Android 2.2/2.3 and RSAP compatibility

I am in the market for a new phone but I need one that supports the RSAP bluetooth profile so that it integrates with the premium car phone kit in my VW Passat. I had this problem last time around and opted for the Nokia E71, which integrates seamlessly.

This time around though I want a smart phone, but I still need the compatibility with my car kit. It seems that RSAP (Remote SIM Access Profile) is a technology that Nokia created, so other manufacturers have to license it in order to use it. This means there are very few phones that support it, other than Nokia of course.

However, I checked out the reviews for the new Nokia N8 but it doesn’t really float my boat and there’s nothing else in the Nokia range that appeals to me. I’d quite like an iPhone 4, but doing a load of googling reveals that this doesn’t support RSAP either. Windows Phone 7 also does not support RSAP. Blackberry apparently does support RSAP, and the Blackberry Torch looks like a contender, but then reading the reviews reveals that it’s a bit glitchy, slow and few applications are available for it.

So then I started to look at Android phones. I’m struggling to find any definitive answers but it seems that Android 2.2 does NOT support RSAP natively. I confirmed this by trying one of my colleagues phones (an HTC Desire HD running Android 2.2). My car kit sees the phone but when I try and connect to the it the car kit says it’s not compatible.

Digging deeper, it seems that the Samsung Galaxy S, does support RSAP, even though it’s running Android 2.2. It sounds like Samsung have licensed the RSAP technology from Nokia and implemented it themselves, but I have not been able to confirm this first hand (only by doing lots of googling). It also appears that Samsung are releasing an Android 2.3 update for the Galaxy S in March, and again, it appears that 2.3 “might” have RSAP support built-in (so maybe Samsung will drop their own bit of code – who knows?).

Now trying to confirm whether Android 2.3 includes native RSAP support or not is proving quite difficult – I have not found a definitive statement yet. But if it does, then that would open up my phone choice to any decent handset that is upgradeable to Android 2.3 (e.g. the HTC Desire HD I tried earlier). The Samsung Galaxy S gets knocked for it’s build quality and plasticky feel, but there’s a new Samsung Galaxy S “2” coming out soon (it’s already on the Vodafone web site) with a better screen and a bunch of new features. So if that runs Android 2.3 and supports RSAP, maybe I should wait until that is out.

I’ll post back here when I have reached further conclusions. RSAP is used extensively by VW, Audi and Skoda so RSAP compatibility is important to a lot of people.

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23 Responses to Android 2.2/2.3 and RSAP compatibility

  1. I have just tried a Google Nexus One running Android 2.3 and this also does not support native RSAP (I get “phone not compatible” on my car kit). Talking to the guy who owns it (a bit of a nerd if ever there was one) he says that it’s to do with the chipset. Most Android phones use the Qualcomm chipset that does not support the necessary functionality to talk RSAP, but he knows of a chap who has developed an app to support RSAP, BUT you have to have a “rooted” phone (I guess this hacks the phone’s ROM to include the necessary functionality). He also reckons that Samsung use a different chipset (probably their own) hence the reason why they can do RSAP but other phones can’t.

  2. Jozef Comor says:

    I can confirm that rSAP works in Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000 running Eclair 2.1. I successfully used my phone for several months pairing reliably with my car (Skoda with Columbus navigation system and GSM III maxidot). However, after I updated the phone to Froyo 2.2.1 the pairing is not reliable; it happens frequently that the car does not recognize the phone. Usually, after turning the bluetooth radio in the phone off and after a while on again resolves the issue (sometimes I have to pair the two devices as if they see each other for the first time…). But the phone book is definitely not updated anymore (with Eclair it did after every change in the phone book).

    • Milos says:

      I use Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000 (Android 2.2) with my Skoda GSM III hands free. The reliability is nearly OK, nerveless there are same cases when HF indicates telephone is disconnected, but the phone stays in GSM off mode and rSAP active. In such case I need to reconnect it manually.

      There is also the issue with phone book synchronization. I use a workaround for this, so the synchronization is done by my old Windows Mobile phone. I guess that any Nokia would help there as well. So then I have my phone book up today.

      It would be really nice when Google includes the rSAP support, but we are waiting for this for years.

      Milos

  3. Jeremy G. says:

    I used an Iphone 3g with my VW Jetta TDi for several months with zero issues. I switched carriers and got a Samsung Transform. I was horribly disappointed when the hands free didn’t work. Until tat time I had never heard of RSAP and just thought bluetooth was bluetooth.

  4. Chris H says:

    The chap running http://www.android-rsap.com/ seems to have cracked it for HTC android phones (rooted) at least!

  5. Well in the end, after reading reports of the Samsung Galaxy S being a bit flaky (and talking to an owner who said the same) I opted for the Nokia N8 in the end. Maybe I’ll revist this topic in a years time when I’m due a new phone again. So far I’ve actually been quite impressed with the N8, it does suffer from some convoluted menus, but having previously owned a Nokia E71 I’m kinda used to that! :-)

  6. Pali says:

    I have used the rsap app from http://www.android-rsap.com on a HTC desire running the cyanogen rom. seems to run fine and connects to VW passat 2008 , also imports the phonebook.

  7. hansarts says:

    I have recently got my VW Passat with an RNS315. My HTC Desire HD connected via standard bluetooth, without any problems. I even connected the media player. So that works fine. But NO rSAP integration. Via the Android Market is rSAP software available, but this only works if you rooted your HTC Desire HD. Because i didn’t do this, i wasn’t be able to test this software.

