Japanese Cell Phones: Why Leave Home?

November 20, 2007 at 11:24 am 9 comments

When it comes to cell phone technology, Japan is light-years ahead. Back in the mid-90s while every American toted clunky Nokia handsets, Japan was knee-deep in ultra-slim phones available in every color of the rainbow. Then after reaching razor-thin heights, cell phones started bulking up for built-in cameras with resolution now as high as 5 megapixels.

cell1.jpg

These days, Japanese cell phones aren’t only about snapping and yapping away. Of course there’s text messaging, which spawned a new world of smiley icons and heart-embedded conversations between girls and boys everywhere. With the help of 3G technology which connects at speeds up to 2.4 Mbps – nearly as fast as a cable modem – mobile internet access is standard issue. But how about using your cell to pay for the commuter train? Just pass your phone over a sensor at the gate and you’re in.

Now it’s all about barcodes. During my trip to Japan last month, I spotted a square, black imprint on the corner of nearly every poster, magazine and snack box imaginable. Scan over your phone and can get the latest information on promotions, reviews, nutritional content, and more. When the technology was first introduced last year, over 400,000 products had already implemented this barcode technology. I even found a barcode on a flyer posted in a university bathroom. (Hmm, is Big Brother watching me?)

cell2.jpg

A cell phone function young boys have taken to is mobile gaming. Not just Tetris and minesweeper but popular role-playing games like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. In the middle of rush hour, I found a kid on the train slumped against the door helping his avatar fend off fire-breathing dragons. He was so absorbed by it he nearly fell out of the train.

People have been watching TV from their cell phone and these days they’re even writing novels. One young woman wrote a book completely from her phone and later sold 400,000 copies after publishing a hardcover version. She continues to write cellular novels but admits that she sometimes falls asleep on the job.

Truthfully, hearing about all the things Japanese cell phones can do makes me jealous. But one thing they don’t have is the iPhone. My brother, who lives in Southern Japan, envies the fact that I can go to the Apple Store right now and pick one up if I wanted to. It’s a little much for my budget but maybe I’ll do it just out of spite. =P

 

Himawari

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Entry filed under: Japanese Business, Japanese Culture, Japanese Entertainment.

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9 Comments

  • 1. gabuchan  |  November 20, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Word on the street is that 4G phones will debut fall 2008. Can’t wait!

  • 2. iphone related  |  November 20, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    great music site for the iphone: http://seeqpod.net/iphone you can also build a playlist on the main site http://www.seeqpod.net and it shows up on the iphone instantly

  • 3. PC Use Among Japanese Plummets « JPBizDirect’s Blog  |  December 5, 2007 at 9:01 am

    […] for years. Not to knock the iPhone, which is beautiful and impressive, but in general, Japanese tech products are more advanced than American ones. Besides instant messaging, email, camera, TV and film downloads, internet, GPS navigation, video […]

  • 4. ashley  |  February 13, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    send me a phone how can i order one

  • 5. Himawari  |  February 14, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Sorry ashley, most of the cool phone technology is available in Japan. Though if you want just the Japanese handsets, they sell them at Japanese stores in Torrance, California.

  • 6. Command A Com  |  March 17, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Can Japan get any Apple products? Why don’t they have iPhones? As you say, they are usually ahead of everyone else…

  • 7. Himawari  |  March 24, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Hello Command a com. There’s several reasons why the iPhone hasn’t made its debut in Japan yet, one being that we operate on 2G network and they on 3G. Also, most online reviews will tell you that any Japanese can do just about the same things as an iPhone so it’ll be a lukewarm reception when it does come out. (Though the touchscreen is pretty unique.) The iPhone aside, Japan sells all the other Apple products including iTouch.

  • 8. ADRIANA  |  June 11, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    IM INTERESTED IN BUYING A JAPANESE CELL PHONE WITHOUT CONTRACT WITH A PHONE COMPANY. COULD YOU PLEASE SEND ME PICTURES AND INFORMATION ON YOUR PHONES, MAINLY TEXT PHONES. I WANT TO KNOW ALSO IF I WOULD BE ABLE TO USE MY CHIP FROM MY VERIZON PHONE ON THE NEW JAPANESE CELL PHONE? THANK YOU IN ADVANCE

  • 9. himawari  |  June 13, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Sorry Adriana, I’m not a cell phone dealer. Try ebay. =)

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