Are you thrilled by the latest Android or Apple phone? The cellphone scene in North America is downright dull compared to the mad mobile world of Asia, where it's not unusual to find handsets shaped like soccer balls, chocolate bars, and (surprise!) Hello Kitty dolls. We've assembled an array of cool and cutting-edge Asian phones. Check it out!
Why carry a cellphone when you can wear one instead? Direct from China, the SM W950 CeCll Phone Watch harks back to the 2-Way Wrist Radio that Dick Tracy sported beneath his mustard-yellow trenchcoat. One version of this wearable quad-band phone comes with a 1.2-inch color LCD, a 0.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0, a speaker, and an earphone headset. Another edition has slightly better specs, including a 1.3-inch OLED touchscreen and a 3-megapixel camera. Take a call, and you'll be rocking that Crimestoppers' Textbook look.
Microsoft's Kinect brought motion control to game consoles, and now Pantech's Sky Vega LTE brings a similar functionality to smartphones. A high-end Android handset with a motion-sensing camera, the Sky Vega LTE lets you perform touch-free tasks with a few simple gestures. As this demo video shows, even the messiest of hands can answer a call with an elegant, Jedi-like wave over the Sky Vega. Available in Korea, the Sky Vega features a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and a 4.5-inch WXGA (1280 by 800) display.
Think bendy straws are cool? South Korean tech giant Samsung plans to unveil mobile phones with flexible screens. Details are sketchy, but Samsung's flexiscreen phones may appear in 2012, according to IDG News. The mobile-phone manufacturer has shown prototypes of flexible OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays inside hard enclosures, like the ones shown at left. The future? Expect malleable mobile devices built for bendable displays, as demonstrated by this Nokia prototype. Eventually flexible screens may replace the rigid mobile displays we use today, and everyone will be living in a Salvador Dali dream.
This round-ball receiver was targeted at World Cup fans back in 2010. Shaped like a soccer ball, the flip-top Football Phone has a 2-inch color display with 320-by-240 resolution, 250KB of memory, a VGA digital camera, and a built-in FM radio. Unimpressive specs, perhaps, but a possible novelty keepsake for football fanatics.
Windows 8 Mobile
Want to run the Windows desktop operating system on a smartphone? We didn't think so--but that hasn't stopped Chinese phone manufacturer In Technology Group (ITG) from developing a handset that runs Windows 7 or Windows 8. The upcoming xpPhone 2, which ITG calls the world's first "Post-Smartphone," will feature a 4.3-inch display, a speedy 1.6GHz processor, 2GB of memory, and 112GB of storage. You know, it's really a tiny, tiny Windows PC. But here's the 64,000-yuan question: Why run a desktop OS on a smartphone?
NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile carrier, has a sweet new smartphone that's ideal for cacao enthusiasts. The Q-pot SH-04D is DoCoMo's first smartphone with a chocolate motif; however, the carrier has pandered to sweet-toothed customers in the past. The candy-bar Q-pot ships with a battery charger that resembles a chunk of "tasty chocolate encased in acrylic," the carrier says. Hungry? Better order now. The SH-04D has a limited run of 30,000 units.
Every shutterbug knows that more megapixels don't necessarily mean a better camera. But for pixels aplenty, it's hard to top these two waterproof NTT DoCoMo Style feature phones. The SH-03D has a 16.1-megapixel camera; the N-02D's shooter packs 16.3 megapixels. Stylewise, these slender handsets may be a bit behind the times--think Motorola Razr circa 2006--but they're certainly frontrunners in the pixel race.
La Dolce Vita
The upcoming Sony PlayStation Vita handheld game console isn't a mobile phone...or is it? With optional AT&T 3G coverage and Skype's VoIP app, Vita users will be able to chat worldwide for free via Skype-to-Skype connections, or make inexpensive calls to landline and mobile phones. Japanese gamers get the PS Vita in December, but North Americans will have to wait until February.
Tickle Me Elfoid
Here's a creepy prototype. Elfoid is an Android phone that's shaped like a human head and torso--suggesting a hatless, eyeless Pillsbury Doughboy with fused legs and a healthier diet. The brainchild of Osaka University researchers, NTT DoCoMo, and Qualcomm, this humanoid handset features a smooth urethane exterior, a digital camera, and motion-detection capabilities. It reportedly tickles you when it rings, too. For a closer look at Elfoid, check out this video clip.
The pink and powder blue Hello Kitty phone is a girlrific charmer. A "lovely and fashionable" handset with a cutesy carrying case and Kitty-themed headphones (naturally), this flower-power beauty features a 2-inch color display with 220 by 176 resolution, 1GB of storage, and a no-frills digital camera.
Megapixel Madness, Take Two
The water-resistant Fujitsu Windows Phone IS12T features a 13.2-megapixel camera and 32GB of onboard storage. It's the first smartphone in Japan to ship with Windows Phone 7.5, and its 3.7-inch LCD screen has 800 by 480 resolution. The specs, aside from the camera, may not wow you, but check out those color choices--bold-and-bright citrus and magenta! Don't stare at them too long, though, or you may end up with retina damage.
Your new smartphone may be stylish, but does it dazzle the senses? Deco-Den (short for "Decorated Denwa," which translates to "Decorated Phone") is popular hobby among Japanese girls, who glam-up their cellphones with all sorts of plastic bling, including hearts and rhinestones, as well as silicone for the popular icing-on-the-cake look. Interested? This video shows you how to Deco-Den your phone.