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DoCoMo’s first premini mobile was a tiny (90mm) stripped-down, no-frills 2G phone weighing a feather-weight 69 grams. Just out is its successor, the bigger and juicer premini-II, redesigned with a 1.3-megapixel camera, enhanced music elements, bar-code reader and memory stick. While the premini nicely occupied an open niche in Japan’s mobile ecosystem (as a second celly to use where cam phones aren’t allowed), it’s difficult to see what need the more full-featured premini-II fulfills. Manufactured by Sony Ericsson, the premini-II is slim, polished, weighs 79 grams, has 1.9-inch QVGA screen and comes in three colors: silver, black and brown. Given its beefier size (105 mm), it should probably have been called the pre-midi.
Like the original, keypad buttons have been raised to facilitate tapping on such a confined space. A memory card holds music so users can listen in on stereo headphones while multitasking emails or scrolling through the i-mode menu. Repeat mode loops favorite tracks again and again, and the volume control has some extra fine-tuning notches. DoCoMo insists it is the smallest megapixel camera phone yet. The keypad locks in various camera modes for picture effects, illumination, sizing, etc.
So far so, well… so adequate. There are many faster, cuter or more functional DoCoMo cell phones out there in the mobile marketplace. Though pricing is open, the premini-II is selling at anywhere from JPY19,000-27,000 (and below, depending on your bargaining skills).
In contrast, the newly released “economical” 700i-series (or “901i-lite” as we called them, — Ed.) connect to DoCoMo’s 3G FOMA network but price-wise cost less than the 2G premini-II. And since the debut of the 901i-series, prices have sunk on the 3G series one rank below (the 900i-series). The music thing? DoCoMo’s Music Porter has a better take on the phone-as-portable-music-player concept -– and besides, KDDI is already miles ahead in music. The premini-II’s camera? Other handsets have two or three megapixels.
It seems that DoCoMo is trading on premini’s name value to grab the media spotlight and gather loose-walleted crowds in Akihabara. Yes, the first premini adequately filled its minute niche as a second phone designed for use in offices and factories where camera phones are not allowed, but where users still want i-mode and email access. Ironically, it is difficult to see what niche the premini-II fulfills precisely because of its added features.
– Gail Nakada
Link for the premini-II site: http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/p_s/products/mova/premini2/index.html
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