Pat's droids

(UPDATED!) How to use a Nexus One with Softbank Prepaid for calls and emails

Since you can’t buy only SIM cards in Japan, the first step is to get a prepaid phone on Softbank. Softbank is the only operator that does pay-as-you-go, so there’s not much choice! You’ll need your Alien Registration Card in order to get one, or to get a friend to help you out and buy you a phone under their name.

Step 1 - get Cyanogen Mod on the phone

No choice, the following instructions will NOT work on the stock builds running on the Nexus One, unless you root it and install the Cyanogen Mod’s Messaging app (MMS.apk). At that point, might as well put Cyanogen Mod since it’s got a lot of goodies. But hey if you want to keep your current ROM, find the Messaging apk from Cyanogen Mod and install it on your Nexus One, it’ll probably work. No guarantees.

Without the Cyanogen Messaging application, you will only be able to get notifications that you received new emails, but will never be able to download or send emails.

Alternate Step 1 - Use Go SMS Pro

I noticed recently that Go SMS Pro has MMS Settings that allow inputting a custom user agent, so Cyanogenmod’s MMS.apk isn’t as necessary as it once was. Still untested by myself, though.

Step 2 - configure APNs

The first part, after getting your SIM card into the phone and testing to make sure phonecalls work (they will), is to get the phone hooked up to the Softbank 3G network. Note that you will only be able to send/receive emails, not browse the web, using prepaid service.

These APNs worked for me, courtesy of « Around the doubt » blog. I recopy the APNs here:

Proxy: leave  blank
Port: leave blank
Server:leave blank
MMS Proxy:
MMS Port:8080
APN type:either „mms" or leave blank doesnt make a difference with prepaid

Step 3 - configure the Messaging to send/receive emails

This is the crucial step, and the whole reason Cyanogen’s MMS.apk is needed. You need to change the User Agent string that Messaging sends to the Softbank server, in order to identify as a Softbank phone rather than a Nexus One or any other Android phone. The default MMS.apk doesn’t allow this, and even though all over the web the search results say that ChompSMS and Handcent SMS can change their user agent, it appears that now they share the user agent set in the default Messaging app, so they’re not suited now.

I used the following user agent string, courtesy of « Around the doubt » once again. Go to Messaging -> Settings -> Custom User Agent String (I don’t have my Nexus One handy at the moment so I can’t confirm the exact place where the setting is found)

Vodafone/1.0/V802SE/SEJ002 Browser/VF-Netfront/3.3 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1

(all in one line!!!)

It’s too long to type by hand, so I used Google’s Chrome-to-Phone extension for Chrome (or Firefox) and the accompanying app from the Android Market. I select the user agent string, click the chrome to phone button in my browser, and it gets sent to the clipboard on my Nexus One. Then I can paste it.

And there you go! You can now send/receive emails through your Softbank email address, right on your Nexus One. I had to configure my email address itself using the actual Softbank phone, since I couldn’t use the browser on my Nexus One to configure my options.

Sharp Lynx 3d / Docomo SH-03C Review! Part 2 of 3 (Video)

Part 2 of my review of my new Japanese mobile phone, the Docomo SH-03C aka Sharp Lynx 3D. Here I take a closer look at the 3D features, Oneseg TV, and other software features of the phone. Short demonstration of phone performance using Angry Birds. LED alerts demo. And so on.

See part 1 here, where I show the hardware and how the phone looks like under Sharp’s custom Launcher.

Sharp Lynx 3d / Docomo SH-03C Review! Part 1 of 3 (Video)

Here it is, my new Android phone I bought in Japan, running Android 2.1-update1 and a customized launcher.


  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 512 MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM
  • 9.6 Megapixel CCD camera, can also take 3D pictures
  • 3.8 inches screen at 800x480 resolution
  • 3D screen - naked-eye 3D technology which doesn’t require glasses
  • Wifi, touchscreen, 3G, bluetooth, what we’re used to by now
  • Micro USB, 3.5mm earphones jack
  • 1400 mAh battery
  • LED indicator lights for notifications
  • All the standard Japanese features: osaifu-keitai (mobile wallet chip), oneseg (TV), emoji (emoticons), infrared communication for data transfer, Docomo sp-mode (aka MMS emails), veil view (for privacy it puts a pattern on the screen so you can only see well when you’re looking straight at it and not from the sides), and so on

Overall a solid phone, about on par with my Nexus One when it comes to performance. 3D works, though it’s a gimmick and does get tiring for the eyes. I hope we’ll get the 2.2 update before Spring, and even more I hope Sharp will not give up on updating this phone.

Video review comes in two parts, here is part 1!

