NEC MEDIAS WP N-06C hands-on

There aren't really that many choices when it comes to waterproof Android phones, let alone those that also happen to be razor thin, so excuse us for getting all giddy when our Engadget Chinese brethren stumbled upon this NEC MEDIAS WP N-06C at Sin Tak, Hong Kong. Here's a quick recap: what we have here is a 7.9mm-thick Android 2.3.3 handset that packs a 4-inch 480 x 854 LCD, 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 chip, 512MB RAM, 1GB ROM, and 5 megapixel autofocus camera. Additionally, this phone also boasts IPX5 and IPX7 protection ratings -- the former for protection against water jets, and the latter for immersion up to one meter (and for the record, the "X" indicates no solid protection rated here). Read on for our hands-on impressions.

According to Stone Ip from Engadget Chinese, the N-06C wasn't as thrilling as he had anticipated -- he could certainly feel the superb slimness, but because of the comparably large 4-inch display and the familiar Android interface, the differentiation just wasn't that great overall. What's really weird, though, is that the volume rocker is placed on the back -- right by the camera and the infrared port -- to keep a slim profile. The micro-USB port is at the top of the phone, so the bottom side only features a hole for looping up a lanyard. There's no headphone jack, so you'll need to use the included 3.5mm-to-micro-USB adapter for your audio needs.

While the phone is very thin, it didn't feel weak or cheap at all. In fact, the watertight seals were very well made and felt solid, so despite the shop not letting us dunk the phone into water, we think it would've passed our tests, anyway.

NEC hasn't added much flavoring to the N-06C's Android interface -- you get a slick seven-page home screen, and the dock at the bottom feature a few customized icons. Things get a bit more serious on the app menu where the apps are sorted by category, and you can use shortcuts on the home screen to conveniently jump straight to your desired categories (alas, we didn't have enough time to decipher the meaning of each Japanese category). As for the camera app, we dig the two filter effects -- sepia, and black and white -- that are applicable to both still shots and video (up to 720p).

Compared to other slim Androids, the N-06C isn't as seductive as one would imagine: speed performance is on par with the likes of the Incredible S and the Xperia Arc, nothing too special; the LCD also isn't particularly vibrant (even with the screen protector peeled off; the shop wanted us to keep it on). That said, this NEC phone is still a good candidate for those seeking a slim and durable Android, but you'll have to fly out to Hong Kong and hand over HK$4,580 (US$590) for the gold edition, or HK$5,528 (US$710) for the brown amadana cross-branding special edition (which comes with a leather case). Of course, you could just ask your Japanese pen pal to dig around locally for a better deal, but good luck finding his or her address in your dusty drawer.