Nokia N8 Repair Saga – Part 1

I sent my Nokia N8 (sometime around the last week of February) to a Nokia Care Center for repairs. Ostensibly, the problems were: bad screen flicker and trouble installing Ovi Store after an apparently botched PR 1.1 update Over-The-Air. On 03/16/2011, I received my Nokia N8 and spent much of my lunch break working on setting the phone backup up when I noticed several things going wrong at once. First, let me give you some background on what the repair process before I whine about the new problems my Nokia N8 returned with and Ovi Store drama

Verify Nokia Device Warranty StatusOnce I realized my N8 had reached the point where all the “Googling” didn’t yield any new insights, I decided to call the Nokia Customer Care line. This number is pre-programmed into the Nokia N8 when you first boot it up. After the techs at the Customer Support line had me do the customary troubleshooting techniques, it was determined my N8 was truly borked and would need a trip to a Nokia Care Center for repairs. Once you have reached this conclusion with the techs, the technician should send you a shipping label which will let you drop your phone off at a UPS Store without being charged. #ProTip: Spell out your email address so you won’t wait in vain for a shipping label that will never arrive. Make sure you also spell out your address which will be printed on the shipping label in case the package needs to be returned as undeliverable.You will also be required to fill out a “Repair request” form. But before you can fill out the form, you’ll need to verify your warranty status at an interstitial page by entering in your device’s IMEI number and your zipcode. Once you’ve been verified as being “in warranty” and you’ve filled out the repair request form, you should take note of the requirement that if you should ship out your phone within 10 days of verifying your warranty status, you won’t need to attach your proof of purchase.

However, if you ship the phone after 10 days have passed since you verified your warranty status, you would need to attach your proof of purchase. Once you dropped off your UPS package, all you can do is wait. Make sure you package the phone properly (formatted, with bubble wrap and sans your microSD/SIM cards) and I would recommend taking photographs of your phone’s physical condition if you can. You’ll never know if you need to provide proof of your phone’s condition if it comes back tarnished. When filling out the repair request form, you can request email updates of the phone’s repair status. I selected this option, but I found myself checking the site daily anyway. I had wrongly assumed I would be getting a new phone when I saw this update:

Well, color me surprised when I received my N8 only to find out that it was still the same phone I shipped to them. It turns out they must have replaced a defective component for my phone. Moral lesson: don’t read too much into the status updates. 🙂 But hey, I wasn’t complaining. After being without my N8 for ~ 3 weeks, I wasn’t complaining.

I began the task of copying my files to my microSD, setting up my Google contacts & calendar with the Nokia N8 and reinstalling my Ovi Store-bought apps. The first two tasks were completed in no time. However, I ran into one major problem with installing my Ovi Store paid apps:

You need to update this application to a newer version that is compatible with your current phone model.

Virtually, *ALL* of my paid apps were showing this message whenever I navigated to their Ovi Store app page. I’ve invested over $60 in Ovi Store apps so I was quite peeved as this new turn of events especially as I’ve had the same phone brand since December! I did my usual dance of pinging @NokiaUS on Twitter who then contacted @NokiaCareUS who, in turn, contacted me with instructions to send information to an email address. This matter is still ongoing and it was beginning to sound like it would need some research so I moved on to the important task of setting my music playlists, etc. That’s when I lost my mind: I discovered that the sound system on my poor Nokia N8 mysteriously developed a highly irritating stuttering effect while playing my music files and had a near-constant ‘hiss’ to it while playing.

At this point, I was choking on my disappointment and pissed that I was going to have to send my Nokia N8 for a second time to the Nokia Care Center. Right now, I’m torn between my feeling of extreme annoyance “I fucking hate Nokia’s QA” to being understanding about the matter (“Shit happens. Like receiving a bad unit. Or Sending your unit for repairs and coming back with bigger problems.”) At least I can be thankful that the support technician spared me the rote “troubleshooting” steps of reformatting my device or doing the “go to Ovi Suite and check for updates” routine as I told him I had just reformatted the damned thing and checked for updates (there were none; remember, the Nokia Care Center was supposed to have flashed the PR 1.1 firmware and fix lingering issues).

