run "flashall_AFT.cmd" as admin
wait [there will be no output]. After 15 -20 mins your device should boot. If you have any old version stock rom data the phone will carry the data to new version. If you have any custom rom/ updated version of stock rom data, it will ask to factory reset, so do that.


wiping is not exactly formatting so do it the right way

Why format: the one where you format by typing "yes" .If you switch between Roms ( stock to custom or vice versa) and go back to older versions (v .100 to .60) the old/previous rom data cant be used with new one so you must format data.

when formatting is not necessary : If you want to upgrade both stock images (version .90 to .100) & custom rom (v 1 to 1.2) i.e., flashing stock rom and then custom rom over it, you dont need to format data because you can reuse the data from custom rom to updated custom rom.



A/B device use two partition instead of one. so the upgrade can happen in the background. On restart you will switched to updated slot. So room for error is less.
 

gaya4

Member
Apr 7, 2013
45
4
ASUS ROG Phone II
The wiping here should be the same as formatting, as it is running the mke2fs (as per TWRP settings). But raw rom I do not have (I believe).
The link you have there seems broken, could you repost it again?
I did download the stock ROM earlier from ASUS directly, to not violate policies, HTTP links etc, here is only the path on asus . com
pub/ASUS/ZenFone/ZS660KL/UL-ASUS_I001_1-ASUS-17.0240.2103.75-1.1.229-user.zip
That is the one I installed via recovery. Am not sure what is in your mentioned flashall_AFT.cmd though, but suspect some adb sideload at least.
 

gaya4

Member
Apr 7, 2013
45
4
ASUS ROG Phone II
I eventually succeeded, but of course would liek to know
1) why
2) what happened?

I did follow a video about flashing the stock rom, basically as you explained (factory reset and data wipe), twice to a and b partition. That made the device bootable. Why is this needed?
I tested wiping system again (I am used to doing clean flashes) and installed omnirom again, and it failed booting.
I installed again the a/b with stocks, factory reset and data wipe and installed omnirom as dirty flash. All is well.

Now I was able to restore my backup finally without the device switching off and it did not complain about the data backup. So finally I am with my phone again rom and copy data to my fresh partition.

as to 1) why?
I understand a/b partition as sort of windows/linux dual boot with a more separate bootloader maybe. So I do not see the point in flashing the stock rom twice or in rendering the device unbootable when wiping system.

and as 2) what happened.
I may only guess: I did an omnirom upgrade 2 days earlier that worked fine and was the reason for my nandroid.
During my ride, the phone had some whateverissue and rebooted. I am unsure whether i tested booting but assume that after the upgrade it flashed to the other partition and it was not bootable. It does not make sense as this would make a/B partitions rather hard for custom rom makers, e.g. people complaining all the time.

Other guess: there was a file system issue with f2fs. Problem with data partition seems to cause bigger issues.
When I flash to ext4 after testing the bootable rom with a wiped data, it would not boot anymore. After factory reset again, it mke2fs the data partition again, back to f2fs and the device booted again happily.

Thanks for the help. Happy to know/learn more about this issue, as I would love to prevent or handle them quicker with more of I know what I'm doing.
 

venkatesh321

Member
Mar 4, 2019
43
14
Android Dual Partition (A/B) is made for seamless updates i.e, Dual system/vendor partition but uses same data partition. Lets say you are currently in slot A when you apply system update the slot B gets updated. As always rebooting the device switches to the B partition after update. & further update flashes the system to the A partition.

Basically there is no need to flash stock rom twice, unless you are coming from stock [one partition might be in higher firmware version than other] or there is new stock version with some minor/major upgrades to firmware files.
Our custom ROMs are not stand alone, Mostly it only replaces the system files and keep the vendor same as stock. (also this keeps the ROM update file size to be minimum)

you might even have different version of Android in A/B partition.

Here is a scenario on How A/B works:
Say you are currently using your device in B-slot and A9 so partition on slot-A will be A9 partition slot-B be A9. After that you are doing system update to A10 from System update (not via TWRP)

now you will have A10 on slot-A and A9 on slot-B.
then you want to go to custom rom, so you flashed say omni on A-slot and rebooted & it will surely work.
After that you are using inbuild system update from custom rom any applied it. now the system update will overwrite the A9's system files but (the device specifically needs A10s vendor to work properly). Now comes the fun part i.e., soft brick, boot looping, and corrupt images

That's why you have to flash latest stock to both A and B slots, and overwrite them all with system files from custom rom (also should be flashed once in slots A and B) to get neat experience from custom ROMs.

If you understand what was written above, then you will know the reason behind soft brick.
stock rom flashed only once (firmware image variation may affect stability)
custom rom only flashed in one slot (switching slot will boot loop device)
Not using Reboot to recovery to flash (you will be flashing to the same slot over and over & thus rebooting will boot loop)
Not formatting data ( Just Maybe, your custom ROM and stock uses different file system for data partition)

For Raw files search "ASUS rog 2 RAW firmware images" those files will be around 3 GB in size.