I was hoping for LTE-equipped handsets to follow soon after Docomo flipped the Xi LTE switch to the "on" position this Christmas Eve, but commenter chokkan pointed out this is not to be. Via keitai watch, Docomo CEO Yamada intends to release LTE smartphones with the winter 2011 lineup.
来年の冬モデルくらいから（LTE対応の）スマートフォンを投入したいと考えているMe and my ht-03a, overclocked to 614 MHz (ez-nightly271-cm-2708port kernel) and with a total of 141 MB RAM (110 MB real, 31 MB virtual), are probably set for the year. But I am sure a lot of you are looking for something newer and more powerful.
Either way we look at it, Softbank has many of the phones readers of this blog, er... desire, but Docomo has the more robust network. Unfortunately, Docomo infamously restricts unlimited data to their own handsets. No one has found a way around this. Even using a Docomo handset with the wrong settings can be expensive.
Fortunately, this is set to change in a few months, perhaps as early as April or May 2011, when Docomo says they will allow any phone on their network, as long as it is certified for use in Japan.
Until then, some readers are taking extreme measures. Reader Fuji Slider is using a Softbank HTC Desire HD on Docomo with a pocket wifi router after canceling the packet houdai plan. (chokkan also pointed out that in juggly's review of the Nexus S (J), the phone obviously has a Docomo SIM card, but my guess is that he is using wifi for data, not the FOMA network because wifi is connected in all screenshots.)
It is no secret within the expat community that the cost of unsubsidized handsets in Japan is often significantly higher than overseas.
For example, reader Brian is using a UK Dell Streak on Softbank and mentioned that the same handset can be purchased contract free in the US for about $400. For comparison, the pocket-busting Streak costs 40,320 yen (1680 yen x 24 months) subsidized and with a 2-year contract or 93,120 yen unsubsidized from Softbank, which is nearly three times the cost of an imported US model.