In a world first moment, Docomo plans to release a cellphone with a built in removable QWERTY keyboard.

Scheduled to be released in Spring of 2010, the Fujutsu F04B has a unique design, originally displayed at CEATEC 2008 as a concept model, allowing you to split the keypad from the display portion of the phone. The two sections have independent power and can continue to communicate via bluetooth. ordinarily just a standard numeric keypad, splitting the two sections reveal a full QWERTY keyboard hidden beneath the display. While connected, the two sides create a solid connection, but once separated the y should switch seamlessly into mode. It’s pretty hard to visualize, but thankfully the guys at Impress have posted a great preview review with lots of pictures.

I’m also posting a couple of pics at the bottom of this article demonstrating the mechanism.

The rest of the specs for the phone are pretty impressive including HSDPA 7.2mbps data speeds, VGA screen, 1-Seg mobile TV tunre, and GSM worldphone compatibility with global use GPS. Of course, DoCoMo continues to handicap it’s devices by keeping the barbed wire up around it’s walled garden. In spite of it’s fast data and handheld computer profile, the F04b is still trapped behind the walls of the iMode network, deprived of full web browsing and open applications. DoCoMo’s inability to image a world beyond iMode continues to be the hangup that keeps even technological wonders like this from ever being taken seriously as a next generation phone. DoComo has even admitted to that by placing this phone in it’s “Style” line making it a neat looking phone, but underneath it’s the same old thing.

Still it is an interesting design and I’m sure we’ll see soon if it has the capability of inspiring other who are more worty of the technology.

Photos via Impress Keitai Watch

It’s that time again. Winter lineup for the three major cellphone providers in Japan. That’s 37 new cellphones announced that will be released slowly over the next few months.
I remember the days when i would get very excited by this season, but I must admit to becoming just a bit cynical over the years.
With over 100 new models announced for this market every year, I struggle to think of even a dozen that stick out in my mind. I am concerned that fatigue will seep into consumer thinking and that having to force out so many new designs will breed lazyness into the domestic manufacturers. We’ve already seen this with makers like NEC and Fujitsu.

Rather than review all 37 models, I’ll point you to the breakdowns written by Serkan Toto at TechCrunch. Over the next few days however I’ll feature a few of the cellphones that warrant special notice.

MobileCrunch: Japan gets 11 new cell phones: KDDI’s winter line-up

MobileCrunch: SoftBank’s complete 17 cell phone winter line-up

MobileCrunch: NTT Docomo announces 19 new cell phones

David Pogue posed the question a few days ago and it’s already starting to cause a bit of a stir.
We’ve had this discussion before. What is a smartphone? If you agree that a smartphone is a phone that does real email, then basically every Japanese mobile is a smartphone, but to most people that doesn’t sound right.

Over the last few years, “Smartphone” has taken on an impression of a high end, premium geek phone. A Blackberry, iPhone, or Android phone that can do more than just communicate, but allows the user interact with the internet and world at large. Simply giving a regular cell phone a better screen, an email compatible SMS and a walled garden to surf around just doesn’t fill my expectation of “Smart”. That said, I think that David was right that the name is just too limited now.

“Smartphone” is too limited. A smartphone is a cellphone with e-mail — an old BlackBerry, a Blackjack, maybe a Treo. This new category — somewhere between cellphones and laptops, or even beyond them — deserves a name of its own.

With all the new phones due to hit the market soon, I agree we need to start differentiating these high-end phones from the rest of the herd. After all, there is a word for a cheap, undersized and underpowered laptop, why not a break between an iPhone and a 3 year old NEC flip phone (DoCoMo currently calls both of the smartphones).

I wish we could go back in time and retro take back the perfect name. “PDA”.

When I look at the iPhone, that’s what it is. A Personal. Digital, Assistant. A small, portable microcomputer with internet connectivity and expandable functionality. It’s there to help me navigate my life by helping me get around, remind me of important information, store and protect critical personal information, get answers to questions I have and help me interact and control things far away from me. To me, we have finally realized the promises of technology and products introduced to us a decade ago.

I doubt this will all resolve itself cleanly and quickly. Personally I think “App” phone sounds rather silly and brings to mind a phone that can make farting noises, but maybe it will catch on. What I think is more important is that we start making this distinction for the consumer market. The sooner the better.

The Huawei D25HW Pocket WiFi device will be released by E Mobile in Japan on November 18th.
Similar to the Novatel MiFi device, the Pocket WiFi is both a cellular modem and portable wireless router, allowing you to set up a wireless hotspot anywhere that E Mobile provides cellular access.

The device offers up to 7.2 Mbps downloads and up to 5.8 uploads. The device itself appears to be compatible with both 1.7mghz and and 2.1ghz 3G HSPA networks meaning that we could start seeing it appear in new markets soon.

The device appears to be smaller than the MiFi and the total package is much smaller than the CradlePoint PHS300 + USB modem solution that I have been using. Add to that a battery life of up to 4 hours and charging from USB and the device becomes pretty interesting.

Also, similar to the GSM version of the MiFi, the D25HW has a memory card slot, adding what I would assume is a microNAS solution. I’m pretty impressed with the specs, but not so impressive is the price.

With a 2 year contract, the device will go for 5,980 yen, but cash price for the device without signing a contract bumps it up to 39,580. Much more expensive than MiFi or Cradlepoint.