Both the Blog and Twitter-spheres are buzzing today with talk of Orwellian conspiracies coming off the back of a recent upgrade to Etisalat’s BlackBerry subscription service. This “routine upgrade” left countless customers with quick draining batteries and even quicker draining patience yesterday.
The upgrade has since been pulled and Etisalat are investigating the matter – allegedly contacting customers who have experienced this problem. Stuff was luckily unaffected (probably due to our Ultra Update Laser Defense System™) but found it odd that an upgrade for network performance would not be handled on the Phone Carrier side, so in doing our research we stumbled across this interesting piece on popular local blog Fake Plastic Souks that goes into some detail about the update possibly being cover for the implementation of a monitoring application by security company SS8.
Are Etisalat attempting to screen our text messages? Nothing is substantiated at this point in time but it did make us think about breaking out the tin foil hats.
UPDATE (15/07/09): It seems that a user created removal for the battery draining registration update has been created and posted (by user tibilsoft ) on the Blackberry Support Forums with the following instructions:
Download attached zip file. Unzip it. Connect your device to the computer. Run “Remove Registration.bat” file
This small batch file removes the malicious registration update from the device, however as of this writing it is still unconfirmed if it works in all cases or whether it fixes the widespread battery draining problems people have been experiencing.
ONCE AGAIN: We have not tested this and in no way recommend you go out and try it unless you know what you are doing or are some kind of space-maverick. Stuff accepts no responsibility for whatever kind of silly buggers you decide to play on your phone.
UPDATE: In our ever endeavouring quest to get to the bottom of this we have sent emails to both Etisalat & RIM asking for their side to the story and are eagerly awaiting a reply. Stuff has also spent a good portion of the day trying to get a local SS8 representative to answer our phone calls but sadly to no avail. We will keep you posted on any developments.
UPDATE: For those interested in the tech side of this whole debacle (and we know you are) we recommend checking out this post on the official BlackBerry forums, it dives head first into what was contained in the ominous registration.jar update file.
UPDATE: Several users on twitter have come up with unconfirmed quick fixes for the problem including @reuven_p who suggests deleting the update. He sure is brave. We have no way of knowing whether this actually works and certainly don’t recommend you mess around with your phone’s settings.
HTC dropped us a line this morning, and gave us another reason to salivate over its gorgeous WinMo handset. It got Etisalat involved in the smartphone summer bonanza, and any TD2 that’s snapped up before September 30th comes with a free 1GB data package. Still wondering if it’s worth it? We’ve put the stellar smartphone through it’s paces this month in Stuff, grab a copy for the full review.
E-Vision has just announced it will provide HD-quality content to viewers in the UAE. You’ll need to shell out 30AED per month for the three ‘complimentary’ channels, and the decoder box will cost an additional 1,000AED. The good news, the set top box includes 250GB of internal storage for recording movies or shows, and will let you pause or rewind live TV. That’s great for our current Prison Break addiction, not so great for maintaining this blog…
If you haven’t already done so, remember to grab the iPhone’s OS upgrade from iTunes. It’s got all sorts of goodies, including Arabic language support, and it’s totally free. For iPhones that are, say less official, you might want to hold off until jail breaking catches up. Otherwise, it could end up bricking your phone, making it totally unusable.
UPDATE: iPhone OS 3.0 Pwnage Tool has just been released. Thanks Mike.
Can’t wait for fibre-to-the-home to go mainstream? Then get yourself down to Abu Dhabi. Etisalat has started routinely updating its lines with FTTH technology. That means blinding fast optical broadband speeds (up to 100Mbps), perfect for streaming HD content, internet TV and online gaming. Cool beans.
UPDATE: And Ajman, apparently. Apologies to Ahmad who sent us this photo. It was so well written we thought it was from an Etisalat corporate PR man of the same name.
We thought Etisalat’s original pricing structrue for the iPhone was complicated and expensive. And apparently, they’ve listened to our cries. First they made things simple with a pre-paid scheme. And now the telco has announced new tariffs for its iPhone customers: still complicated, but less expensive.
A mysterious invite appeared in the Stuff mailbag yesterday. Du says it is launching two ‘special’ and ‘new’ products on Sunday. What are they? ‘Black is a mysterious colour,’ says the UAE telecoms company. We’re going to be pretty disappointed if it’s not an iPhone or BlackBerry (with prices to duke it up with Etisalat’s tariffs). Course, if it’s the T-Mobile G1, we’re going to be ecstatic. G2? Now we’re dreaming.
Posted in mobiles
Tagged android, blackberry, du, etisalat, G1, G2, HTC, iphone, Magic, T-Mobile, Vodafone
Don’t fancy one of those expensive iPhone service plans? Fear not, UAE-dwelling Apple fans, as Etisalat has just announced that the world’s most strokable mobile will now be available for Wasel customers (pre-paid, to you). Sure, it ain’t cheap at Dhs3,121 for 8GB or Dhs3,570 for 16GB, but ‘Slat will subsidize that with a free SIM and 250MB of free data a month for six months, a saving they reckon will save you Dhs2,000. That adds up to Dhs1,121 to get started on the multi-touch wonder… an odd figure, but who’s complaining?
Skype is getting jiggy with the iPhone (tomorrow, reportedly) and BlackBerry (in May). Sadly, it looks like the iPhone VoIP software won’t work over 3G and BlackBerrys are still slugging along on EDGE. Surely, the hacking community will be all over this, though. If you could talk for ‘free’ over 3G, would you? Etisalat’s not very cheap iPhone could yet become the sale of the century.
UPDATE: According to Engadget, you can call out over 3G after all.
The latest addition to Etisalat’s sturdy Blackberry portfolio comes in the form of RIM’s turbulent entry into the touchscreen smartphone market. Tepid reviews for the device aside, it’s good to see that it has finally hit our shores. Well nearly, the official Etisalat page still marks it as coming soon with nary a confirmed release date to be found but it does give you the option to register for a chance to win yourself a handset. Whether anyone actually wants one is a whole other story.
We’ll keep you posted on any concrete changes.
UPDATE: We’re not officially allowed to say anything yet, but we’ve just had notice of a joint press conference between RIM and Etisalat on Monday, April 6. For some reason it makes us think of that Ed Harcourt song: The Storm is Coming. And, no, we are not in any doubt.