Noir A8 Stock ROM – Prerooted!

This is a backup of QMobile Noir A8 and will help you restore Noir A8 to perfectly working condition If you’ve somehow messed up your phone. Whether your Noir A8 is stuck in a bootloop, corrupted system files or you just want it restored to a condition just like new, then you can flash this pre-rooted Noir A8 ROM and unbrick your phone!

Steps To Flash QMobile Noir A8 ROM:

  1. It can be flashed via clockworkmod recovery. If you don’t have CWM, follow THIS link to install CWM recovery first.
  2. ROM: Download all the files from HERE (boot.img, recovery.img, system.ext4.tar, nandroid.md5) and put them in a folder named “a8sys” without quotes. Or any other name WITHOUT spaces. Make sure you download via a download manager to not corrupt them.
  3. Place this folder on your sdcard inside: /sdcard/clockworkmod/backup/ So that all files can be found in: /sdcard/clockworkmod/backup/a8sys/
  4. Turn off phone and start it in recovery mode by pressing volume UP + power button.
  5. Choose wipe data/factory reset
  6. Go to advanced -> wipe dalvik cache
  7. Go back again. -> mounts and storage -> format /system
  8. Go back to main menu -> backup and restore -> advanced restore -> restore /system. Choose the folder “a8sys”
  9. It will start MD5 check and restore the system partition image. Restart your phone and enjoy it like it’s brand new!

 

Few Notes:

  • I haven’t currently included data partition, but you don’t really need it. If you want it too, post in the comments.
  • I’ve removed the MD5 checking mechanism of CWM by emptying nandroid.md5 file. If md5 sums are present inside nandroid.md5 file, CWM gives MD5 mismatch error, even if the MD5 sums are correct!
  • Here is the nandroid.md5 file which contains MD5 sums for above backup files. Replace this with the other and then try the system restore. It may give you an error. Figure out the solution if you can and post in the comments :) (line for data.ext4.tar is not included, as it’s not in the folder).

YouTube Gets Unblocked in Pakistan

UPDATE: Height of stupidity!! After a few hours of unblocking YouTube in Pakistan, Prime Minister ordered again to block YouTube! It’s blocked again, no more accessible. SAD!

The wait is over! Finally YouTube gets unbanned in Pakistan. Last night Rehman Malik announced on his Twitter account that YouTube will be unblocked tomorrow. His claim was true. YouTube is now unblocked in Pakistan and the entire site is fully accessible. Not only the site loads, but videos too!

It was on 17th September 2012 that access to YouTube was blocked in Pakistan. An amateur anti-Islam video/movie titled “Innocence of Muslims” was uploaded to YouTube. YouTube declined all requests to remove it because according to the website, it did not violate any of the YouTube Community Guidelines.

Pakistani government, in a bid to protest, ordered PTA to ban YouTube and block all access to it. It also resulted in some unwanted behavior like Google Play and Goo.gl also getting blocked.

The move was not appreciated in the Pakistani blogosphere and majority of netizens. The general opinion was only the access to specific objectionable content should have been blocked, instead of banning the whole domain name.

YouTube, besides the entertainment and fun content, also has a huge stockpile of educational, religious and scientific content. It hosts many video lectures of prestigious institutes like MIT, UCBerkeley and many others. YouTube blackout meant access to courses, technical information and several different kinds of tutorials wasn’t available to Pakistani students and technology enthusiasts.

At the end, this latest move is very welcoming and we’re thankful our dear Interior Minister finally realized the need of unblocking YouTube.

(Updated) ClockWorkMod (CWM) Recovery for QMobile Noir A6

ClockWorkMod (CWM) Recovery QMobile Noir A6

NOTE: If your phone is in working condition, you can follow the below procedure. However, if it is bricked or only goes into recovery mode, follow this procedure to flash CWM and ignore the procedure below.

1: Download “MTK mobileuncle tools” application from Google Play store or click here. If it is giving error on Play Store, download the APK from here and install via a file manager.

 2: Download CWM Recovery and copy it to the root (root means to the main directory) of your SD card. (Sdcard2.)

3: Open MTK Mobileuncle tools and select Recovery Update, search for recovery.img and select it.

4: Click ok and then cancel on the following prompt. Now you have a working CWM recovery for Noir A6.

Note: To get to recovery mode, turn off your phone and hold vol up + power button for a while. Or, try this if it doesn’t work:

  1. Press and hold volume up + volume down + power button at the same time for a while when you see this screen: http://i.imgur.com/v4x8i.jpg
  2. Press volume up once and then home soft touch button. You will get into recovery.

