Geeking Out with My Unlocked Smartphone

On more than one occasion, a TELUS Mobility representative has called me with one of those "Touchy Feely Customer Service" calls.  They were trying to get me to upgrade my trusty LG Keybo II to a smartphone. My answer was always the same, "You don't have the phone I want." Predictably, they ask, "What kind of phone do you want?" To which, I'd reply: "A waterproof Japanese phone."

In the fall of 2012, I finally bought one:

Labelling things | look at everyday in Japanese helps me study when I don't have time to study with my workbook.  Photo by R-M Arca.

What's so cool about getting a keitai, you ask? Allow me to compare my Docomo Fujitsu with the two top smartphones from the same season:

Apple iPhone 5 SIM: Nano-SIM Dimensions:123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm Weight:112 g Screen:640 x 1136 pixels, 4.0 inches (~326 ppi pixel density) SD Card slot: No Memory: 16/32/64 GB storage, 1 GB RAM Camera: 8 MP/1080p@30fps;1.2 MP/720p@30fps CPU: Dual-core 1.2 GHz

Samsung Galaxy S3 SIM: Micro-SIM Dimensions: 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm Weight: 133 g Screen: 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.8 inches (~306 ppi pixel density) SD Card slot: microSD, up to 64 GB Memory: 16/32/64 GB storage, 1 GB RAM Camera: 8 MP/1080p@30fps; 1.9 MP/720p@30fps CPU: Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9

Docomo Fujitsu F-05D LTE SIM: Micro-SIM Dimensions: 129 × 64 × 8.7 mm Weight: 124g Screen: 4.3 Inch HD touchscreen ( 720 x 1280 pixels) SD Card slot: microSD, up to 32 GB Memory: 8GB ROM / 1GB RAM Camera: 13.1 MP/1080p@30fps; 1.3 MP CPU: 1200 MHz, 1.2 GHz Dual-Core OMAP4430 processor FM Transmitter

It measures up fairly well. However, the Fujitsu F-05D dances circles around the other two phones in terms of camera capability. Plus, the gradient magenta red is very slick. And did I mention that it is dust-proof and water-proof?

In this video, I follow the directions from the user manual to properly wash my phone:

Fujitsu F-05D Arrows LTE Screenshot

You also get a butler. Machi-chara changes costumes for special holidays. He waves a phone when you miss a call. Here, he's crying because no one has e-mailed or called me for a while.

My Japanese smartphone came unlocked, so whenever I travel outside of Canada, I can purchase a pre-paid SIM card for the country I am visiting. That way, I can eliminate roaming charges.

If you are thinking of buying an unlocked smartphone from abroad, do your research first. Not only do you have to research the phones but you must also research the company. Howard Forums is an excellent place to do both.

You also need to make sure that your unlocked smartphone will work on your country's mobile network. I went to GSM Arena for that information.

I wound up purchasing my keitai from Kyoto Exports, AKA Kyoex. I was impressed with how quickly questions were answered on Howard Forums, e-mail and Kyoex's FB page.

My phone arrived within three weeks and Kazuto Tominaga-san walked me through the additional steps to set up the APN settings properly. It worked beautifully until the spring.

My guess is that it was a combination of the following:

  1. I got too "app happy" and overloaded it.
  2. The result is that the phone overheated and got stuck in a restart loop.
  3. When we tried to upgrade the phone to ICS it restarted smack dab in the middle of the upgrade, which corrupted the OS.
  4. The constant restarting killed the battery.

I sent the phone back to Japan and went out to buy a cheap back-up phone.

Kyoex and Docomo solved the problem quickly. Not only did they fix the problem, but they sent me back an additional battery cover and screen protectors - free of charge.

When we discovered that the battery had died, Kazuto-san asked me to send the defective battery back. He exchanged it for a new battery - also free of charge. When I ordered a second pocket charger and phone case, he threw in a couple more screen protectors.

If you wind up deciding upon a Japanese keitai, I highly recommend Kyoex. Prompt service, often going above and beyond what we normally receive in North America, plus quality products make for a winning combination.