Long live Chinese OEMs, or Why idealism fails

As you might have already guessed, I’m a Nokia fan. Not from the ones crying “Nokia is dead!” (same thing happens to self-proclaimed Star Wars fans - in reality, a bunch of stupid lifeless nerds crying “Star Wars is dead!”). As a real fan, I believe Nokia and Star Wars are more alive than ever. And I really appreciate Nokia 8.1 and “The Last Jedi” just as much as Nokia 5110 and “A New Hope”. I like them all, why should I hide this and listen to oldfag snobs with their eternal “before was better” mantra?

The fact that I like Nokia more than others, however, doesn’t make me a brand-dependent junkie. Under the rule of Kallasvuo and Elop, some utter shit was produced. Microsoft, you know, has a gift to turn anything into complete failure. Aside Lumias, which embodied failure on every aspect, a model that got it to the absolute level was Nokia 515 DS. That overpriced brick couldn’t even have SIM2 working without SIM1. But hey, it got S40, which every oldfag drooler now dreams of. Well, I refuse to discuss the sanity of those who consider it a normal UI when contact deletion and contact editing are in completely separate menus, and who consider 3G connection usable via such a ridiculously helpless browser as Opera Mini (which was already 10 years behind then-current web standards).

Considering all this, Nokia is now really more alive than ever. In many ways, it’s ahead of its competitors, especially in physical durability and software updates. This is what matters most for me. But there is something else that even Nokia cannot give. Because it’s a brand. And traditions of a brand (true traditions, not the ones made up by self-proclamed fans) cannot be easily broken. I don’t blame HMD for this. I don’t blame them for the fact that every MediaTek-based phone manufactured by them, even Nokia 105, has NVRAM protection. So I can’t just take my TekBuster (in case of S30+ phone) or enter engineering menu *#*#3646633#*#* (in case of Android phone) and enter AT+EGMR=1,7,"[new_imei]" for SIM1 or AT+EGMR=1,10,"[new_imei]" for SIM2. It won’t help. I can’t blame HMD, they have to prove that the brand is unbreakable, and rightly so. Especially after 8110 firmware got shamelessly modified by our community.

However, I can do this with any other MTK-based phone. IMEI numbers of feature phones are hackable via TekBuster or AT commands, on Android smartphones they can be altered via engineering menu. Some feature phones even have keypad codes for this, like *#0066# or *#9999# on Philips Xenium E181. And some Spreadtrum SC6531E based phones also have codes like *#1122#, however, please take my advice seriously: avoid SC6531 of any modifications at all cost!

SC6533(G) is a completely different story. Why? Because it’s a completely different manufacturer! There’s nothing of Spreadtrum in SC6533 except the name. It was made by RDA Microelectronics, the same guys who made Coolsand SoCs before merger with Spreadtrum after joining Tsinghua Unigroup. And all SC6533-based phones have Coolsand firmware, i.e. RDA SP.

Viaan V1820

This is Viaan V1820, one of the perfect examples of phreaker’s Klondike among OEM vendors in our country. Why? Because it costs just about $9, has blacklists/whitelists, completely erases time/date when the battery is out, has instant data wipe function (*#002#), supports GPRS (no HTTPS though), is compatible with BL-5C batteries, and, like every phone based upon RDA SC6533G, has codes to change IMEI numbers without PC connection: *#0160# to change SIM1 slot IMEI, *#0161# to change SIM2 slot IMEI. There are lots of other secret codes for RDA SP devices but these two are the most interesting. An ideal burner phone was found. Of course, it’s not that easy to find abroad. But you now know which chipset to look for among OEM brands in your country as well!

And now you see the area where brands blow, plain and simple. No matter how good they are. No matter how powerful the hardware is, it better be MediaTek with the access to AT commands and unlocked NVRAM, or RDA for low-end feature phones. Rewriting IMEI for Qualcomm and Spreadtrum (when no codes work) is currently impossible without Faildows-only tools, and for HiSilicon or Exynos IMEI, AFAIK, it’s currently impossible at all.

Whether it’s legal or not, you know, isn’t even a question for me. If I bought any phone for my money, I firmly believe no one should be able to take any kind of control over it away from me, at least as long as I do no harm to other people. Whether I want to disable SIM data download (OTA reflashing of SIM cards by carriers), disable reaction to stealth-ping SMS (and alerting users about it) or change IMEIs, or even completely reflash the device to something else, it’s my own damn business. And I should be able to do this without a question from anyone.

If a religion tells you to dress into animal hides instead of composite armor, then something is wrong about this religion.
© Yarowrath

Nothing can nail it better.