Re: Unicode-Windows support in Mobile Phone

From: Ken Krugler (
Date: Fri Jan 14 2005 - 12:52:00 CST

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    >Mustafa, Thanks for asking this - I've been thinking of similar questions re
    >mobile phones & handhelds and was trying to find time to phrase them into an
    >I have read that some handhelds run Windows systems, and if I didn't
    >mix brands
    >up in my quick reading, the noted Treo 600 was rumored to be another candidate
    >for same. Are these Unicode aware?

    The Treo 600 (and 650) use Palm OS 5. This has some limited support
    for conversion between the device character encoding (typically
    CP1252) and various flavors of Unicode, but is not Unicode under the

    If it receives email or SMS that's been encoded using Unicode
    (typically UTF-8 and UCS-2, respectively) then the built-in
    applications should attempt conversion to CP1252, with the expected
    loss of data for unsupported characters.

    >Are other systems so? Handhelds in general
    >(like desktops and laptop/notebooks) built around Unicode?
    >Crossing the blurring boundary, are simple mobile phones with text display and
    >messaging Unicode aware (none, some, all)?

    Most are Unicode-aware, in that I believe most support UCS-2 encoded
    SMS and UTF-8 encoded email. The level of support for UTF-8 in
    vObjects (typically for beaming addresses) varies more, with several
    phones ignoring the charset tag for inbound data and/or setting the
    charset incorrectly on outbound vObjects.

    Note that Unicode-aware and Unicode-under-the-hood are different
    questions. You could argue that the Treo 600 is Unicode aware, but
    because it doesn't use Unicode for the device character set, support
    for displaying additional languages such as Bengali and N'ko is very
    limited, and would typically require applications to hack up their
    own (limited) solution.

    In addition, even though an increasing number of mobile devices use
    Unicode as the base encoding, the font/layout/rendering support code
    would also need to handle the target languages. And you'd need some
    way of installing additional fonts, which is often a problem on
    mobile devices, since carriers aren't very excited about allowing
    users to easily extend the OS.

    -- Ken

    Ken Krugler
    TransPac Software, Inc.
    +1 530-470-9200

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