I Sold My Soul to Softbank for a Minimalist 740SC Phone Review

I finally took the plunge and got a real phone instead of using pre-paid phones in Japan. Honestly, I wanted unlimited internet on my phone so I could use Anki, really. In any case, I signed up for contract service with Softbank.

I’ll say two things before I get started: I’m a cheap bastard, and I’m a complete minimalist. I don’t need a phone that has less than one day of battery life because it has a touch screen, an 8 megapixel camera on the inside and outside, the latest hi-res screen on both sides of the phone and 7 different radio networks including wifi, bluetooth, and television reception. Give me a slim clamshell design,  a nice screen size, asian font support, and internet access and I’m set. That being said, Softbank 740SC works pretty darn well for me.

Although, it should be noted, that Softbank’s 3G sim cards are not phone/PIN-locked and work perfectly in my unlocked G1 phone as well 😉

Here’s what the box looks like. This is what all the boxes look like for all of their phones.

Here’s what the box included. Really. Just the phone and a short instruction booklet. No chargers or cables nor tons of filler and advertisements. Very minimalist. (I’ll explain the charger phenomenon in a bit).

The phone is completely flat, no outside display. Buttons include up/down volume on the side, that’s it. There is an Infrared sender/receiver on it (I’ll explain that later too). Slot for optional headphones I’ll never use, a MicroSD card for extra storage, and a charger slot.

The other side of the phone. It has a 2 Megapixel camera on the outside and some speaker holes, that’s it.

This is what the phone looks like when opened. screen is quite large and has a nice resolution, I’m not sure of the actual specs, but it looks like QVGA (240×320) and supports Japanese, Korean and English (of course). Has a decent browser on it branded by Yahoo which runs Anki so I’m already happy. There are a bunch of normal apps on it: calculator, money converter, world clock, memo, to do list, etc etc etc. I think all phones have that anyway and like 2% of people use them.

Here is the charger I bought from a 100 Yen shop for about 1$ which plugs into my computer’s USB slot. Interesting thing in Japan: ALL phones that are 3G use the same charger, even across carriers and brands. So you really only need to buy one charger. How sweet is that? Seriously.

Don’t let that blue light fool you, it’s not blue tooth. It’s just a simple blue LED which flashes when the phone is closed and you get a message/call. That is the fanciest thing on the phone.

Alright, some size comparisons which will be skewed by camera angles, as always. Far left is the best iPod nano ever released, the fat stubby one, I forget the generation. Far right is the Google G1 phone. in the middle is the old pre-paid soap-bar phone I was using and the black 740SC.

A picture from the side, to show the slim or not so slimness.

And here is a picture of a Japanese Snickers Bar. This has nothing to do with the review, I was just hungry. (If you’re studying Japanese, enjoy the 平仮名 and カタカナ exercise)

Open from the front, next to the iPod.

And how slim it is when opened from the side. It’s quite slim.

Oh, I forgot to mention the IRDA (infrared thing) on the side. It’s standard on all Japanese phones. This is to quickly (really quickly) shoot any contact from your phone over to your friend’s phone. It also can transfer over all your contacts to a new phone. Before 3G and sim cards, this was really handy for when you got a new phone every year (or more). And I’m sure there are geeky apps for it to use it as a remote for your TV too 😉

Anyway, so that’s my new phone for the foreseeable future. Battery life lasts from 3-4 days without charging (even with quite a bit of calls and internet usage). Quite awesome. What do you think of it?

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Xmas Holidays in Japan