One member of the softbank sucks team nearly destroyed a DoCoMo phone by rolling over it with an office chair (exact words were: 内蔵が出ています). This prompted a visit to the DoCoMo Shop, where we had the opportunity to try out the HTC-03A (aka HTC Magic, Google Phone, or Android Phone).
We were impressed. So we got one.
In case you don't know, Android is a smartphone OS created by Google that runs the linux kernel. Linux is typically referred to as a UNIX-like operating system, and some popular desktop examples are Ubuntu and Red Hat. Mac OS 10 and the iPhone OS are also, at the core, derived from UNIX.
While at a very low level, which is not apparent to the user, there are a number of similarities between the Android OS and the iPhone OS, these two phone operating systems are actually quite different in implementation. The iPhone OS runs only on Apple-branded hardware and is a locked-down, closed environment to which Apple is the gatekeeper. The only way to install applications (without violating the iPhones EULA) is to download approved apps through iTunes.
Android, on the other hand, is an open-source OS that is available to any cellphone maker and already is preinstalled on several phones. Apps can be downloaded and installed from anywhere. For example, we've already found and installed the Last.fm streaming app which is supposed to be only available to people in the US and UK.
We will post our impressions of the phone after we have time to play with it a bit more, but so far we can say that the Android OS can certainly become a serious competitor to the iPhone OS. Unfortunately, it is still relatively immature and lacks the large developer community of the iPhone... For now (we hope).
For now, we'll leave you with a summary of the buying experience and a few bullet points.
It took about an hour to get all the paperwork done. The credit examination also took about an hour. We were given a number and a time to check back with the store. About an hour before we were supposed to come back, our AU phone vibrated and announced to us that it no longer had a phone number (due to MNP). This was our indication that we had passed the credit check and our new DoCoMo phone was active. So we headed back to the store and sure enough, the phone was ready.
Some important points:
- The phone is about ¥30,000 with a new 2-year contract at a standard DoCoMo shop.
- The phone is only about ¥15,000 (or less) if purchased from a large electronics store with a 2-year contract. (we got ours at our favorite Yodobashi Camera.)
- A contract is not required.
- The price of the phone may be paid in 12 or 24 or 1 installment. We just paid upfront the entire amount, which was less than ¥15,000.
- Only identification required is your foreign registration card.
- You only need a minimum of 90 days remaining on your visa.
- Conbini-barai is NOT an option for new contracts.
- You may choose to pay monthly by either bank draft or credit card, whichever you prefer (as opposed to the other way around like at some phone companies that suck).
- Our sales person claimed DoCoMo discloses the reasons for credit rejection with the applicant (!)
- Data and voice plan prices are similar to the those of the iPhone.