Cell Phones You Can’t Have…Yet

In Japan and South Korea, the future is already here.

We’ve got some pretty slick phones on the American market today. From Motorola’s Razr to Nokia’s art-deco-inspired 7280, each is a pocketful of gadgets-camera, MP3 player, video game console and PDA-magically converged into one sleek package. But compared to their Asian counterparts, our handsets look a bit like grandpa’s Automatic Electric. Take Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo’s new 901i series. These wireless hot rods are capable of four-way videoconferencing and high-speed mobile Internet surfing (up to 384 kilobytes per second). The 901is can send e-mail with attachments as large as 500 kilobytes. They can act as TV remote controls and have 3-D screens with up to 262,144 colors. Each model has at least a two-megapixel camera and miniature “3-D sound” speakers. One even has a biometric fingerprint sensor to ensure that no one can use the phone but its owner, and three of the five models come with a nifty function called FeliCa, which enables the 901i to serve as a digital wallet. You download cash into the phone’s guts, then simply swipe it over a FeliCa reader at the local mini-mart. Almost anything else you might place in your wallet-a gym membership ID, video-store card or tickets to a concert-can be digitized on a FeliCa-enabled handset. Some apartment buildings in Tokyo are even making their locks compatible. Now that’s convergence.

Read the rest of the article at forbes.com/fyi.