Working around O2 Ireland

I’m pretty conservative with my mobile phones — until recently, my mobiles were all cheap, low-end, super-lightweight Nokias with long battery life and low “worry factor” (ie. not a big deal if they were lost or stolen). Very sensible.

I’ve finally started catching up with the gadgetorati, though — my current phone is now a Sony Ericsson K550i, which is still small and light, but has nice features like a 2 megapixel camera, a decent amount of onboard flash space, and a good implementation of Java, hence support for GMail and Google Maps. (Thanks to Joe for the recommendation!)

The only downside is that it came from my operator, O2 Ireland, with some broken configuration settings. (This shouldn’t be surprising, of course — I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a phone arriving with working data connectivity, from any operator, anywhere in the world.)

Anyway, here’s what I’ve done so far to fix it. Hopefully this might be helpful for random google searchers.

1. “Failed to resolve hostname” when publishing photos:

Generally, when I’d try to publish a photo using its Blogger support, I’d get a “failed to resolve hostname” error message. Investigating further, I found that the “O2 WAP” service used a proxy server — turning that off fixed the problem nicely. Nice reliable proxy you’ve got there, O2 ;)

Here’s how to do that. Open the menu, then select Settings -> Connectivity -> Internet settings -> Internet Profiles. Select O2 WAP and hit More -> Settings. Select Use proxy and change it to No, then hit Save. Problem solved.

2. Cannot send email from the device:

O2’s default mail server has a tendency to refuse to accept outbound mail from the phone. Switching to GMail for outbound SMTP works fine. Notice a trend here?

Open the menu, Messaging -> Email -> Settings -> New account. Set the Account name to “gmail”. Scroll down to Email address, set it to “[email protected]”. Connection type is “POP3”, Username and Password are whatever your GMail account uses. Outgoing server is “”. Enter Advanced settings, and set Encryption to “TLS/SSL”. Set Outgoing port to “25”. Press the back button, then select the “gmail” account’s tickbox to make it active, before pressing back again to exit the configuration screen.

3. The “side” buttons go online:

By default, if you hit the “globe” button or the “open window” button on the side of the phone, to the left and right of the main joystick, it’s set to open various URLs at These buttons are prime UI real estate, and easily accidentally hit; I don’t want to go online (and possibly incur a charge) if they’re pressed.

Easily fixed. Open the menu, then select Settings -> Connectivity -> Internet settings -> Internet Profiles. Select O2 WAP and hit More -> Advanced, then Change homepage and enter “file:///” under Address and hit Save. It’ll now issue an ugly warning if you press those buttons, but at least it won’t go online. (It’d be nice to get a nicer fix for this.)

I’m sure there’s plenty more; if you’ve got this phone and have any tips to share, feel free to drop a comment below.

In particular, I’d love to know how to further “de-O2ify” the UI; the top 3 buttons on the menu screen are taken up with worthless operator spam (“O2 Music Store”, “O2 Menu” and “Entertainment”, all of which go to various URLs at, while the useful Applications and Alarm screens, which I use all the time, are hidden in a submenu. ugh.

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  1. Simon
    Posted November 28, 2007 at 16:13 | Permalink

    most SE phones are pretty configurable, both in things you can attach to joystick directions and using the shortcut button. I’ve bumped Applications up to a joystick command, and placed alarm and remote control at the top of my shortcuts.

  2. Cormac
    Posted November 28, 2007 at 20:28 | Permalink

    Just wondering what data add-on you have? I’m guessing you don’t pay 1c a Kb with google maps?

    Don’t mind me, just being nosey :P

  3. Simon
    Posted November 28, 2007 at 20:42 | Permalink

    In true O2, if you know what to ask for, it’s cheaper, fashion, Data Lite gives you half price GPRS for no monthly fee.

    Was pleasantly surprised to see that the new Google Maps location detection works on my K800i. And it seems to be a lot better at not downloading .5MB of map data before you can get started :)

  4. Posted November 28, 2007 at 23:51 | Permalink

    Hi Justin,

    About deo2yfing the phone, bestest thing is install a default phone firmware…this will also remove the APN settings for the phone, so you’ll have to configure it again.

    I don’t know if ts available for Sony phones, but there is a Nokia page which has 1) phone model choice, 2) mobile operator choice and then mobile phone number entry so you can receive the APN details via text message.

    Like I said, not sure if there is a SOny equiv. but it might be worth having a look around SonyEricsson’s site (not that you should have to, of course!)

    hth, bernard

  5. Posted November 29, 2007 at 10:58 | Permalink

    Cormac —

    sadly, I am paying that ridiculous rate :( it just means I only use it in emergencies, or if I’m really bored…

    I’m on Pay As You Go. unfortunately there’s no decent data plan for that; I may have to revisit and see if I need to switch.

  6. Posted December 1, 2007 at 23:15 | Permalink

    OK, looks like I need to do something about the data situation :( I just went to O2’s Recent Calls page and ran my script to tot up the charges — I’ve paid 53 Euro in data charges in the last month! that’s totally fucking absurd., here I come… >:(

  7. Conor
    Posted December 2, 2007 at 10:50 | Permalink

    Like you I have always had the simple phones, I can’t stand the kitchen synch included machines. I end up with more stuff I have to manage for which dubious pleasure I am paying through the nose for. I dont want my life centred on/in my phone….I want something different…?

  8. Conor
    Posted December 2, 2007 at 10:52 | Permalink

    I meant sink not synch of course

  9. Posted December 3, 2007 at 11:13 | Permalink

    Hi Conor! yeah, I tend to that mindset too, although this phone is gradually sucking me in…

    Regarding the data charges; it turns out that, rather uselessly, doesn’t allow you to factor data costs into the equation. How shite!

    I think I’ll take your word for it Simon — time to switch to bill-pay and use one of those data packages, because data is now by far the largest part of my current bill.

  10. Posted October 28, 2008 at 10:54 | Permalink

    Justin, I really appreciate you documenting the configuration settings because they’re helpful. I’ve also found 1909 staff pretty helpful too whenever I’ve asked them to give me SonyEricsson unlock codes. When I’ve unlocked the phone from O2 and then asked 1909 to text me configuration settings, everything just seems to work. Nonetheless, your documentation of the settings is very valuable and I carry them as a note on my O2 contact information on my phone.

  11. Posted October 28, 2008 at 10:59 | Permalink

    hey Bernie — happy to oblige ;)