Update on the S105

I’ve had the S105 for a couple of months now and one of things that it has not been able to do is download MIDLets. MIDLets are phone based applications, written in Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), that are downloaded over-the-air to your phone and stored there. They are typically games or other types of utilities, and are typically more robust applications, when compared to WAP web sites. Most of the phones that I’ve worked with (including Motorola’s T720, i90c, i95cL, Nokia’s 7210, etc.) have all allowed downloading without issues. The inability to download MIDLets to the S105 has been blamed on manufacturer, network, and software version – at the end of the day, it was simply the network and T-Mobile has been attempting to address this.

The T720’s and 7210’s that I’ve worked with are unlocked, so I’ve been able to set up my own WAP setting and use different networks; the i90 and i95 are tied to Nextel’s network, which has be configured to allow downloads. The only phone that’s been a bit of a beast has been the S105, on T-Mobile.

Wait, what’s this unlocking stuff? Most cell phones that are sold in the US are “locked” by the carrier, meaning that the phones can only work on that carriers network. There are two types of locking that we’re talking about: SIM Locked and WAP Locked. SIM Locked means that if you put another carrier’s SIM in the phone, the phone won’t work – i.e. if you put an AT&T SIM in a S105, the phone will tell you that it’s an unauthorized SIM. WAP Locked means that the Internet functions of the phone are hard coded to the carrier’s gateway – i.e. on an S105, it cannot be pointed to a Cingular WAP Gateway, and will always use the T-Mobile’s gateway. SIM Unlocking is easy, for T-Mobile customer: E-mail simunlock@t-mobile.com with your name, account number, phone number, phone model, IMEI number (found by pressing *#06# on your phone) and they will send you instructions on how to SIM Unlock the phone. The SIM Unlock code is based on the phone’s IMEI number, which is like a unique serial number, so do not try to find this code on the web – someone else’s code will not work for you and after three failed attempts to enter the correct code, the phone will shut itself down and you will have to send it back to T-Mobile for repair. WAP unlocking is impossible, at this time, as it requires the phone’s software (firmware) to be upgrade/changed, and that’s not possible for consumers, like us, to do.

Since the S105 wasn’t able to download MIDLets, and that was one of my goals for it, I decided that I should try another network, meaning I would have to unlock the phone. In my area of the US, I have T-Mobile, Cingular and AT&T for GSM/GPRS carriers – I can use any of them, provided the phone is unlocked. Using the information at HowardForums.com, I found out that you can SIM Unlock the phone via the Samsung’s OEM cable and with some software. I also found out, as I assumed, that you cannot WAP Unlock the phone.

What’s the solution to this? There really isn’t one, aside from waiting. Had I known of this problem, I would have spent the extra $100 and found an unlocked S100 to buy on eBay. See the S100 is typically the US/European model that is unlocked already – the S105 is made specifically for T-Mobile. I went with the S105 because I had no plans to unlock this phone – I wanted a phone that I could use MIDLets on and keep in the T-Mobile area. The good news is that T-Mobile is working on a solution. As of this posting, it’s been a week that I’ve been able to download MIDLets. Since the MIDLets I want to use need to access the Internet, I’ve since upgraded my data account with T-Mobile, and now that’s mostly working for me as well. There’s some network related issues with that too, but I’m waiting for them to formally announce J2ME support before I can find out what’s wrong.

So ends the quest for unlocking – I never wanted it in the first place, but since my locked network didn’t do what I wanted it to do, I tried to get around it. Now that T-Mobile is cooperating, I’m finding myself not caring about unlocking; it’s a moot issue for me. Other people, however, are continuing to find an unlocking solution – you can track their progress at HowardForums.com.

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