Sony Ericsson P1i..


I love my phone. It’s three years old, considered outdated and is a thing of beauty to me. Here’s why..

The Sony Ericsson P1i is a smartphone released in 2007 running the UIQ3 Symbian operating system. It has a touch screen plus a qwerty keyboard, and it rocks.


The reason that it kicks more ass than Chuck Norris is simple – unlike the iPhone, you can hack this puppy to death. Out of the box it’s fairly vanilla, sure it has Wi-fi and 3G (the iPhone released at the same time didn’t) , but it’s more useful as a starting point for a pretty amazing all-in-one iPhone/Android rival.

At this moment an iPhone is £40+ a month on contract, or roughly £4-500 to buy stand-alone. My P1i cost £60 second hand. Add an Orange PAYG sim, choose the ‘Dolphin’ package, put £10 credit on and, ta-da! – free internet over 3G.

Opera Mobile Browser.

Opera Mobile Browser.

But that’s just the start..

Hack the Symbian operating system (very easy), and then you’re into a world of cool apps. I’m not going to be too technical here, but I’ll give the names and procedures required to beef up your P1i, if desired.

First, ‘aquire’ copies of ‘Xplore’, ‘Midlet permissions changer’, ‘The leftup certificate’ and ‘Capswitch’ – which allows you to access the system files on the phone. Turn Capswitch on, install Xplore and the leftup certificate and you’re good to go.

Install Midlet permissions changer (which saves you from having to ok access to the internet every time you login) and get installing the good stuff.

I began by installing the updated ‘Walkman 3’ app (much better, with visualizations) then ‘Tom-tom’ Sat-Nav, plus the optional voice packs, mainly because I like having Stephen Fry direct me to the shop. Then add Google maps (very accurate, with geolocation), ‘Snaptu’ (Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter etc), and ‘Fring’ – which gives you free calls over Skype!.

Add wi-fi for free calls!

Yup, free calls to other Skype users. Suck it Apple!

Snaptu in action.

Snaptu in action

Walkman 3

Then add ‘Escarpod’ Podcast catcher, ‘Coreplayer’ Media player (handles all movies and music streams) and the icing on the cake, Opera’s brand new Mini 5 browser, which is currently wooing Android users this week. That’s right, the latest whiz-bang mobile browser works perfectly on my three-year old, £60 phone.

Opera mini 5, oh how I love you.

So there you go.., music, video, Flash (iPhones still can’t do that), podcasts, Sat-nav, Skype, the latest web browser and free 3G internet. You’re welcome.

(Just don’t tell too many people or the prices will go up.)


  1. so even now i cant get whatsapp on my p1i?

  2. Hello everyone!. right. I’ve still got the P1i (it came back to me!) but I use an iPhone and a Htc Desire now for my show, Appytimes ( http://GeekPlanetOnline.com or on iTunes, plug, plug)
    Afaik WhatsApp doesn’t work on the P1i’s version of Symbian, and probably never will as it’s an extinct platform now. Skype is a no-no too, although I’m not sure about Google Talk. Fring used to work, but then Skype blocked them, which rendered Fring useless. I don’t know if the situation’s changed. And Sam, I’ll have a look at my P1i and see if I can work out a fix. (I’ve forgotten a lot tbh). Thank you all for commenting.

  3. Hi brad..i’m a p1i user too..but i have a prob mate.!! As soon as ma phone turns on i get the installation pop up of xplore !! It must have gone in da startup !! Any ways of removing it ?? Plz help !!

    • Looking into it, will report back if I find an answer.

  4. so theres no way i can download WhatsApp on my P1i at all?

    • Not as far as I know. When I checked for the previous commenter there was no chance whatsoever. P1i’s version of Symbian is deceased. Any Symbian versions would be for later phones (not compatible).

  5. so theres no way i can run WhatsApp on the P1i at all?

  6. hello… can anyone tell me if fring / skype / googletalk.. work in p1i? sorry if i’m a bit too late…. i just got this. tnx!

    • Hi!. The short answer is no to Skype & Fring, and possible but I haven’t looked into it for Google Talk.

