Stjepan Groš

Nokia N96

At the end of the October 2008 I bougth new Nokia N96 mobile phone. On this page I'll write about my experiences with this phone. You'll also find pointers and tips&tricks I gathered on the Internet.

Phone review

I'll start with my personal review of this phone. Because you can read everywhere what the phone _can_ do and what's good in it, I'll mention what I think are it's shortcomings. Note that I updated the phone to the newest software version available on the Nokia's site.

  1. For a start, the software is slow. Sometime so slow that it starts to iritate.
  2. Once, or twice, some application frozed and I couldn't do anything with a phone but to reset it. This happened when I was setting up the wireless connection. All the details are below, where I describe how to connect the phone to a corporate WiFi network.
  3. MAJOR OBJECTION to this phone is the lack of VoIP client. Lately, Fring seems to work, but I haven't had much success with it. Gizmo5 doesn't work yet, don't even try.
  4. When you install new application you don't know where it was installed so you have to search for it.
  5. Battery doesn't last for a long if you use WiFi and/or Radio.
  6. I'm using alarm on the phone to get up on time in the morning. Once, I slept because the battery drained during the night, phone turned off, and it didn't ring. Now, I would expect that in such cases the phone turns off with some reserve in the battery and that the alarm is activated. Anyway, before I went to sleep, I think the battery was well charged, but it seems I left WLAN scanning on.
  7. Bluetooth is a special story. Still, my requirements are specific so I want count them into general problems.
  8. WiFi to setup is clumsy or impossible. If you have simple home network everything is OK, almost. But if the network consist of multiple APs, uses EAP and/or 802.1x, you'll have much work to perform in order to setup it. Furthermore, debugging options are close to none!
  9. While we are at WiFi, the second problem is that it seems to be very sensitive on signal strength. My laptops works well with the lower strength signal in my bedroom, but N96 doesn't work at all!
  10. I didn't used GPS much, and this is not the definite opinion. But, the time I used it it spent more time waiting for better GPS accuracy then it was showing where to go.
Ok, there are more objections but they are now specific so you'll find them scattered in the sections below.

Connecting Nokia N96 to corporate WiFi network

Here is current situation regarding connecting N96 to a corporate network. This network uses EAP-PEAP and MS-CHAPv2 inside. So here are some notes what happens when you try to do something like this. And BTW, I didn't succeeded in my intentions.

The first problem is where to define a wireless network. You have at least three options:

  1. The first one is available immediately on the main screen. There is an option WLAN scanning off. Obviously, you can turn it on.
  2. Then, there is a second option. Go to the main menu and select Tools. You'll see option WLAN wiz..
  3. Finally, if you select the Settings option, then Connection and finally Destionation you'll come to third option, Access point - Add new acc. pt..

Now, isn't that nice. Three options, why?

Ok, whichever you select, you'll bump into another problem. Let us first try with the first option. Turn WLAN scanning on and wait a second. Then, you'll see either that it found some particular WLAN, or if there are more of them, then it will only show that WLAN networks were found. If you now open this WLAN option, it will present you with a list of found wireless networks. Select the desired WLAN, and here is a problem. It asks you for WEP key WHICH I DON'T HAVE.

Now, let's select the second option, WLAN wiz.. When you open this wizard it will scan for available networks and present you with the found ones. Very nice, except one simple problem, it doesn't allow you to configure this network! It allows you to Start web browsing, Refresh network list and see Details. But where the hell I'm configuring it?!

Let's try with the third option. Going to Access point - Add new acc. pt. option. It will ask you if you wish to automatically check for available access points. Either way it will scan for the network. The difference is that in the "manual" case it asks you for SSID and than scans for this particular network, otherwise scans for all the networks and presents you a list from which you have to select one. Now, the biggest stupidity of all, it asks you for WEP key. Well, I don't have WEP key, I know my username and password and I wont to enter them somewhere. So, it turns out you have to provide WEP key, anything, to pass this step. Ok, it doesn't try to connect or anything like that. It only asks you to select for which use/destination you'll use this connection. I suppose it's used for the Internet.

