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Blog: Nokia E-Series Firmware Maturity

Just upgraded my Nokia E-series with the latest firmware. By looking at the features list those E-series phones look like more a mini computer: UMTS, VPN, WLAN (including WPA-PSK/-EAP), SIP client, a real CSS and JavaScript enabled web browser, IMAP and SMTP over SSL and so on. So far so good. However some of those features were just not working correctly since the phone was released. It appeared somehow that Nokia pushes out their E-series phones using the strategy "release now, bugfix later". My complaints even after the first firmware upgrade from version 1.x to 2.x were:
  1. The Nokia PC-Suite and the basically all Nokia phones I had in the past are very picky regarding the vcard format: It results in my case only transferring the fax number of people having such a (standard) vcard. That means for me: editing 400+ phone numbers! This is kind of a bad joke: vcards are just plain text and it's just a matter of Nokia's broken parser.
  2. SIP doesn't work: a) no STUN support (should have been available in Q3/2006), means SIP is useless unless you are w/o firewall in the Internet or behind NAT/FW gateways which you can reconfigure to forward all incoming traffic on UDP port 5060 to the phone. b) the SIP implementation is broken: the phone hangs after using it and it cannot receive calls on the mobile number if SIP is active (Nokia jargon: "VoIP call barring default to Yes").
  3. Also if the web browser is a "real browser" and there are memory constraints: that piece of software is sometimes not usable, it's slow and during complex pages it just crashes (ebay, wikipedia). Opera is way better. (BTW: If the browser is based on KHTML according to LGPL terms are customers not supposed to get the license text and the hint where they can get the source code?)
  4. The phone warm boots(!) after trying to associate with certain "open" access points. Haven't found out under exactly which circumstances this happens. It's reproducible and occurs every time.
Backup/restore with the PC Suite during upgrading the firmware saves the data but not all settings: installed programs are gone – great, if you paid for some. Gone are all bookmarks, WLAN APs and IAPs (=Internet Access Points) – default is again the (expensive) vendor provided IAP. Also gone: all personalization ring tone settings, all security settings (lock code, time based autolock, locked by SIM card change, remote SMS lock) and so on. It took me almost one day to get back to the previous status. Just wondering how much time in total of all users is wasted through the lack of foresight of Nokia's programmers.
  So, how is firmware 3.0633.09.04 (Changelog) doing? Bad points first: Nokia's vcard parser is still broken. Since this seems to be a general Nokia issue than specific to the E-series I didn't expect it to be any better.
 The good things: The WLAN access point issue (4) seems to be resolved. At least the one in Berlin main railway station doesn't warm boot the phone anymore.
  The browser (2) is more reliable and appears faster. However for complex pages per default it loads the images only on request. For SIP (3) there's now a menu under "Installation" which WLAN AP to choose from. STUN is enabled and works now over DNS SRV records:
excerpt from bind log:
02-May-2007 10:37:58.695 client XX#X2149: query: _sip._udp.sipgate.de IN SRV +
02-May-2007 10:37:58.771 client XXX#2149: query: sipgate.de IN AAAA +
02-May-2007 10:37:58.858 client XXX#2149: query: _stun._tcp.sipgate.de IN SRV +
02-May-2007 10:37:58.870 client XXX#2149: query: _stun._udp.sipgate.de IN SRV +
me@mybox% host -t srv _stun._udp.sipgate.de
_stun._udp.sipgate.de has SRV record 0 0 10000 stun.sipgate.net.
Unfortunately SIP over UMTS doesn't work any more. There seems to be a default flag which is not set and not customer configurable.
  As far as the software quality is concerned: one and a half years after launch of the phone it is after what I've tested so far finally fulfilling it's specs. Sometimes if I read the Nokia forums I am really wondering about the patience of the people which spend a lot of money for this business line phone, and got as far as some advertised features are concerned more or less vaporware in return. Time eating usability (backup issue, vcards) is another point of criticism.
  It wasn't even possible to file a bugreport like IT people like me are used to since ~10 years. Don't know how the development department is getting aware of the bugs? (Dirk Wetter, 5/3/2007)

Addendum (5/23/2007, Dirk Wetter): Got notice that an institution in Hamburg bought this week for their IT department a couple of E70. The firmware on those is still version 1.0610.04.04, dated from 19-04-06. Just wondering why phones with this firmware are still around since it has even more issues than version 2.x I am referring to here.

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