Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Root, Unlock and install CyanogenMod on the Reliance 3G Tab - ZTE V9C

/* Statutory Warning: Though I will try my best to help, but I, or anyone else, is not responsible  for any damage that you willingly, or unwillingly, commit to your device. */

// This will also void any kind of warranty that Reliance MIGHT have given you otherwise.

//  Also, I tend not to write, but if I do, it goes a bit lengthy. Kindly bear the torture and read the entire stuff before proceeding with anything. My aim is not to get over with it, but to make people understand what they are doing. I do not wish to be cursed by anyone.

I know I have kept everyone waiting, but finally got the time to write. Namashkaar!

The news is that, I have managed to install a custom ROM on my Reliance 3G Tab a.k.a. ZTE V9C, and hence rooted and unlocked it. Though its not complete, its running well, and I'm able to do my day-to-day work, better than before.

Quadrant score of 1172.

I'm writing here a review-cum-guide for all interested (which I presume will be a considerable % of the Indian tablet users :D ).

So about the device: Awesome piece, more than a gadget. Since i ordered it three months ago, I have sparingly used my laptop.

+ :

1. Excellent display. Best in its class.

To all those who crib about it being 800x480: Get a life! I have used many android-based cellphones in the 10-15K range, most of them having the same or higher resolution. But none fared as good as this. In a display, color rendering and brightness matter more than its resolution.

The Tab surpassed everyone's expectations: Awesome colors. Delight to work and play on. Very smooth playback, even without rooting. Though not good as an iPhone, the screen's clarity is comparable with a BlackBerry handset. Better than all Nokias and 98% Samsungs.

Heck, the display is as large as four 3.5" screens placed together with the cost of one.

2. Decent built and finish.

As soon as you open the box, the presumption vanishes that its a cheap device. It is VERY well crafted. People actually look at you when you take it out. Can easily hold it with one hand. Made by the same company who manufactured the original Galaxy 7" Tabs, and in many places, a derivative of that only, its a level better than its predecessor.

Its overall design and shape is almost similar to the Samsung Tab. But the V9C manages to get a better face value because of the narrower borders on the longer side of the screen. Because of this very reason, it feels like an overgrown smartphone rather than a small tablet. Also, light enough to carry around at ~400gms. The iPad, on the other hand, is certainly not portable. V9C is. I slip it into my jeans pocket most of the time.

Summary: My first impression was, yaar, it's smart. A bigger 3GS. :->

3. Has EveryThing. !?!

Come on, almost everything which comes out in the markets nowadays, from a basic 1280 to a Micra, lacks some or the other feature. Not this time.

ZTE has managed to squeeze in every technology it could find. Its gift to Reliance has:

a. 7" screen, 800x480, multi-touch capacitive. 160 ppi.
b. 3G/2G voice, data and SMS (works as a phone too).
c. In-built GPS.
d. Bluetooth.
e. Wi-Fi.
f. 3-axis Accelerometer.
g. Gravity sensor.
h. 3-axis Magnetic field sensor.
i. Orientation Sensor.
j. Ambient Light sensor.
k. Linear acceleration sensor.
l. Rotation Vector sensor.
m. 3.15 MP rear camera.
n. 640x480 (VGA) front camera.
o. Qualcomm MSM-7227-T processor (rated at 800MHz).
p. Qualcomm Adreno 200 GPU (YES, it has it!).
q. 512 MB RAM.
r. 3400 mAh battery, with 9hours of juice.
s. Dolby surround speakers.
t. MicroSD expansion upto 32GB.


4. Marathon battery.

Even before the root, I have watched three full-length movies, back-to-back on a single charge, with appropriate brightness settings, airplane mode on and headphones. Seven hours straight. Matters, considering the fact that display and processor are the most power-hogging components.

With average use, i.e. surfing the net, using the usual apps, music playback, and couple of hours of gaming, it gives you more than the rated nine hours. Needs to be charged only once a day. An overnight charge typically suffices for the next eighteen hours. The situation is even better after the root.

5. Very smooth video playback.

Its a delight to watch movies on. Seven inches is also large enough for the purpose, provided one holds it at a comfortable distance from the eye.

6. Enough power under the hood for everyday use.

For those who proceed to root, you will realize how much capability the processor has.

7. Reliance GSM Connection.

Believe it or not, I was getting satisfactory speeds for all purposes over RCOM's 2G connection. Best part is, they offer 6 GBs of usage in 99/-, which I guess is the highest in India. And the bandwidth I got in UPW used up my entire quota.

