Adventures in firmware: the Nokia C7: Delight 6.2 edition

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It's a fair cop, I just couldn't resist trying out another custom firmware for Symbian. At least in this case I had a willing volunteer, in the form of an old Nokia C7 which had been in heavy use for a year and which was in dire need of a clear out and rebuild anyway. Delight 6.2 for the C7 is freshly released, so I threw caution to the wind and flashed it onto what is now a two-and-a-half year old smartphone. How was the experience and what does Delight 6.2 firmware actually get you? Here's my report.

Delight custom firmware flashing screenshot

The 'Delight' series of firmwares is quite well known, of course, but this is the first time I'd tried one. The documentation pages are a little scattered and somewhat technical in places, but here's a plain English, summarised guide to what's different for Delight 6.2, compared to the stock Belle Befresh firmware:

  • Integrated ROMPatcher 3.1 (as I understand it, this means custom mods can be patched in easily, a few are included here)
  • Integrated installserver.exe (so unsigned widgets and apps can be installed)
  • ID3 and EQ editor mods
  • added various screensavers (Animation, Slideshow and Music Player)
  • Tweaked Music player for Symbian Anna's sound parameters, with more output volume
  • Unlocked app menu (so you can create subfolders and rename all apps)
  • No more USB popups (but you can still see/change the USB mode in use from the notifications pane, of course)
  • Included the Feature Pack 1/2 (full screenshot) taskmanager carousel
  • Filemanager extender, so you can access any file in any part of the file system, even in the ROM (Z:)
  • Exclusive Delight theme effects (which many will turn off after the novelty goes!)
  • Various performance, scrolling and camera quality mods
  • Music folder search changed to just look in E:\music\ and F:\music\ (for performance reasons, and to stop extraneous sound files showing up)
  • The web browser cache is made infinite and moved to mass memory
  • Voice Recorder mod (5 hours max, 256kbit/s)
  • Reboot added to the standard power menu
  • Unlimited SMS sending retries (rather than the standard three)
  • Send protected files (e.g. via Bluetooth, saves having to rename them first!)
  • Java permissons mod (to avoid the Java pop-up when starting an app that wants to go online?)
  • The virtual keyboard has the Belle FP1 'skin'
  • Runs with the Nokia Pure font
  • Wi-fi tethering for enabled for USA devices (which had been locked down by carriers?)
  • 22 more Music player Equalizer settings
  • Built-in firmware 'Updater' (in theory, acts like Nokia's built-in over the air updating?)
  • DLNA Play app added
  • Latest versions of Maps and Store are baked in
  • Max. 10 homescreens now
  • Removed from the firmware: Nokia Social, F-Secure, Youtube, Nokia Music, Joikuspot Lite, Microsoft Communicator, NFC tutorial, Adobe Reader, Quickoffice reader, Cpix and Bouncing boing battle, to leave 400MB free on disk C: after first boot.
  • X-Plore 1.60 file manager included (with custom settings and icon by BelleXDesigns)
  • Connectivity Analyzer included
  • WebSearch Ultimate Lite included
  • Internet Radio included
  • Widgets baked in (over and above the stock firmware): Anna Notifications (incl. Belle Icons), Anna Notifications 2*2, Calendar small, Clocks: analogue – small, small digital, text small, Contacts mini, Contacts Communication, DLNA server toggle, WIFI toggle, Mail (one line and two line versions), Music player compact, Vertu Apps Launcher (favourites and most recent, this is from the official Vertu Constellation device), Torch, Stopwatch, 'Mirror' (you may recognise several of these from official Nokia widget update packs)
  • Official Messaging and Calendar patches included

As with previous custom firmwares, it all adds up to quite a lot that's different, even if you have to be something of a geek to appreciate half the entries above.

As usual, I won't go into the intricacies of flashing firmware onto Symbian smartphones - there are plenty of guides online and it's not strictly above board. Nokia doesn't seem to mind too much, unofficially, but the act of going down this route will void any warranty or right to support. Of course, you're probably flashing custom firmware because the device is quite old and well out of warranty anyway, so the chances are that this won't bother you. (For reassurance, though, see my postscript, below.)

