Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cell Phone Hackery - Japanese on E71


I have some rather strong opinions on the state of the availability of cell phones in the United States, as well as carrier policies regarding them and branding, but I may elaborate (rant) on all that in another post.

I recently purchased an unlocked Nokia E71 for my own use. I will not be able to take advantage of its 3G or 3.5G speeds, as I'm with T-Mobile which uses different 3G frequencies from anyone else on the planet, and most notably different from AT&T. Still, I've been remarkably happy with this two-year-old technology phone. It's fast, and its build quality, fit and finish, and choice of materials makes it one of the best phones in existence. It's no iPhone, though; the user interface that Apple has conjured up is unrivaled, and in the U.S. the market has exploded with accessories for the iPhone, while you're lucky to find anything for Nokia E-series, let alone Sony-Ericssons Symbian phones. Nokia also completely bungled the methodology for purchasing software, and has only recently started to catch up - I fear it might be a bit late, though.

My previous phone was an E61, which I got off EBay; it was an unlocked phone originally from a Swedish carrier, so it had the scandinavian keyboard with ä, ö and å. This was good for me, but this time I'll have to settle for the US / UK layout. I had also replaced the software with the Scandinavian one. To prevent user confusion, most likely, Nokia makes available software updates in all the various localizations for its phones, but you cannot install Finnish support on a US phone, for example, without some surgery into places you're not supposed to be poking.

This is something I may look at later, as the Scandinavian images support English in addition to the local languages, so it would work well for me. Today's challenge, however was simple: how to get the E71 to display Japanese characters (kana and kanji.)

How to Make an E71 Display Kana and Kanji

Nokia ships a dictionary application with the phone, which is neat, and lets you download various language packs for this application for free, which is even neater. Without further ado, I downloaded the Japanese pack - and discovered that all non-roman characters showed up as boxes. What the heck?

Internet to the rescue, though. I found this instruction set for the E61 and further this site for fonts and went to modify my new phone, with good results.

The steps, in short, are:

  1. Download and install Y-Browser.
  2. Navigate to z:/resource/fonts, and make note of all the font names, except for S60ZDIGI.ttf.
  3. Find, either from the Nokia SDK or your favorite Internet mechanism, heiseigoths60.ttf.
  4. Make three (or as many fonts as you had) copies of the heiseigoths60.ttf
    file, and rename them look exactly like the fonts installed in the phone.
  5. Download one of the .gdr fonts. I'm not sure which works better than the other.
  6. Plug in your microSD card to a USB card reader, and copy all these files to \resources\fonts on the card.
  7. Turn off your phone, put the card in, turn it on, and voila, Japanese fonts!