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After some messing around I was able to get my soft-bricked Samsung Galaxy A5 Duos (SM-A5000) running again:

Can I recover a soft-bricked Galaxy A5 without voiding the warranty?

However, the version of the firmware I flashed (Kit-kat) didn't have Google Play on it. I tried installing the latest APK that I could find, but when I try to open the installed app is just force-closes with this message:

Unfortunately, Google Play Store has stopped.

I thought perhaps I was missing Google Play Services so I tried installing that too (from this link), but it died with the same error as above. I also tried installing version 5.5.8 of Google Play Store (after removing all previously installed APKs) with the same outcome.

Eventually I concluded that I must need to install a GApps package.

Is there a specific version I need to be installing to run with my version of Android? What are the prerequisites for this to run? And why doesn't my version already have it? I thought I was installing the stock OS?? (To clarify, the version of the OS that the phone shipped with had the Google Play store)

  • If you installed that exact firmware then it looks like you've installed the chinese version. If you search on that site for the exact model (e.g. SM-A5009/SM-A500G etc.) then you might find the correct version for your country. This should then include all the pre-installed apps you had previously including Google Play. – bmdixon Mar 1 '16 at 10:51
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Installing the Hong Kong firmware fixed the problem. Apparently it's just the mainland firmware that has Google apps blocked...

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While installing google play store and other google applcations in samsung galaxy A5(6)SM-A5108 china mobile in marshmallow rom 6.0.1, you should follow the following instructions carefeully.

  1. Install CF-Auto root of SM-A5108 with odin in downloading mode

  2. Install TWRP verion of SM-A5108 with odin in downloading mode

  3. download Gapps : banks_dynamic_gapps-6.x.x-20161002 zip file and keept it on mobile in internal or external storage

  4. Open mobile with TWRP and format factory and install the above mentioned Gapps zip file and restart your device.

  5. Download and install Gapps Installer 3.4.0 apk file in your mobile

  6. Now Run the Gapps installer 3.4.0 on your device, it will show you guide how to do complete, if it shows repair, hit the repair button and wait but don’t hit the button of uninstall.

Now the google play store and google play services will auto installed on your mobile without any error. Just hit google play store and it will search and give you option to feed your Gmail account on the device. When it will be configured your device will work with google play store smoothly. You can install Youtube apk file , Google contacts sync apk, google calendar sync apk file, google map apk file, google street apk file, google play music, google calendar etc.

When you feed your gmail account in the device , you have to go to setting_ account_google_open google account and open sync, wait for some time, it will do the same complete. Now install all google related apk application as you desired. The device will never show you any error like, “ unfortunately google play services has stopped working” or other error.. You can use the china mobile market application for searching files which is already installed in your above mentioned specific model china mobile SM-A5108.

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