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June 2020


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Hacked My New Cellphone

In process of learning about my new cellphone, a Sony Ericsson Z750, and its capabilities; I learned that AT&T had crippled some interesting features. For example, there is built-in GPS hardware but you would never know it by AT&T! Also, the phone has e-mail capability but only via AT&T selected providers like AOL, Yahoo etc. Not your average ISP like HostMonster. Finally, the phone supports J2ME (java) applications but it seemed that when I loaded Keepass (a password manager) the program couldn’t be given the proper permissions. I’m assuming this was because the application wasn’t purchased from AT&T!

Ok, so what’s the alternative? How about debranding your phone. It turns out that the folks at Davinci Team have alternate code that can be flashed to a cellphone to “debrand” the phone. In my case this means working GPS, unrestricted POP3/SMTP configurations and working J2ME applications. So with just a small amount of trepidation and $16 to a PayPal account, I flashed by new phone. BTW, Davinci Team also offers code to unlock the phone. Not being a world traveler, I decided I could live with the lower cost debrand code. The site also has code to “rebrand” the phone.

So how has it been working? Absolutely great! In inverse order, Keepass works perfectly. Now I carry all my private data in an encrypted file with me. I also quite easily setup my POP3/SMTP email account and can check it anytime. Finally, the GPS works ok and is integrated with Google maps. I say ok, because this capability won’t compete with a Garmin or TomTom (maybe this is why AT&T disables it) but hey, it’s phone after all.

Did I lose anything? Yes, but only sort of. AT&T provides the standard set of IM (instant messaging) services; AOL, Yahoo, MSN etc, built-in like the email. With the debranded code you simply have to add one of many IM applications to return the IM capabilities. I’m not much into IM but it was certainly simple enough.

Overall, do your research, read carefully (multiple times) and go for the hack.

One last item. In my travels to find information on my phone I discovered perhaps the best repository of information on cellphones. Howard Forums is a great resource! Howard Chui, founder of the site, was even referenced on page 228 in Clay Shirky’s new book, ‘Here Comes Everybody, The Power of Organizing without Organizations’

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