Make That Mid-Range Android Device Your Own

Android Bootloader

It’s mid-range madness!

Howard is giving away an ASUS ZenPhone 2 and has posted his reviews of the 2015 Moto G and Moto X Play. Thus, it seems only fitting that I report on the status of rooting and ROMing this trio of 2015 devices. All of them have forums on XDA, which is a good sign.

Benefits of root access include the ability to block ads system-wide, plus greater control over apps and the access they seek to your personal data. A custom recovery will enable you to back up and restore an entire image of your OS and a custom ROM will grant you additional powers to change your UI as you see fit.

Android modding usually requires a personal computer with two Android communication protocols—adb and fastboot—installed. Just remember, this is going to be an overview, not a how-to.

Moto G and Moto X Play

Phones from Motorola have enjoyed good support from the modding community as of late, thanks in no small part to their unlockable bootloaders. The process isn’t quite as simple as it would be with a Nexus or OnePlus One, but it’s pretty close—you just need to obtain an unlock key from Motorola.

A quick visit to Moto’s Bootloader Unlock Program Supported Devices page shows that the new Moto G is good to go, but the X Play is not yet listed. That’s a shame, but it did only launch in Canada just last Friday, so give it some time.

As for the Moto G there’s already a custom recovery for it (albeit a test version) along with an unofficial port of CyanogenMod. More importantly, all the pieces are in place for custom ROMs to flourish, making the G a solid choice for the Android modder. I suspect that the X Play will be the same, eventually.

ASUS ZenFone 2

If you want to mod your ZenFone, you’re gonna have a bad time.

That’s not to say that it can’t be done, just that the effort required is not for the faint of heart. For example, the bootloader can be unlocked but requires an exploit—you can read through the lengthy procedure in this XDA thread.

If you manage to get that far you can then flash your recovery partition with an unofficial version of TWRP. At that point you can install one of the few available custom ROMs or just flash Chainfire’s and call it a day.

My Advice

If you want to tap all the power that Android has to offer and aren’t a glutton for punishment, stick with Moto. While I personally don’t feel like I should have to ask anyone’s permission to make my technology my own, I think a bootloader unlock key is a reasonable compromise between respecting power users’ rights and protecting everyone else.

For more on these devices, check out their respective pages on XDA. Happy modding!

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