Being a new keitai owner, you may be a bit overwhelmed by the general operation of it. Or you may be planning to join in the keitai crowd. Whatever it is, here is a guide where all the basics of owning a keitai is covered and what you need to know if you are planning on getting one. This is probably one of the most detailed guides you will find on the internet on keitais.
1. Introduction to keitais
The word keitai is derived from the Japanese phrase 携帯電話 romaji: keitai denwa meaning ‘portable telephones’. Most of us here refer it to simply ‘keitai’ and includes mobile phones imported from Japan, phones sold in Asia made by Japanese manufactures or exotic mobile phones not sold worldwide.
Keitias are considered exotic as they aren’t sold anywhere else aside from Asia. They are unique when used overseas and have high-spec functions that may not be available in local phones. As a keitai owner overseas, we form a special group of enthusiasts that are unique to others.
2. Keitias and their carriers
Unlike our ‘normal’ phones, Japanese manufactures tailor make phones for the carriers. A single keitai model is usually from one carrier, while a similar model by the same manufacturer from a different carrier will have a different model number, have a different design and may have different specifications.
There are three major carriers in Japan. They are NTT docomo, SoftBank and au by KDDI. docomo runs a WCDMA/3G network dubbed ‘FOMA’, SoftBank runs a WCDMA/3G network which they call ‘SoftBank 3G’ and au operates a CDMA/EVDO network (CDMA 1X WIN/CDMA 1X). No carrier in Japan utilises GSM, even on their previous second-generation system.
Since keitai models are tied to their carriers, you first need to decide what carrier you phone will be from. Carriers have their own pros and cons in terms of its ability of being unlocked and being useable on your local carrier. All docomo keitias have SIM locks. SIM unlocking methods are described below. SoftBank keitais have both a SIM lock and a multimedia lock. A multimedia lock is where if a non-SoftBank UIM is used there will be certain restrictions to the ‘multimedia’ functions, namely the camera. Also during the multimedia lock, every time the menu is accessed, there will be a message asking you to ‘provision’ it. An active SoftBank UIM must be inserted and ‘provisioned’ before multimedia functions can be used again. Taking out the battery for a certain amount of time or setting it to SELF mode can trigger the multimedia functions to be locked again. For this reason, some may prefer to stay away from SoftBank keitais. Lastly, like all of the carriers, au keitais also have SIM lock in place. Since au keitais have CDMA radios, you may not use them overseas unless they have GSM as well (not all phones can be unlocked). Countries that have CDMA networks like the United States, it is unlikely that a CDMA carrier like Verizon Wireless or Sprint Nextel would let you register a CDMA keitai on their networks. In addition, au uses SIM cards to register a keitai to their CDMA network, unlike other CDMA carriers. Some au keitais DO NOT have SMS functionality.
3. Choosing a keitai
3a. Naming conventions
Different carriers name their devices differently so here is an explanation of how the naming scheme works.
format: docomo [STYLE/PRIME/SMART/PRO] series XX-AAB
for example: docomo PRIME series F-01A
STYLE series: Phones that fashionably designed. (most popular)
PRIME series: High-end multimedia. (most popular)
SMART series: Productivity smart phones. (least popular)
PRO: High-spec smartphones. (least popular)
AA= two digit number
(two digit number combined with letter is a single letter makes up a model and identifies the ‘season’ it was released in)
XX = Manufacturer code. Donated by either one or two letters. See image below.
format: SoftBank AAABB
for example: SoftBank 940SH
AAA: three digit number
BB: manufactures code (some may differ from docomo’s)
au names their keitai’s in no particular way. Some are names similar to SoftBank keitai’s, but they have a range of ‘concept’ phones with their code names so there is no format for au keitais.
3b. Buying a keitai
You can buy keitais from a variety of places either on the internet or in shops. On the internet, there is eBay or any other auction sites. Some sites are dedicated to selling keitais, such as EchigoyaHonpo and Unlocklink. Of course, there is a sub-forum on HowardForums where keitais are sold. Or ask members here.
4. Unlocking a keitai
There are two types of ways to unlock a keitai one is the ‘HyperSIM’ method and the other is a ‘software unlock’.
4a. The HyperSIM method.
