Why do Vodafone cripple handsets?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 25-Apr-2007 07:57

Over the past few years most mobile operators have tried to increase their ARPU by offering nice "walled gardens" portals that are easily accessible from their operator branded handsets. Vodafone have probably put the most effort into this and have heavily tied their Vodafone Live! portal into a large range of Live! branded handsets. Over the years this has caused no end of problems with handsets running slower than the original handset firmware, full of bugs (I had 2 x SE T610's replaced until Vodafone admitted their firmware was so buggy they upgraded the firmware) and using up valuable phone memory with useless files and graphics that can't be deleted.

This has been taken a step further with the recent release of the Nokia E65 and N95 - two awesome new Nokia handsets with WiFI and integrated VoIP through a native SIP stack. Vodafone have crippled the N95 firmware and removed the VoIP function from Vodafone branded handsets meaning you lose an important feature of the phone. With the E65 Vodafone have restricted the SIP client so it will always default to the 3G data connection for VoIP meaning you can't use VoIP over the WiFi connection.

Vodafone NZ are yet to release either of these handsets into the local market so we'll have to wait and see what happens here. In the UK there is a huge backlash occuring against Vodafone and the UK Trading Standards are also encouraging users who have a crippled handset to contact them and Nokia service centres are being flooded with users wanting to have their phones flashed with original Nokia firmware. There are also numerous reports

Rather than admitting they have crippled the handset to stop people using cheap VoIP calling using their handsets Vodafone have responded by saying they have removed VoIP "because it doesn't believe it's a mature technology" ... Yeah right!
If you're after one of these handsets do your homework before you have over your money. I purchased an unbranded parallel imported E65 last week and absolutely love it. I would certainly not be giving Vodafone any of my hard earned money for a handset that is crippled with buggy firmware.

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Comment by antoniosk, on 25-Apr-2007 08:31

Who's your supplier Steve?

Author's note by sbiddle, on 25-Apr-2007 08:47

For my E65? I got it off TradeMe it's a HK import.

Comment by Alan Scott, on 13-Aug-2007 16:05

I have been using a E65 with a SIP client imported from HK. One of the issues that I'm having is that when I connect to my SIP server via WiFi it works fine. If I try to use the Vodafone network, it seems the VoIP calls are blocked? Has anyone seen the same issue? Alan Scott

Comment by Rangi Biddle, on 14-Dec-2007 18:02

Hi Steve, I'm hoping to get my hands on a N95 8 GB soon so I'll hopefully post up my findings with this phone as soon as I can. PS. Is it possible that we might be related?

Comment by DCWalrond, on 31-May-2008 19:42

After a bit of research I came across the Nemesis Service Suite (NSS) software. I used this to reset the model number of my Nokia E65 from UK Vodafone specific to European english-language generic. This then allowed the latest upgrade firmware direct from Nokia to be installed. I now SIP VoIP to my heart's content over wifi, using much bug-reduced firmware. The only quirk is that the shortcut to websurfing over Vodafone Live! is now buried in the Media menu. I trust this helps others.

sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at stevenbiddle@gmail.com