Experience with Motorola G5S Plus (Sanders) (XT-1084) ROMs and Generic System Image custom ROMs Project Treble

Whatever you do with your device, it’s all at your own risk.

The Device
The legacy Motorola G5S Plus phone (sanders) is of 2017 and has a lot of juice in it to support Android OS versions up to Android 12. However, sucess is not guaranteed. Since this device is over 5 years old now, Motorola does not provide any support. It was released way back with Android Nougat, got upgraded officially to Android Oreo by Motorola. 4gb RAM with 64gb Internal memory means it still has a lot of juice left in it.

The Goal
When debugging or developing Android apps using Android Studio, there is a choice of using the built-in emulator or to use a physical device as the emulator to install apps and run them. If the built-in emulator is used, the app builds and installs very slowly and in some cases, due to lesser computer specifications or hardware, it just hangs or crashes. To overcome this, a physical device can be used, but any device with Android version below 11 will require USB debugging to run and debug apps with a USB cable connecting the device to a computer. This means, wrangling with a wire all the time attached to the computer. Instead, if Android 11 is the operating system on the Android device, there is a feature called wireless debugging. No cables and no hassles. Just enable it in developer options and apps get built and installed on the phone wirelessly.

Therefore, the objective of this upgrade to custom ROM with Android 11 was to enable wireless USB debugging.

The Hunt for Custom ROMs
Next item was to find a good custom Android ROM that would run on the Motorola G5S Plus phone. The device goes by the model number XT-1084 and the name ‘sanders’. Looked around for good custom ROMs and found the following candidates:

  1. AOSP Extended https://sourceforge.net/projects/aospextended-rom/files/sanders/pie/
  2. Resurrection Remix https://sourceforge.net/projects/resurrectionremix-ten/files/sanders/
  3. LineageOS 17.1 (unofficial) now forked to Magnus OS https://sourceforge.net/projects/magnusos/
  4. Havoc OS https://havoc-os.com/device#sanders (may not be up to date)
  5. Arrow OS https://arrowos.net/download (lookup Motorola sanders)
  6. dotOS https://www.droidontime.com/

A further search and found AICP which was under active development and update. It was Android 11 based, well maintained and fitted the need quite well, although it lags.

Unlock bootloader
To install a custom ROM, the bootloader must be unlocked. Head over to Motorola web site, https://motorola-global-portal.custhelp.com/app/standalone/bootloader/unlock-your-device-a log in and follow the instructions to unlock the bootloader.

Install TWRP recovery After the bootloader has been unlocked, install TWRP recovery.
Download latest TWRP recovery from https://twrp.me/Devices/ for the Motorola G5S Plus (sanders). Install it using fastboot install method at this link https://twrp.me/motorola/motorolamotog5splus.html.

Install the Custom ROM
Press Volume Down+Power button and boot into Recovery. Choose to install the custom ROM downloaded. This step works well with non-GSI ROMs like AICP or Magnus OS.

GSI / Project Treble on sanders
GSI support is almost present on this phone, but requires more effort to set up and use. After doing that, there were several glitches that could not make this device a daily driver. Apparently, this device has to use the vndklite image.

I tried the following GSI ROMs:
e/OS https://doc.e.foundation/support-topics/install-GSI.html https://images.ecloud.global/dev/treble_arm64_bvN/
RevengeOS (needed boot.img, vendor.img)
phusson’s experimental treble ROMs

The other GSI Android 12 ROMs that did get installed to the phone were as follows, but there was no no wireless MAC ID for any connectivity to a WiFi network. You can also find these at https://github.com/phhusson/treble_experimentations/wiki/Generic-System-Image-%28GSI%29-list:

Andy Yan’s LineageOS GSI at https://sourceforge.net/projects/andyyan-gsi/files/lineage-19.x/

Corvus ROM Official at https://sourceforge.net/projects/tipzbuilds/files/GSIs/CorvusROM/Official/20220709

The above did install and work too, but with no wireless MAC ID. Will need to wait till a fix gets released. Also, from Android 12 onwards, there is no more A type GSI, and AB works fine.

To experiment, take a back up of the phone using TWRP and try the following GSI ROMs.
Note it says there is A and A/B for Moto G5S Plus. To try both.

Nonetheless, came across MagnusOS which was good and had good battery life, no lag. This is now the daily driver. MagnusOS is available at this link https://sourceforge.net/projects/magnusos/files/sanders/MagnusOS-1.2-20220725-UNOFFICIAL-sanders.zip/download

Exercise caution when moving to custom ROMs. Not all custom ROMs are fit to be daily drivers and if you do find one such, then do try it out. The stability of the phone is most important in all circumstances. Lastly, everything done with a custom ROM is at your own risk and consequence. No one ever is to blame.