NTT Docomo P-01A

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 February, 2009, 12:00am

There was a time when Japan had the coolest phones in the world - but you couldn't use them anywhere else but Japan. But with 3G, all that has changed. It's also how models developed by NTT Docomo, such as the P-01A, are finding their way to Hong Kong stores.

The Japanese company does not disappoint. Manufactured by Panasonic as part of Docomo's Prime series of high-end phones, the P-01A features the world's first 'two-way' keypad to support two distinct ways of using the phones.

The P-01A's screen flips open like a conventional clamshell, but it also opens horizontally like a mini-laptop computer. But rather than print two sets of letters and numbers on the keypad so you don't have to read sideways, the 'two-way' system slides between two different sets of characters, automatically re-orientating the keys depending on which way the display is open.

The only problem is that the characters are only printed in Japanese. And the operating system is in Japanese, too, so most Hongkongers will have to guess, or start taking classes.

Still, the P-01A's icon-based menu shouldn't be that hard to figure out, and the 3.1-inch display, marketed under Panasonic's flat-panel TV brand, Viera, should be great for viewing photos taken with the built-in 5.1-megapixel digital camera.

The P-01A also supports roaming to GSM networks such as those on the mainland, as well as high-speed HSPA data access at 7.2Mbps.

The P-01A sells for around HK$3,880.

Pros: two-way keyboard, two-way screen orientation, large display, high-speed data access, 5.1mp camera

Cons: Japanese keys and operating system, some integrated features such as mobile TV work only in Japan