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Update Sony Xperia Z with AOSP Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS

Due to hardware limitations and since it is released from a while the Xperia Z might not receive the official Android 6.0 Marshmallow update. However, the hardware limitation issue is not really something to consider as your phone still has enough power to run even the latest Android features and capabilities. Of course, stopping OTAs is just another marketing strategy as older devices are considered outdated by default and it is implied that you must change your Xperia Z with a newer handset.

But, if you still love your Sony Xperia Z and if you are not thinking in changing your device, I have something that might cheer you up a little bit. What would you say if there was a way in which you can get Android 6.0 on your device without using an official update? Well, that’s now possible as thanks to those of xda-developers we can use an AOSP Android 6.0 M based ROM that can smoothly run on the Sony Xperia Z.

An AOSP release is not an OTA and it is definitely not an official Android update rolled out by Google or by Sony. The software is only based on stock and pure Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS but represents a free aftermarket distribution of the same platform that was modified and optimized in order to be compatible with your own Xperia Z. Thus, you will be using an unofficial ROM that is developed by third party devs and not by Google or by Sony.

An AOSP build means a firmware that is based on the pure Android experience. Therefore, you will now enjoy a Nexus like experience right on your Xperia Z. No, you will no longer have to deal with Sony’s own UI or with the usual bloatware as the Android 6.0 M system is similar with what Google released for the Nexus branded devices.

Now, in case you are wondering, yes, being a custom ROM the AOSP firmware might come with certain bugs or with software related issues. However, in our case, according to the devs and to the users who have already flashed the update, the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS runs without problems on the Xperia Z. Therefore, you can use the guidelines from below without worrying about anything else, as the Marshmallow software should run smoothly on your phone.

But, as a precaution, you can still consider in making a Nandroid backup before doing anything else. In this way you can save the OS that currently runs on your device. So, if after completing this step by step guide you will notice that the AOSP firmware is not running properly, you will be able to use the Nandroid backup for downgrading back to stock – do note that this operation can be performed only if a custom recovery image is installed on your phone.

You can install a custom Android 6.0 Marshmallow ROM on your Xperia Z only if you first make some unlock operations. In that respect, before resuming the guidelines from below you will have to unlock the bootloader of your Sony branded device. After doing so, you will also have to root your Android device as the ROM will have to access, modify and optimize in built settings and features (and the root process will ensure the access needed for that procedure). Finally, TWRP or any other custom recovery image must be flashed on your smartphone as this software will be used on the update process, as you will be able to see below.

As a further precaution you should make a full backup in order to save your personal info, data and accounts that are currently stored on your Sony Xperia Z. You see, if your device is currently running on an official Android OS, in order to make the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system run, you will have to wipe the internal system of your phone – basically, you will have to clear app data cache and to hard reset your handset. Thus, due to same reasons, you can end up in losing everything that’s important for you – contacts, call logs, texts, images, videos, audio files, market apps, internet settings, EFS, IMEI / NVRAM, calendar info, saved passwords and so on. So, don’t hesitate and use backup and restore tools for saving everything that you might use afterwards.

As you will see, you will flash the AOSP firmware by using some ADB and Fastboot commands. So, you need to use a computer on which you have to install the Sony Xperia Z USB drivers and the Android SDK utility – learn how to install Android SDK on Windows or how to set up ADB on MAC OS X / Linux. Of course, a connection between your smartphone and your computer will have to be eventually established; in order to make sure that that’s possible, on your phone you have to enable USB debugging option: first go to “menu – settings – about phone” and tap several times on Built Number in order to gain Developer options; then access “menu – settings – developer options” from where you can find the USB Debugging feature.

You shouldn’t go any further without charging your device. If it will get turned off during the installation guide, it might get bricked. So, just make sure there is enough battery power left – more than 50% should do; else plug in the charger.

Since you are about to install an unofficial firmware, you should know that you will lose the warranty of your smartphone – yes, starting from now you won’t be able to take it back to service without paying for the technical assistance. So, for the future, you might have to learn how to manually fix a bricked Android device.

The Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS that is provided below is compatible only with the Sony Xperia Z, so don’t use this step by step guide in case you are using a similar or a different Android based device as you will mess things up.

How to Update Sony Xperia Z with AOSP Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS

  1. First, on your computer, download the update file from this page (all the three files contained in the mentioned folder).
  2. Then, download compatible Google Apps from here.
  3. Save these files on your computer, preferable on desktop.
  4. Now, power off your smartphone – press the Power key and select “power off” or press and hold the Power button for a few moments.
  5. Reboot your Xperia Z into fastboot mode.
  6. Next, connect your phone with your computer with the help of the USB cord.
  7. Now, on your computer access the folder where you placed the downloaded firmware files.
  8. From there open a command prompt window: press and hold Shift keyboard key while right clicking on any blank space.
  9. In the cmd window first type “fastboot devices” – your Xperia Z should be listed there; if not, you need to reinstall its USB drivers and repeat the steps from above.
  10. Good; after doing so, enter the following commands (press enter after each command): “fastboot flash boot boot.img”, “fastboot flash system system.img”, “fastboot flash userdata userdata.img”, “fastboot reboot”.
  11. Wait while the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS is being flashed on your Xperia Z.
  12. Then, if you will be stuck in a boot loop, access the recovery mode menu and from there wipe the system of your smartphone by choosing “wipe data factory reset”, “wipe cache partition” and “wipe dalvic cache”.
  13. Also, don’t forget to flash Google Apps; in that matter, first connect your phone with your computer via USB cable.
  14. Then, connect the Google Apps package on your device and remove the USB cord.
  15. Access the recovery mode menu and from there select “Install”.
  16. Pick the Google Apps file and flash it on your handset; when done, from main menu of recovery select “reboot system now”.

That was all; you should now know how to safely update your own Sony Xperia Z to Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS by using a dedicated AOSP based custom ROM. So, test the new software and then return here and let us know how things worked for you – use the comments field from down below in that matter.

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