Now, though I love my Tab, it does (did, before the root) has a few -s, which I am going to list here, since this is supposed to be an honest review:

-1. Its delicate. Both the backpanel and the screen are scratch-prone if not taken care of. But that can be solved by laminating it with guards, which I got done on day one itself.

And then, which beauty doesn't needs to be handled with care? ;-)

-2. Locked to Reliance.                    Eewww. That sounded bad. They say its a hardware lock? Wait and watch.

-3. Not enough powerful processor.  Wait, it was supposed to be 800 MHz, right??

-4. Can not be rooted.                     (Slap! To the stupid firmware Reliance shipped it with).

-5. No video calling!!!
Why the hell did they install a front camera if its only purpose was to be a mirror? None of the video chat apps (Skype, fring, etc.) recognize either of the cameras.

-6. No graphics card.                      (Oh, shut up. Didn't he just say it had one? ).

-7. Plays only mp4 videos. Other AVI players don't seem to work well either.

-8. Low internal memory.

That was a not-so-brief intro.

Q. Why should we unlock?

A. You might want to use your old number(s) with the Tab. Maybe use it as a spare phone too. You might not be happy with the RGSM coverage in your area. Or, you want to use 3G, because of which you purchased this Tab, but there's no 3G by Reliance in your circle / bad 3G by Reliance / You simply don't want to pay them for anything.

I did it because I have always used BSNL's 2G data plans for internet usage. It has the same packs all over India, has the actual countrywide coverage, has the largest 3G network, doesn't charges you roaming, and allows you to use UMTS/HSDPA signals even if you are a 2G subscriber.

Q. What does that mean?

A. Connection speed on your SIM is defined by the servers on the basis of tariff you subscribe to. But, the passage that speed enjoys is different for 3G and 2G signals. BSNL, doesn't restricts you from its 3G network simple because you didn't cough up your entire pocket money to pay for a tariff. Even if you paid 98/- for a month, you can still switch your mobile/tablet/datacard's network mode to UMTS and be on the more stable signals. Others (e.g. Airtel) won't even register your SIM card on a UMTS network.

To put it in layman terms, 2G is an Alto and 3G is a Honda City. BSNL allows you to use a 10-lane expressway even if you drive an Alto. You can be more free, avoid collisions (disconnections), and throttle up to the full capability of your car (use the theoretically possible maximum speed for EDGE, ~260 Kbps), without having to pay more than five times the price and fuel cost.

Q. What is a 'root' for an android device?

A. Android, like many others, is based off a linux kernel. And Tux, is a shy lady. It doesn't allows you to play with it beyond your permissions, to save itself from accidental damage. IF you really need to do it, then you have to log in as a 'superuser', or su, so that you are able to make system-wide changes, and even modify the core files. Once logged in as su, you are called to have 'root' access, and hence, you can install any application or remove any stuff, even if it directly affects the system files.

Same is true here. I view android as another linux distro, like fedora or ubuntu. Which it is. It is good, yes. But it can be very, very dangerous, for those who don't know what they are doing.

Q. Why should we root?

A. To open up your device. Customize it as per your will. Make it reach its maximum capabilities. Install those variety of apps which can do interesting stuff. Overclock.

The Reliance 3G Tab needs a root foremost to remove the Skin and other customizations, which REALLY slow the UI down. Not usually, but very often. Reliance, apart from forcing their irritating skin, has kinda disabled the GPU, and limited the processor to 620 Mhz. I have no freaking idea why they did so. Maybe to enhance the battery thoroughput.

Also, I wished to see, what all can it do for me. How many -ve can I null out. And I was not disappointed.

Q. How do we do it?

A. The bitter truth: There is no real root for the stock 2.3.4, with which our Reliance V9C is shipped. All the z4root's and SuperOneClick's don't work. The only way to gain root is, install a custom ROM which is, in principle, pre-rooted.

General procedure is: root an android -> install ClockWorkMod (CWM) -> backup your stock -> install CyanogenMod (CM).

But, since as I said, we can't root this tablet, the biggest problem we will face is we won't be able to backup the shipped ROM. Hence, we lose all the drivers of our device, and because neither RCOM nor ZTE are willing to release the ROM/update, we will have to rely on experts to solve our issues for some more time to come.

Q. ROM? CWM?? CM??? WTH????

A. Android devices are abundant in nature. There are many species floating around. Each of them has different hardware capabilities. So, a manufacturer needs to modify the source android (crafted by Google), add/remove bits as per need, load appropriate drivers and applications, and then create a new distro (version of an operating system), which is specific to the device he is creating.

This OS, is then packed, and loaded on every device's Read-Only Memory area. So, the OS, alongwith the code required to boot it, the hardware-specific firmware, all combine to form the ROM, as we generally call it, since it is a package of everything that resides on the device's actual ROM.