Noir A6 ClockWorkMod (CWM) Recovery

Some good news. CWM recovery has been ported to work on QMobile Noir A6. Let me remind you that Noir A6 is based on MediaTek MT6575 chipset (or maybe another variant of it, since it doesn’t have 3G modem) and runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

Credit for this CWM recovery image of QMobile Noir A6 goes to Umair Arshad (umair.arshad06 [at] gmail.com). He was kind enough to test it on his Noir A6 and reports it is working fine. If you need any help in flashing it or encounter any error, please leave a comment.

Procedure To Install CWM Recovery

WARNING: Performing this procedure in a wrong way may brick your phone. We shall not be responsible for any damage. Always keep a backup!

  1. Make sure your phone is rooted. If you haven’t done so, click here to root your Noir A6.
  2. Download CWM recovery for Noir A6 from here. Extract the archive, place recovery.img file on root of your SD Card. It also has scatter file for Noir A6, in case you want to use SP Flash tool.
  3. Download MTK Mobileuncle Tools from Google Play and install it.
  4. Open Mobileuncle Tools, grant it superuser permissions and choose “Recovery Update”. Select the recovery.img file from SD card and let it do the job.
  5. Turn off your phone and restart in recovery mode to see if CWM shows up.

To open recovery mode:

Press Volume UP + Power button

If it doesn’t work, do this to open recovery mode (discovered by Qasir):

  1. Press and hold ( volume up + volume down + power button ) for a while when you see this screen on your device: http://i.imgur.com/v4x8i.jpg
  2. Press volume up once and suddenly press Home Soft touch button. You will get into recovery.

So that was it! Please report below if it works for you too!!

You can also use the SP Flash Tool method in case if it fails. Scatter file is included in the above file of step 2.

Google Apps Custom Email No Longer Free!

Google Apps for business is a set of very fine, high-quality services being provided by Google to users ranging from individuals, small businesses to large corporates. It used to be free for a limited number of inboxes per account, but the free version of  Google’s custom email hosting is no longer available for new signups.

In a recent email to account holders, Google announced that they will no longer accept free signups for Google Apps, but the existing free customers will not be affected by this decision. They can continue to use the services free of cost. A sigh of big relief for me! But it surely won’t come as a good news for those who cannot afford the cost of custom domain email hosting and wanted to use GApps! The paid version costs about $5 per user on Google Apps.

Like Lab Android (this very site!), the free version is also used by many individuals who cannot afford to pay the cost of hosting custom emails either at GApps or elsewhere. Previously, the limit of email accounts for free customers was higher than ten, but we currently have a ten users limit.

Google Apps for business includes services like custom email hosting where you can use your own domain name to create email accounts like ceo@yourdomain.com. They can then be accessed normally using Gmail; some other addons like Google Calendar and Marketplace (called Google Extend) are also included.

I’m sure there will be many others too who’ll find this news disappointing. Were you looking forward to create a free account at GApps?

Please note that Google Apps for education and universities is still free and no such thing applies to it.

QMobile Noir A10 Launched – Review & Specifications

There were quite a few rumors in the wild about the QMobile Noir A10. Much was speculated about its specifications, but now the word has come out straight from the horse’s mouth.

Yes, QMobile Noir A10 is launched officially. It also has 3G (WCDMA) support unlike Noir A8. Also, please note that Noir A10 is a clone of Micromax A110. Check out this picture if you don’t believe me. Now let’s take a look at what the phone is equipped with and then we will review whether this phone’s really worth the money or not? Is it wise to get A10 rather than Sony Xperia U/Sola or Noir A8? Our comparison should help you decide this.

Noir A10 Price:

The expected price of Noir A10 is going to be between 16,000 Rs. to 18,000 Rs. This is one of the most important factors which will determine A10’s success. Noir A8 was initially priced at 14,500 Rs. but later on bumped to 15,000 Rs. If A10 comes in the market at a price above 17,000 Rs., is it really going to be worth it to purchase rather than Noir A8 or Sony Xperia Sola? Read below after we list the specifications:

Noir A10 – Specifications and Chipset:

 

Supported Bands: 3G & GSM
Screen: 5inches IPS, 16M colors
Resolution: 480×854 pixels (FWVGA) – 196 ppi
Android OS Version: 4.0.4 – Ice Cream Sandwich
CPU: Dual core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9
GPU: PowerVR SGX 531
RAM: 512MB
Internal Memory/ROM: 4GB total. Useable: 2GB (expected)
SD Card slot: Yes, upto 32GB expandable.
Chipset: MediaTek MT6577
Camera: 8 MP with autofocus and LED Flash.
Front Camera: 1.3MP for video calling
Video Calling: Yes. Skype and others.
GPS: Yes with A-GPS
Bluetooth: Yes
SIM slots: 2. Either 2 GSM SIMs or 1 3G and 1 GSM
WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
35mm Jack: Yes
Google Play: Yes

 

Noir A10 vs. Noir A8

As you can see from the specs, Noir A10 is almost the same as Noir A8 in terms of internal hardware. The chipset, MT6577 is the same as well as the CPU. One another disappointing factor is RAM. It again has the same RAM as Noir A8 i.e 512MB.

