Debranding the Nokia E71

I have a Nokia E71 on Three; I had come to the end of my contract and wanted a contract that included Unlimited Internet. I had thought about the iPhone, but the £35 a month for 18 months and £96.89 for the phone was a bit steep (You can get the phone free on 24 month contracts, but 2 years with the same phone, I don’t think I could!). I saw an advert with Three for the E71 with unlimited Internet, unlimited texts (4000 to be honest), unlimited Three to Three calls, unlimited Skype and 200 mins, free phone and all for £20 a month for 18 months! Bargain!

The E71 is superior on a few fronts compared the iPhone; being able to multi task is the main one. I can have Skype running in the background while writing a text. Something the iPhone cannot do and the work around has only just been added to iPhone OS 3.0 and has to be written into the apps to support background notifications.

One thing that is a problem with the Nokia is the bugs in the OS: Shortly after owning the E71 I had to factory reset it and restore my backup. After the 2nd time this happened I looked for an update. Nokia report that the latest E71 version is 300.21.012. Nokia software updater however reported my phone had the latest version at 100.07.76. Therein lies a problem. Each network in the UK can brand Nokia phones to their network. When Nokia release a fix, it has to release a firmware for each of the networks, and the networks have to approve the update before Nokia can release this firmware to the public. So for the time being Three is at least 4 updates behind the rest.

I follow a few Symbian sites and read that there is a way of debranding your E71 to the generic Nokia, then updating the firmware; which I did, but I nearly bricked my E71 and caused a minor panic for me; I’ll list the steps with warnings below:

Note: Don’t attempt to debrand your phone if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve not provided links to the software or the exact steps, you’ll need to search for these and read up exactly what to do. I nearly bricked my phone but managed to get it back to life, you may not be so lucky. You’ve been warned.

Backup and Sync your data in case you need to go back: I found that the backup CANNOT be restored after debranding and upgrading the firmware – I did a restore and nearly lost my phone: It complained that the phone failed to start and I should return it to the store! The backup is there in case you have to put your firmware back to what you originally had.

You then need to use some free software called Nemesis Service Suite: This lets you reset your product code from Three to Euro1. In my case Three is 0569999 and Euro1: 0567045 These codes are for my E71 in the UK, you’ll have to search for the codes for other countries, especially if your Three code isn’t the same as mine.

After changing the product code I then used Nokia’s PC Suite to upgrade the firmware; this took a while but worked fine. I then did the restore which broke my phone, fortunately removing the SIM allowed me to start the phone and do a factory restore to undo the restore causing problems. After restoring I did a sync to get my calendar and contact items from My phone is now on the latest Firmware with all the bug fixes.

What have I gained:
Quite a few stability fixes (the browser crashed less often).
Improved picture quality (reportedly, but I haven’t noticed to be honest)
I can change to GSM only instead of being forced to use Dual mode – this would save battery, but Three may get annoyed, so I only do this when I’m home as the 3G signal here is atrocious.
Improved battery life.

What have I lost:
The Three firmware had a certificate that allowed Three’s MSN Messenger to be installed. Since debranding I can no longer install this. I can still install Three’s Skype client, so God only knows the logic behind the MSN Messenger. I run Fring so this isn’t really a problem although Messenger may use less network data as it uses txt messages to tell it when there are updates (from what I’ve read on the Internet) and thus have less impact on battery compared to Fring.

I no longer have the launcher app, but then I didn’t really use it except when I first had the phone to install MSN Messenger & Skype. I’m happy with the new version, but if Three finally get their act together and approve the latest version, I may rebrand my phone back to Three to get everything back, with the bonus of the fixes.

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7 Responses to Debranding the Nokia E71

  1. Fiouna says:

    Thanks for sharing the debate of Nokia E71 as i have just purchased nokia e71 few days back, downloaded Vopium and skype in it, now everything on my cell.

  2. John says:

    One thing I found though: If you do upgrade to the Nokia branded firmware, you can’t downgrade back to the provider branded firmware. (I’ve only tried with the Nokia software updater, if there are other firmware writing software out there, they may allow downgrades)

  3. John says:

    Just as 3 finally release 300.021.12, Nokia release another update to 400.21.013 – let’s see how long it takes 3 to release this version 😦

    • carl says:

      I took the plunge and debranded my phone using the Nemesis Service tool and read extensively before atempting it. I can report that my phone came supplied from three with firmware version 300.021.12 and I had lots of problems ie dropping calls whilst bluetoothed to my Bury car kit, dropping calls when it felt like it and also call hanging when disconnected by caller. After debranding and updating to the latest firmware version 400.21.013 my phone is a diferent piece of kit, far faster and smoother than before no freezing, bluetooth performance is now excellent! I now have access to settings that three thought I shouldn’t have!!!!! Highly delighted with the results, but what gives phone companies the right to mess up the phone to such an extent!!! Ipreviously debranded a Samsung phone with pretty much the same results and would recommend this to any body, however BE WARNED be carefull and read every thing you can find regarding this on the web and only go ahead when you are 1000% sure you can get it right otherwise it will end in tears.

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