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Fun with a Sony Ericsson W760a phone

I just switched to AT&T because T Mobile had really poor signal at my workplace. And, I got a new phone: a Sony Ericsson W760a. I love it. I’ve always liked SE’s user interface: it’s quick, and fairly intuitive, e.g. hit “C” to delete a message or image etc.

Of course, AT&T had the phone locked, preventing the use of other providers’ SIMs, as well as preventing one from downloading Java applications (games, GMail, Google Maps, etc.) and music files, and using the GPS. So, I paid DaVinci Team about $15 to unbrand the phone and flash it with the latest firmware from SE. This lets me download my own music and applications (SE has a whole bunch of free games). Plus another $45 to unlock the phone to allow using other SIMs, say if I travel back to Malaysia.

The flash and unbrand worked great, after a little chat with tech support. It released features such as an RSS feed ticker, and geolocation of photos taken with the phone. Unlocking hasn’t worked, yet: their server which generates the unlock code has been reporting as busy for the last few days.

Of course, since I unbranded it, all the settings for Internet access (a.k.a. WAP), and multimedia messaging (MMS) broke. So, I’ll outline all the things I have found out about getting the phone running again.

  1. Buy some credits from DaVinci: 10 credits for flash/unbrand, and another 50 for unlocking. You will then get a download link for the software used to do the hacking.
  2. Buy the DCU-60 cable to connect with a Windows PC.
  3. There is a trick to getting the software to recognize the phone. The default instructions are incorrect. First, plug the computer end of the cable into the computer. Start the software. Then, while holding down the “2” and “5” keys, plug the phone end of the cable in. The software will recognize the phone and bring up a new window with options for re-flashing it.
  4. Once the unbranding is done, you will want to get all the settings for the internet, MMS, etc. The easiest thing to do is to go to Sony Ericsson’s site. You fill in some information, and they upload the settings right to your phone.
  5. WAP settings can be set here.
  6. Email settings are here: you will have to have confirmed your access to the MEdiaNet webmail service, and chosen a username. Pick “AT&T World Net” as your service provider, “yourname@medianet.att.net” as your email address, and the appropriate password. No work. :(
  7. Go through a similar process to have your MMS settings sent to your phone.

A bit long, but not terrible. While you can use other email providers, Facebook will not recognize them as AT&T. If you don’t care, you can set your phone to transmit email via GMail. And you get to load your own MP3s to use the phone as a music player (it takes Memory Stick Micro, as large as 16GB), and get dumb games like the Lightsaber game which uses the built-in accelerometer to make lightsaber swishing sounds as you swing your phone around.

My new phone

UPDATE: Well, from a bit of experimentation, I figured out that AT&& MEdiaNet email strips EXIF data from pictures. So, if you would like geotags in your pictures, say to make putting your pictures on a map in Flickr easier, then you should use GMail which passes the EXIF tags unscathed.

UPDATE 2: What a mess. It was late and I was very confused. A few things:

  1. MMS settings are separate from email settings. MMS will fallback to using email if you do not have an MMS proxy configured. The last step in my list above will configure MMS just fine.
  2. The EXIF stripping occurs when sending an image by MMS, which is the default sending mode from the camera function.
  3. All that stuff about the MEdia Net email is wrong: I have NOT figured out the POP and SMTP servers for MEdia Net. However, the MEdia Net webmail link IS correct.

Mysteriously, auto-geotagging of photos seems to have worked in ONE instance only. All subsequent pictures, while they have regular EXIF data, have no GPS data. The difference has been that I edited that image with the built-in editor.

UPDATE 3:And, I found it: MEdia Net does NOT provide POP3 or SMTP.

UPDATE 4: The phone will also do Active Sync, i.e. sync with an Outlook server. Since Google now provides this service, I can sync email, contacts, calendar, and tasks with a “push” option.

UPDATE 5: Well, I finally got the unlock code downloaded. And, whaddaya know, you also have to get the phone reactivated to be able to use it. So, that’s a total of 70 credits -- 50 to unlock, 20 to activate -- to unlock the phone. At about $13.50 per 10 credits, it cost me as much as the phone did in the first place. Of course, if I did not need to port my old phone number over, I could have gotten the phone for free from an online vendor. As it is, i had to go into a store, and the clerk was nice enough to do the phone number port from a different area code. To sum up, I recommend finding a local phone vendor who will unlock it for you. When I was in Boston, I found a kiosk cellphone vendor who offered unlocking services for $30 a go. The kiosk was in the Prudential Center.

UPDATE 6 (2010-Jun-05): Much more streamlined, now: it is only a single-step process (no separate activation). And it took about 2 minutes from start to finish. Total cost was about $20. Well worth it.