Blackberry OS 4.2 for the 8703e

I upgraded my Verizon 8703e to Blackberry OS 4.2 about two weeks ago, one out of the desire for “new stuff”, and two because someone developed a Blackberry companion to KeePass that required 4.2 or newer. It’s a pretty nice upgrade that brings some of the look and feel of the newer Curves and 8800 series to my trusty email warrior. In particular, the newer, brighter Dimension theme, options for a Today-style screen, and a decent media player that finally lets me listen to the WAV files my unified voicemail software delivers to my inbox.

Generally, the upgrade process was smooth, but not without some hiccups, plus I had to do a fair amount of work to get the much-sought-after Today screen working. Just to help others that may experience the same pain, here are the tips and gotcha’s I encountered:

  • Before running the upgrade I made a full backup using Blackberry Desktop Manager, and restored it post-upgrade (although the OS installer does that for you). Regardless, I found myself re-doing a number of my settings, likely because of the newer themes. I also had to re-activate it against the BES at my office.
  • The new OS is significantly slower in certain areas, particularly the Profile switcher and on the today screen, however I’ve gotten used to it.
  • From some unknown reason, the new OS dumps the Notifier_BikeHorn sound that I loved. All attempts to reinstall it by hand from files found on BlackberryForums and PinStack failed, leaving me somewhat sad. Now I’m using the Notifier_Eager sound, which reminds me of the DC Metro’s “Please stand clear of the doors!” bell. Kiersten seems to think about Bewitched every time she hears it, but I think that’s daft.
  • No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get any of the “Today” style themes from around the ‘net to work, despite that fact that 4.2 introduces this feature. After some Googleing, multiple forum posts led me to this post at BlackberryForums.com. In short, download this theme and JavaLoader.exe. Unzip the theme, and move it along with JavaLoader.exe to your Blackberry Desktop installation directory, and execute the following command while your Blackberry is docked.

    JavaLoader.exe -u load net_rim_theme_bb_dimension_today_320x240.cod

    Now, every Today-style theme you load will work. I rather prefer the Dimension Today theme and use it, but there are others you may want to play with.

  • I had to update a fair number of installed applications in order for them to use the phone’s data connection, in particular Google Maps and GMail. As it turns out, I was woefully out of date on both of those programs, so in addition to fixing the data problems, they also brought some new features and improved speeds with them.

As I’ve said, the new OS slowed down the previously nimble phone to more pedestrian speeds, however I feel the trade-off with added features and broader application compatibility was worth it. If anything, it will keep me tided over until I finally decide to upgrade to the 8830!