Right after ten new mobile phones on KDDI's au network were launched yesterday, market leader NTT DoCoMo wheeled out ten more of its own. The newcomers are all pretty standard 3G models, with a couple of unexpected surprises including a Nintendo DS-style dual-screen model and a smelly phone...
Eight of the new phones are in the 703i series, which is a cheaper step down from the most cutting-edge DoCoMo handsets.
As usual with large launches like this in Japan, most offer little in the way of new features, bringing essentially just new colours and designs to the marketplace. However, Sony Ericsson's SO703i appears to be the first 'smellyphone'.
For a reason unexplained by DoCoMo's press flacks, the SO703i comes with scented plastic stickers that are supposed to have an aromatherapy-style effect on the user. Far more useful, thankfully, is the D800iDS from Mitsubishi.
Nintendo DS-style phone
This features Mitsubishi's usual rotten design but is technically intriguing in that, like Nintendo's DS, it has two LCD screens, one of them being a touch-sensitive replacement for the numeric keypad.
The idea is to allow users to type on virtual buttons or to draw Japanese characters on the screen, much like some Casio dictionaries. The latter ability is incredibly useful in Japanese, so we can see this starting a trend among handset makers here.
Otherwise, the phones have the usual mix of digital TV tuners, e-money facilities and digital cameras. DoCoMo also claimed the crown for the world's thinnest 3G clamshell phone with the 11.4mm N903i and P903i, although we can't see too many other networks losing sleep over that loss. J. Mark Lytle