These days we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to smartphone software, especially games. Official repositories for the leading handsets feature hundreds of thousands of games, and sideloading adds infinite possibilities. If you were lucky enough to be sporting a Nokia handset in the late 1990s, you probably had all of three games to choose from (and only one that was actually fun). [Janus Cycle] explores the steps needed to firmware mod your vintage Nokia phone, and how to expand on that paltry games library.
Enthusiasts have been modding their Nokia handsets since the 2000s, and the tools required now are the same as they were then. The Nokia 5110 and 6110 (as featured in the video below) use a proprietary cable and connector for communicating with PCs and other devices. Nokia’s official serial cable already opens up many possibilities for handset tinkering, including access to RAM and toggling Monitor Mode. This cable interfaces solely with the phone’s fast FBUS protocol, however firmware flashing takes place using the slower MBUS protocol over a single wire bi-directional pin.
The handset expects both serial ports to be available during firmware flashing. [Janus Cycle] demonstrates how to build a custom harness that connects both serial ports to a PC parallel port. At this point the flashing process is relatively straightforward, especially if you have an appropriately vintage computer to run the old flashing software.
Nokia owners may fondly remember changing the network name on the home screen to all sorts of inappropriate graphics, yet far more was possible with the right technology and know-how. It’s interesting to think about what may have been if softmodding was more widespread during the reign of the Nokia 5110 and its peers.
[Many thanks to the anonymous tipster for submitting this story]