How to Install CyanogenMod on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (GSM) ("zeus")

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This guide will walk you through the process of taking the Xperia Play (GSM) from stock to having a custom recovery image and the ability to flash the latest version of CyanogenMod.


Modifying or replacing your device's software may void your device's warranty, lead to data loss, hair loss, financial loss, privacy loss, security breaches, or other damage, and therefore must be done entirely at your own risk. No one affiliated with the CyanogenMod project is responsible for your actions. Good luck.

Important Notes

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (GSM) (aka zeus) is a touchscreen smartphone manufactured by Sony Ericsson. Official CyanogenMod support for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (GSM) was added in CyanogenMod 7.1.

Unlock your Xperia Play (GSM)

What does "unlocking" mean?

The first step in putting any custom operating system on your Xperia Play (GSM) is to unlock the bootloader. A bootloader is the very first program that runs when you turn on your device. The bootloader initializes some hardware and then loads the kernel and ramdisk, and gets the boot process going. If the bootloader is in locked mode, it will ensure that only the stock operating system can run. Since you will be installing your own operating system (CyanogenMod), you need to turn this off.

To unlock your bootloader, you’ll first need a program on your computer called adb. One way to get adb is to download and install the Android SDK (Software Developer Kit) from Google. The SDK is used by app developers when they’re writing programs for Android, and who knows, you may want to write apps someday.

Install the Android SDK

Download the SDK, per the steps on Google's web page. Then install it by following the specific instructions for your computer.

Obtaining the Bootloader Unlock Code


Unlocking the bootloader on a Sony device may automatically wipe internal storage; a backup of the sdcard is suggested.

In order to unlock the bootloader on your Xperia Play (GSM) you will need to obtain a code from Sony. The following process will help you acquire this code so that you can flash a custom recovery.

  1. Open the Phone application on the Xperia Play (GSM) and enter *#06# to obtain the device's IMEI. Save this for later use.
    • Optional: if you do not have a phone app, the IMEI can be found on the box or on the device in About Device -> Status.
  2. Put the device into fastboot mode:
      1. Power down device
      2. Plug data cable into PC
      3. While holding down the Search button, plug the data cable into the device
      If successful, the LED will turn blue to indicate the device is in fastboot mode.
  3. Open a terminal on the PC and enter fastboot -i 0x0fce getvar version
    • If you receive the message <waiting for device> fastboot is not configured properly, please see fastboot for more details.
  4. Navigate a browser here
    • Click the 'continue' button at the bottom of the page.
    • Agree to the 'Are You Sure' and 'Legal Terms' prompts to continue.
    • Enter the first 14 digits of your IMEI from Step 1, enter a name and an email address.
    • The unlock code should now appear, write this down for the next step.
  5. In the PC's terminal, enter the following command: fastboot -i 0x0fce oem unlock 0xKEY
    • KEY corresponds to the unlock code you were given.

The Xperia Play (GSM)'s bootloader should now be unlocked.

Installing CyanogenMod on Sony Devices


Some devices do not have removable SD cards. Regardless, there should still be a partition on the device named "/sdcard" that can be used for flashing purposes, even though the contents of /sdcard may actually be in internal storage.

  1. Download the prebuilt release of CyanogenMod you wish to install. (Or if you've built CM yourself, look in the $OUT directory for the .zip.)
    Optional: Download any supplemental 3rd-party applications packages for the device you wish to use. (You have to install a 3rd-party app to get the Google apps, like Gmail, Play Store, and Youtube.)
  2. Extract the boot.img from the zip to your computer, you will need this file for fastboot.
  3. Place the CyanogenMod rom .zip file on the root of the SD card.
    Optional: Place any supplemental packages' .zip file on the root of the SD card.
  4. Put the phone into fastboot mode:
    1. Power down device
    2. Plug data cable into PC
    3. While holding down the Search button, plug the data cable into the device
    If successful, the LED will turn blue to indicate the device is in fastboot mode.
  5. Open a terminal on the PC and enter the following:
    • fastboot -i 0xfce flash boot boot.img
    • fastboot -i 0xfce reboot
    While the device reboots, press the Volume rockers a few times to load recovery.
  6. Once the device boots into the ClockworkMod Recovery, use the physical volume buttons to move up and down. On most devices, the power button is used to confirm your selection, although for some devices the power button is used as a "back" button to go up one level, in which case the home button is used to confirm the selection.
    Optional/Recommended: Select backup and restore to create a backup of the current installation on the Xperia Play (GSM).
  7. Select the option to wipe data/factory reset.
  8. Select Install zip from sdcard.
  9. Select Choose zip from sdcard.
  10. Select the CyanogenMod file you placed on the sdcard. You will then need to then confirm that you do wish to flash this file.
    Optional: Install any additional packages you wish using the same method.
  11. Once the installation has finished, return back to the main menu, and select the reboot system now option. The Xperia Play (GSM) should now boot into CyanogenMod.


On 2011 models, the kernel will not update when flashed in recovery, so the kernel must be reflashed via fastboot.

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