I bought my E71 last year from 3 UK (as a PAYG handset) to replace the first-generation 3Skypephone that I had grown to hate with a passion.

The E71 has been such a wonderful improvement over the Skypephone in just about every way possible. But it hasn’t been without its faults. The camera shutter can randomly take upwards of 5 seconds to take a photo, some photos have a horrible purple hue to them, and I have been unable to get online outside of a 3G area.

As regular readers know, I’ve been very forgiving with the E71’s camera, even taking some of its faults to my advantage. But on hearing about new firmware releases for the E71 that fixes the issue, I was, to be honest hoping that 3UK would do the right thing and update their branded firmware soon afterwards. No such luck.

But still, I wanted those fixes and improvements, and despite waiting for many months, 3 haven’t given them to us. Thankfully, I’m not alone, and “Gerrymoth“, all-round Nokia fan and also on the 3 network, wrote a guide to debranding a 3UK Nokia E71 to a generic “EURO1” phone.

In a nutshell, all Nokia phones have a product code stored inside them. When you connect your phone to the Nokia Updater, it compares the code in your phone against a list of available updates. If 3UK haven’t provided Nokia with a customised version of the latest firmware, then Nokia Updater tells you that there are no updates available for your model.

You can use freely available software, as described in his guide, to change the code in your phone from a code that identifies it as being tied to a specific operator (like 3) to a code that identifies your handset as being a generic, unlocked phone, in need of a firmware update.

I am now the owner of a generic, unbranded Nokia E71 with the latest firmware update, and much happier I am too! The camera is improved, I can get online in a 2G area, and it would appear that the already excellent battery life is slightly better too.

Time well spent.

[Update] De-branding does not affect using 3’s Skype client, so you can still use your free allocation of Skype messages and minutes on a generic E71 without any problems. I have also been told that this also doesn’t affect video calling. To download the “Skype for 3” client (only if you’re on 3) go to http://mobile.three.co.uk/sdf/skypeupdate