So I got myself a new toy — it has been a while since the last one… 🙂
It’s a SonyEricsson V630i, a device (as the letter “V” in the model name also suggests) which has been specifically designed for Vodafone. Apart from the case and a modified firmware, the mobile is identical to SonyEricsson’s K610i, tho.
The phone replaces my old SonyEricsson T610i, which now is almost three year old. Altho it still works well, I wanted to get myself a new phone that is 3G-capable and has a memory-card slot so that I can use it as an MP3 player.
I “bought” the phone for a mere 1 EUR, by renewing my subscription for another 24 months. I could have gotten the K610i for 39 EUR, but I picked the V630i instead because it was cheaper and comes with a 256 MB memory stick micro instead of only a 64 MB card.
Immediately after I received the package, I unpacked it, inserted my SIM and the battery, and powered it on. When I saw the main menu for the first time, I almost — forgive my language — puked. 🙁
The V630i has the same Vodafone-style main menu as all the other Vodafone-branded mobiles I have seen so far. I don’t know why Vodafone can’t get themselves a decent artist to design them a nice-looking, fancy GUI. Here is what I’m talking about:
So after playing around with the phone for a while, the first thing I did was search the net for a way to “unbrand” it. For some phones, you can find copies of the retail firmware that you can flash so that the phone’s GUI looks and works like an original, retail device that has not been modified for a mobile operator. However, the phone seems to be too “current,” so that such firmware doesn’t yet exist on the net.
So I bit the bullet and shelled out some bucks to a company which performed the job for me. They flashed the firmware of a K610i into my phone, thereby effectively turning my V630i into a K610i. This, BTW, is also possible with SonyEricsson’s K800i, because all three phones are basically identical, apart from the case and certain hardware components which some of the three phones have and some don’t (such as the radio chip or the photo flash.)
I am more than happy to have spent the few bucks. The difference between the Vodafone-branded menu and the retail menu simply is dramatic, see yourself:
So why do they do it? Why don’t they listen to their customers who dislike the design?! I don’t know.
But there must be a reason, otherwise Vodafone wouldn’t be doing it since years.
If you think you know why Vodafone is doing it, please share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment.
Update: Someone asked my what “branding” and “debranding” means. “Branding” means that a network operator puts modified software into the phone. Sometimes the changes are just cosmetic, i. e. they change colors, menu icons, fonts, etc. But sometimes they go so far as to limit functionality of the phone, so that you e. g. can only download ringtones from the mobile net, instead of being able to receive them via Bluetooth or infrared. “Unbranding” or “debranding” means to remove these customizations by flashing a retail firmware onto the phone. “Retail firmware” is the firmware the manufacturer puts onto phones that are not to be sold by mobile operators, but by independent phone shops.