Android Recovery Mode

How to use TWRP to flash an Android device that refuses to boot to TWRP?

This post was most recently updated on April 27th, 2020.

Reading Time: 4 minutes.

Last Christmas holiday I was tasked by older relatives to fix an Android tablet they had bought. One of those absolutely useless, 100€ devices that can’t really run any apps, and struggle to even start. My first proposition was to return the device – but it was already past the return window.

Lenovo‘s bloated nightmare-version of an Android was likely the biggest reason for slowness. My second course of action was to change the launcher and disable everything I could, but the device still couldn’t run YouTube, Spotify or YLE Areena.

So, on to flashing we go!

Prerequisites

A couple of first steps were easy:

I won’t go into details, as I suppose you’re following a tutorial on XDA-developers or something, and only ended up on this article since you ran into the same issues I did. The tutorials do a good job detailing most of the steps, but fell short here.

Also, you won’t need Magisk or similar if you’re working with an otherwise useless device, and don’t need any backups (because nobody’s been able to generate anything worth saving on the device so far). And if you’re following tutorials on getdroidtips.com or something, be mindful which links you’re clicking and which files you download on MediaFire.

Anyway, back to the topic.

You should make sure your adb and fastboot installation path is included in your PATH variable – or, alternatively, just open your command line window (as an admin) to the installation directory directly.

Unlock your bootloader

Next you’ll need to make sure you can boot any media instead of the built-in one. To do this, connect the device with USB, debugging enabled, and run the following:

fastboot oem unlock-go

If that gives you an error, try this command instead:

fastboot flashing unlock

All good? Awesome! Onwards, then:

Install custom loader such as TWRP

After this, it’s supposed to be easy to flash TWRP to the device and boot to it using the commands below (the mentioned image needs to be in the folder you’re running the commands from):

adb reboot bootloader
fastboot flash recovery TWRP-3.0.2_TB-X103F-beta.img
fastboot reboot

That was successful for me. But Lenovo had, unfortunately, made more annoying decisions. +Vol and power would take the Android tablet to recover mode – but even with TWRP successfully flashed to the recovery partition, you’d always be greeted with the useless, out-of-the-box recovery mode.

Curiously, though, -Vol takes the user to a diagnostics mode that’s in Chinese(?). I couldn’t make anything out of it, so I decided to pursue another route.

I spent a while reflashing, using different medias, rebooting the device (which somehow takes multiple minutes), but to no avail. I couldn’t find a way to force the device to start in TWRP instead of the ootb recovery mode.

Long story short, there’s another workaround available. Using fastboot you can actually flash the whole device, if you have a suitable media at hand (I didn’t), or force booting to TWRP from a media that’s on your laptop. The latter ended up being my choice, and worked nicely.

How to load TWRP without replacing the built-in bootloader

Simply run this below:

fastboot boot TWRP-3.0.2_TB-X103F-beta.img

This should, after a while, boot your device into TWRP once. That should be all you need :)

After this, it was trivial to install LineageOS to the machine using TWRP. And boy, was it faster than Lenovo’s Android!

That’s all for now. Hope it helps someone :)

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D Brown

I’m having the same exact issue, only with the cubot p20. The same thing with the default recovery and the Chinese thingy. But I’m a noob, so I’m not sure what media you are referring to. Been trying to flash this phone for about a year, but this is the first post I see that is similar to my issue. Please help me.

D Brown

I Got it to work!! Thank you for replying.

The problem I had was that although I had flashed the recovery with TWRP, I was still being presented with the stock recovery. However I did some experiments and founded that after flashing the TWRP and using the command “fastboot boot TWRP.img”, the phone would reboot as you said. But for me it would reboot the system without going into recovery. What worked for that was ” fastboot boot TWRP.img” and when it started to reboot hold the +vol. After that I was in. But for me twrp is installed. After disconnecting my phone from the PC, I could use the bottom combination and enter recovery mode. Sometimes though, it fails to enter it and gets stuck on the boot screen until I release the bottoms, then the phone would reboot as normal . To aid with this problem, I just use the command “ADB reboot recovery”.

D Brown

So, as I said, I’m a noob… So I’ll try to explain as best as possible.

So currently, when doing a normal boot, I have no problem ( the only other thing I believe I did was wiping the phone and reinstalling SuperSu). Just tried the button combinations and this is the result:
When phone is off and I hold +vol and power button, it comes to screen and gives three options to boot to “recovery”, “fastboot”, and normal “. When I hold -vol and power it carries me to the Chinese menu.

However I realised that sometimes when I try the button combinations, the phone would boot to the button screen turn off in about 3 seconds, then on again. This would continue in a loop while I’m still holding down the buttons. If I let go of the both buttons while on the boot screen, the phone would boot normal. If I let go of the power button and hold the volume button, it would go to the respective menu.

Ps haven’t flash the rom yet. Need to download a custom ROM, but having a bit of internet issue. Currently using mobile data.

Tom

Hi I after unlocking phone I have entered into TWRP however since I did not have new zip with system on phone I turned phone off now it stays in fastboot mode with no system and I can not reopen TWRP with the same method even if I redo >fastboot flash recovery “TWRP.img” and press the buttons. Is there any other way to open TWRP?

michele_diss

Got the same problem, Ulefone Armor 2 (android 7.0). Most of the time I can’t obtain classic recovery mode neither, device boots regularly even if I use vol+ / onOff button shortcut. Any suggestion?
PS Your article is very well written, thanks
PPS During the boot I got:”orange state, your device has been unlocked and can’t be trusted”, somewhere I read it’s ok, somewhere else I read it’s not…

kemono

when I insert the first or second command it says “waiting for any device” and nothing happens. I’m using an lgk10 and my device is plugged into my pc with a USB and I think i have all the right prerequisites

Anna

I’m in the same boat with a Zenfone 5z. When I use the “fastboot boot” command, I get

Sending ‘boot.img’ (29840 KB) OKAY [ 0.647s]
Booting FAILED (remote: ‘unknown command’)
fastboot: error: Command failed

Otherwise I just keep looping back into the bootloader. My phone is unlocked, I was in TWRP earlier, and then somehow I ended up with no way to get back into it, just ending up at the bootloader every time I restart. I can’t get out of it.

The phone I am working on has no OS.