With the release on Friday of a Malaysian version of the i8910XXIG2 firmware that squashes many bugs,improves battery life and most importantly allows for aac audio during HD video recording, I decided this morning to take the plunge and risk making a very expensive shiny brick of my Samsung i8910.

Following these instructions (or not actually), Windows 7 turned out not to be a good platform to count on cooperating with Samsung USB flashing drivers. A short move over to an old XP Toshiba tablet I keep just for such occasions, made things go much more swimmingly, and I safely finished flashing sans much anxiety.

The OS feels quite a bit snappier, but I’ll need a full day in the wild to judge any battery improvement. As for the HD video audio, I confess I haven’t even tried it yet, but I will, Ohhh I will!

The Symbian Guru detailed back in April how video purchases on Amazon Unbox could be easily transferred to the Nokia 5800. I, therefore thought it was at least worth a shot on the i8910 and sure enough it works and works well. Rentals can’t be transferred, but they apparently can’t be transferred to any Amazon Unbox compatible portable device, so chalk up a win for Apple on that front. Given the i8910’s ability to play divx, xvid and avi unconverted, it at least legitimately competes with the iPhone on the video playing, playing field.

Samsung has made tethering with the i8910 HD so ridiculously easy with their PC Studio software, I just had to share this.  After installing the software (successfully on a Windows 7 RC machine by the way), I clicked on the cell tower icon on the main screen setup AT&T as my provider, and then simply clicked connect and literally within less than 20 seconds I was getting results like this and this on www.speedtest.net.  By the way kind of shocking the 1900 HSPA band on AT&T in Atlanta is actually delivering HSUPA results above 1mpbs huh?!

Fearing that the presence of the iPhone 3G might somehow have had something to do with the previous quick battery drain whilst both it and the Nokia E71x were connected to the AT&T 3G Microcell, I took the E71x off the charger at 845a on Sunday as well as the iPhone 3G, such that they would spend the vast majority of the day both connected to the Microcell. I’ve yet to have to charge the E71x since then, and now 61+ hours later (!!!!), I still have at least 25% charge left. Including my time at home between the past two workdays, the E71x and iPhone 3G have both been connected to the Microcell for over half that time!

Again, I purposefully kept usage of the E71x to a minimum on Sunday so as to replicate the circumstances of the original unexpected power drain, and by late Sunday I was still at over 90% charge. Since picking it up Monday morning I’ve used it normally the past two days,(Exchange set to sync every 4 hours, a little podcast listening, a few phone calls, and some web browsing via Opera Mini) and this result of 61+ hours on a charge is more what you would expect from the presence of the Microcell within a charging routine on a phone with a 1500 mAH battery no?!

I think the culprit previously was in all likelihood the Nokia Messaging beta client. Because AT&T has locked down the native S60 mail app on E71x, adding accounts can be an adventure (and deleting mail accounts is impossible unless you hard reset), and I think something went awry with my installation of the beta. My guess is that it simply never closed its data connection the day after I installed the Microcell and of course took all the juice from the battery it could take. As bad as the native S60 messaging app is on the E71x, uninstalling the much nicer Nokia Messaging beta was an easy decision as it is definitely a beta version of the application as compared to the production version on the E75 I played with briefly.

Regardless, fears allayed I can also inform you the 3G Microcell is working solidly. I’ve noticed a couple of times around midnight it lost it’s 3G signal, and I haven’t stayed awake long enough to see when it regained it, but it has always been back up by the time I awaken. My sim card will now find a home full time in the Samsung Omnia i8910 and hopefully I’ll have similar battery life results to report on it a few days from now (though I very much doubt it).

Update to the update: Make that 71 hours (appropriately) now on a single charge for the E71x. In the 10 hours that passed since I made this post, I listened to over 30 minutes of a podcast, and browsed for about an hour all on Microcell served connectivity.

Having had data connectivity issues Monday and a late day at work Tuesday, yesterday through today was the first opportunity I’ve had to retest the E71x battery situation when connected to the 3G microcell. Starting from 4p yesterday through 10a this morning, I was still at 90% charge on the E71x with it having done nothing but make connectivity love to the AT&T 3G Microcell. Never left the house, synced email twice, and made one short 10 minute phone call. The 18 hour test having been passed, I started making calls, LOTS of calls, 3 hours of calls in fact, and by 11p I still had around a 20% charge left. That’s more typical of E71x battery behavior.

So what changed? Well, I didn’t hard reset the device like I’d planned but did remove the application I suspected of possibly causing the problem: Nokia Messaging beta. Just before walking in the house yesterday, I also cold booted the phone to make sure no applications were running upon connection to the microcell. And one more thing: the iPhone 3G hasn’t been in the house since yesterday morning (wife is out of town, and yes sadly all I do is run a geeky phone battery experiment).

Not to get too saucy, but I’ll tell you what has been in the house – the uber powerful 8 megapixel shooting, HD video recording, drop dead gorgeous Samsung i8910. What with its 3.7 inch AMOLED capacitive touch screen and Touch Wiz interface overlay on top of Symbian 5th Edition, I’m quite smitten with it. The call quality is absurdly good, and what a pleasant surprise to find that its 1900 HSPA band is indeed compatible with AT&T cell tower transmissions in the ATL – including the small white one in my bedroom!

I’ve had another day of weird battery drain on my hardly used Symbian device with hardly any comparable drain on the iPhone 3G. I unplugged the E71x at 6a this morning fully charged and it’s made it this far through the day which would be acceptable except I’ve done nothing more than listen to an hour of podcasts, make one short call and sync mail twice. No web browsing, no gps, nothing else and with this kind of minimal usage I would normally get over 36 hours, not the 16+ I’m going to get.

That this never happened with the trial microcell unit really makes me suspicious of the new one in combination with the phone radio E71x. Could it be that somehow the 3G radio in the Nokia device is confused about how to handle the microcell connection from a power perspective (and shockingly the Apple phone radio isn’t?) How much did AT&T engineers alter the stock radio configuration (if they did?) of the E71x relative to what Nokia engineers handed them or have done with other S60 3rd edition, feature pack 2 devices…..?

Needless to say, post E71x hard reset results to come tomorrow.

By request here are a couple of shots of the retail box, as well as some better pictures of the unit itself.


One thing that is alarming me today is how quickly the battery on my E71x is draining. Unplugged from power at 4:15p, it’s definitely over 50% drained despite minimal usage (downloaded and listened to ~27 minutes of the latest geek free for all known as the Engadget podcast, manually synced gmail and exchange once each). If you know anything about how well the 1500mAh battery performs on the E71/E71x you know this is unusual……..my wife’s iPhone 3G is almost drained completely but she can’t remember when she last charged it and how much juice it had this morning. This kind of drain never happened with the trial microcell so it could just be that I had a runaway S60 app that needed to be stopped (okay, Jobs you told me so), but that’s never drained this much power this fast either, so stay tuned.