The Need For Memory

We were expecting at least an increase in the RAM size because QMobile will sell this set at a higher price than Noir A8. But sadly ,it won’t offer any performance improvements over Noir A8 because the primary hardware responsible for running the OS is same!

Noir A10’s Advantages

The areas where it beats Noir A8 is 3G connectivity, camera and screen quality, only. 3G has not yet arrived in Pakistan and it won’t be fully active until middle to late 2013 IF and only IF the 3G license auctions go well in the start of 2013/December 2012. So, this advantage is negligible so far.

Also, as Noir A10 is the clone of Micromax A110, we expect that it will also offer the same GSM bands. That means, you will get only two working GSM bands — 900MHz and 1900Mhz. So this is actually a disadvantage if you want quad-band connectivity and are roaming around the world and can ignore 3G.

Does Screen Size Really Matter?

A10 has a claimed IPS screen of 5inches with 480×854 resolution. Micromax A110 has the same screen with pixel density of 196 ppi. Yes, it is better than Noir A8’s 4.3inch screen but the difference is not much at all! It already has a screen with crisp, bright colors so 0.7 inches difference doesn’t count for anything here.

The Mighty Xperia!

Sony also has a fine series of dual-core Androids — the 2012 Xperia lineup. Sony Xperia U and Xperia Sola are also 1GHz dual core phones with same 512MB memor and, a very active development support. Also, Sony phones are known for their very fine cameras.

Xperia U, however has fixed 8GB internal storage and you can’t place any SD card in it. You can find it for about 17,000 Rs. So, if A10 is priced at around the same price, and 8GB fixed storage does not bother you, get the Xperia U!

Xperia Sola has the same specs like Xperia U but also has SD card support. You can try to find it for around 20,000 Rs. If A10 is priced above 18,000 Rs., you should probably save a little more money and get the Xperia Sola.

Conclusion And Final Thoughts

To be honest, we were expecting a little more from the Noir A10. The disappointing features of A10 are limited 512MB RAM, again the same 4GB ROM, same 1GHz dual core CPU. Even if it had 1GB RAM instead of 512MB, it would have gone way up the Noir A8.

But in its current form, there aren’t many things which make it superior than A8, except the screen size and 3G support. Now it is upto you whether you want to spend more money on it or go for either Noir A8 or Xperia U / Xperia Sola.

All comments/corrections are welcome. Please post below :)

GUIDE: How to Root Noir A6

After the rooting tutorial of QMobile Noir A8, here’s a guide on how to root QMobile Noir A6. I don’t own this phone myself, so it was not possible for me to test this method but thanks to “Qasir” in the comments below, who tested and reported his findings. The results are positive. Here are some details:

QMobile A6 is built upon the MediaTek MT6575 chipset and running Ice Cream Sandwich. It has a 1GHz ARM Cortex CPU, PowerVR SGX 531 GPU and 512MB RAM. The rooting script by bin4ry that I used on Noir A8 works on Noir A6 as well, perhaps because both the devices have the same ICS.

Here are the steps to root Noir A6:

  1. Download this file. It has the rooting script and drivers. Don’t worry, the folder name is Noir A8 but works on A6 too. Extract the archive.
  2. In your phone, go to Settings > Development options. Set USB debugging ON.
  3. In settings, go to Security > check “Unknown Sources”.
  4. Connect your phone with a cable to PC. If you don’t have the drivers installed, it will ask for drivers. Manually install them from the folder Noir A8 USB ADB drivers.
  5. Now disconnect the cable and turn off your phone. In off state, connect the cable again. If you don’t have VCOM drivers, it will prompt for them; navigate to A8 preloader VCOM folder and install the drivers from there.
  6. Turn on the phone and make sure it is in USB Debugging mode. Connect the cable. Open the folder “Root_script_by_Bin4ry_v15″ and click RunMe.bat. Choose normal mode and follow the prompts.

You should now have a rooted Noir A6. Check for SuperSU app in the app drawer and enjoy! :)

 

Noir A8 Stock Recovery

After the post on CWM recovery for Noir A8, some people asked me to post the stock recovery of Noir A8. Well here it is, it’s the one I obtained from the ROM dump of my Noir A8. Can be flashed to your phone just like you flash CWM recovery.

Here are the steps to flash the stock recovery on Noir A8.

