Docomo: Not All About Smartphones
The first few days of Mobile World Congress are incredibly hectic, but once the press conferences die down and all of the hot phones have been announced, the show can be quite enjoyable. One of my favorite things to do is drop by Japanese mobile carrier Docomo's booth and check out their line-up of Sharp-designed phones.
There are only a handful of smartphones on Docomo, but in a way, it is kind of refreshing. Manufacturers get so caught up in making the biggest and baddest phone that some other elements, like design or unique features, get overlooked. A lot of these high-end, 4.3-inch Android phones are starting to look pretty identical (all-black slabs, essentially) so it is fun to see a phone that resembles a cookie.
The REGZA would be ideal for a rainy day (Docomo even suggests it in their signage) like the one we're having in Barcelona today.
Sharp Lynx 3D
LG boldly claimed that it launched the first smartphone with a 3D display, the Optimus 3D, but I guess they overlooked the Sharp-designed Lynx 3D. This Android 2.1 phone (Upgradable to Android 2.2 in spring 2011) tries to do a lot: Beside the glasses-less 3D display, the Lynx has a 9.6-megapixel camera, a 3.8-inch display and 3D image and video capture (being demonstrated in photo). The 3D display isn't much better than LG's though; it feels more like an unfinished gimmick than the real deal.
Sharp Touch Wood
The ecofriendly and attractive Touch Wood phone is actually made from wood (well, just the casing) that is apparently from trees culled during forest-thinning operations. It is really a beautiful phone with a curved shape that feels good in hand. The interface is basic, but cute and there's a pretty decent 5-megapixel camera.
The Toshiba-designed REGZA is one of the few smartphones in Docomo's portfolio. The waterproof REGZA sports a 12-megapixel camera, NFC-support so you can use your phone like a credit card and runs Android 2.1.
Panasonic P-03C (Lumix)
What Docomo's phones lack in performance or OS, they make up for it in the cameras. The Japanese would probably scoff at our measly 5-megapixel cameras over here in the states. The P-03C is a joint effort with Panasonic to deliver the company's camera technology to a smartphone. Designed to look and handle more like a camera than a phone, this 13-megapixel camera has face auto-detection and a flash. The slider phone also has a 3.3-inch display, NFC support (so you can use your phone like a credit card) and a TV tuner.
Sharp SH-04B Q-pot (Melting Chocolate)
Sharp collaborated with accessory brand Q-pot for this sweet little phone. Despite the cute design, the phone is pretty basic. Like many Japanese feature phones, the chocolatey Q-pot packs in a high-end 8-megapixel camera and has NFC support so you can use it as a mobile wallet. There's also a series of matching accessories.
Sharp SH-04C (Biscotto)
Sugary phones are all the rage in Japan, I guess. Why wouldn't you want a phone that looks like a cookie? The delicious biscotti phone (also comes in a chocolate flavor/color), another Q-pot collaboration, has a 3.2-inch display, matching accessories and is apparently waterproof. You also get a 9.6-megapixel camera and NFC-support.
Sharp SH-028 (Marimekko)
I'll admit, I'm a bit biased including this phone into the round-up, but I can't help it: I love Marimekko. Marimekko is a textile design house in Finland known for its fun patterns and bright colors with a cool Scandinavian aesthetic. Fashion design and cellphone collaborations always seem a bit ridiculous (remember LG's Prada phone?), but the Sharp keeps it simple with flip design and a surprisingly spacious 3.4-inch display. The motif is present on the outside of the phone as well as in the user interface.
I was sad when I couldn't find this mega-camera phone by LG at Docomo's booth. The specs on this one are impressive: Not only does it have a 12.1-megapixel CCD sensor, but it also has a retractable Pentax lens (yes, like a real camera!), a Xenon flash, and an optical zoom of 3x. It can also record and shoot video in 720p. It also has a nice leatherette grip on the body for some extra stability while snapping photos.