On Android Being Open

I felt the need to say this and agree with Andry Rubin, since the blogosphere will surely get inflamed soon by the anti-Android squad all over the net following Andy Rubin’s defense of Google not restricting what carriers and manufacturers can do with Android devices.

I'm in Japan right now and Android here is AWESOME.

On my new Lynx 3D built by Sharp, I get:

oneseg (tv, ie not streaming over the net but the actual TV signal)
infrared (for transferring pics, email info, etc with other people's phones)
emoji (for writing cute emails to Japanese girls)
3D (glasses-free, for some oohs and aaahs at parties - tv, some apps, some games, I can even take pics in 3D...)
better camera
NFC compatible with Japan, I can pay at vending machines, trains, buses, etc, with my phone.

So yeah Android is open and all that stuff added by the carrier/manufacturer is a
good thing.

It’s too bad that in the US, the "value-added" stuff is actually hurting the phones (Bing on Verizon Android phones for example), rather than making them appealing to the local market (smartphones weren't popular much in Japan because they lacked the above STANDARD features available on "dumb" phones. Dumb phones that could also browse, email, navigate, view maps, use gps, etc).

On another carrier, AU, the Sharp IS03 will even have a 3.5-inch 960x640 screen, just like the iPhone 4’s Retina display. And all the above features minus the 3D.

So I'm glad Android is open and that Google isn't restricting too much what carriers and manufacturers can do, otherwise I wouldn't be able to enjoy a good smartphone here with all the apps I'm used to having AS WELL as enjoying the standard Japanese phone features. Now I can have both! Life is good.

Tablets and iPad

Computex is under way, and just about anyone who can put hardware together is scrambling to demonstrate tablets, in a rush to enter the market Apple has revived from the dead.

Great! Competition is good.

I didn’t get an iPad. Why? I don’t hate Apple, I love Apple, I love my Macbook Pro, I loved my Macbooks, I loved my old PowerBook 3400! Thing is, I don’t see a need for the iPad... YET. It feels incomplete to me, more an entertainment toy than anything else. Nothing wrong with that, I think that’s what it’s for. I just don’t want that, I want something that will be useful to my daily life, like my Mac is, like my Nexus One!

And that’s another thing right there - you know when Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, he said one great thing about it is that it uses the same interface as the iPhone, so it’s familiar. You can even run all your iPhone apps on it! So, by the same logic, since I have an Android phone, wouldn’t it make sense to get an Android tablet? I got an investment in Android already, and I quite like the notification system, the widgets, etc. Makes sense, right?

So as much as I’d love to have something lightweight to carry around and live my digital life wherever I go, I forced myself to wait, resisted the allure of the shiny new toy, and am patiently waiting. Now comes the other problem, which will make me wait even longer I suspect: everyone, like I said, is scrambling to come out with Android (or Windows, or whatever else) tablets.

And so far I have seen NONE that appeal.

Archos? Even their own demo videos on their site shows a sluggish interface where the presenter has difficulty having his taps registered. Don’t get me started on their use of Android 1.5 or 1.6, and the absence of the Android Market from their offerings.

Dell Streak? 5inches only... Yes size matters. Plus I’ve already got a phone. And I’m not sure about Dell’s commitment to keep it updated continuously, nor am I sure about their custom interface. And again, Android 1.6. What’s with all the Android 1.6 devices coming out in 2010????

Neofonie’s WeTab? More like Neophoney.. It’s all vaporware still. In fact, any other tablet I could name is STILL vaporware, prototype, or outright scam from China.

I find this is a really sorry state for the Android tablets lineup.. So far it doesn’t seem like there’s any solid offering even close to coming. I’m sick of prototypes that may not come to market, startups that may take my money and run or die soon after launching their products, poor iPad clones with outdated Android versions, and no clear upgrade path or any indication that the product will be supported for more than a month after launch.

That’s what’s powering the iPad, I believe. No matter how many people complain about Apple’s draconian control over their App Store, you know the iPad is THE iPad. It’s not one variant of a concept among dozens of slightly incompatible devices. You know Apple will be around for a while, and if the iPad has any success just like the iPhone, you know it’s gonna be supported and updated for some time to come. You won’t be left behind if you get an iPad. It may be the shiny toy of the day, but next month it will still be a viable toy.

When will such an Android tablet come out? Come on Google, are the Google Android Tablet rumours true? Maybe Google will keep from showing it until it’s ready... Just like Apple did. No prototypes. No promises. No sketchy design shots or computer-generated concepts. They showed us a real, working, live iPad in January.

And that’s what I’ll hold out for - either an iPad that satisfies my needs, or an Android tablet that will be REAL and will satisfy my needs.