New hack allows users to unlock the bootloader on Xperia Z, Z1, Z2 and Z3 Series devices and retain Camera functions

If you know anything about modding your Sony Xperia phone, you’ll know that unlocking the bootloader means you won’t be getting the full camera experience, due to the loss of DRM keys when you unlock the bootloader. But there’s hope on the horizon, with modders posting a new hack on XDA-Developers which works around the restriction.

According to the forum post, the hack allows you to restore features like BionZ, Noise Cancelling and X-Reality which are lost after unlocking. Sony uses DRM keys stored on the TA partition, but unlocking the bootloader removes these keys, this new hack simply removes the check in Sony software which looks for them. It’s technically rather inelegant, it doesn’t actually restore the DRM keys, but in this case, inelegant works.

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It’s a lightweight patch, clocking in at less than 2MB in size, but it will need to be applied with each update you receive on the phone. The process is apparently fairly volatile, so it’s a case of modder beware, and ensure you follow the step-by-step instructions on the forum thread.

If you’re willing to be a guinea pig on your Xperia Z series phone, head on over to the forum thread on XDA-Developers and start reading.

" Daniel Tyson : @phroghollow Dan is a die-hard Android fan. Some might even call him a lunatic. He's been an Android user since Android was a thing, and if there's a phone that's run Android, chances are he owns it (his Nexus collection is second-to-none) or has used it. Dan's dedication to Ausdroid is without question, and he has represented us at some of the biggest international events in our industry including Google I/O, Mobile World Congress, CES and IFA.."

View Comments (22)

  • Thanks for the heads up, Dan.
    One step towards making the Z3 series a viable device series to buy.
    Here's hoping they can figure out a similar hack for the screen.

  • Just reading the OP in the XDA thread.
    Confirmed stable working on the Z3.
    Unstable working on the Z3C.

    No mention of the Z3 tablet compact.

    Dan, the CRITICAL you left out in your article is that this mod on the Z3 is for KitKat only.

      • My apologies, Dan, for being hasty in posting, last night.
        I left off the KK version number.
        The mod on the Z3 is for KK 4.4.2 only
        Anything later and you have to roll back to 4.4.2 before starting applying it.

          • the relevance is that it would be impossible for Jenny to have a Z3 that runs Jelly Bean (as the binaries wouldn't work).

          • How exactly would people release this hack for users of 5.0 Lollipop on a Z3 when there is no stock ROM at version 5.0? One could imagine, perhaps, that when Sony release 5.0 for Z3, this hack may be updated?

      • There are alpha builds of Cyanogenmod and others but we can't get the camera features back if we run these builds. :'(

        • I don't think you can get the camera features on a custom rom at all. You have to be running the Sony rom with the Sony camera app.

  • Reading the XDA thread.
    On the Z3, there's another thing tied up in that damned DRM. The PS4 Remote Play.

    So far, this mod does NOT restore that capability.

    • Jeni, the Remote Play feature is enabled on any Android 4.4 handset. There's multiple hacks available for that.

  • You can always back up you original DRM keys. Install whatever crazy ROMs you want on your unlocked bootlader. When you reinstall the stock Sony OS you flash back the DRM keys and Sony is none the wiser. Atleast this works on the Z1 compact.

    As the other Z series phones had workarounds developed almost from day dot this was always going to happen and some of the negativity around this is OTT.

    • you can't. there is no known vulnerabilites to get root to backup the drm keys (you pull from /dev/block/platform/msm_sdcc.1/by-name/TA )

      • For the Z3/Z3 compact you can't. For the Z1 compact and most of the rest of the Z range you most definitely can. I and many others at XDA can happily verify this. I hope you just misread my comment as what you have said is inaccurate.

        • reverting to older kernel versions doesn't count. that's by definition a hack. . futex bug is patched in latest firmware :)

  • When you flash back to a stock ROM (using the available images from Sony's website, does that restore the DRM keys? (I suspect not, but I can't find a ready answer)

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