DeGoogle the Unihertz Jelly Star

Unihertz makes some incredibly unique phones. The tiny yet immensely capable Jelly 2 was my primary phone for more than a year, but it had some serious downsides that prompted a switch to my current GrapheneOS-modded Pixel 4. The WiFi and cellular radios would randomly drop connection, and the OS, despite being fairly clean, has integrated Google and Unihertz software baked in.

There are only a handful of requirements for my phone, yet very few pieces of hardware meet those expectations. Those requirements are:

  • Aftermarket OS
  • No camera notch, bump, hole, or any obstruction that blocks the screen
  • Small footprint
  • System-wide AdBlock
  • Runs the apps on the Things I Use page
  • Battery that lasts > 24 hours

Prior to going on vacation last week, I ordered Unihertz’s latest Jelly offering—the Jelly Star. It will serve as a backup to my Pixel4 for when the battery finally gives out.

There is a well written write-up on Reddit on how to root and install LineageOS, which is also copied below for reference.

Jelly Star


Jelly 2 Root, LineageOS, MicroG, AdAway Install

  1. Turn on the Jelly Star and update to the most recent firmware.
  2. Download the latest firmware package from Unihertz here.
  3. Extract boot.img and vbmeta.img from the compressed firmware package.
  4. Open Settings > About Phone and tap build number until the phone says you’re a developer.
  5. Open Settings > System > Developer Options and enable OEM Unlocking and USB Debugging.
  6. Transfer the latest Magisk.apk and boot.img to your phone.
  7. Install Magisk, open Magisk, select Install, select boot.img, disconnect the phone, reconnect the phone, and transfer the patched boot.img (e.g., “magisk_patched_*.img”) to your PC.
  8. Run the following commands:
$ adb devices
$ adb reboot bootloader
$ fastboot devices
$ fastboot flashing unlock 
    # Press volume up on the phone to confirm
    # Navigate to the folder with original firmware
$ fastboot flash vbmeta vbmeta.img
$ fastboot flash boot magisk_patched.img
$ fastboot reboot
  1. Reinstall Magisk, follow the prompts, and reboot.
  2. Download the latest LineageOS.
  3. Extract the LineageOS package.
  4. Run the following commands:
$ adb reboot bootloader
$ fastboot flashing unlock
$ fastboot flash vbmeta_a vbmeta.img 
$ fastboot flash vbmeta_vendor_a vbmeta_vendor.img 
$ fastboot flash vbmeta_system_a vbmeta_system.img 
$ fastboot reboot fastboot
$ fastboot delete-logical-partition product 
$ fastboot erase system_a 
$ fastboot flash system_a <path to lineageOS.img> 
$ fastboot --set-active=a
$ fastboot erase userdata
$ fastboot reboot
  1. Transfer the latest Magisk.apk and boot.img to your phone.
  2. Reinstall Magisk, open Magisk, select Install, select boot.img, disconnect the phone, reconnect the phone, and transfer the patched boot.img (e.g., magisk_patched_*.img) to your PC.
  3. Run the following commands:
$ adb reboot bootloader
$ fastboot flash boot_a <patch_file_name.img>
$ fastboot reboot
  1. Download a microG version here. I chose “NoGoolag,” which is designed to minimize any interaction with Google services but allows push notifications.
  2. Open Magisk and install the microG module via the app UI.
  3. Download and install AdAway system-wide adblocking as root.
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