I’ve had my Blade V for a couple of weeks now and I’m extremely happy with it, it’s a superb specification for the money. I thought I’d just share what I’ve done since I got it, nothing particularly original as some of the info already came from these forums, but maybe it might help or inspire someone else!
I bought the Blade V in a UK Virgin store. They asked for proof that I was a Virgin Media customer so I could get it for £71.99, I didn’t have proof but they let me have it for that price anyway. There was an obligatory £10 of credit added and I purchased a further £10 taking the total price to £91.99. I put the Virgin SIM into an old phone, called the customer services and requested a network unlock code, for which they debited £15.32 from the top-up credit and said the code would be posted to me and received within the next 5 – 10 working days. It was actually over 20 days before it was delivered, but after 10 days I called them and they were able to read out the code over the phone.
I bought some Blade 3 screen protectors, specifically, these. They’re a nice snug fit, very happy with them so far.
I downloaded KonstaT’s CWM (version 2) to an SD card and put it in the Blade. I installed the ZTE drivers on my PC, connected to Blade via USB and booted into fastboot. From there I used ADB to boot into CWM and do a Nandroid backup of the stock recovery and ROM.
I then started the phone for the first time to check if a System Update was required. I was already on v2.1, so no further updates available. Rebooted into fastboot and flashed CWM as the internal recovery. I then sideloaded a Superuser APK to give me root access.
Next step was to use the great tip from targetbsp on swapping SD cards. I installed a 32GB card then manually made a backup of vold.emmc.fstab, edited as directed and rebooted. Instant storage boost!
Downloaded Titanium Backup and used that to carefully delete a bunch of pre-installed apps that I know I’ll never use. Didn’t bother freezing them, just deleted!
I downloaded the free Nova launcher to replace the stock launcher. This gave me a number of benefits, including being able to increase the home screen icon grid from 4x4 to 5x4. The extra row of icons doesn’t leave the screen looking squashed at all. Nova also allows resizing of all widgets, improved app drawer animations and a few options to change the look and feel to more like KitKat. But the actual reason I downloaded it was for custom shortcuts which the stock launcher didn’t allow, for example I can create a direct shortcut to SMS an individual.
Nova meant I’d lost the stock Quick Settings so I downloaded my favourite replacement, Power Tools which sits in the Notification bar. It allows me a lot more options than stock; I like to be able to swap between 2G and 3G because I’m a battery save-a-holic.
I found some nicer wallpapers in the store rather than the garish stock ones and sideloaded a certain ad blocker which shall remain nameless. From the Play store I picked a better media player, but that’s down to personal choice.
Finally, I sideloaded the Xposed Framework. Once this was on and I’d rebooted, I downloaded the following modules:
- Received SMS times – this displays the time an SMS was sent rather than when your phone received it. As part of my daily commute, I have a 15 minute period with no signal, so when a friend texts to say they’ll meet me in half an hour, it’s really useful to know what time they sent the message!
- XBlast Tools – I made lots of tweaks with this great toolbox including correcting the wifi signal colour to blue (just a cosmetic issue for me); changing my carrier labels to hide the phone network I’m on; allowing the volume rocker to skip music tracks via a long press; allowing the volume rocker to move the cursor left/right within text fields; disabling the boot animation (much faster boot time) and providing an advanced poweroff menu including option to reboot to recovery and take a screenshot etc
- GravityBox – this was the final Xposed module, it’s functionally quite similar to XBlast Tools. I used it to give me a percentage battery indicator on the status bar as XBlast didn’t have that option.
After I had everything working the way I wanted, rebooted to recovery and took another Nandroid backup. Obviously the SD card swap doesn’t take effect when booting to recovery, so I’d recommend using the “backup to external SD” option, which will back up to your removable card.
Once I had the network unlock code from Virgin, it was a simple case of putting in my non-Virgin SIM then the Blade requests the code as soon as it starts up. Type it in carefully, tap OK, job done!
As for phone cases, I haven’t found any available, but I don’t think I’ll bother. It was a cheap phone which I’m expecting to last me around a year. It’s reasonably slim and light so I don’t want to make it more bulky.
Despite every other Android device I’ve ever owned having a custom ROM installed, with the power of the Xposed Framework, I can get every tweak and mod I need with stock. I genuinely won’t mind if no custom ROMs are developed for this phone, I’m really enjoying it the way it is.