Visit to St. Louis has been great so far. I’ve got to hang out with the fam a lot, ate a lot of good food, saw a lot of old friends, and did some scamming (I’ll post about that next). All in all an excellent vacation. I’m heading to LA tomorrow afternoon and will be there until the end of the week.

Before coming back for this trip, I had to bust out theold cell phone that I used in the US. I was worried when the phone wouldn’t even power on with the AC adapter plugged in, but after over a full day of charging, it was able to at least turn on. It’s always quite a shock going from using a Japanese phone (keitai) for a long time back to an American one, because of technology differences, standards, etc. In short, American phones are crap compared to ones in Japan for the most part. I am also going to include Blackberrys and anything that has a tiny QWERTY keyboard on it, because I think those just look ridiculous and can’t be justifiably functional. Just learn how to type using the numeric pad! It’s not like you’re going to be doing any two-handed touch typing with your oversized PDA phone. I think your average 14-year old Japanese kid can input a lot faster on a standard numeric pad than a businessman with a Blackberry QWERTY. I don’t even need T9 and I will dominate with a numeric pad. But I digress.

my two phones

My American phone (right), which I bought in November 2005, is a Sony Ericsson Z520a. It has a 4x digital zoom VGA camera and a screen that is around 1.6×1.25″ (4×3 cm). In contrast, my Japanese phone (left) which I bought in September 2007, is also a Sony Ericsson, a W43S. It has a 2 Megapixel camera and a screen that is around 2.6×1.5″ (6.5×3.5 cm). Both phones have features like address book, calendar, alarms, text messaging, and of course calling. My Japanese phone can also browse the real internet, send real e-mails, has GPS navigation, is an IC-chip based train pass and digital wallet, TV remote, and music player. My American phone might actually be able to use a web browser, but it’s not very good or even fast and I think I’d have to pay more.

Here’s a look at the phones opened up:

Open Up

So while yeah, my American phone does all the basic stuff, I feel a bit like I’m stepping back into the stone age. I never thought about how much time I killed in Japan browsing the web on my phone. One advantage that my US phone does have over the Japanese one is ease in making your own MP3 ringtones. With the US one, I could just use any file I want to. The Japanese one is a bit more protected and complicated, which kind of sucks.

Oh, and let’s also quickly look at the difference in pictures taken by the phones. I took a picture of my stupid bobblehead guy, using each phone’s maximum resolution. The difference is pretty obvious. It’s even more apparent if you look at the raw images. The Japanese phone is super tall because it can take wide photos. Raw Japanese. Raw American.

The raws give you an even better idea of how crappy the American one is

It’s too bad the US market will always be behind Japanese or other countries’ phone markets because people aren’t as willing to pay to upgrade their handsets as often or adopt new technologies. And yes, since I’ve had my Japanese W43s for over a year, I’m already thinking of buying a new model.