So, now you have an option to modify the network. Enter all the details. It wont try to connect. In order to connect, I suppose you have to go to the browser. It will open, you'll go through few menus, and finally it will ask you which AP to use. The only problem is that it doesn't show the access point you just defined!

Ok, VoIP application fring is, it seems, a bit smarter. It presents me a list of access points and I can select the one I just configured. Errr, except one small problem. It doesn't work and I don't know why?! It would be very nice if Nokia placed something like Test connection somewhere! Even more useful would be if I could see some diagnostic information about failed connections!

All in all, this WLAN is totaly messed up!!!

Nokia N96 and MacOS X


Well, synchronization here works almost perfectly although I still have to try it more. You'll have to download iSync plugin for N96. It can be found on the Nokia Web site.

Development environment for N96 on Mac OS X

Nokia N96 and (Fedora) Linux

Here are some hints on setting up Nokia N96 to work with Linux. I'm using Fedora 9Fedora 11, but I believe that with minor tweaks it will work on other distributions too. Also, I'm using T61p.

Using N96 as headset

Using PC as a headset/handsfree

Finally I was able to make some progress with this. I'm not there yet, but it is satisfactory for now. Everything started when I stumbled upon this thread. From the give thread I learned for the ProjectBluezHandsfree. You can download sources there (or get a local copy). There are two executables in the archive, headset and handsfree. Headset is used as a phone set, while handsfree emulates phones and microphone. handsfree is relatively complicated as the author apparently envisioned it to be used as a controllable component. It reads and executes commands from the pipe (/tmp/cmd) or stdin if there is no pipe.

Still, I had a problem with this code. It was written for ALSA and I didn't make it work on Fedora 11. Then, I hacked a code bit (correcting few interesting bugs along a way) and also included Pulse for the audio. The changed code is here. This code also has problems. Frist, headset works even though there are glitches in the audio. handsfree doesn't work because I have problems reading microphone output and sending data to the mobile device.

I also found nohands program when I was reading the following thread. This program promises to be much better than the previous code (which also means it made my tries to hack that code useless) but again I had problems with ALSA.

The procedure to connect your PC as a headset or handsfree to a mobile device consists of two parts. The first part has to be done only once for pairing PC with a mobile phone, while the second part has to be done every time you want to use handsfree.

The goal of the first part is to pair devices. The pairing has to be done in such a way that the mobile phone recognizes you PC as a headset. So, first issue the following commands:

$ sdptool add hf
$ hciconfig hci0 class 0xff0408

After you executed these commands PC will be recognized as a handsfree/headset by the mobile phone. Next, you have to do pairing of the devices. Also, mark the devices as authorized to always connect. After you paired those devices and mobile phone remembered the handset it doesn't perform any checks any more, at list this is the case with my Nokias N73 and N96.


HFP for Linux Bluetooth Hands Free

Synchronizing Evolution with N96

Configuring T61p as an AP for N96

Configuring N96 as an AP

Using N96 as a modem

Accessing Internet on N96 via bluetooth


Development environment for N96 on Linux

Some tips

To find out MAC address of WLAN device enter the following code to mobile device *#62209526# (aka *#mac0wlan#).

Interesting notes

SIP calls via N96 Thread

Crashed Symbian

Well, I managed to crash symbian on N96. I was in File manager when I connected the phone to a PC and I did not select which mode to connect as but by default it was Mass storage. On PC I copied and moved some files and then did unmount of device but I did not disconnect the cable. Then, on the phone I tried to use File manager but it said that the memory is in use. Then I pluged off the cable and in that moment Symbian crashed.

Useful & cool links
How to share the GPS in your N95 with your laptop via Bluetooth in Linux (this works for N96 too)
How to read and create “barcodes” (Mobile Codes) on the Nokia N95 (this is really really cool, and of course, works on N96 :))

p3nfs HOWTO: Share your Ubuntu connection with Symbian phones

Hack a Mobile Phone with Linux and Python