Lephone A60 – what is recovery, flashing, rooting, firmware etc.?

After buying a new Lephone A60 you might be a little confused about all the terminology used in Android World. In this post I am going to clear things up a bit.

When my phone arrived from Hong Kong (I can truly recommend http://hotmid.com/) I already knew I’d have to root it and do some magic to get Android Market and Gmail. The guys from hotmid have a nice video where they show what to do but they do not say WHY they do it. So if something unexpected happens (like boot loop) you’re on your own. After doing some research (mainly russian forum forum.china-iphone.ru) on the subject I decided to share what I’ve learned.

1. What is firmware and how and why to change or update it?

Generally speaking it is the stuff that runs the phone (messaging, calls, hardware etc.). Every device has its own firmware delivered by the company that constructed it (Lenovo in this case). It is quite common in the Android World that it is modified by the users (i.e. new language versions or features are added and/or modified). Sometimes there’s a problem with the firmware and fixes / new versions are released by the manufacturer. Firmware is usually delivered as images of the partitions

How is the new firmware installed on the phone?

There are two ways of doing it:

  • via update.zip – the file is copied to the SD card and then in recovery mode it is flashed.
  • via cable – in this case you need the images of partitions and a special flashing program Lenovo A60 Flash Tool (download) and the A60 USB drivers. More on flashing through the cable in this post[TODO] and in the video provided by the guys from forum.china-iphone.ru.

2. What is rooting?

It is a process that will let you do whatever you want with your phone. You will be able to install, update, change, remove custom firmware, install fixes and run many advanced applications (like MobileUncle Tools used during the process of flashing recovery and firmware) that require root privileges. It will also probably void your phone warranty.

What if you don’t root A60? You still will be able to make calls, receive text messages and use all the preinstalled applications (and probably even download from chinese app market ;) . You will not have access to the Android Market and Google applications. Generally speaking – you will be left with what Lenovo gives you.

3. What is recovery?

Recovery partition – it is a special partition where recovery program resides. There are several partition on the phone. More on them here [TODO].

Recovery mode – a mode where you can do administrative stuff. To enter this mode turn on your phone while holding Volume down(-). You can also reboot to recovery mode from MobileUncle Tools. You can access this mode after flashing recovery image to the recovery partition :)

Recovery image – this is a binary file (image) of the recovery partition which contains recovery program. After rooting your phone you can use custom image (i.e. with english interface) by flashing it to the partition. There are several recovery images available for A60 (links from forum.china-iphone.ru):

  • Original recovery image. Version: A60_S155_110830 Language: English (download)
  •  Recovery image from the site 592zn.com, ported by linerty: Version: 2 Languages: English Download: Mirror 1 , Mirror 2 , Mirror 3
  • Above recovery image with revisions from igor_newman: (download) I used this one on my phone – recommended.
  • Chinese recovery image from mobileuncle.com: Version: 1.0.1 Language: Chinese (download) – this version was delivered by the guys from hotmid.com. If you have this one but don’t understand chinese below is a translation.

recovery mobileuncle tools english translation

How to flash recovery image to A60?

You can do it using MobileUncle Tools (link from forum.china-iphone.ru):

  • Copy recovery image file to the root directory of your SD card (under Windows E: or F: or any other letter that the system assigns it)
  • Run MobileUncle Tools on your phone and tap Flash Recovery From SdCard.
  • Give the program root permissions if asked (this is serious operation so it needs to be executed as superuser).
  • Select your recovery image (*.img) from SD card and wait for the process to finish.
  • Now you can reboot to recovery

You can also do it by cable [TODO].

 

 

 

 

How to root Lephone A60 and install Android Market and Gmail

Installing Android Market and Gmail on Lephone A60 can be tricky. You need to root the phone first and then flash it with updated firmware using recovery software.

STEP 0: Names of the buttons used in the text:

Lenovo Lephone a60 hardware keys

STEP 1: Download and install windows drivers for the phone:

wdj_installer.exe

This is the installer of chinese software for mobile phones and it has the drivers for A60.  Unfortunately there’s no english version, so during the installation you just have to click ‘by feel’ selected (by default) buttons:

1. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

2. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

3. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

I have no idea what these checkboxes mean, but I just left them checked:

4. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

5. lephone a60 wdjinstallation instructions

OK. When you see something that looks similar to the picture below, it’s time to plug in your phone to the USB port.
6. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

Probably you will see something like this. Click the button that looks like “OK” :) :

7. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

Now you have to enable usb debugging mode in the phone. The four pictures on the above screenshot show how to do it if you have Chinese interface. In the English version just push Menu button when on the home screen and go to:

Settings -> Applications -> Development -> USB debugging

After that click the button on the right-bottom and you should see next screen:

9. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

If everything goes well you will see the application with the picture of your phone:

10. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

OK. Now close wdj application and disable it in the system tray. Then safely remove A60 (also in the sys tray):

11. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

Now uplug the phone. Turn it off and remove/insert battery (just to be sure). Turn it on holding camera button and plug your USB cable to it (if the phone doesn’t turn on after a few seconds plug in USB cable holding camera button anyway). You will now see:

12. lephone a60 wdj installation instructions

Click “OK” (or something which is probably “OK” button). Close wdj application (from system tray too). Safely remove A60.

