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ZTE Blade A3 Prime Thread

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by jasonmerc, Feb 4, 2021.

  1. jasonmerc

    jasonmerc Well-Known Member
    Recognized Developer Thread Starter


    Just to preface I do not have this device, but I took interest in it because believe it or not it is a cheap MediaTek device that is ACTUALLY UNLOCKABLE AND MODDABLE. Yeah you heard me right, Visible Mobile actually lets you unlock these things. There's no section on this site yet for this phone so for now I'll just start a general thread for general discussions. As we post more and more things (if we don't have a section yet) I'll add them to the OP and give credit when necessary.

    As we find out more about the device I will list it here. Again I do not have one of these myself so I'm relying on people that do to feed me this info
    • Codename: Z5157V
    • Android: 10 stock
    • OS level 32 or 64 bit: 32 bit only, with 64 bit binders (for GSIs)
    • Chipset: Quad Core MTK6761 2GHz, aka Helio A22
    • RAM: 2GB DDR4 (LPDDR4 I think)
    • Display: 5.4 inch 720x1440
    • Battery: 2660mAh removable
    • Storage: 32GB on board, up to 2TB SD card expansion
    • Headphone Jack: yes, 3.5mm
    • USB: Type C
    • Connection: up to 4G LTE
    • Network: Visible Mobile, Yahoo Mobile, or GABB. Not sure if network unlockable. Stock firmware can be switched while retaining original network capabilities (see stock firmware section)

    Unlocking the bootloader is a pretty standard affair. No additional hoops to jump through. As far as I am aware this works on the latest security patch/firmware update so there's no reason not to update. Big shoutout to XDA user zaduma for finding this out, check out his original XDA thread HERE.
    • Enable OEM Unlocking in the Development Menu in Android
    • Reboot to bootloader, plug the phone into your computer where you have ADB/Fastboot installed
    • Plug it into the computer and issue a "fastboot flashing unlock" and confirm
    • Then issue a "fastboot flashing unlock_critical" and confirm
    • Reboot with "fastboot reboot". Phone should wipe itself, yada yada, standard bootloader unlocking affair
    Reboot to fastboot mode and flash over the vbmeta partition with this one here. Extract the IMG file out of the ZIP before flashing. Thanks to XDA user lopesom for providing this to me. You must unlock your bootloader prior to doing this. The command is as follows:
    fastboot --disable-verity --disable-verification flash vbmeta /path/to/custom/vbmeta.img

    Believe it or not ZTE actually made it available on their ZTE Open Source website. It's the Z5157V_Q source, kernel version 4.4. HUGE thanks to XDA user zaduma again for this. Great find! GitHub mirror HERE contains both kernel and vendor tree source.

    Stock ROMs confirmed to work by XDA user Talysdaddy, flashable via SPFT v5.1924. He started out with the Visible variant but bricked it, using these to try and restore functionality. There are multiple variants for this phone for multiple carriers, however this user confirmed that firmwares for other carriers will indeed work on this phone if you brick it and you'll at least retain basic device functionality.
    • GABB variant: HERE. This is a network aimed at kids. Features like Developer Options will be locked out. Pretty stripped down and useless, but only linking for archival purposes
    • **Yahoo Mobile variant: HERE. Similar in function to Visible Mobile. This is the one Talysdaddy recommends because he thinks it's the more complete ROM. XDA user tlopez51 confirmed that Yahoo Mobile firmware works on Visible Mobile devices WITH cellular.
    • Visible Mobile variant: HERE. Thanks once again to XDA user tlopez51 for pulling all of this and posting it up online for everyone to benefit from. He's confirmed that this firmware is 100% functional, you can do a full Format All + Download in SPFT with this firmware package and it'll restore everything just fine.
    **Yahoo firmware highlighted in red because, as of now, this appears to be the gold standard for modding. All Magisk/boot image/GSI flashing mods were done with Yahoo Mobile firmware as a base. Flashing from another firmware like Visible over to Yahoo shouldn't affect your network/cellular status, your Visible phone will still work on Visible's network for example. If you want to mod your device, we recommend flashing over to Yahoo first as a base

