back to article Nokia lets operators screw with customise the N900

Nokia has been busy reassuring network operators that they will be able to muck about with the branding on the Maemo-based N900, despite rumours to the contrary. A posting on the company's blog makes it clear that while Nokia has worked hard to improve the customer experience on their latest high-end handset, they're not going …


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  1. David Hicks

    God Dammit

    This was finally looking like a decent linux based phone which I could actually do stuff with, free from operator interference...

    Never mind, back to tinkering with the freerunner then :(

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge


    But I'm sure there'll be an equivalent of changing the product code via NSS and updating (which is what you do with Symbian phones).

  3. Anonymous Coward

    absolutely infuriating

    I know I'm not the average punter, but everyone has specific needs for their phone and intrusive operator branding is infuriating. My last phone was a Vodafone SE k850i and the one button that wasn't configurable was the Vodafone Live soft-key on the front. The one button I would most like to use performing a function that I have never used (except accidentally operating it with my ear a couple of times) is just bloody-minded idiocy.

  4. Sky

    hopefully wipe the flash

    Get used to re-flashing mobiles to get rid of branding

  5. Marc Spillman
    Thumb Up

    Not so bad -

    it won't be long before somebody has a piece of software out that de-brands the handset (at the risk of invalidating your warranty), like you can do with Nemesis Suite for example.

  6. gjw
    Jobs Horns

    The iPhone has been customised to the needs of the operators, surely?

    "It would be absolutely incorrect to assume that we will not offer operators the ability to tailor future Maemo devices to suit their needs."

    The iPhone certainly has been suited to the needs of the operators without 'us' even knowing it. So let's just wait and see if the 'customisation' will really affect the UI and the user experience of 'future' devices.

  7. Insane Reindeer

    @David Hicks

    Just get an unbranded version. The phone is as Nokia intended it to be, you own it out right from the get go, you can get firmware/software updates much quicker and above all, the MNO's don't get to roger you brainless with absurdly long contracts!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Removing branding will be easy

    All you'll need to do is root the device (not difficult, use flasher3, or whatever the latest is to R&D mode it and enter a few simple terminal commands), then dpkg -r "branding package name", it's all dpkg/deb on the handsets. Unfortunately the branding packages won't be shown in the application installer (unless you take the red pill *i think* look for maemo marix hack) :)

  9. Mark Jan


    I would have thought most guys frequenting this site to be capable of discovering how to re-flash the N900, like most mobiles. It ain't gonna be a huge problem.

    @AC with the SE K850i These were probably amongst the easiest devices to re-flash. I too had a Vodaphone version which sucked. Didn't take long to re-install the SE non-Vodaphone version.

    Hand Grenade because it'll blow up in their faces.

  10. Periquet dels Palots

    Operator customization not out of reason

    > Never mind, back to tinkering with the freerunner then :(

    You will certainly be able to order an unlocked unit directly from Nokia or at Media Markt, and you will be able to do with it whatever you please.

    An unlocked unit will surely be quite a bit more expensive than a Vodafone or Movistar branded one, of course, but that is because the operators have advanced quite a handful of money. I think that kind of buys them the right to customize the appearance of the phone - although I agree that the Vodafone Live button is plain idiocy. 99% of the customers won't notice, anyway, and the ones who notice can a) buy unlocked or b) unlock.

  11. Neil Hoskins

    Why would you get a phone from an operator anyway?

    I agree with Insane Reindeer. I've never understood this: you wouldn't buy a telly from the BBC or Channel 4, so why do people continue to get their phones from the network operators?

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  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MMS not included

    "Network variants aren't necessarily a bad thing - pre-installing the settings for MMS and internet connectivity makes a lot of sense,"

    It is pretty well known that the N900 will not come with the ability to send MMS.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or just buy it from carphone warehouse...

    CPW buy phones from the manufacturer rather than the network with two very obvious benefits.

    1. The handsets are not locked to a particular network (iPhone being the exception of course due to Apple not liking free market conditions)

    2. The handsets have the manufacturers firmware, meaning no network branding and no crappy menus designed to push you towards pay services..

    And, yes, this post is blatant advertising. I do work for CPW, but even if I didn't I would be of the opinion that both of the above are very good reasons to buy from CPW rather than direct from the network.

    And, no, there is no difference between a contract signed through CPW and a contract signed directly with a network.

  15. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Buying SIM free doesn´t help

    My Nokia E90 was supplied direct, without any involvement of any network operators.

    With my old O2 SIM, no problems, but my new Vodafone SIM contains stuff that the phone automagically installs everytime you switch it on. There seems to be no way to get rid of the pesky stuff either :(

  16. Justin Clements

    reflash a SE?

    How, cause I too want rid of that wretched Vodafone Live button? Give us a quick link, and mine will be gutted. (w890i)

    Would look this up, but I'm just about to leave the country for a few days. Oh, would that mean more expensive roaming mistakes hitting that button...