A HyperSIM is a thin chip that sits in between your SIM slot and your SIM card. This ‘tricks’ a keitai into thinking their respective UIM is inserted and allows your local SIM to be used to access your local network. However, there are some drawbacks. Currently, HyperSIM unlocked keitais can only make and receive calls on the GSM network. When set to 3G, only calls can be made; incoming calls will NOT go through. However some compatible HyperSIMs and SIM cards can used with 3G for both incoming and outgoing calls, currently a ROGERS (Canada) 3040 SIM card and a Telstra (Australia) NextG SIM card with a FireSIM HyperSIM have reported to operate on 3G without any problems. There is possibility that other SIMs and HyperSIMs may be compatible on the 3G network or both incoming and outgoing calls. Operating a HyperSIM requires you to do ‘CPR’, this is to regain signal the first time you get your keitai or when there is no signal (status bar of keitai may report OUT or 圈外).
1. While your keitai is on, set your phone to GSM by going to:
MENU > Map/Overseas > Overseas network search > 3G/GSM setting > GSM/GPRS
MENU > Settings > Phone settings > Other settings > International Roam. > 3G/GSM setting > GSM/GPRS
2. On your local phone (must be SIM unlocked) set it to GSM as well. To prepare for the CPR process you want your keitai and CPR phone both set to GSM. There are certain phones that are better at doing CPR than others. Some report Sony Ericsson and Samsung handsets.
3. Insert your SIM into in your local phone (SIM ONLY, WITHOUT HyperSIM). Turn it on and wait for a signal to be retrieved. Make a call to make sure the signal is authentic.
4. Place your SIM and HyperSIM back into your keitai and reboot. The status bar should show GSM or GPRS. Some report GPRS is more stable, but whether you can get a GPRS signal depends on your local/CPR phone.
Because HyperSIM unlocked models mostly are only compatible on GSM networks you will need a keitai that has GSM. Look for in the specs:
docomo: WORLD WING (3G+GSM)
SoftBank: GLOBAL ROAMING
au: GLOBAL PASSPORT GSM
Reported list of compatible HyperSIM and SIM combinations:
ROGERS 3040 SIM, [unknown HyperSIM] (3G incoming and outgoing) [Canada]
Telstra NextG SIM, FireSIM 解鎖 ドコモ?ロ?? 2009-06-05 v3.0 (3G incoming and outgoing) [Australia]
AT&T 3G SIM, Mr. SIM ver2.1 (GSM, 3G incoming only) [United States]
4b. Software unlock
Some keitais can be software unlocked. The use of a HyperSIM is unnecessary and there will be no signal issues. But only some model can be software unlocked. SoftBank software unlocks usually also gets rid of the multimedia lock. Some software unlocked keitai’s also have access to internet settings to enable internet services. Some are ‘factory unlocked’. These are originally unlocked from the manufacturer but only apply to phones for the Chinese market.
Popular software unlockable models:
[will be updated as new models are software unlocked]
[list not current]
STYLE series N-02A (no internet)
STYLE series N-08A (no internet)
STYLE series N-09A (no internet)
PRIME series N-01A (no internet)
(some NEC phones are unable to be unlocked after a certain manufacturing date)
933SH (internet access available through APN change)
707SC (some can have internet, mixed results)
707SC II (internet access, MMS doesn't work)
740SC (internet access)
see yamanote’s introduction to keitai thread for more models:
Sony Ericsson W64S (no internet, no SMS function)
5. Using a keitai
Most keitai models use different batteries but some use the same from a previous model. Keitais don’t come with the AC adapter for charging, because in Japan, keitais used the same connector type so when a person buys a new phone, they can use their old charger (docomo and SoftBank only, au uses a different connector). You need to purchase an AC adapter separately. Some keitais come with an included dock, or a dock that can be purchased separately. For this reason, some docks are only compatible with original AC adapters and not third party ones. A single charge lasts at different times depending on how much you use it but it is usually for 1-2 days. Usually 3G has better battery life than GSM because in keitais, the 3G chip is optimised for battery life while the GSM is just there for roaming convenience. You can buy a portable chargers or a solar panel chargers to extend your battery life. Headphones use the charging port as well for docomo and SoftBank keitais (unless there is a standard 3.5mm headset jack). The original docomo headset has a 3.5mm adaptor jack to use your own headphones.
5b. Operating system
docomo keitais run a user interface called MOAP. There are two variants of MOAP, that is MOAP(S) and MOAP(L). MOAP(S) is based on Symbian OS and MOAP(L) is based on Linux.
MOAP(S): Fujitsu, Sony Ericsson Japan, Mitsubishi Electric, Sharp
MOAP(L): Panasonic, NEC
Obviously, this excludes BlackBerry and Android devices.
SoftBank keitais run their own OS.
