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Nokia N95…firmware update…an expensive paperweight?

A few weeks ago, I set about upgrading the firmware on my phone, I guess firmware on a mobile phone is comparable to an operating system on a personal computer. The mobile phone manufacturer, in this case nokia, sporadically releases new versions of firmware for each of its phones. When nokia gives its phone to a network provider for distribution (in this case vodafone), they also provide a stable version of the firmware. I assume at this point the network provider can work with the firmware to ensure it’s bug free and works on their network – generally this means disabling features the phone manufacture has provided, but the network operators are reluctant to support, for example, voip internet telephoney.

I purchased my N95 at a subsidized price from vodafone; when I received my N95 it was loaded with firmware version 11. You can find out which version firmware is loaded on your phone by punching in the following key combo: *#0000# . Nokia have recently released a new version of their firmware for the N95 that enables assisted-gps, firmware version 12. Keen to upgrade I contacted Nokia, first by dialing 191 and subsequently popping into their local store to ask for a firmware upgrade – but no joy. I don’t think the network provider has any real interest in updating firmware, as each firmware release requires comprehensive testing by the network provider to make sure it’s as stable as the previous version. The vodafone representative suggested I visit a local nokia service centre, which I did. However, it turns out that nokia have supposedly banned their service centres from touching the N95 as ‘it’s complicated’, any ‘fixes’ have top be undertaken back at nokia, which means a lengthy wait. Arrgh what do I do? Do-It-Yourself (DIY) – worst case scenario I end up with a £150 paperweight?

Paperweight

First I download the nokia mobile phone ’software updater’ software. Before you can install any software using the software updater, you have to supply your mobile phone product code, the phone updater software uses the product code to determine which version of software can be installed on your phone. An unbranded N95 supplied by nokia has a different product code to my subsidized vodafone N95. If I enter my vodafone product code, the software updater informs me that I already have the most recent firmware installed – version 11? If I enter the unbranded N95 product code, it informs me a newer version is available? When you wire your phone up to the ‘updater’ software, if your phone has a vodafone product code, it recognizes this and prevents you downloading version 12 .

There is a little gem of an application named the Nemesis Service Suite (NSS). Now I’m not sure exactly how this software works, or what exactly it does, but it was very useful. It’s handy software as it lets you change your Nokia mobile phone product code. So I back up my phone to memory card, change my vodafone product code to the nokia product code (0536062) (more product codes) and proceed to update my firmware. The nokia software updater now lets me download and install firmware version 12 (thinking I’m an unbranded phone). Now I have the new assisted GPS capabilities…but all is not well, my phone is now unresponsive, hangs and to be honest is pretty close to being a paperweight. So hoping to fix this I restore my memory from the memory card, but this just makes things worse, much worse. I restart my phone only for it to crash halfway through start up and suggest I contact my provider? Arrgh? It really is a £150 paperweight.

Surfing the web and I find a key combo that will format the phone, I hold the pencil key, plus *, plus 3, while booting; it performs some sort of reset, erasing everything on the phone memory, but the memory card is untouched. I then use NSS to switch my product code back to my vodafone product code and all works well…really well. I’ve been using it for best part of a month now and its working fine. I remain cautious as to what happens when vodafone try to upgrade my firmware, but that’s for another day.

So if you take this approach…

  • Make sure all your contacts are stored on a memory card and not the phone.
  • NSS will allow you to change product codes and ‘trick’ the Nokia software updater into installing the latest firmware.
  • If you back your phone up to the memory card before the update, don’t restore unless prepared to reformat, and risk ruin.
  • To avoid buggy behaviour, after the update, swap the phone back to it’s original product code.
  • Your warranty is probably rendered null and void.
  • Cross your fingers.

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7 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Patrick Nolan

    Does the GPS work better? Are there any other problems so far? Did you get more features?

    Thanks,

    Patrick

  2. Rob

    Hi Patrick,

    It’s worked fine now for well over a month. I got an extra couple of features that apparently allow you to configure a VOIP account, but couldn’t get it working – I didn’t spend long looking at it as I’m not that fussed about using VOIP. The GPS works much better, it takes about a minute for it to get a position. I also seem to get a little graphic that indicates when an applicaation is open, I’m not sure if this was there before my nss adventures or not, but its very useful…alot of people have said the N95 freezes on them, I’m guessing this might be because the have applications open that they don’t realise are open? I haven’t had it freeze or crash once.

    Rob

  3. I thought I’d share my experiences of flashing a Vodafonized Nok N95.

    Earlier this week I got a N95 as a free upgrade when I renewed my Vodafone contract. The N95 came with Vodafone branded firmware v11, and it kept on locking up and rebooting on occasions. So the options where to either return it to the shop and get it replaced or reflashed with the same buggy v11 firmware, or take the plunge and grab NSS and flash to the generic v12 firmware.

    In the end I flashed it to the generic v12 firmware as described in this blog. This was done a couple of days ago. I done the backup and restore process as well.

    Now the N95 performs flawlessly, no reboots and no crashes, and best of all no Vodacrap hobbled buggy firmware.

  4. You can see the differences in firmware versions and the differences in gps and assisted gps.

    you might be surprised with the results

    http://wubbahed.com/2007/07/12/gps-quality-on-the-n95/

    Mapperz
    http://mapperz.blogspot.com/

  5. Vix

    Any advice on how to use the NSS software? you can use the cable supplied with the phone to your USB port to flash, right?

  6. It’s not a 21 valve engine but for all i know the new V21 Firmware update for the N95-1 is sure gonna rock..considering that Nokia is going to have to add lots of new stuff in the firmware like the Search, N-Gage and key press bug.
    But the problem is that the firmware pic has been dates as 10th October! How come no one’s got it still remains a mystery…

    Regards,

    DiLiN Anand – http://s603rd.blogspot.com/2007/11/v21-for-our-n95-1.html

  7. darren

    my n95 8gb crashed whilst update of latest firmware…? what can i do to get it working again.. please any advise


 


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