Softbank Prepaid on European Android


After a lot of hazzle I have finaly got everything working with my Swedish HTC Desire running Android 2.2 Froyo here in Japan. If you are like me and don’t want to get a new phone but instead use your android phone in Japan, then this guide is for you. There is a lot of them out on the net, a lot of forum threads and it can get quite confusing. But I hope that this guide can help someone out so they don’t have to google for hours like me. But be prepared to root your phone, otherwise its not possible to make everything work. The result will give you an phone capable of sending and receiving MMS, S!Mail and E-mail and of course calling and receiving calls. If you want to use 3g as well on a prepaid card (not sure if this is even possible) or some other Softbank-plan, then this guide is not for you.

Getting the Prepaid Card
This is probably the hardest thing to do, especially if you have a Tourist Visa and not a Alien Registration Card. A couple of years ago it was easy for tourists to buy Prepaid Phones but since then the rules have been stricter. At most shops they will tell you that you cannot just buy the SIM-card without buying a phone but it is possible. Expect to like always in Japan fill in a lot of forms and bring your passport and if you have your Alien Registration Card and your National Health Insurance Card. If you want to take the easy way out you can always buy their cheapest phone and just take out the card. Or find a friend who is leaving Japan and buy their SIM-card.

When you have the card, you probably want to change your e-mailadress from the standard-one that comes with your prepaid-card to something like “your-choice@softbank.ne.jp” but for that I think it is necessary to use a japanese phone. Ask for help about this in your local Softbank store and it will probably work out just fine.

Calling
No problems here if your phone is unlocked. If you call 1400 you arrive at the Prepaid Service Settings menu. Press 3, then 2 and then # to change the language to english. Here you can for example check your balance and your mail settings, but I haven’t used this menu especially much.

MMS, Mail, S!Mail
Here we have a big problem. In Japan they use a special kind of system, not SMS like in Europe so at first, your phone cannot send or receive messages. If someone tries to send you an MMS you will receive a header saying something “Message cannot be downloaded” but you can see who the message is from. To solve this we need to replace the message application, Mms.apk, in the system memory of your HTC Desire and also set up som APN-settings. For this we need root-access, but first, lets do the easy part.

APN-settings
Go to Settings–>Wireless & networks–>Mobile networks–>Acces Point Names
Press Menu–>New APN

Name: Open Softbank
APN: mailwebservice.softbank.ne.jp
Proxy:
Port:
username: softbank
Password: qceffknarlurqgbl
Server:
MMSC: sbmmsproxy.softbank.ne.jp
MMS: 8080
MMS protocol: WAP 2.0
MCC: 440
MNC: 20
Authentication type: PAP
APN type: mms

Press menu–>Save.

But this alone won’t magically make MMS and mail and work. So next thing, we need to root your phone.

Rooting HTC Desire running Android 2.2
I have heard horror stories about rooting HTC Desire, that is was quite difficult so guess if I was happy to find Unrevoked. Just install the application on your computer, set your phone in USB debugging mode “Settings–>Applications–>Development–>USB debugging”, plug it in to your computer and start everything. Then after a while your done, your is now rooted. Time to go to the next step.

Replacing the message application
Now it is time to replace the default message application. Thanks goes to Yokin who developed this application. You will find the Mms.apk I used in this blogpost and the file you need here. To install it you need to get Andoid SDK, a kit for installing developer software on your phone. In Linux/Ubuntu or Mac OS X you run the applications in your built in terminal, in Windows you use CMD in some magical way (I used Mac OS X so I cannot tell you how to do this, sorry.).

First if you have unplugged it, once again plug in your phone. Then turn if off, and start it by holding the Power- and the Back-button at the same time. Navigate using the volume- and the power-key and choose “Bootloader–>Recovery” Then by using the “trackball” choose “Mount–>mount /system” which will make your system files accesible from your computer. Then go to a shell/terminal, place yourself in “android-sdk-mac”-folder and the go to the “tools”-folder. There write (if you run Mac OS X):

./adb pull /system/app/Mms.apk
./adb pull /system/app/Mms.odex

This will make sure you have a backup of these files, if anything would go wrong. Rename them to Mms-backup.apk and Mms-backup.odex. Then it is time to remove these from your phone, write:

./adb shell

This will give you a shell in your phone. Write:

cd /system/app/
rm Mms.apk
rm Mms.odex
quit

Now it is time to install the Mms.apk you got from Yokin. Rename it to Mms.apk and cut-and-paste it into your tools-folder and write:

./adb push Mms.apk /system/app/

There we are done. On your desire, unmount the folder, press back and choose “restart”.

The last settings
With your phone started up, launch your new “Messaging”-application. Press Menu–>Settings—>Custom User-Agent–>Softbank V802E. Now you should be able to receive mail! The last thing to do, not sure if it is really necessary though, is to install the message application named Handcent, you can find it on Android Market. After this you maybe have to make a normal restart of your phone and activate Mobile-Network (Settings–>Wireless and networks–>Mobile network) but other than that, you should now have everything done. With these settings I can receive MMS and E-mail and using Handcent I can send MMS/Email to adresses without a problem. I still have some difficulty sending messages to phonenumbers, but I have read that in Japan you can only send MMS to phonenumbers if they have the same carrier as you, otherwise you have to use their e-mailadress.

Happy messaging!