  17. Olof P

    Re: Carphone Warehouse

    Not a bad idea, but I'm currently rather annoyed with their Swedish branch (called The Phone House here). In the middle of august I ordered a phone, listed as in stock, paying £200 up front and someamount monthly for the 12 monthplan. I got papers for the plan to sign and sent them back in. When I hadn't heard anything more from them last Tuesday I called and was told that the phone had run out of stock and somehow they'd missed notifying me. The person on the other end promised me I'd have the money I paid up front back quite soon. As my bank account was still out of this money today I called again and was promised that they'd log one more anullation of the order with their web sales department. We'll see what happens...

  18. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    No R&D mode necessary

    From what I've read there is no R&D mode necessary it gives you root by default.

    Anyway I'll be buying it unlocked since I doubt I would get the subsidy at the price I want.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Olof P

    yes i agree. that is pretty bad service. sorry.

  20. Ian Entwistle


    My vanilla e90 on Voda does nothing of the sort that you mention, check what product code you have in firmware to be sure it wasn't/isn't actually a branded code. All I get if I swap sims around are the standard internet/mms settings.

  21. Number6

    Reflashing Thumbs Up

    Having just sorted out my E71 with generic software, I can now use it at home with my Asterisk PBX. Certain other interesting menu options have also appeared that my telco, soon to get a bit fruitier, thinks I shouldn't have.

  22. pctechxp

    When will they realise

    That all we want is a PHONE that works and not to be carrying about a device that we eventually pay for that doubles as free ad space for them.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: or just buy it from carphone warehouse

    2. The handsets have the manufacturers firmware, meaning no network branding and no crappy menus designed to push you towards pay services..

    Product code for my shiney new Nokia N97 from CPW 0587691: N97 RM-505 Carphone Warehouse UK GB Black V1 still on firmware v10 when everyone else pretty much is upto at least v11 as CPW haven't approved the firmware yet and don't know when they will! So rather than having the network refuse me access to the phone as I'd like the retailer does instead!

    The point stands on most but no doubt won't on the N900 as it didn't on the N97!!!

  24. Christian Berger

    Previous devices were reflashable

    All of the previous devices were reflashable under Linux with the USB cable comming with the device.

    I don't see any reason why one should buy such a device from the network operator.

  25. jon 77

    ..Just buy from nokia.....

    well I wonder how many will pay almost £1000 to buy the N900 simfree???

    - that is, IF the shop will sell it like that, they are getting too much commission from O2, orange, 3, to sell those first...

    The deals ARE very good, though... but it still means the new phones from samsung are nowhere to be **physically** seen... Unless you have a good Orage shop near, that bothers to show one...

    Carphone warehouse, I'm sorry, but it only gets the new phones LAST.... unless they are big names with money like apple...

  26. Inachu

    Branding hell.


    icons and sound system themes representing the phone company and nothing can never be left alone plain vanilla.

    I could really care less about my phone with "ENTER PHONE COMPANY NAME HERE" branding at such system subsystem in the OS such as cell phone and router information.


  27. haroldd
    Thumb Up

    I've got news for you whiners.

    Nokia is ALREADY selling unlocked N900s -- for $649.

    Given that eBay idiots are selling unlocked iPhone 3GSes for around $800-$1000,

    that's not a bad deal at all.

  28. Joe Montana


    Someone commented about why would you buy a phone from an operator when you wouldn't buy a TV from BBC/C4/etc...

    There's a whole bunch of reasons..

    TV technology moves a lot slower than mobile phones..

    Phones get far more abused, a phone will be carried around in a pocket full of scratchy coins, dropped, etc.. a TV will sit on a stand in your house and typically never be physically touched.

    A TV can't typically be locked to one station, and a network operator won't want to subsidise a device you will use with someone else's service, and BBC/C4 don't offer subscription services that could subsidise the price of the TV.

    That said, people often buy set top boxes from cable and satellite tv providers, where it is a subscription service that usually subsidises the box and locks you in to a single provider.

    As for network customisation, i had a nokia N95 from orange which was ridiculously unstable, and functionality like the sip client could be accessed but simply didn't work... Once i reflashed it with standard nokia firmware, it was like i'd gotten a whole new phone, the sip client worked as it should, battery life improved, the interface looked better and the phone was far more stable.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    RE: reflash a SE?


    If you're technical, and can download 1) the firmware files and 2) the client to flash the phone for FREE, then you can use XS++. I believe websites such as SEUniverse or a search engine will bring up information, there are tutorials.

    If you can't be bothered with that, you can flash a new firmware to your phone, the latest if you choose, and with just about whatever language you can conceive using a paid for tool, it will cost about 5 to 10 euros.

    An example of one is "davinciteam" but I recall it being more expensive than others. "Wotanserver" is another, but go have a look and choose.

    Remember, you lose all data on your phone, so backup your contacts to your SIM card first, and understand you'll lose all calendar entries, etc. Good luck.

  30. Olof P

    @jon 77 "just buy from Nokia"

    I'm not sure since when £499 is "almost £1000"?

  31. jon 77

    well you can scoff, but...

    I have seen pre-release phones at low prices before... and due to demand, you dont get your phone until months after, when everyone has found that their fav. feature did not make it to the release... or 'problems' cause the price to rise sharply... I think Nokia may well be selling 'below the profit margin', due to many getting tired of phone and firmware problems.... we will have to see in October!!

    Just like the 5800, a lovely phone, but plagued with problems, unless you dont do that much with it...

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