STEP 2: download root tool from hotmid and unpack it

A60_upgrade_tool.rar.html

Inside the archive there’s another file: lenovo A60 root tools.rar - unpack it and go to the tools folder that will appear.

Now turn off your phone, remove/insert battery and press power button while holding menu key (the first silver from the left) and volume down key. When the first screen appears you can release the buttons. Now plug in the USB cable to the phone.

If wdj application opens just let it do whatever it has to do and then close it (also in system tray).

Now go to the folder where lenovo A60 root tools.rar has been unpacked and run A60-tools-v2.exe. You will see the following window:

13.  run A60_tools_v2

Type 1 and hit enter. The process should not take more than several seconds. When finished, you should see (screenshot taken from hotmid video):

14. rooting a60 lenovo

At this point your phone should be rooted. You can close the rooting application, safely remove A60 (tray) and reboot the phone (removing battery might be necessary here).

STEP 3: copy required files to your sdcard

So now you will have to copy three files to your SD card. Turn on your phone (without holding any other buttons).  Connect it by cable and tap “turn on USB storage” in the phone notification. Copy from your computer to the SD card:

  1. MobileUncle Tools – m44tools.apk file (you should have it in the A60_upgrade_tool folder). It is an android application that let’s you do some “administrative” stuff like flashing recovery partition image to the phone.
  2. Recovery partition image – I suggest this english recovery file (from 592zn.com ported by linerty and igor_newman from russian forum forum.china-iphone.ru – they’re just great at this!) this is a binary file, the image of recovery partition
  3. update.zip file – this is a special file which contains firmware update (and sometimes other stuff). I used ‘light’ russian version by igor_newman from this forum and modified it a bit (so it’s english by default, the launcher is english too – more on these modifications here[TODO]). My modified update.zip can be downloaded (and a mirror here).

Once you have copied above three files to the SD card (remember to copy them to the root directory otherwise they won’t be visible!) you can disconnect your phone (again – I recommend safely remove etc.).

STEP 4: install MobileUncle Tools

Open FileBrowser on your phone and go to sdcard. You should see:

install mobile uncle tools

Tap on m44tools.apk. It will install MobileUncle Tools. If you see the ‘install blocked’ notification:

install blocked installation of applications not obtained from lenovo build in market

just tap ‘Settings’ and check ‘Unknown sources’. The installation should proceed.

STEP 5: flash recovery from SD card

OK, now it’s time to flash recovery image to the phone:

  1. Open MobileUncle Tools from your phone if it is not running yet.
  2. Tap on Flash Recovery From SdCard.
  3. Now you should see the image file – recovery.img (or simmilar *.img file). Tap on it and then confirm.
  4. Grant MobileUncle Tools root permisions if you are asked.
  5. When the process finishes reboot your phone to the recovery mode (you can either tap Reboot to Recovery from MobileUncle Tools menu or just turn the phone off and on again while pressing Volume down(-) key).

STEP 6: flash firmware by update.zip in recovery mode

So now we are in recovery mode (black screen, green letters ;) ). Use Volume keys to navigate and Power key to confirm selection.

  1. Go to the menu item: Flash zip from sdcard and press Power. The sub-menu should appear.
  2. Go to: Toggle signature verification and press Power key. You should see the notice on the bottom of the screen: Signature Check: Disabled
  3. Go to: Choose zip from sdcard and press Power key.
  4. Using Volume keys find the update file (i.e. entragian_light_update_29102011.zip) and press Power key. Confirm that you are sure by pressing Power key again ;)
  5. After the process is finished select Reboot system now and press Power.
  6. First boot after flashing can be a little slower than usual. Next boot time should be normal.

Now you have a rooted Lenovo A60 phone with Android Market and Gmail!

If not…:

STEP 7: Something went wrong…

If the phone hangs/loops (you see the same picture over and over)etc., you could try wiping the data / factory reset:

  1. Turn off your phone and go to Recovery (Volume down + Power)
  2. Select Wipe, confirm with Power key
  3. Select Wipe ALL data / factory reset, confirm with Power key
  4. Reboot

If it doesn’t help you will probably have to flash your phone through the cable. I will describe the procedure [TODO] in the next entry. For now you can try this:

http://forum.hotmid.com/discussion/comment/171/#Comment_171