My secondary phone line (used for work) is on a ZTE Axon 7 running Android 7.1.1. A little while ago, I found an app that was running called SystemUpdates by Zzte. The app can not be uninstalled nor easily disabled. (You can use Settings > Apps > Show system apps > System Updates > disable, but this has other repercussions like no longer being able to perform system updates.)
The reviews of this app on the Android Play Store imply that SystemUpdates is malware. A quick Google search on the app seems to confirm it. Until you dig a bit deeper and find out that apparently SystemUpdates by Zzte is an official ZTE application, confirmed by a ZTE community rep on the Axon 7 forums. However, after reading an article on Digital Trends about Chinese spyware installed on devices, I have my doubts. (ZTE is on the list of devices manufacturers, but Huawei is not.)
Like the other people on the Google Play store who found this app and had no idea what it was doing on my device, I opted to do a hard reset and restore the factory default settings on the phone. Other people had claimed that this got rid of the application. It does not. App is still present on the phone. Now, this makes sense if the SystemUpdates app is indeed an official ZTE application required to perform system updates.
So now I’m stuck with a reset phone and can no longer access my work email on any of my devices. Tech support and I are going to have some fine quality time on Monday at work.
Meanwhile, given the questions I have about the ZTE phone and the possibility of the manufacturer installing applications I don’t want to have on the device, I’m looking at other options.
I’m investigating unlocking the bootloader on the ZTE Axon 7 and installing Lineage OS 15.1 (Android 8.1 ROM). This does not look like a method for the faint of heart. My phone is a USA unlocked model on build b35. The steps required for installing a different ROM on a phone varies depending upon the build number and version of Android that is installed. Honestly, it gets confusing. I’ve watched several hours of YouTube videos watching how people have tried various ROMs which gave me an idea of the overall process. I’ve read a lot of posts on the XDA, ZTE Axon forums, and reddit.
The method I’m going to try is this one: [GUIDE][TREBLE] Axon 7 Custom OREO ROM installation for newbies – 2018.08.05 by Oki. It seems to be a safe, all-in-one solution. (Well, as much as any of this process is safe when there is a good chance I’ll brick the phone.)
I will post updates on this process as I do it. This is the first time I’ve flashed a ROM on an Android phone. I used to flash the ROM on the Nokia N900 to various versions of developer ROMs, but that was easy because the phone was completely unlocked and was meant to be a developer’s device. And it was a great phone.
Bookmarking the pages I’ve been using: