(Not) Hacking the Sony Z3 Compact

Good news, everyone...

This pretty much sums up my weekend of l33t Android h4xx0ring…

Howard was kind enough to lend me his locked-to-Bell Z3 Compact—by odd coincidence, at a Sony briefing for the company’s Christmas 2014 mobile product portfolio. The team there was all about showing off how you could play a PS4 game on your phone while on the move, then bring it home and Miracast it to your big-screen TV. But if you were looking to take control of your Android experience—denying egregious app permissions, removing ads and such—then this is definitely not the phone for you.

Not even two weeks ago I was intrigued by the Xperia line. I was impressed by Sony’s transparency with AOSP, liked that I could get a SIM-unlocked phone direct from a Sony Store, and was excited that fans in the USA—particularly the XDA crowd—could do the same. So Sunday morning I sat myself down to watch this Sony-produced video tutorial about how to unlock a Z3 bootloader:

Of course, when I followed this exact procedure I only got as far as the configuration screen:

Z3 Compact Configuration Screen

Sad trombone

I can only assume that this carrier-locked device has a locked bootloader because the carrier wants it that way. Even if you could free the bootloader on a direct-from-Sony unit there isn’t much you could do with it; there are zero available builds of the Free Xperia Project for the Z3C (codename aries) and its Android Development Forum on XDA is a ghost town. And good luck flashing a superuser zip without a custom recovery image.

I had high hopes for the Z3, particularly the Compact Edition—which I saw as a viable  non-phablet upgrade that could potentially wean me off of Nexus devices. It’s a solid little phone but not at all a good choice for Android modders.