Home > Focus on Japan 2003 > New Cell Phone

New Cell Phone

August 29th, 2003

Japan is rather cell-phone crazy. My folks have a couple of cell phones, but compared to the feature-rich array of phones in Japan, theirs look positively boring. Walk down a city street in Japan, and it seems like there will always be a person or two in sight talking on their phone. Even more so, watch people on trains: many will have their cell phones open (see photo at right), reading or writing email, looking at photos. When Hiromi and I went to Otaki Falls, a couple came down into the waterfall pocket valley and immediately took photos of everything with their cell phones.

When I most recently came to Japan to work and live in 1998, I held back getting one, figuring that it would only make me more accessible to staff at my school to call me in to do more work, and wouldn’t be very useful for me. But after a year and a bit, I caved in and bought a simple model, and the base calling plan (2000 yen / $16 a month, 10 yen / 8 cents per minute for calls). That worked fine for me, but after four years, my phone–basic when I bought it–was looking more and more like a fossil. Also, having started this blog, I began to get interested in the idea of moblogging. At first, I waited for Bluetooth-enabled models to come out–there are some great Sony-Ericsson phones, like the P-800, which can work great with Macs. However, after waiting more than 6 months, I realized that Bluetooth phones are just not happening in Japan anytime soon. In fact, the number of Bluetooth-enabled cell phones in Japan fell from two models to zero while I watched.

So I figured that it was time to break down and buy. I tried doing the best research I could with the limited consumer-oriented review material available in Japan, and settled on a phone using the same carrier / plan I was already using; they have a phone, just recently released, which fit my bill. It’s the DDI-Pocket H” H-SA30001V (Japanese language site).

Staying with the same plan helped me avoid the hassle of canceling and re-signing up for phone service; with the new phone, I have the same number and the same calling plan prices I signed up for four years ago. It also made it easy for the people at the store to transfer the phone book data from my old phone into my new one–a pleasant surprise, as I had no idea that was possible, and they didn’t tell me that they did it–I found out by going home and finding all my numbers there.

But be careful when deciding what to do when you switch–there are two options if you stay with the same carrier. One option, in which you keep the same phone number and calling plan, costs 2000 yen more. The option which seems costs less keeps you with the same carrier, but allows you to change the phone number and calling plan. However, the cheaper plan has hidden costs: a 2000 yen fee for cancellation, a 2000 yen fee for re-signing, along with a few other fees as well, making the deal more expensive than the first option.

Features of the SA3001V that attracted me included the CCD camera, the postage-stamp sized external LCD screen, the phone-to-PC data transfer ability, and, something I had not expected, the ability to switch all menus to English! (See left.) The phone also has the usual extras, such as calculator, schedule book, alarm clock and so forth. Another nice feature they have is the ability to match ring tones and photos with phone numbers; if, for example, my friend Andrew were to call from his cell phone, I would hear a specific ring tone and see his photo flashed on the mini-LCD screen before answering the call.

I did find out some facts about the camera which showed up the advertising to be a bit misleading. One, for example, was the claim that the CCD camera has 110,000 pixels, suggesting the ability to take photos with dimensions like 300 x 370 pixels. It turns out that this phone camera actually takes photos the same size as all the others–144 x 120 pixels–so I guess the “110,000” number has to do with the digital zoom feature, and has nothing to do with the actual photo size.

Also, there are quite a few freeware programs allowing you to engage in data transfers, but they are all (of course) in Japanese. The one I tried to install on my English-language Windows machine crashed on install. The Mac version did install, but only works under OS 9.2 (not in Classic mode). After spending a few hours banging my head against the wall, I finally got it to work, and was able to use the “H Tonya” to edit my phone book. Frankly, this is a big thing for me, because I absolutely hate having to key in my entire phone book using those danged tiny buttons, especially when I have to first switch to English for every entry, and then cycle through up to eight characters to get the single one I want.

Another nice feature is the addition of a slim, English-language summarized version of the instruction manual. With only 40 pages of notes, it pales to the 577 pages in Japanese, but it is far more than I had hoped for. It looks like Sanyo, the phone maker, is realizing that there are non-Japanese speakers living in Japan and some concessions would be helpful for them.

So I haven’t used or even found out about all the features yet, but so far, it’s worth the investment. I hope it hold up over time.

Now to figure out moblogging, once I can find the time….

Categories: Focus on Japan 2003 Tags: by
  1. March 30th, 2004 at 22:37 | #1

    my name is keiona and i am 16 and i wont a cell phone

  2. March 30th, 2004 at 22:40 | #2

    MY NAME IS KEIONA AND I AM 16 HOW CAN I GIT A CELL PHONE TO DAY FOR JUST $25 every thing new i wont is fee

  3. Christian
    November 4th, 2005 at 18:25 | #3

    Checking for some information about Sanyo H-SA3001V (Willicom) cellphone i found your webpage. Thanks for the tips… now i think ill enjoy more my cellphone.
    Grettings from Saitama

    Christian Rendon

  4. Anonymous
    December 24th, 2006 at 04:11 | #4

    can you please tell us how to change the menu into english please?? …. plz send me the email kindly with the settings if you get sometime… searching for it…. fanx a lot take good care … waiting for you reply hope you get this comment and reply me soon…

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