  7. Hi,all..I’m the user of this phone as well..Any chances to install Whatsapp to this P1i phone?Hack perhaps?..XD
    Thanks,bravo p1i

    • Hi Spidey!, unfortunately there’s no way of using Whatsapp on the P1i at the moment. There’s a s60 symbian version for later phones, but UiQ3 isn’t supported, and isn’t likely to be.

  8. hlw brad.i dont know anything about hacking phones but i have a P1i.i need to transform it to a monster u just described…plz help.

    • hi!. The easiest way is to read the “Persian Forums” at http://www.aioboards.com/f75/ – there’s far to much for me to explain in detail here, but it’s not too difficult. Good luck!.

  9. Hey, I was just wondering, do you still have skype on fring? I just downloaded the software and can get skype on it. (i thought the fring vs skype row was only for iphone and not uiq😦 )

    • No, Skype removed Fring’s access on 10/07/2010 due to an alleged violation of their api. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a fix, as the companies have resorted to public name calling now.😦 As far as I know, there is no Skype client for the P1i now, which is a bloody shame, as the hardware is powerful enough to run it with ease.

      • thanx for the reply..i guess i got my p1i a little bit too late for skype use then😦

  10. Same here buddy , sold my nokia 5800 n bought this 1 costed me 65 and just luv d device , hvnt hacked it yet but goin to do so now ,want that walkman thing in my phone 2

  11. For me its THE BEST PHONE but unfortunately its + points was not recognised and no updates.

    • It was abandoned by SE quite quickly, which was a shame. I think the current generation of smartphones (desire/evo/Nexus) have it beat, but it’s taken a long, long time for the competition to catch up. Glad so many people still love the P1i though.

  12. haha…yeah yeah…the sonyericsson p1i…is still with me….yeah…same as you guys..i used it for 3 years and still using it…i hacked..walkman..capswitch…simply amazing…too bad that uiq3 platform is not going on now and is bankrupt. still. i love this phone!!. though i find probloms. but i have better positives about this lovly phone. cheers!!

    • Glad to hear it!. It does what I need it to do, so I’ve no plans of changing phones. And yes, it’s a shame about UIQ😦

  13. Hey man I was also a long time P1i user, for 3 years, until the best gadget I’ve ever had finally broke on me. My touchscreen died last month, rendering my awesome phone regrettably unusable.
    I also hacked the heck out of the P1i, same as you, and boy was it a great phone. I live in Canada, and the P1i never officially made it to North America, so for all three years I had this phone I always got compliments on how cool looking and unusual it was, since no one had ever seen it.
    I loved UIQ (better than S60), and have no words for how fantastic the keyboard was, I could type in my sleep, upside down, looking a different way, it was amazing. And the camera + flash were too cool for school. Oh, and the scroll wheel is in my opinion a fantastic input method that should return! OMG and the multitasking on the P1i is MIND BLOWING. I don’t think there’s a phone on the market today that rivals the sheer amount of apps you can smoothly run side by side on this phone. Do you use the shortcut key on the right side for the task manager?😉
    Anyways man, when and if you decide to buy a new phone (I wouldn’t have, if mine hadn’t broken), consider the E72 from Nokia. Out of all the phones I researched it seemed the most natural progression, and I wanted to stick with Symbian. I’m getting used to it and having a good experience so far, but nothing will ever compare to the ease of use and awesomeness of the Sony Ericsson P1i!

  14. I miss my P1i. When I bought it a couple of years ago I was so pleased with it. At the time it was Sony Ericssons flagship phone and I just couldn’t put it down, I never made the most of it though as I’m not up on the hacking community. I was so gutted when my first P1i broke down as did the replacement, I guess mine were from the same batch. I still say that it’s one of the nicest looking phones I have had. I’m a BlackBerry boy now and I have two of the little buggers. I have the Curve for work and the Bold for personal. I actually prefer the Curve which is an older phone but had given me less problems. Nice work Brad.

    • Cheers Tim! The Blackberry seems like a logical progression from the P1i, much more so than an iPhone. I have to admit though, I do get envious of the app store and user community for Apple stuff. I think I’ll end up getting an iPod Touch though, as the phone is just too damn expensive. Then I can take full advantage of the fantastic ‘Appytimes’ podcast (D’ya see what I did there?)😉 http://appytimes.podbean.com/

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