  1. Download from here the stock recovery and extract. You will get a folder: stock_recovery_files.
  2. Open SP Flash Tool v3.1224.01 or any other version that you downloaded earlier from the CWM recovery post.
  3. Open SP Flash Tool. Click Scatter-loading, browse to stock_recovery_files folder which you extracted  in step 1 and select “MT6577_Android_scatter_emmc.txt”. If any errors pop up, ignore them.
  4. In the list below, only select the recovery like you did for CWM. Make sure no other entry is checked!
  5. Turn off the device, remove the battery and reinsert. Without turning on your phone, click on download button in SP Flash Tool and then connect your phone in off state with a cable.
  6. If you already have the drivers installed, the progress bar will reach 100%. Then a timer will start and it will ask you to connect cable but do not detach the cable or do anything else. Let it finish.
  7. After the timer, another progress bar will appear and after successful flash, a green circle will be shown.

Now remove the cable, turn on your phone in recovery mode by pressing volume up and power button together. It should go into stock recovery rather than CWM recovery.

If you get some error after the first progress bar or during flashing, then perform the following steps. This method was found by Adeel Raj and posted in the comments of CWM post when the above procedure didn’t work on newer Noir A8s.

  1. Search for and install MTK Mobileuncle tools from Play Store.
  2. Place recovery.img file from stock_recovery_files to the root of your SD Card.
  3. Open Mobileuncle tools and choose “Recovery Update”. Select recovery.img that you earlier placed in the root of SD card and choose yes if it asks to use this recovery.

Reboot into recovery mode and you should see the stock recovery back again! :)

How To Backup Stock ROM Of QMobile Noir A8

Keeping a backup of current working condition of your Android phone is always a must if you play around with your phone. QMobile Noir A8 has the MT6577 chipset running Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 and thankfully there are some easy ways to dump the current running ROM and save it just in case the phone gets bricked or does not boot.

The ROM backup that you will obtain can be flashed any time using SP Flash Tool and your phone will be restored to the condition in which it was when you dumped the ROM. Since rooting is must before dumping ROM, if you flash it again you will still have root.

Please note that you need root permissions to perform the dumping procedure. So don’t try it if your phone is not rooted! Also make sure you have enough space on SD Card as this will store the backup to “backup_v2” folder on SD card. Credit for the script goes to linerty.

Steps to Backup ROM Of Noir A8

  1. Download this file and extract. You will get a folder “gscript”. In that you will find another folder “bin“, and two files: “back_mt6577_a4_v2c.sh” and “GScriptLite.apk”.
  2. Copy the folder entire folder “gscript” to root of your sdcard and using any file manager and install GScriptLite.apk
  3. Open Gscript Lite application from app drawer. Tap options – > Add script. Check “needs su?”. Tap “load file” button and select “back_mt6577_a4_v2c.sh” and then “Save”.
  4. As a precaution, set the display timeout of phone to 5/10 minutes from settings/display.
  5. Run the script. It will take some time and store the backup to folder “backup_v2” on SD card. Copy and place this in your PC!

In that folder, you will get 15 items. 12 files and 3 folders. Some of the files will be system.img, boot.img, data.img, recovery.img, uboot.img, preloader.img etc. If you have already flashed the CWM recovery then it will save the cwm recovery. If you want stock recovery, head over to this post.

These can then be flashed via SP Flash Tool. Guide on flashing using SP Flash Tool is coming as well! If you encounter any errors, post below :)

PLEASE NOTE: Judging from the user reports, it seems SP Flash tool is not reliable and throws out errors for no real reason randomly. Sometimes it can get difficult to flash a file using SP Flash tool.

Good news is, this backup script also makes a nandroid backup which can be flashed via CWM recovery. The nandroid backup is stored in BDRS-xxxxxx sub-folder present in backup_v2 folder. Just place the nandroid backup (folder with filename as date and time) on sdcard in this order: /sdcard/clockworkmod/backup/yournandroidbackup

Open CWM recovery, go to backups and restore->restore and choose this backup.

Lab Android Booting Up

Today w’ere officially launching the Android Laboratory — labandroid.com. This website will currently aim to unite the Pakistani Android development community so that we can also leave a solid footprint in the Android world.

With the recent launch of low-cost, mid-range Android phones (like the Noir A8), smartphones have become more accessible to the Pakistani public. Although the masses still don’t have the luxury of smartphones, still the Android buzz has infiltrated into the Pakistani youth. The big brands get enough coverage and dev support but other capable platforms like MediaTek chipsets don’t have much support.

What we do lack is a dedicated support and development community of Pakistani coders/modders/enthusiasts. Sure there is xda-developers forum, but even there they have dedicated forums for U.S. only version of Android phones and the local brands (let’s say QMobile) or other Chinese brands don’t get much attention.

We aim to fill the gap. We need your help. We ourselves are students and other students, professional coders are more than welcome to contribute.

Although the aim will be OS development/modding, app development will also get covered.

Wish us luck! :)

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