Are cell phones really that great in Japan?

My cell phone: The N-01A

Japan is a country where having a cell phone is almost a necessity if you live here. Looking up train schedules, addresses and more are easier to do here with a phone. Many people don’t know this, but street addresses in Japan aren’t really sequential and coherent. Buildings are numbered, I’ve been told, based on the order in which they were built. Google Maps on a phone is a godsend.

Landscape mode

When I’ve visited in the past, I borrowed a friend’s phone (though as a tourist it’s possible to rent one). But living here, I knew I’d have to buy one, so buy one I did.

Yes, that's Dr. Mario as my wallpaper

The aforementioned friend helped me pick up a phone from Docomo, one of the largest cell phone providers here in the country. I picked up the N-01A handset from NEC. The screen rotates to landscape and portrait view.

Landscape view is great for watching TV

Did you know that most people in Japan don’t actually text/send SMS messages? Instead, almost every phone has an e-mail address. I’m guessing this can lead to problems with spam for some people.

The phone also has a built-in TV tuner. Unfortunately, the area I’m in does not have but 5 stations I can pick up. And I must say, watching TV on a small screen like this is a little bit of a pain, especially when it can be hard to get a good signal.

Close up: Blue thing controls the mouse cursor

The screen is a touchscreen, which is quite nice, though it does not support multi-touch. It allows for recording from the TV tuner straight to a MicroSD card, which is pretty spiffy. I can set it to record, save it, then have something to watch for later. Too bad I don’t know the TV schedules.

The phone is all right, though by no means perfect

A big disappointment from the phone is the lack of MP3 playback. Yes, in 2010 I bought a phone that does not have support for MP3 files. Instead, it asks for… Windows Media formats. Seriously NEC and Docomo, WHY??? Everything supports MP3 these days except for this phone. And making me use a format like Windows Media? What if I had a Mac (I’d probably be dead then, but what if)? Why lock yourself into a horrible format?

Also, adding and removing files from the phone can be a pain initially, because files must be placed into specific folders on the MicroSD card in a folder structure that makes very little sense.

Had I known the phone had such drawbacks, I probably would’ve looked at a different phone, though probably still with Docomo.

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