NTT DoCoMo really outdid itself with its newest batch of phones, releasing 22 (well, 21 if you exclude the canceled Nokia) models grouped into four categories: Style, Prime, Smart, and Pro. The differences between phones in the Style, Prime, and Smart lineups seem to be pretty arbitrary; as you might guess, the Style sets are naturally designed to be just a little more fashion-forward than the rest, but otherwise, there's nothing about the spec sheets that really sets them apart. The Pro group is the most interesting of the bunch -- not because it's the typical sci-fi tech we've come to expect from NTT DoCoMo's phones, but because it's composed of a bunch of phones we already know from other parts of the world (okay, plus one admittedly sci-fi Sharp).
The STYLE series
It's pretty awesome when the slowest phone in a lineup still musters 3.6Mbps HSDPA, isn't it? That's the position Fujitsu's F-02A finds itself in, packing a wide VGA display (and a QVGA outer display to boot), a 2-megapixel primary cam with autofocus and face detection, and a VGA secondary cam to go along with the dead-ass 3G. It'll be available in December in Cosmetic Pink, Crystal Black, Shiny Gold, and Pure White.
We're not sure what's up with that tiny 96 x 35 outer display, but we suppose the wide VGA main display more than makes up for it -- no to mention the 5-megapixel main cam with autofocus and face detection. The N-02A will be available some time between this and next month in your choice of Air Blue, Ash Gray, Antique Gold, and Sparkle White.
Yeah, it looks (like so many Japanese folds) like it's about a foot long when open -- but unlike the N-03A, most of 'em these days can justify the length with crazy VGA or WVGA displays. This NEC-sourced fashion fold mopes along with an old-school WQVGA screen, and the 2-megapixel cam is equally uninspiring. The good news is that it'll be available in five fun colors -- Apricot Orange, Chocolate Brown, Vanilla White, Macaroon Pink, and Cassis Blue -- when it launches this month.
This is what we're talking about. Panasonic doesn't play with this colorful slider: wide VGA and a 5-megapixel camera with face detection and autofocus are the only features you need to know to understand that this is some serious hardware. And how many 5-megapixel phones can you think of that are available in bright green? (It's greater than zero, we think, but not nearly as high as it ought to be.) It drops some time between January and March of 2009 in your choice of Sapphire Pink, Diamond Black, Pearl White, and Emerald Green.
Okay, so say you're one of those Panasonic fanboys or fangirls (you know who you are), but sliders aren't really doing it for you -- flips are more your cup of tea. No worries, friends, because for you, Panasonic has the P-03A launching between December and January. It features a WQVGA primary display supplemented by a 128 x 36 OLED secondary, 3.2-megapixel cam, and 7.2Mbps HSDPA. Look for it in the simply-named White, Black, and Pink.
Collect 'em all! Actually, don't, because that would be ridiculously expensive, but at least you have a veritable palette to choose from if you decide to go with Sharp's SH-02A, a flip that offers a true color WVGA display and 5-megapixel cam with face detection and autofocus. Sadly the HSDPA tops out at a mere 3.6Mbps, but hey, look at all the pretty colors: Lime Green, Ice White, Universal Black, Cherry Blossom, Metal Silver, Sky Blue, Berry Pink, and Wood Brown. Find it in the NTT DoCoMo shop near you between December and January.
The PRIME Series
The so-called PRIME series is all about bad-ass multimedia, and the F-01A happily obliges with a 5.2-megapixel cam (though it's 5 effective -- we're not sure why they bothered with the more cumbersome "5.2" label on the back), GSM and 3G global roaming, 7.2Mbps HSDPA, and a wide VGA display. Like many Japanese flips, the huge screen swivels 180 degrees for better one-seg viewing (or your media of choice). This sucker launched in Black, Champagne, Rose, and the always eye-popping Cyan on November 19.
If you injected something like the LG Glimmer with a gallon of illegal performance-enhancing substances, we think you'd end up with the F-03A. These 145 grams of Japanese insanity pack a 960 x 480 touchscreen display, 5.2-megapixel AF cam with face detection, and 7.2Mbps HSDPA. Perhaps the only downside here is that it's only available in three colors -- White, Black, and Gold -- when it launches in the first quarter of next year.
If this one looks vaguely Shine-ish, that's probably because it's made by none other than LG. Korean-sourced handsets are still a bit of a rarity on Japanese carriers (as are any non-domestic makes, for that matter), but the L-01A comes swinging with a 2.8-inch wide QVGA touch display (not quite up to snuff in this particularly lineup, but still not bad), 5-megapixel camera, and 7.2Mbps HSDPA. It'll be available by the end of the year in Shining White, Carbon Black, and Platinum Pink (what kind of platinum are they talking about, exactly?).
How about 180 degrees of swiveling awesome? Yeah, that sound good? In that case, you might want to take a peek at the N-01A, which features a 3.2-inch 852 x 480 display along with the requisite 5.2-megapixel camera, support for 7.2Mbps HSDPA, and GSM / 3G global roaming. It'll be available in the lovely-sounding Misty Lavender, Precious White, Fine Black, and Passion Pink this month.
