Sony Ericsson Firmware upgrade for the uninitiated!

[digg=http://digg.com/gadgets/Sony_Ericsson_Firmware_upgrade_for_the_uninitiated] Aaah, Sony Ericsson, the best of the phone makers as of now, well at least according to me! They have conquered a huge market share even in India with the release of their K750i(s) and the W-series! Indeed, where else do you get -> an awesome phone! -> sexy responsive UI, with the phone even having a 3D engine -> An MP3 player that is competing with the quality of the iPods! -> A 2.0 Mega Pixel camera with more than decent pic quality! -> Looks of the Sony Ericsson

No, I am not here to give a review of the K750i or the W Series! But, just wanted to mention that the phones are indeed one of the best deals out there! :-)!

"Anyhoo, if they are such great phones, why the hell are you talking about firmware upgrades mate?", might be what you could be thinking! Completely justified! However, think about this - nVidia graphics cards, ATi graphics cards, Himesh Reshamiya videos! Don't they also get upgrades? [Well still reeling from the latest upgrade of the vdo of HR of Teraaa Surooor ;-)!]. Anyhoo, I think that Sony Ericsson has again come up with a novel idea about the self-upgradation of the firmware by the normal people! And by that I mean those who aren't super geeky and know terms like R1BC002, R1AA008 etc at the tip of their left little fingers! Neither am I talking of the uber unknowns when it comes to the tech-world! I am talking about the tech-inclined, people who'd like to get their hands dirty on their gadgets to get that extra performance :-)!

So, what are firmware upgrades?

Well, the firmware of a Sony Ericsson phone is the software that is present in its FLASH BIOS [That's basically a programmable Basic Input Output System] of the phone. IOW, its soul, if you'd consider the hardware its body! The firmware is responsible for the slick interface that you look - the User Interface, the handling of the joystick and keypads etc.So, basically if your phone firmware is good, your phone works well. And if it sucks, well, you get the jitters every time you use your phone!

Please note: I will be talking about the upgrade of the Sony Ericsson K750i firmware from now on! Although the process is the same that you need to follow for other models of Sony Ericsson, please do refer more into the net for your particular model's intricacies in the update process!

For the record, I got my phone with the R1J002 firmware [released on 13-06-2005]. My current firmware - R1BC002 [released on 09-03-2006]. Overall, I have upgraded my firmware 3 times. And the only time I have had trouble with the upgrading process is my last time! However, it wasn't my fault that my phone's mainboard decided to act weird just at that time :-D!

So, what are the steps needed to upgrade your phone? Well, first of all - Read!! You need to be able to follow my instructions and before that be able to actually tell that you need a firmware upgrade really! Although I manage to upgrade my phone EVERY time there is a firmware upgrade release, I would ask you to go for the upgrade if and only if you really feel that the upgrade is worth it! Before any upgrade, first check your current situation - Are you having any troubles with your phone?

For e.g. are you having trouble with the USB transfer? Then, most probably you are running the R1N035(A) version of the phone firmware [talking wrt only K750i]. You definitely need an upgrade!

Having trouble with the camera with night time shots? The latest firmware R1BC002 has improved the night capture mode to get a better picture quality! You may want to upgrade to the latest firmware.

At the same time, if you use your camera occasionally, your MP3s are transferring fine into your memory stick, you have no range/battery problems, are happy with the Mp3 volume/quality, then heed my words - DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR FIRMWARE! It does NOT void your warranty [unless you use 3rd party firmware upgrade deals], it ideally should NOT screw up your phone, but then "Why do you want to mend something that ain't broken?"

Furthermore, you CANNOT go back to the previous firmware with a simple rollback. You will need to send it to the service station to downgrade the firmware. And if you have a Sony Ericsson Service Centre experience like I had, then you'll know that you DON'T wanna do that! :-D

Anyhoo, here are the typical things usually upgraded in a firmware

- Camera software - Display corrections - Image manipulations - MP3 sound volume/quality/clarity - Battery life corrections - Range corrections - Response of the phone - Additional features [E.g. busy icon when zooming/panning etc]

To let you know of the history of firmware upgrades, I would recommend you to visit Esato's forum on the K750i firmware overview! You will come to know which is the latest version of the firmware and what are the upgrades/defects wth the firmware! Usually an honest decription is provided here!

So, now that you know that you want to upgrade your phone firmware, what do you have to do? Well, here are the steps!

  1. Find out which firmware are you running right now - Just follow > * < < * < * [Please note: > stands for right joystick input and < stands for left joystick input]
  2. Download all the required drivers for your phone to be detected as a Sony Ericsson K750i/W800i in your computer! You need to download the USB cable drivers if you are using the DCU-60 cable provided with the phone. [Btw, a word of advice, stick to using that as this article is talking about updating your phone using your DCU-60 cable itself]! You can download all the necessary drivers/software for your SE phone from Sony Ericsson D750/K750 USB drivers!
  3. Download the Sony Ericsson Update Service (2) [The 2 is because of an update to their update process ;-)! Now, they have a single software thingy going on :-D]. You can download this directly off the Sony website. The installation package is about 33.8MB [the UpdateService_inst_2.2.13.7d.exe]. Make sure you have a good connection. Ideally broadband!!
  4. Install your phone first by plugging it onto the computer. You just need to point it to the drivers if you have NOT already done it! [NOTE: People who have the older USB drivers can upgrade to the latest download by holding "C" and connecting to the cable with your phone off].
  5. Disconnect your phone and detach the USB cable.
  6. Then install the UpdateService_inst_<xxxxx>.exe package onto your computer! [This is a general update application for most of the Sony Ericsson phones]
  7. Let the installation process finish.
  8. On its first startup, you need to wait for sometime [read a long time if you have a slow connection like me]. This is because the application is downloading its own latest update and the latest firmware for your phone!
  9. All you need to follow are the onscreen instructions.
  10. Now, your phone should be upgraded to the latest firmware!

Well, now you know the steps! If you have the guts, please go ahead and update the firmware for ur phone and lemme know of your experience :-)! Also post a comment if you need any more help in the detail of the guidelines! I would be more than happy to further granularize the steps!