In broad strokes, the idea is to download the Delight 6.2 firmware (a self extracting .EXE file) onto a Windows Vista or 7 PC, and put the files it contains into a 'RM-675' folder inside \Phoenix\Products in your PC's 'Program files' folder tree. Note that if you want a non-English version then you'll have to delve into the Delight documentation and add a few extra files in.

In Phoenix, you hook up the C7 in standard 'Nokia Suite' mode then 'Scan product' and then 'Open product', picking RM-675. Then click on 'Options' and remove the EMMC (optional mass memory content) option from the list of contents. Finally, click on 'Refurbish' and sit back and wait for the magic to happen!

Delight custom firmware flashing screenshot

Once rebooted, you then have to be patient, since the firmware goes through a number of initialisation 'phases':

Delight custom firmware flashing screenshot

Just leave it alone, the device will restart again in five minutes and you're then good to start playing. Here are screens of Delight 6.2 in place on my Nokia C7, to whet your appetite, should you plan on trying the same thing. 

Delight custom firmware flashing screenshotDelight custom firmware flashing screenshot

The first thing you'll notice is that all applications are pre-arranged in folders, such that (by default) there's no need to scroll the app menu. This is very much in the style of the 'old' S60 and, like that version, sub-folders are allowed again. So, for example, 'Tools' contains a sub-folder 'Xtras', which you'll see below; (right) In addition to the recent widget packs from Nokia, selected widgets from previous Symbian versions are here, plus some custom widgets like 'App Launcher' here...

Delight custom firmware flashing screenshotDelight custom firmware flashing screenshot

Here's Vertu App Launcher in action, giving you a grid of your most recently used applications (the other tab is for 'most recently installed'); (right) Included here are backup and restore functions that aim to preserve most of your apps and settings between firmware flashings (via backup to memory card or mass memory), should you experiment with other firmwares.

Delight custom firmware flashing screenshotDelight custom firmware flashing screenshot

Music Player gets several shots in the arm, with patches to improve overall sound via headphones and speaker, plus a huge set of extra EQ settings, shown on the right here...

Delight custom firmware flashing screenshotDelight custom firmware flashing screenshot

Good to see geeky tools like Nokia's freeware Connectivity Analyser being included too; (right) X-plore, which was recently made freeware, is here too, showing the unrestricted access to the file system in this custom firmware.

Delight custom firmware flashing screenshotDelight custom firmware flashing screenshot

ROMPatcher tends to be included in most custom firmwares and this is no exception. You really are on your own in terms of documentation for the various patches though. Some have names which are obvious, some.... don't; (right) having set everything up, I'm doing a backup, just in case...

Delight custom firmware flashing screenshotDelight custom firmware flashing screenshot

'Resolver', also in the Xtras folder, includes wizard like functions for solving all sorts of occasional low level Symbian issues. There are about ten scenarios and settings it can sort out, we could really have done with something like this from Nokia years ago....

I've always said that I didn't want to experiment with custom firmwares for Symbian until official updates had ceased for the device concerned. We've just about reached this point for the C7, although I wouldn't rule out some more minor app or widget updates. What pushed me over the edge here was that, if you look closely, the C7 had a cracked screen and was therefore effectively worthless for general use - you may wish to take a slightly higher value view of your own pristine C7?

Comments welcome on my efforts above, on the Delight firmware, or on how you get on, should you decide to 'do up' your own device.

Postscript: In answer to several people's questions, I investigated how to get 'back' to stock Symbian, i.e. the official Nokia firmware. Turns out that it's trivial. Nokia Suite always allows you to 'reinstall' the 'current' firmware. It sees Delight as Belle Refresh and then happily toddles off to Nokia's (now password protected to outsiders) firmware repository to download the (400MB or so) full official firmware image for this phone and then flashes it quickly and without further prompts. Total time from playing with Delight to being back on stock Belle Refresh was five minutes. 

PS. Note that Delight 6.2 is also available for the Nokia N8 here.