You'd think Panasonic would really use the P-01A to pimp its VIERA branding with an insane screen, but for whatever reason, they've stuffed a lackluster 262,144-color display in here -- although it's still WVGA and features a 6000:1 contrast ratio, so we're not sure why we're complaining. The keys somehow change orientation depending on which of its two hinges you opt to open -- witchcraft, as far as we can tell -- and you get a 5.1-megapixel camera to go along with that bag of fun. It's available this month in Glamorous Red, Graphite Black, Frosty White, and Champagne Pink.
The future called, it has a phone it'd like to send you -- and its name is SH-01A. Seriously, this thing represents the pinnacle of everything that makes Japanese tech so awesome: 8-megapixel camera, AQUOS-branded WVGA display, integrated fingerprint sensor, and virtual 5.1-channel audio courtesy of Dolby. You can pick this one up in Blue, Black, White, and Pink this month (if you're in Japan, anyway; the rest of you can look for something like this around 2013).
Another winner from Sharp, the SH-03A features a 3-inch WVGA display (down 0.3 inches from the SH-01A) and carries over the 8-megapixel cam, 5.1-channel audio, and biometric sensor. The SH-03A loses the screen swivel, but picks up touch sensitivity in the process -- not a bad tradeoff, if we do say so ourselves. This one will be available next month in Black, White, and Pink.
The SMART Series
So basically, we think the deal with the SMART series is that it's like the STYLE series but with just a little less glitz and glamor. The F-04A certainly fills the bill there, rocking just 3.6Mbps HSDPA and a weak 2-megapixel cam, counterbalanced by a standard-only-in-Japan WVGA display. It'll come in your choice of Gold, Black, Red, and Blue in February or March of '09 -- and with hotter stuff launching before then, we're not too sure why anyone would hold out for this.
There are crazier full-face sliders in this season's lineup, but the N-04A has one thing going for it: it's infused with Realfleet's Amadana industrial design like the N705i before it. Otherwise, you've got the requisite WVGA display (3 inches of it, in this case), a 3.2-megapixel camera, and 7.2Mbps HSDPA. It'll be available in Amadana Brown, Amadana Black, Amadana White (creative!), and Ultimate Pink some time between January and March of next year.
It looks boring, yes, but that's only because you're not seeing it from the side. The P-04A's claim to fame is its incredibly thin profile, measuring just 9.8mm -- but the slim body comes at a hefty price: you lose the WVGA display in favor of a WQVGA one. Good news is you still get a 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera and 7.2Mbps download speeds, so it's not all doom and gloom, now is it? It'll come in your choice of Red, Black, and Silver starting February or March of next year.
Okay, so say your boss is a total stick-in-the-mud and wants you to have as little fun as possible with your work phone; if that's the case, odds are you're getting the P-05A. The flip is basically the same thing as the P-04A -- which means you still get that uber-thin 9.8mm shell -- but you lose the camera and gain remote-wipe capabilities for security in sensitive environments. It'll be available at the same time as the P-04A, but true to its boring roots, it'll only come in Solid Black.
The PRO Series
It's hard to imagine that NTT DoCoMo subscribers could possibly have any interest in a phone that's been sold elsewhere in the world for months, but when it comes to business, there really aren't many handsets on the market that can top the Touch Pro's get-r-done attitude with just the gentlest touch of style thrown in for good measure. The HT-01A is essentially a localized Touch Pro, carrying over the VGA display and 3.2-megapixel camera of its global cousins. It launches by the end of the year.
The HT-02A is to the Touch Diamond as the HT-01A is to the Touch Pro -- VGA display, 3.2-megapixel camera, 4GB of internal memory, you get the idea. Those liking their TouchFLO served cold and without a side of QWERTY can invest in the HT-02A starting between December and January.
The only domestic exclusive device in the entire PRO series, the SH-04A shows its Japanese roots (read: blow-your-mind roots) with a 3.5-inch 854 x 480 true color touchscreen, a 5.2-megapixel camera, global GSM and 3G roaming, and 7.2Mbps HSDPA. It's expected between February and March of '09 in White, Black, and Pink Gold.
RIM's got to be feeling pretty special right now that it's one of only two devices in the entire NTT DoCoMo lineup to use a real name instead of a carrier-generated code. That's right -- when you walk into your NTT shop, you'll actually be asking for a Bold by name, not an R-01A or whatever. Of course, that also means that the Bold you get here will be pretty much the same Bold you get everywhere else, with a 480 x 320 display, 2-megapixel camera, 3.6Mbps HSDPA, and that freaky pleather back. Look for it toward the end of Q1 '09.
For some reason unbeknownst to us, the Nokia E71 would've also escaped an NTT DoCoMo-issued product code, instead going by the same name used everywhere else in the world -- had it ended up being released, that is. We can't imagine that the QVGA display and S60 3.1 platform would've gotten folks too excited anyway, but who knows? Maybe this is just the phone Nokia needed to springboard itself into MVNO heaven, but now we'll never know. It had been scheduled to Japanese streets come February or March of next year in White Steel and Grey Steel.