Ever since your age-old desktops, or PCs appeared, there are OSes. These OSes needs something to load them, which is able to interact directly with the machine, and tell it that this is where the OS lives, and this is how to get it running. This code is called a bootloader. Even windows has it, problem is it isn't accessible at all. Linux's GRUB, on the other hand, is a very powerful tool, and can be customised to load anything on the planet. Even load/install/recover something which doesn't exists on your system.

Every android device comes with a manufacture-installed recovery tool, used in case something wrong happens, and you wish to restore. CWM is a variety of the recovery tool, which can do a LOT. It can install a new ROM, tweak the bootloader to load it, make a backup of your device's exact state, restore from a backup, etc. etc.

CWM needs to be installed on the recovery area of the device. For this, you need root. Once CWM is in place, you can install any ROM you wish, as long as it is capable with the device. You can even backup your system's default ROM to restore from it in case anything goes wrong, or you are simply not happy.

CyanogenMod is a custom ROM, developed by an open community. Many people, including me, believe that a CM ROM is always better than the stock ROM your manufacturer gave. Reason is, it is managed and upgraded continuously by active developers. It allows a lot of customizations which could never be expected from Google.

In our case, we have no other option till date. We have to go with CM.

As with any ROM, we need CWM to load CM.

We will, in due course, be loading the latest, stable, CM7.1 (2.3.7) release for the ZTE V9.

**This guy missed out the 'C'. He said V9**

No, I didn't. We will have to get the CM7 for V9. Simple reason for that is: Cyanogen community has till now, not developed a specific ROM for our dear V9C.

V9C has been given by ZTE to only two providers till date: India's Reliance and Taiwan's TWM. So, maybe, someday, something is made for the V9C too. My friends in the IITs, help!!!

The ZTE V9 is a tablet, much similar like ours. Its predecessor, to be precise. Looks the same. But it has a resistive screen instead of a capacitive. 600 MHz processor. No GPU. 2 MP rear camera. No front camera. It has been around for more than an year now, and has been sold worldwide. That is why more people are developing for it.

Now, the procedure. It will work well if you have not done ANY attempts to root it till now.

Loading the current CM7 might make your tab awesome, but WiFi, Bluetooth, Front Cam and the Sensors will STOP working. I repeat, these four components will NOT work, till we find fixes/solutions/drivers for them, which will be soon.

I am happy, and even if someone offered me to go back to the stock ROM, I won't. Because I'm loving the overclocking and BSNL HSDPA and louder volume from speakers and faster UI and AVI videos and all those 'root required' apps. The front camera was useless anyways. I don't use BT/WiFi at all. Can live without sensors.

Section I: Get rid of the stock.

//This part requires a desktop/laptop/netbook/whatever running Windows 7 preferably. I have renounced XP years ago, so don't even exactly remember how it worked.

//A stable internet connection is a must to download files. Any error while downloading can corrupt the ROM and render your device useless.

1. Download the following file on your desktop:  http://www.mediafire.com/?hi7rhddjb2j33iv . Extract the contents to a separate folder.
2. Turn the device off.
3. Press and hold the VOL - button. Without releasing it, press and hold the POWER button also. Do not release any of them for ~15 seconds.
4. This will take you to the FTM mode. Big letters with white background will appear on the screen.
5. Connect the device to the computer with the USB cable that came along.
6. Open Start menu, right-click on Computer, select Properties. Click on Device Manager (top left).
7. Expand the Ports (COM & LPT) section. You will see a ZTE Handset Diagnostic Interface (DFU) entry. Note down the COM port number that appears in front of it.
8. Open the folder you extracted the downloaded file to. Start Sales_MultiDL_MSM7227_patched.exe
9. Choose Option -> Port Config and configure the COM on Line 1 -- DIAG to the port number you noted down above. Click OK when finished.
10. If you followed the steps correctly, at 1., you will see your device's name in the SW box and a READY in green at the right. If not, repeat steps 2-9.
11. Choose "Backup NV" in 'Action Mode' and click "Start All". Wait. Now a file called Channel1.nvm will be created in that directory, ~70 KB. Make a copy of it somewhere else, e.g. your Documents folder.
12. Switch action mode to "Download" and click on "SW Directory". Choose the "files" folder, which is inside our extracted to directory. Click OK.
13. Say 'Jai Mata Di' and click "Start All".
14. After 3-4 minutes it should have finished flashing. Disconnect the USB cable and remove the battery from your Tab.
15. Put the battery back after ~10 seconds and power up the device normally, i.e. using only the power button, as you usually do.
Be patient. It will take some time to boot.
16. Complete the V9 First Run Wizard. This will assure you that the touchscreen is working.

