Recently Sony rolled out a new Android 4.4.4 KitKat over the air update for the Xperia Z1, Z1 Compact and Z ultra that comes with the build number of 14.4.A.0.157. You can check out everything to know about the firmware here. We covered the release upon the first release. Once you have updated to the latest software you may be looking to gain root access. Root is the sure way to unchaining the devices system internals and opening it up so that the end-user can get the most out of the device without the default factory restrictions imposed by the manufacturer. The Japanese phone-makers always install restrictions that stop us from achieving the devices true potential. Anyway, by following just a few quick steps thanks to a guy named Waledac over at XDA, you can unlock the system internals and start installing custom ROMs and applications that are not available from the Google Play Store.

Firstly let’s run through the essentials so that you know what you need. The guide works for all smartphones that received the aforementioned firmware version OTA update. If you are running the latest software version in the title then it does work for you regardless of your devices model number. You can check the model number by navigating to the Settings > About phone > Build Number.

Android 4.4.4

 

What Is Rooting the Android Operating System?

When you buy a new smartphone, you might not know it, but the Android operating system is in a “locked” state. For the most part, it will not make much difference to you: most apps are still available to use, and there are benefits to this locked state such as better security. When you root the Android operating system, you are gaining full administrative rights over the OS.

Why Would You Want to Root Android?

Gaining full administrative rights over the operating system has some perks to some people. For example, out of the millions of applications available on Google Play, some of them will not be able to run on your device unless it has root access. Until you have a specific need for wanting Android rooted, you probably want to leave Android as it comes out of the box. But if you need to unlock an app, then that is when you want to look into rooting methods. Using more apps is only one example of why you may want root access, here is the full list of benefits:

  • Unlock more applications. Some of the apps available for Android cannot run unless you have root access. This is because the app’s features cannot run without the root permissions because the features require the full system access before they can be useful.
  • Better battery life. Smartphones are great, but they have one caveat, which is each time you recharge the battery, it loses some of its overall lifespan. That means smartphones, in general, do not make great investments, and if your weekly paycheck is low, you will want to limit the number of smartphones you go through. One of the ways you can do that is by removing bloatware and creating a better battery life.
  • Bolster performance. If you are the budget-conscious shopper, you may want to increase the device’s performance. This can be done by removing the bloatware as well. The more processes you have running, the more memory that is used. By removing some of the apps, it can help lighten the load on your hardware.
  • Customize Android with themes. With root access, you can download and install any theme that’s at your disposal. That includes any customized theme you can find.

What Are the Risks of Rooting?

If you are buying a smartphone that is not running iOS, then it is probably the Android operating system that you want running as the ideal software to pair with your shiny new hardware. It is, in fact, the Android OS that offers you the chance to customize the OS considerably more than iOS: custom themes, run any app you know about, the works. For many users, the “openness” of an operating system is important, because it offers them more freedom which means running into fewer problems with their investments. But there is a reason iOS likes a far more locked approach: the ability to customize is not for everyone, and if you do not know what you are doing it can lead to a lot of problems which can define your time with the OS rather than freedom.

With power (full admin permissions) comes greater responsibility. Here are some of the main risk factors when it comes to rooting:

  • Malware becomes a larger threat. You might read the occasional news article about how new malware is wreaking havoc in parts of the world on Android. But the Android operating system with root access becomes considerably more vulnerable to exploits because applications are no longer prisoned off in their own sandbox environments. This means if you accidentally download malware, it can do more damage because it can spread throughout the operating system and even jump into other applications and potentially view sensitive data.
  • You can accidentally brick the smartphone. There is always a chance that you end up bricking the smartphone before you had the opportunity to use it with root access. That is because if you are going to brick it, it is going to happen during the rooting process.
  • You may void the warranty. Most manufacturers do not allow you to root the Android operating system and still get to bring it in for repairs under warranty. Whether they are legally meant to do that or not is another question, but it is now common knowledge that most do not want to help you if they find out you have unlocked the OS with root access.

Details of Note

  • You must backup the data on the phones before starting. You run the risk of losing phone contacts, settings, SMS text messages, videos, pictures, music and more unless you make copies of the data. Take advantage of applications available from the Google Play Store such as helium for Android, SMS Backup+ and Holo Backup. If you have your own personal favorite method of making copies of the data, it’s fine to follow that through. You don’t need to use the apps we are mentioning. They are purely our recommendation.
  • Check that you have enough battery power reserved before starting the steps. You will connect to a computer for some of the steps, therefore, the battery will charge up using the USB charging feature that most modern-day smartphones have. Nevertheless the last thing you can afford to have happen is the phone shutting down from a lack of battery power before the flashing finishes. If the phone shuts down during the guide it can soft-brick the device. Check you have enough power before starting by observing the battery stats icon from the status bar. You want to have at least 50% power.
  • The steps are for advanced Android users only. Don’t try to unlock the system internals unless you know what you are doing. You will void the manufacturer’s warranty by following it through. The only way the remaining warranty works again is if you flash the stock software over the top again.
  • Do not install future OTA updates with root access. Doing so always risks bricking the handset. You want to wait for the file to become available and flash the file manually. Even if you notice future software updates arriving as a notification over the air, you don’t want to confirm and install them. Phone carriers and device manufacturers have little interest in making it safe for you to flash OTA’s over root access since they don’t want  you unchaining the operating system. Don’t let it turn you off since it’s simple to fix by installing manually.
  • You must turn the phone on and enable USB Debugging Mode from the Developer Options menu. The menu is not hidden in KitKat so you’ll have no trouble locating it from the Settings menu. Earliers version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean had the menu hidden. Users had to unlock it by tapping on the build number seven times. As fun as that was, they quickly got rid of it since it was causing far too much stress from people desperately attempting to enable USB Debugging.
  • Make sure you are running the firmware version mentioned in this post.

How to root the 14.4.A.0.157 firmware on Sony Xperia Devices

1. Download the following files onto your computer:

2. Download the Sony Flashtool here.

3. Open and run the flash tool.

4. Flash the C690X_14.4.A.0.108_KernelOnly.ftf file.

5. Leave the flash tool.

6. Apply root on the phone using the rootkitXperia_20140719.zip.

7. Extract rootkitXperia_20140719.zip.

8. Install the Sony PC Companion.

9. The PC companion will install the ADB Drivers.

10. Leave the PC Companion.

11. Run the install.bat file.

12. Run the flash tool once again, only this time flash the C690X_14.4.A.0.157_KernelOnly.ftf file.

Your Sony Xperia Z Ultra or Z1 devices are now ready to have the root applications installed on it. If you’ve unlocked the bootloader, you might be able to use one of the root applications like the ROM Manager to check out some custom ROMs that can be installed. If there are any available, you won’t need a custom recovery image for that.

You might also be interested in:

Have something to say? You can contribute to this tech article by leaving a comment below.