If this is common knowledge, I apologize. It took me some digging to find this out.
I recently purchased a 1st gen Moto Z (XT1650-03) as I urgently needed a new phone, and the Moto Z was the cheapest Republic Wireless compatible phone I could find in new condition. Out of the box, the Moto Z comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This would be fine, except that native call blocking isn’t supported on Android 6 (only 7 and up as I recall).
So after some serious searching, I was able to update directly from Android 6.0 to Android 8.0. I wanted to share this method, as it doesn’t require unlocking the bootloader. Firstly, Lenovo/Motorola support recommends factory resetting the phone, clearing the cache, and then, with a working SIM installed, check for updates within the settings. This did not work.
What did work was a Lenovo utility called “Rescue and Smart Assistant.” I’m posting here about it since the utility was somewhat hard to find, and the user guide was not exceedingly clear.
A few caveats:
Using this utility will reset the phone, so back up any data you wish to keep.
There is no option to update to Android 7.0/7.1. The utility will flash the current stock Android ROM for the device. In the case of the Moto Z, this is Android 8.0. Some forum users claim that Android 8.0 doesn’t play nice with the Moto Z. I was willing to take that risk, as I didn’t pay much for the phone and absolutely did not want to stay on Android 6.0. Android 8.0 also supports picture-in-picture, which is nice.
I’m no guru. If you try this method, do so at your own risk.
I assume that this method will work with other Motorola handsets that no longer have OTA updates available.
You can download the tool and user guide (which is only somewhat helpful) here:
Once downloaded, install and launch the program. Unfortunately, you’ll have to create a Lenovo account to use the utility.
Under the “My Device” tab, you can connect your phone via one of several ways, I used the USB debugging connection method. Follow any prompts provided by the utility. Once connected, the utility will display data about the phone. A long ROM file name will show at the bottom. Download the ROM and click the Rescue button to start the flash.
My Rom (Android 8.0) had the file name: GRIFFIN_OPL27.76_71_2_3_cid50_subsidy_DEFAULT_regulatory_DEFAULT_CFC.xml
During the rescue, my handset went to the bootloader menu while the utility claimed the rescue was at 47% completion. After 3-5 minutes, the phone left the bootloader and rebooted on Android 8.0 and the utility indicated the Rescue was complete.
Hopefully this helps someone else wishing to update their Lenovo handset to a newer version of Android.
Should I have any issues with my handset as a result of this procedure, I’ll report them here.