  8. John Popkin says:

    Good read and worrying how something as important as RSAP for safe driving and communication is not incorporated into some of the latest handsets.
    I am also in the market for a new smartphone and really like the Sony Xperia Arc S. Speaking to the so called technical folk in the shop not one had heard of RSAP or remote sim mode. I showed my loyal Nokia E55 and the assistant could not help me with seeing if the Arc S would work.
    Does anyone know if there is a list of the latest phones with RSAP and which would work with the VW bluetooth?
    I am waiting to see if the new Nokia Windows Mango phones such as the N800 Sea Ray might work but like you say Windows 7 doesn’t work, but being a Nokia it might. Why is this such a problem?!

    • Nicola says:

      I;ve just got the Nokia Lumia 800 – with Windows 7. The VW Phaeton finds the fone, yet says it is not compatible!!! No one knows what rSAP is!!

  9. I too am interested to hear if Mango (WP 7.5) supports RSAP on the new Nokia Lumia phones. From what I understand, plain vanilla Mango does not include RSAP support, but Nokia may have “tweaked” it to include RSAP, in the same way that Samsung tweaked Android for the Galaxy S.

  10. Jörgen Sigvardsson says:

    rSAP has nothing to do with chipsets as someone pointed out. Profiles are “applications” running ontop of Bluetooth communication channels. A profile basically means that there must be a peer application in the phone that can handle rSAP commands. Much like a web server application like Microsoft IIS. No special hardware required other than a transciever.

    As for Nokia Lumia, it will have rSAP support. Orange has a page here (http://help.orange.co.uk/orangeuk/support/personal/647193/2/2961), that lists all Bluetooth profiles that the Lumia supports.

    My next phone will be a Lumia. :) (although I wish Apple would support rSAP!)

    • nev says:

      As the Nokia guys were in town, demo’ing the Lumia, I got them to come try and connect to my Passat. Unfortunately, it’s a No, Lumia 800 does not support rSAP

  11. karen says:

    i have an lg ku900, and its a no go with my vw golf turbo diesel. I had a sony erricson arc which worked perfectly with phonebook loading as well until it went into the swimming pool with me :( i now have to use my lg again and im quite irritated the phonebook wont load. So im in the market for a new one and need one which will load everything.

  12. Mark says:

    Hi, I work for a BMW dealer. I’m interested in the rsap technology. Do BMW cars use rsap? Is rsap a Nokia invention? Does it restrict the ability of certain non rsap phones to connect to our cars? We have a wireless hotspot option now and it requires a “sap enabled mobile phone”. I’m new to this so any help would be nice thanks mark.

    • If it requires a “sap enabled mobile phone” then I think that will limit your choices somewhat. From what I have found so far, this means Nokia, Blackberry and possibly the Samsung Galaxy S I/II. I’m not sure if any other Samsung phones support it, you’ll have to check the comments here and see what others are saying.

  13. I have just conducted some more experiments with interesting results…
    A Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) will NOT pair with my VW. I get “Phone not compatible”.
    However, a stock Samsung Galaxy S II DOES successfully pair and I can download the phone book. It appears to download contacts from both the phone and the SIM. So Samsung have definitely tweaked Android to include rSAP support on the Galaxy S II.

    • Andy says:

      Odd, because the rSAP support in my Galaxy S2 only transfers numbers held on the SIM. Not a big restriction and one that is common to many implementations.
      I use a Galaxy S2 with the 2009 Audi RNS rSAP unit and a Porsche 2010 head end unit with no problems. However ..things to watch out for:

      1) Having supported rSAP through the S and S2 Samsung dropped support for rSAP in the latest Ice Cream Sandwich OS upgrade on the S2 (aaargh!).which means the Galaxy S3 doesn’t support it either as it runs ICS.
      2) On the Porsche Communications Management unit you need the garage to enable rSAP mode rather than HFP. For some weird reason the head end has to be dealer configured for one or the other. The Audi unit auto-detects just fine.

  14. Christian says:

    Hi,
    VW seems to limit car phone kits to rSAP and doesn’t provide HFP as an alternative. This seems to be a political decision and as far as I know it applies to the brands VW, Skoda, Audi and Seat. This makes it quite difficult to choose a current smartphone that supports rSAP, but http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIM_Access_Profile (German only) gives you a more or less complete overview of cars and mobiles that support rSAP.
    As mentioned before, Samsung supports rSAP with a broad range of mobiles, but take care, only up to Android 2.3.x. Apparently Samsung removed the rSAP-Support with ICS [4.x].
    I can confirm that my Galaxy S (Android 2.3.6) supports rSAP and connects to my VW Passat (2012) phone car kit.

    • Andy says:

      Hi Christian,

      Some good news! A company has written an independent rSAP stack for some Andoid phones, Samsung included. http://www.android-rsap.com/

      Even better news is that this used to require ‘rooting’ your phone in all cases but they now have a solution for the SGS 2 ruuning ICS that does not require rooting. Though why on earth Samsung dropped support for something so popular at the premium end of the market I cannot understand.

      Here’s hoping they do a version for the SGS 3.

      • Christian says:

        Hi Andy,

        thanks for mentioning Android-rSAP. I am keeping it in mind. At the moment it seems to be the only relailable way to enable rSAP with Android > 3.6.x or independant ROMs like Cyanomodgen. There are mostly positive postings about connecting Android-rSAP to VW car phone kits, and the 9,- EUR seem to be worth it. When I’ve some spare time or have a spare SGS available, I’m giving Cyanogenmod a try and check out Android-rSAP.

  15. Pingback: Blackberry Bold 9900 and (lack of) RSAP support – here we go again! | Notes from a Nerd

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