The 5 Japanese Cellphones That Changed Mobile World Forever

I’ve read recent article on Wired titled The 12 Cellphones That Changed Our World Forever. To be honest when I’ve checked those phones I felt this article has too narrow view of things. There are many other cellphones contributed to change the world. I picked up 5 Japanse cellphones influenced not only Japanese market but the whole mobile industry in the world.

Fujitsu F501i — 1999


When Nokia 3210 came into the U.S. market, first i-mode handset was released in Japan. i-mode was a mobile internet service in Japan used data format cHTML(compact HTML) based on HTML.

By the success of i-mode service, many mobile content providers grew in Japan and established monthly subscription businesses. 1999 was also a year Nokia introduced S40 OS into the market.

NEC N503i — 2001


First handset adopted to i-αppli service by NEC. i-αppli enabled to run Java applications on mobile.

Kyocera W11K — 2003


Together with a sister model Hitachi W11H, Kyocera W11K was the first handset adopted to fixed unlimited data plan in Japan. Till that time, mobile users needed to pay data fee based on usage. After the success of this handset and unlimited data plan, mobile web usage exploded and brought many freemium services similar to PC internet business.

From the outlooking this handset was called Gundam Keitai(Mobile). (Gundam is a robot from a popular animated TV series.)

Sharp J-SH04 — 2000

 First handset by Sharp enabled Sha-mail(Photo mail) service. This was one of the earliest handset installed camera on mobile.

Pioneer J-PE01 — 1999


This handset is also a classic one… 8 years earlier than iPhone, used touch front LCD screen interface instead of actual buttons.


Published by

Hiroumi Mitani

Working for Rakuten, Inc. in Japan as a senior producer of international developement office.

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