In any case, there’s an Android device in ATT’s online store with my name on it. At this rate, it’s beginning to look like I won’t have my Nokia N8 for another month. I’ve read horror stories of people having to send their phones to the Care Center more than four (4) times before finally getting a replacement device. Un-believable.
ATT Android phone

PR 1.1 may have ruined my Nokia N8

So, you heard about the PR 1.1 update hitting various Symbian^3 devices over-the-air (OTA) or via Ovi Suite or the Software Updater tool. Well, here’s my cautionary tale of how PR 1.1 brought nothing but trouble to my Nokia N8. I ran the Software Update application on my Nokia N8 and got the message that the “N8 Device software” update was available.
PR 1.1 available for the Nokia N8 About PR 1.1 for the Nokia N8
I dutifully backed up my phone and started the process of updating my phone. After my phone rebooted and the update worked its magic, I was *very* surprised to see that all my installed apps and settings were still present. I didn’t think anything of this, but in my experience with firmware updates like this, *everything* gets formatted and I essentially expected to be starting from a fresh plate. After the update, I noticed the little changes like portrait orientation for the dialer tool, etc. What I also noticed was a slew of issues like windows were displayed weirdly i.e. only half of the window was visible on my screen, and problems maintaining a WiFi connection. I was bummed out and decided a reformat (*#7370# in the dialer) was in order. After the reformat, I expected that the Ovi Store application would be pre-installed on the phone as reported on Nokia’s websites. Alas, that was not to be. I couldn’t launch the Ovi Store application despite the words, “Ovi Store”, showing up in the Application Manager. In fact, tapping the Store icon only redirected me to a webpage when I was instructed to download the .sis file for the Ovi Store. Attempting to install this .sis file resulted in an “Unable to install” message. The story and my facts thus far:

  1. I updated Nokia N8 to PR 1.1 via an OTA update through the Software update application
  2. After the PR 1.1 update, all my applications and settings were still present on my phone. These applications included several Nokia Beta Labs apps like Battery Monitor, Mobile Documents, Nokia Bots, etc. The PR 1.1 update didn’t come with any special instructions for handling.
  3. After reformatting my PR 1.1 device, the Nokia N8 was essentially DOA because without the Ovi Store, I have no apps.
  4. Update: 3:32pm: For whatever reason, Ovi Suite did not have this option to reinstall the firmware on my Nokia N8 when the borked N8 was connected via USB. Will put up a screenshot later.

Right now, pissed is an understatement. I called the Nokia Support line and after doing 2 rounds with Customer Service level 1 folk, I was bumped to a Level 2 technician who finally figured out that something super screwy was going on. To make this long story short: I was issued a shipping slip, filled out a repair request and was told to ship my Nokia N8 to a Nokia Care center. I’m stuck without a primary phone for at least 2 weeks while the Nokia Care Center attempts to reflash the phone. I have never had to send any of my devices for reflashing and I’m very apprehensive. Thankfully, my phone is still under warranty, but I would feel incredibly shafted if this had happened when I was out of warranty. You can check on your phone’s warranty status with Nokia by visiting this site and entering your serial/IMEI number. Now, I’m scared because if the future updates destined for the N8 feel as untested and as coarse as PR 1.1, then N8 users are in for a world of hurting. In any case, there’s a silver lining to this story though: A) My contract with AT&T expires soon and this means it’s upgrade time. Android (HTC Inspire 4G) is looking mighty fine and I’ve entered ChipChick’s contest for the HTC Inspire 4G, but the following things about the N8 keeps me from throwing my hands up:

  1. I absolutely love the camera on the Nokia N8.
  2. free Navigation, USB on-the-go, etc. Go read my original post about why I chose the Nokia N8

B) I should be receiving a two week trial of a Nokia C7 and the Nokia BH-905i headset so I’ll be using & reviewing these items and should have a write-up of my thoughts on them. Wish me luck and let me know if you’ve had nothing but trouble from PR 1.1 on your Symbian ^ 3 devices. 🙂

Update: My thoughts on the Nokia BH-905i headset have been published!