Update Xperia ZL with CM 11 Android 4.4 KitKat custom Firmware

Sony released the Xperia ZL this year on March and even though we are facing with a high end Android based smartphone capable of running the latest features, apps and capabilities, the phone is still stuck on Jelly Bean OS. Furthermore, Sony announced that the OTA Android 4.4 KitKat update will be rolled out for the Xperia ZL during next year – February or March if we are lucky – so until then there is no KitKat for the ZL users. But you can choose to change this, as the unofficial port of CM 11 has been made available for your device.

As you can already tell, CM 11 is being based on Android 4.4 KitKat OS though the pure Android software will not be installed on your Sony Xperia ZL. CM11 is a custom ROM that comes with its own features and looks, which means that you will be enjoying a customized variant of the stock Android 4.4 platform. Also, keep in mind that this version of CM11 is not official, so we have a modified firmware that has been customized by third party devs especially for your Xperia ZL. Those of xda-developers are being responsible with the same, so we have to thanks them for this tutorial.

Now, during the guidelines from below we will be checking on how to install Android 4.4 CM 11 custom ROM firmware on your Sony Xperia ZL. The flashing process is not hard to complete, applying the software taking only a few minutes from your free time. But, this guide isn’t showing an official procedure, so do consider the present operation complex and also risky. On the same time if you have decided to complete this step by step guide, you will first have to prepare your handset, the pre requisites being quite numerous – we will talk about this in a minute so be patience.

As I have mentioned before this is not the official CM 11 firmware; the CyanogenMod is still working on developing a stable Android 4.4 KitKat software for the Sony Xperia ZL. Anyway, the devs who have created this firmware ensured that you can safely flash the ROM for a daily use. Actually, those who have already installed CM11 on Xperia ZL declared that the platform is running smoothly so there are no major bugs or things that aren’t working.

This guide isn’t official and because of that (and because of the pre requisites from below) the warranty of your smartphone will get void. By applying the CM 11 firmware the binary flash counter will be increased and you will lose the warranty of your phone. If you will want or need to restore the warranty, you will have to choose to downgrade to stock Android Jelly Bean OS (via PC Companion) or to wait for the Android 4.4 KitKat OTA update to be pushed out. If you are expecting the OTA release of Android KitKat then keep in mind that the same will not be spotted by your phone – you will have to manually install the official update by using a suitable tutorial.

If you want to safely complete the guidelines from below, first of all you will have to unlock the bootloader of your Sony Xperia ZL. Do that as without unlocking the bootloader you won’t be able to gain root access, which is the second thing you need to ensure before applying the CM11 Android 4.4 custom ROM firmware. After completing these two procedures, the system of your handset will be unchained and you will be able to access the same in order to flash a custom ROM. All these are unofficial procedures, so be careful when applying the same and try not to mess things up as you can end up in bricking your Android based device.

Up next, you need to install the latest version of CWM or TWRP recovery. CM11 has been tested on the Xperia ZL only via the mentioned apps, so that’s why I recommending you to use the same. TWRP is the touch version of CWM recovery, so you can use any of these two tools. You need to install and use a custom recovery image instead of the stock one because, the custom app is offering an intuitive user interface that can be used when trying to access the internal system, and that’s how you will be installing the Android 4.4 based CM 11 firmware on your Xperia ZL.

At this point you should make a Nandroid backup by using the custom recovery image you just flashed. By doing this you can save the current ROM, as if you will not like the new firmware you will have to apply a software that has pleased you. The restoration process can be easily performed as there won’t be required a complex guide like this one. On the same time I strongly recommending you to backup the Xperia ZL data because a wipe will be required – without wiping the data and clearing the cache you will not be able to properly use CM 11. Do the backup by using suitable backup and restore apps from Google Play – don’t worry because the tools are free distributed ones so you don’t have to spend your money on anything.

Good, now all you have to do is to make sure that you can use a computer – the required files will be downloaded on the same PC. It is indicated to disable (only temporarily) the antivirus or any other security protection that is installed on your computer and on your phone because these tools might interfere with the update operation. You will also have to connect your device with the PC – because of that on your Xperia ZL the USB debugging option must be enabled –achieve that by going to “menu – settings – developer options”.

Take a look on the battery status of your smartphone. If you notice that there is less than 60% power left, you need to plug in the charger. Installing CM 11 will take a few minutes and if your handset gets turned off in the middle of the flashing process, you will risk in bricking your handset. Also, this tutorial is compatible only with the Sony Xperia ZL which means that the steps from below are working only for the mentioned phone. Don’t use this step by step guide for installing CM11 Android 4.4 KitKat on another smartphone or tablet.

How to Update Xperia ZL with CM 11 Android 4.4 KitKat custom ROM Firmware

  1. On your computer use the download links from below and get the CM 11 file and the Google Apps package (the Google apps are not included on the firmware file so you have to flash it separately).
  2. You can download the Android 4.4 KitKat OS from here, or from here.
  3. Download Google Apps by going to this page.
  4. Place these files on desktop; don’t unzip any of the file.
  5. Connect your Xperia ZL with the computer.
  6. Plug in the USB cable for establishing the connection.
  7. Now, copy paste the downloaded files you have placed on desktop on your phone’s SD card.
  8. Remove the USB cable because the computer is no longer useful.
  9. Turn off your handset because you need to reboot it into recovery mode.
  10. Use this guide for learning how to enter recovery mode menu.
  11. Once your phone is booted into recovery, wipe the system and clear the cache.
  12. You can wipe the system by selecting “wipe data factory reset”.
  13. You can clear the cache by choosing “wipe cache partition” followed by “wipe dalvick cache”.
  14. Then, from the same recovery mode menu select “install zip from SD card” followed by “choose zip from SD card”.
  15. Pick the CM 11 firmware file; install the same on your ZL.
  16. Then, return, repeat the same step and flash Google Apps package.
  17. In the end, from recovery select “+++go back+++” and “reboot system now”.

If after the final reboot, your smartphone gets stuck in a boot loop, you will have to go back to recovery mode (use the guide from above) and from there you should choose “wipe data factory reset” and “wipe cache partition”. Go back and reboot your phone as everything should be working perfectly now. Take note that the first boot might take longer than usual; if that happens, don’t panic because there is nothing wrong with your phone.

Congratulations; you have successfully installed CM 11 Android 4.4 KitKat firmware on your Sony Xperia ZL. Now, you should try and test the new software in order to see if everything is working as expected or if there are bugs or issues. If you don’t like this version of CM11, if you have made a Nandroid backup, you can reboot into recovery for choosing to restore the previous ROM (via “backup / restore” option”). Also, in the end, don’t forget about us and use the comments field from below for sharing your impressions and experience with other users who might want to complete this tutorial.

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