Over the weekend, we checked our Ntel N1 Nova for any available software updates and found two waiting. The second one was an unlocked version update, specifying that the phone can work with any network. Interesting? You bet!
Ntel N1 Nova Add Dialpad Update
But let’s start from the beginning. The first update changelog said, “Add dialpad”. We ran it and the phone downloaded and installed it. After the mandatory automatic reboot, we couldn’t tell what was different with the dialpad or if any had been added.
But the existing dialpad has been working well anyway, so no issues. When we find the dialpad that was added in the update, we will notify you.
Ntel N1 Nova Unlocked Version Update
After the dialpad update, we checked again and found another waiting. The changelog said, “Unlocked version. The device can work for any network”.
A quick background is in order here. The N1 Nova is a dual-SIM device and the first SIM slot is the 4G compatible one. And that slot is locked to Ntel. That means the only 4G SIM you can use in the N1 is an Ntel SIM card. Not only is it locked to Ntel, but it is mandatory that an Ntel SIM card be in the slot for you to be able to use any other SIM in the other slot.
Yes; Ntel was not going to allow you buy their subsidized phone and then remove their SIM card and just use the phone as you like. Understandable.
So, what does this unlocked version update do to the N1 Nova? We found out.
The Unlocked N1 Nova Tests
First, we left our Ntel SIM in its slot, popped in our 9mobile SIM into the second slot and switched mobile data to that SIM. The line stayed on 2G with all other options greyed out, as it used to be. Verdict: the second slot is still permanently locked to 2G.
Next, we replaced the Ntel SIM with a 9mobile SIM card; it connected and we were able to use the line. Verdict: the update indeed unlocked the first SIM slot, freeing it for use with other networks. Now, the phone can be used without an Ntel SIM card in it at all. Nice.
However, the 9mobile connection only momentarily registered 4G and promptly downshifted to 3G. Perhaps that was just due to network conditions.
We haven’t had the opportunity to test it with an MTN SIM card though. If you own an Ntel N1 Nova phone, you can join in the fun: update the software and then try an MTN SIM in the first slot. See if it will also pick and maintain an LTE connection.