    This took us a long time to get. We're pretty sure it was just due to a glitch in Magisk that (at the time of writing this) is only present in Canary testing and not in the normal stable release branch. Anyway, do the following steps below, and if that doesn't work then patch your boot image further before flashing with the OSS Patcher.
    • Download the stock firmware that corresponds with your phone, and in the archive pull out the boot.img file. Send the boot.img to your phone's storage for later
    • Install the Magisk Manager app on your phone. For now you want to use the CANARY testing branch because the normal release branch doesn't have some patches needed to make it work.
    • In the Magisk app, select Install, then Select and Patch Image (the one that implies you're giving it a boot image to patch, NOT direct patch mode). Browse and select the boot.img you put on your phone earlier.
    • Once it's done, pull the image Magisk spit back out to your computer
    • Reboot the phone to fastboot, and on a computer flash the boot image that Magisk spit back out with the following command: fastboot --disable-verity --disable-verification flash boot /path/to/magisk/boot/image.img
    • Reboot the phone again and you should now have full root privs!

    [unlikely to happen]
    Because of the A/B partition layout this might not be possible to even do anyway. Even if we did, there'd be no way to directly boot into it from the phone being off, which kinda defeats the purpose of a recovery anyway.

    Use these instructions by XDA user tlopez51 to flash a GSI. The GSI used for his instructions was this one here, but in theory any Android 10+ GSI should work. Make sure it's built for A/B partition, and a64 (32 bit android with 64 bit kernel binders) with VNDK support. Also make sure you do the bootloader unlock and vbmeta stuff outlined above first.

    #1 jasonmerc, Feb 4, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
    ocnbrze and Dannydet like this.

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  2. dun4today

    dun4today Lurker

    Got one. Wud love to be able to unlock it fir sure.
  3. JtSpott

    JtSpott Lurker

    I've got a basically untouched Z5157V from Visible that I don't have service on yet. I'm going to look into how to dump the stock ROM and will advise when complete.
  4. JtSpott

    JtSpott Lurker

    If someone wants to forward me the process to do this it will save a lot of time since this will be me first time looking into doing so.
  5. jasonmerc

    jasonmerc Well-Known Member
    Recognized Developer Thread Starter

    Just got your message now. let me look up a writeup I put on XDA and forward it to you, please stand by

    EDIT: it would be ideal if you had a Linux box for this because then you dont have to deal with drivers, but anyway here's a writeup for how to use SPFT to take backups. If there's any errors let me know and I'll try to help you through them


    The key here is downloading the Yahoo Mobile firmware that I linked to in the post there. You'l' be utilizing the Yahoo Mobile preloader and scatter file to dump the Visible stuff. It's a bit of a tedious process, but in theory what you should be able to do is work your way down the scatter file and replace/overwrite all the images in the Yahoo Mobile firmware with the Visible Mobile version. In my thread there I outlined how to do it with the boot image, but if you work your way down the scatter file replacing all the images mentioned (some have file names, some do not, ignore the ones that don't have file names) we'll have a complete dump.

    My advice too is to replace the preloader LAST. Work your way down the scatter file and get every other image specified first before doing that one. Sometimes preloaders can get a bit screwy with newer MediaTek devices, as in you'll dump it with the parameters that it lists but it still won't come out right. As a matter of fact, the preloaders might even be identical, in which case it's unnecessary to even replace something that already works fine.

    I apologize for dumping a huge responsibility like this on you, I only do this because I don't have the device myself (but I do take interest in it). If I had one of these I'd work through all of this on my own since I have experience with this, and then post up my results for everyone else to freely use. If you do choose to do this though, it would be a big help to everyone else
    #5 jasonmerc, Mar 10, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
  6. JtSpott

    JtSpott Lurker

    Sorry for the delayed response.... I just now circled back to see if there was any new activity on this thread. I a going to read your procedure and will attempt this task later today. If I run into any hurdles I will be back here asking some questions. For now I am just going to say we should have the dump later today.
  7. jasonmerc

    jasonmerc Well-Known Member
    Recognized Developer Thread Starter

    Actually you're cool, dont sweat it, another guy already did a full partition dump of the Visible Mobile firmware that I linked in the OP. If you want you can download it and keep it handy so you have a stable base to flash everything back to. If you check further on that XDA thread we're trying to get a modded boot.img with Magisk Root to work, as well as a GSI Treble ROM.

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