This will also install ClockWork recovery Later on that.

You now have your tablet working back again. At this stage, it is rooted and unlocked. Congrats!!

The good thing is, we have managed to increase the user data space (which you call Internal Memory), to ~300 MB. You can verify the same from Settings -> Storage.

Why should you take further trouble? Because I realized that even my rear camera was not working fine with this edition of CM7. All green display. You can check it for yourself. 

Also, feel free to put your favorite SIM card and boot the tablet. It should be working.

Section II: Updating CWM.

The above procedure formatted EVERYthing on your device. Even the FTM mode. Now, if you (try, not mandatory) do steps 2 and 3 above, you will see a menu instead, showing ClockWork Though you will be able to move around with the volume buttons, you will not be able to select anything, since there is no physical Home button. That is why, we need to update CWM with a V9-specific version. Pull out and insert battery again, thereafter boot the tab in normal mode to continue:

17. On your computer, download http://android.podtwo.com/recovery/recovery-clockwork- and extract it to your desktop.
18. Rename the extracted file from 'whatever'.img to recovery.img  .
19. Download http://android.podtwo.com/recoverymanager/RecoveryManager_v0.37b.zip also and extract it to desktop.
20. Connect Tab to computer via USB cable. A few notifications will appear. Open the notification area, select 'Copy files to/from Computer', and enable Mass Storage mode (this was for those who didn't knew how to copy files to SD card thru USB).
21. Your SD card should appear in your Computer as a removable drive. Open it, and Copy both the Recovery Manager APK and the recovery.img to your SD card. Not inside any folder, just paste it in the open.
22. Turn off USB Storage on your tab. Disconnect the cable.
23. Open Settings -> Applications. Ensure the Unknown sources checkbox at the top is ticked. Do it if it isn't.
24. Open File Manager, and in the SD card, select the Recovery Manager APK. Select 'Install'.
25. In your launcher menu now, you should be able to see Recovery Manager. Open it.
26. Select 'Recovery' at the top -> Install Recovery.
27. In a few seconds, it should be able to show you the 'recovery.img' you copied to the SD card. Select it. Accept the warning. The system should reboot after sometime.
28. Repeat steps 2 & 3. You should see CWM installed, instructing you to use the power button now instead of home.

Remove battery, and boot normally.

Section III: Installing CyanogenMod Stable.

30. Do step 20 above. Copy the downloaded file to your SD card. Do step 22.
31. Turn off the tablet.
32. Repeat steps 2 & 3.
33. Using the volume buttons, select 'install zip from sdcard'. Press the power button to click.
34. Press power again to select 'choose zip from sdcard'.
35. Navigate down and select the update-cm-7.1.0-V9-signed.zip file you just copied.
36. Navigate to the 'Yes - ' and press power. Wait.
37. After it is completed, pull the battery and back. Boot normally.

What you get now is what you will live with for some more time. Customize it as you usually do. Feel free to explore and play around with the CM7 settings. Its a very stable ROM. This should also give you the Android Market once you register a Gmail account (notify me if it doesn't). Some tweaks I'll be suggesting you in any case.

Section IV: Dressing up.

//All the apps mentioned are free, and available from Market, unless stated otherwise.

=. The ADW Launcher CM comes with is very buggy on V9C. Install Launcher Pro from the market and change its preferences accordingly. Its fast as hell.

=. CPU Master Free: Must-have. Slide its minimum to 320 MHz and maximum to the full - 864 MHz. Scaling ondemand. Select apply. You'll feel the difference.

=. MoboPlayer: for the AVI files. And even mp4. Its better than the built-in video player.

=. By now, you must have realized that your screen is not rotating by itself or any other method. All the menus and most of the apps open in portrait. Even the default video player doesn't switches to landscape (mobo does, though). But landscape is required, isn't it?

Download an app called Orientation Control. Its the only one which can do our job. Its paid in the market, though if you feel like, you can try downloading it from here:
This helps you to switch between portrait and landscape modes as and when you desire. Makes the loss of the sensors much more bearable.

=. Quadrant Standard: Most decent benchmarking app.

=. GPS Essentials and GPS Test: both useful.

=. Titanium Backup: Compulsory ingredient, if you plan to play with ROMs later also. No one wants to download
applications again and again, so this will save your day.

=. Hardware Info.

=. Screen Filter: Thanks arpan for the tip! Actually comes in handy.

=. Opera Mobile: It is the best. No second thoughts about that.

=. Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Adobe Reader, aDownloader, fring, skype, Indian Rail, Fancy Widgets, and our very own, Angry Birds!! KaKawww!!! :->