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How NOT to serve customers. The Nokia case.

Rant time again! I just found this old post lying at the bottom of my hard drive and couldn't resolve to throw it away. I just recalled having written it a while back when my primary cell phone was a Nokia N8. As I had to put it into service again while waiting for a new iPhone battery, I still feel this is relevant, even if NaviFirm+ can't pull software anymore. Any comment is appreciated . Obvious grammar mistakes have been removed.

Upgrade Nokia N8 for Canadian market to Symbian Belle.

Situation: I got a Nokia N8 in replacement for a failed Nokia E7, which, despite proof of the contrary, Nokia claimed was not a Canadian product. The E7 was factory-unlocked, but I later discovered the N8 was a Rogers-issue. Nevermind, as I was already a Rogers customer, then was more interested in having a working phone rather than wait for yet another replacement (reminder here, Nokia DOES NOT pay for back-shipping, as any serious company would do).

Right from the start, a quick *#0000# revealed that this handset used an early-2010 issue of Symbian (can't recall the exact version at the moment). As such, it originally got a Symbian^3 version, which was quickly upgraded to Symbian Anna, initially to correct a few bugs. However, this other, Rogers-issued version of the firmware turned out to be quite buggy on its own. I tried to perform another upgrade, first using Nokia Suite (yes, I like old-school cables), then directly OTA, to no avail. The N8 refused to acknowledge the existence of Symbian Belle, about which I widely read about on the Internet, mostly claiming it solved many bugs from Anna.

I then proceeded on finding a way to make it accept Anna, and found various forums posts with bits of info in each of them. Eventually, I learnt that 1- not being able to upgrade was most likely because a product code was not "approved" by its official carrier for the upgrade (screw you, Rogers!), and that 2- a solution existed in regards to a piece of closed-source software able to bypass this restriction. Digging around, I found that Nokia modders apparently love to use that piece of shit direct download is, with everything that implies as endless sponsored links, dead redirectors, unstable connections and 45-seconds wait time with no resume option. This does not sound serious at all, as I assumed every self-respecting hacker, in the noble sense of the term, would use a democratic and actually working torrent release. The process is to be performed as follow:

  1. get Windows installed on a PHYSICAL machine. Yes, I insist on this one since one may not have a physical machine ready for this kind of mistreatment. Virtual machines WILL NOT work since this application requires USB port access, and will reset it multiple times throughout the process, which disrupts connectivity to the virtual machine.
  2. with USB 2.0 port on it. It may work with USB 1.1, but I did not try.
  3. A USB cable. Either the one that came with the Nokia, or any A-to- micro B or -micro A cable. Blackberry ones are the same as Nokia's FYI. These are NOT the same as the ones that come with external hard drives, for example.
  4. charge up the Nokia first, and back it up, as everything will be erased.
  5. remove memory card, if any, as well as SIM card.
  6. Download a Symbian Belle version with the localizations you want. This can take a while as you'll have to navigate through tons of carrier-branded and usually downgraded mods built on official Nokia firmware. I used NaviFirm+ for that back then, but it seems Nokia has shut down access to its firmwares, and the only updated version of NaviFirm+ (2.7) unlocks all features only to donators. It's not like if 3€ was a high price anyway, and developers have the right to be compensated. If ever you want to try and it doesn't succeed, try other solutions listed here. As a civil disobedience act, but more since I particularly hate direct download providers, here is my local copy of the file taken from a DDL site: NaviFirm.backup.huellif.exe.
  7. Install your chosen Symbian Belle version.

Easy enough? Not so much. Since no Belle version was ever released for North America, you will have to resort to hacks to squeeze a version designed for the same phone sold elsewhere.

After much pain and having to give up on finding that other, supposed suitable piece of software whose name I can't remember because of, you guessed it, dead links on DDL sites, I got Phoenix service software, as well as NaviFirm+, from EPICBIZNUS and modded by Marco Bellino, perhaps one of the last Symbian developers, and yes, I paid the small donation. Install Phoenix, and launch NaviFirm+.

NaviFirm+ 2.7 reveals this interface. NaviFirm+ 1.7 had an almost identical one.


 Leftmost panel is to select phone type, more precisely than just having the model number on hand, the middle panel clearly shows Anna is NOT the latest release for the N8, and in the right pane, you'll find the variant available. You can choose any variant you like, but bear in mind some of these variants may be locked-down to an even-greater amount than Roger's is (or come in languages you may not understand, etc.). Better stick with a vanilla firmware, when they do exist, which doesn't seem to be the case, since all of them are branded. Still, you may well end up with a different language on your phone and, more annoyingly, different touch keyboard layouts. Remember that Symbian does not  switch keyboard layouts without first switching languages. So select your firmware, grab a coffee and take a break, since this download will take a while. With default settings, it will all end down in the Fw subfolder of NaviFirm+, in another subfolder named after the product code. That's the number you see next to the variants. Write down this product code as you will need it later.

Once you get the firmware, copy the whole subfolder to C:/Program Files/Phoenix/Products/RM-596 (This file being the only product type for a N8).

Start Phoenix, it will present you with this interface. Picture doesn't need to be large, really nothing is displayed.


In File … Open Product … type in RM-596 for Nokia N8 product type.

select in Flashing…Firmware Update… [...] Select the product code of the firmware you want to install, then click [OK].


At the bottom of the window, click [Options]…[Edit]…select any red name…browse to product code subfolder…click [OK], and the selected name should turn black and bold. Repeat for each red item.


Then check box [Dead phone USB flashing]…plug in phone with USB cable…[Update software].

To the best of my knowledge, flashing process should start and you should end up with an updated phone, albeit with a different locale firmware.

Now, with the euro version on my Nokia, I have less bugs, more battery live (this is quite relative as I can't get two days out of it, but better than the half-day I had previously from Anna. I am still unsatisfied.

How would I change keyboard layout without touching installed languages?
Why did Nokia chose to make the process so complicated?
And why are their phone representatives kept in the dark in regards to this wild fragmentation of firmwares?



No wait time Phoenix download: