Saturday, December 11, 2010

After being on WIND for a while, I have found some peculiar behavior from my Sony Xperia X10i.  More about these 'niggles' later.

A few days ago, my phone stopped responding to the network.  Basic troubleshooting such as resetting, changing areas etc. didn't help; I called WIND and my account was still intact too.  The phone radio showed a good signal (better than -60 dBm, which is fairly good.)

The WIND techs were quite helpful and took a considerable amount of time to help me solve the problem.  I tried to stay out of their way - I have found that trying to hurry tech support along doesn't get you anywhere.  Also, it seemed that the problem was either my phone's radio (my problem) or something to do with the network access (their problem), and I didn't want to be a pill in case in was, in fact, my problem.

After some trouble, it was determined that the SIM card in my phone was fried.  In fact, the techs went so far as to declare this a known issue on the X10i.  According to WIND, the X10i is known for frying the SIM card when operating on an AWS network.

Do note that this is a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10i.  Note the lack of 'mini' or 'pro' in the name, and the 'i' at the tail end, indicating this is the AWS (1700/2100) compatible model.  The model normally sold in Canada is the X10a, which is GSM only and is only operable on the Rogers network.

Upon going to the shop to get my SIM replaced, I found the attendant knew one poor woman who had replaced her SIM at least four times in her Xperia X10i.  So I'm not the only one with this problem.

WIND blames an undefined firmware incompatibility with the X10i handset, because this problem doen't show up on other phones.  Other information posted on the WIND site seems to indicate that the problem might be related to how WIND provisions their SIM cards - but seriously, no matter what WIND does, surely the phone shouldn't actually damage the SIM!

I doubt the problem is something as simplistic as an over-voltage condition or something like that - the entire phone no doubt has multiple power supplies, but the demands of each are dictated strictly by the relevant circuit section, such as GSM, GPS, Wi-Fi, display, and so forth.  The chances of bridging are nil, and the SIM will be operating within normal limits.

I think it's more likely the SIM simply wore out.  I'm imaging the SIM to be a small flash memory, with a limited number of write cycles.  (Maybe even a limited number of read cycles, although I can't imaging why this would be.)  Chances are the phone simply wore out the SIM memory by constantly attempting to write stuff to it.

This would explain the random nature of the problem, as well as the fact that some SIM cards seem to last longer than others.  I imagine the problem is also user-dependent - perhaps travelling a lot, or spending a lot of time outside WIND Home has something to do with it.

Hey SE, ARE YOU LISTENING TO THIS?  How's about you put this on your bug list and get it fixed for those of us bravely supporting your devices?

For those of us included in that list, do yourself a favor and get a spare SIM or two from WIND now.  I got two spares for free - the stores have free SIM cards that are intended for new subscribers, and they  might let you score a couple.  They can be activated when needed by calling in to WIND and giving them the SIM number.

The other thing you could try while you're there - and before you activate your new SIM - is the 'phone-swap trick'.  Put your non-working SIM into another WIND phone, let it acquire the home network, and then plug it back in to your X10i and give it a try.  Some people have found that this 'resets' the SIM and lets the phone operate again.

If this works for you, you might be interested to know that WIND has some really cheap handsets - on sale for $35 right now.  I don't even know if this works for my situation, but for $35, I'll buy the Huwai as a backup phone anyway.  If the phone-swap trick works, so much the better.

[Update]:  Missed the sale on the Huwai - they were sold out.

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