The Sony Xperia ZL was Sony’s parallel flagship device for the first of 2013, along with the Xperia Z. Although similar to the Xperia Z in most areas, the Xperia ZL lacked the water resistance feature of the Xperia Z. Instead, the Xperia ZL offered an incredibly high screen-to-body ratio for its time, making it one of the most compact 5-inch smartphones available then. Even today, there aren’t many 5-inch smartphones out there that are as compact as the Xperia ZL. Sony has managed to provide good software support to the Xperia ZL so far, with the device slated to receive official Android 5.0 Lollipop very soon. The update will be based on Android 5.0.2 version of Lollipop, which is now slightly outdated. If you wish to try out the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop version, you have the option of trying out the various custom ROMs based on Lollipop that are available on XDA developers forum. We have already showed you how you can upgrade your Xperia ZL to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with the Unofficial CM 12.1 ROM earlier, so today we are going to show you how you can upgrade your Sony Xperia ZL with a more feature-rich Validus 7 Custom ROM.
The Validus 7 ROM for the Sony Xperia ZL has been developed by XDA recognized contributor Alx31. As we mentioned above, Validus 7 custom ROM is a very feature-rich ROM that offers many more features when compared to the base CM 12.1 build. It comes with many features created in house as well as some that have been taken from other popular Android custom ROMs such as CyanogenMod, SlimROMs, Paranoid Android, and others. Some of the main features of this ROM are navigation bar tweaks, animated rotation tile, wake up on plug, notification ticker, answer calls with hardware home button, status bar clock tweaks, notifications counter, lockscreen shortcuts, system animations, network traffic, Embedded SuperSU, clear all button in recents panel, Quick settings pulldown menu, smart pull down, advanced reboot menu, CM11 music app, AudioFX, Ad Blocker, and many more. The ROM is currently stable enough and can be used as a daily driver ROM. Most of the functions work perfectly fine, so you do not have much to worry about. However, if you are not a fan of AOSP, we recommend you rather wait for the official Sony Android 5.0.2 firmware as it will give you a much more stable experience overall, along with all the Sony apps and services. However, if you are a power user and wish to try out the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop version on your device, this ROM is one of the best custom ROMs available for the Xperia ZL currently.
The following tutorial covers all the requirements for getting this custom ROM installed on your Sony Xperia ZL and includes a step by step guide on getting the Validus 7 Android Lollipop custom ROM installed on your device. Do not try to skip any steps or perform any step differently from what has been written in this guide. Any attempt to do so could brick your Sony Xperia ZL.
Each time you are about to install a new custom ROM on your Sony Xperia ZL, one thing that you should always remember is that your device needs to be prepared for the installation first. Only when you are convinced your device is completely ready for the installation process, should you proceed to install the ROM on it. The first thing that we recommend you to do is to back up your important data such as your contacts, SMS, installed apps, and the associated app data for the important apps such as messaging apps, camera apps, and others. Any games that you may have installed on your smartphone need to be backed up as well. For backing up all of these, you can use the Sony backup and restore app in case you are on the stock Sony firmware. If not, then we recommend you download a backup and restore app such as Titanium Backup from the Google Play Store. You may also use the Sony PC Companion app for the same purpose, but the options will not be as extensive when using the PC software. The backed up data will have to be restored by installing the same app when you finish the Android 5.1.1 Lollipop Validus 7 custom ROM installation. Do verify if the app you install is fully compatible with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop before you install it. You may also perform a Nandroid backup of your ROM so that you can revert to it easily after few days if you intend to use this custom ROM only for a short period. The Nandroid backup will also come in handy if you do not wish to continue using this custom ROM despite having planned to use it as a daily driver. Complete details on performing a Nandroid backup are posted at this link.
One of the main requirements for flashing the AOSP based Validus 7 custom ROM on your Sony Xperia ZL is to have an unlocked bootloader. As long as you have an unlocked bootloader, you should have no issues getting this custom ROM installed on your Sony Xperia ZL. However, if you have bought the device recently and still have official warranty left, things may not be very simple. Unlocking the bootloader will cause the warranty on your Sony Xperia ZL to be void. So if you do have warranty left, you may have to think over it for some time and decide whether or not it is worth it to unlock the bootloader of your Sony Xperia ZL to flash this custom ROM on it. If you decide to continue, then follow the instructions to get the bootloader unlocked and then move on to the next requirement, which is to have a custom recovery installed. The developer of Validus 7 custom ROM recommends using the latest version of CWM Recovery to install this ROM, so we would suggest you the same. When done installing CWM Recovery on your Xperia ZL, get your smartphone rooted in case it hasn’t been rooted.
Next, tap on the Settings Menu on your Xperia ZL and make your way to the Developer Options screen, where you will need to scroll down and check if the USB Debugging option is checked. This option should be checked to be able to continue with the installation.
Finally, we suggest you check the remaining battery percentage on your Sony Xperia ZL. If you notice that the smartphone has 60% or less battery charge left, it is mandatory to charge the smartphone and begin installing the custom ROM only when the smartphone has been charged till 60% or higher.
How to Upgrade Sony Xperia ZL to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop With Validus 7 Custom ROM
- To begin installing the Validus 7 custom ROM on your Sony Xperia ZL, you will have to download two ZIP files. The first one being the Validus 7 custom ROM ZIP file and the other being the GAPPS or Google Apps package ZIP file. The Validus 7 custom ROM for Sony Xperia ZL can be downloaded from this link while the GAPPS ZIP file for Android 5.1.1 Lollipop will have to be downloaded from this link.
The ROM ZIP can be installed on your Xperia ZL only after you flash it via recovery. And to flash it via recovery, you will have to transfer the files to your smartphone first. So connect your Xperia ZL to the computer and get the two ZIP files transferred to your smartphone’s in-build storage. Disconnect it one the process is completed.
As the files have now been transferred to the device, you can begin the installation process by booting your smartphone into recovery mode.
When your Sony Xperia ZL boots into the recovery menu, get the factory reset completed by selecting the ‘wipe data factory reset’ option from the main recovery menu. As soon as that is completed, we require you to select ‘advanced options’ next and wipe the system, cache, dalvik cache, and data partitions. All of these will need to be wiped individually.
In the previous step you performed a full wipe, making the device ready for the flashing process. So we don’t have to wait any longer to flash the ROM ZIP file. Select the ‘Install zip from SD’ card option in the main recovery menu and choose the Validus 7 Android 5.1.1 Lollipop custom ROM ZIP file. When the file gets flashed on your device, the ROM will be installed.
The Validus 7 custom ROM is now installed on your Sony Xperia ZL, but the Google Apps will have to be installed before you can boot the device. So flash the GAPPS ZIP file as well. Needless to say, you can flash the GAPPS ZIP file using the same above process.
After both the ROM and GAPPS ZIP files have been flashed, you can reboot your Sony Xperia ZL by selecting ‘reboot system now’.
When the custom ROM boots up, you will be free to explore the latest version of Android on your Sony Xperia ZL smartphone. We hope you will be impressed by this custom ROM, but if that doesn’t happen unfortunately, you do have the option of reverting to your previous ROM by restoring the Nandroid backup from recovery.
If not, do keep in mind that newer builds will make this ROM even better, so it is necessary for you to check for new build releases. Just follow the official ROM thread at this link.