vuxu.org: Aquaris X

I got a Aquaris X on 2017-09-20 (from Amazon.de, 289€ plus 14€ early morning shipping) with 32G storage and 3G RAM.

Included is only a USB-C charger and cable, luckily it is a USB-A-to-USB-C cable so we can use it to unlock/root/flash. (Of course, by now I have my own USB-C cables too.)

Unlocking the bootloader

Quite similar to the Nexus 5X. Again, this will wipe all data (twice even!) so do I as the very first thing (I did the OTA update first).

I used android-tools-7.0.0r5_5 on Void Linux (Android Debug Bridge version 1.0.36).

  • Settings -> About -> Tap “Build Number” seven times
  • Settings -> Developer -> OEM unlocking -> Enable
  • Settings -> Developer -> USB debugging -> Enable
  • Plug in USB -> Allow
  • Verify USB connection works:

    % sudo adb devices
    List of devices attached 
    00xxxxxxxxxxxx69    device
    
  • Reboot phone, press Power then quickly Volume Down to enter fastboot. This works much better and more reliably than with the Nexus 5X.

    % sudo fastboot devices
    00xxxxxxxxxxxx69    fastboot
    % sudo fastboot flashing unlock
    ...
    OKAY [ 15.398s]
    finished. total time: 15.398s
    

    (Choose yes on display.)

  • Reboot, it now shows a spooky warning message and an open lock.

  • Do the same thing again, but run

    % sudo fastboot flashing unlock_critical
    
  • Use

    % sudo fastboot oem device-info
    

    to check the unlocking worked

Flashing TWRP

  • twrp-3.1.1-0-bardock supports this device, but merely loading it via fastboot boot locks up. It works fine when flashed to recovery, however:

    % sudo fastboot flash recovery twrp-3.1.1-0-bardock.img
    

(Above info is mostly from android-hilfe.de)

Rooting

  • Now we can enter recovery (e.g. use the option menu in the “unlocked bootloader” screen—very useful!), and sideload SuperSU:

    % sudo adb sideload SuperSU-v2.82-201705271822.zip
    
  • SuperSU works in Termux, but not always elsewhere.

Ad blocking

AdAway does not work with the SuperSU installed as above, trying to apply the hosts change results in a lock up of the phone, press the power button for 20s to reboot.

Instead, I use DNS66 for now, which doesn’t even need root.

Rooting, part 2

As SuperSU didn’t work so well, I removed it using “unroot completely” and installed Magisk v14.0 instead. Enable “systemless hosts file” in Magisk, then AdAway works fine.

Update to 1.5.1

OTA installation will not work with rooted devices, instead update manually:

  • Put Magisk zip onto device

  • Fetch Firmware .zip from https://www.bq.com/en/support/aquaris-x/support-sheet

  • Unpack (2.7GB!), edit 8953_fastboot_all_images.sh and delete these lines:

    fastboot flash userdata userdata.img
    fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
    
  • Uncomment final fastboot reboot

  • Run script to flash your device

  • Use fastboot reboot, enter recovery mode, flash Magisk zip

  • Reboot, it will take a few minutes at “Starting Android…”

Evaluation

After about a month, what I noticed:

  • ⊕ Much better battery runtime than the Nexus 5X
  • ⊕ Great performance, 3G RAM is noticeably better
  • ⊜ Would be nicer if the fingerprint scanner was on front
  • ⊖ Easy to generate touch events at the border of the screen just by holding
  • ⊖ Slight bumpiness on the bottom bevel metal
  • ⊖ Sound is often too loud (hard to adjust), yet too easy to cover speaker with your thumb

All together I’m very satisfied with my choice.