The Japanese don’t use SMS, they use e-mail. Internet doesn’t work but keitai’s still have SMS function. MAKE SURE you select Compose SMS and not Compose message. To send SMS you need to enter the correct SMS center number by going to:
MENU > Mail > Mail setting > SMS settings, SMS center > User set
Enter you SMS center number without the + sign.
While in SMS settings, go to:
Msg input setting > English(160Chara) to allow SMS messages to contain up to 160 characters rather than the Japanese 70 character limit.
On SoftBank keitais, you may need to change SMS formatting from Shift-JIS to UTF-8. (thanks yamanote)
There is no space key on the keypad, so to make a space press the RIGHT directional key to move the cursor to make a space.
As mentioned internet doesn’t work as you cannot enter APN settings. Of course some software unlocked models can.
Applications are downloaded off the internet. You cannot install java or other apps.
Most keitais have high-quality cameras. So experiment using it and show off your pictures in the keitai forum! Only Sharp keitais have CCD optics, the rest of the manufactures use CMOS sensors. Keep ISO settings low to get cleaner images.
1Seg is a mobile TV signal broadcasted in Japan. You keitai will most probably have a 1Seg tuner built-in and some have an external retractable antenna to improve reception. Doesn’t work in most overseas countries as there is no 1Seg reception but works in places with 1Seg reception is available, such as Brazil and Peru (and of course Japan).
Apart from some keitais, (some Sony Ericssons) keitais DO NOT support MP3 files. They play AAC (m4a.) files but to use the MUSIC PLAYER, you must used WMA files. You need to have a USB cable and use Windows Media Player to sync music. You need to set you keitai to MTP mode by going to:
MENU > Setting > External connection > USB mode > MTP mode
Some keitai owners say their MTP mode option is greyed out. You may need to turn on automatic time updating by going to:
MENU > Setting > Time > Date & time > Auto time adjust > ON > Set
5g. Data box
Here is the file manager on docomo keitais. To add images, videos, ringtones and documents, connect your USB cable to you computer and set you phone to microSD mode by going to:
MENU > Setting > External connection > USB mode > microSD mode
An external drive should appear on your desktop (Mac OS X) or in Computer/My Computer (Windows). For Sharp phones, drag your files to /PRIVATE/SHARP/IMPORT.
Unmount the drive and go to:
MENU > Tool > microSD > Import > BulkSort
Older keitais may have the Tool menu called LifeKit.
This automatically sorts all you files in the correct folder in Data box.
PICTURES: Must be moved into phone memory to be used as wallpaper. Some keitais have portrait and landscape wallpapers. Some pictures over a certain resolution or size may not be able to be displayed.
VIDEO: Use HandBrake to convert video. (Available free for Mac OS X and Windows) Choose the iPhone/iPod touch preset in the preset menu and click picture settings to adjust the resolution. Bitrate is preset and correct to play on keitais. Make sure final extension is [.mp4].
RINGTONES: Ringtones are in MLD format. Watch IonNuke’s video tutorial on making MLD ringtones.
(in mandarin, but it’s easy to follow along)
You can also rename any mid/midi ringtone’s extension to .MLD and it will work without conversion.
DOCUMENTS: Microsoft Word and PDF’s are readable by keitai’s.
You need to complete contact fields EXACTLY like this:
[Name]: Name of contact
[Reading]: Here is where the Japanese use to sort their contacts. For English names I just put the last name of the person here. All English contacts will be sorted in the 他 (other) section.
[Phone number]: You need to enter two numbers. One is the number with the international prefix (eg. +1 (234) 567-8901) and another without the international prefix (567-8901). This allows caller id to be show for an incoming call, and incoming SMS.
One number can be stored on the SIM, and the other on the phone if you don't want 2 numbers in the phone memory. But you can have both on the phone or SIM, it doesn't matter.
You may notice a weird symbol on you phone that looks like this. This mean your phone has an iC FeliCa chip inside. Used in place of smart cards, the Japanese used this to purchase train tickets, use it in convenience store, boarding passes, etc. Not much use overseas. Also can be used as a method of file transfer.
6. Other random things you need to know about keitais
-Kisekae tool is your themes.
-The cute little lamb/goat that walks around the standby screen wearing a tuxedo is a machi-chara. It wears different clothing on special occasions (like a santa suit at Christmas). You can choose other machi-charas preloaded in the phone.
-Your keitai will have a local time and a ‘Japan’ time whilst roaming. Go to:
MENU > Setting > Time > Two time zone clocks > OFF
to only show local time.
-Some keitais have a GPS icon on the status bar. If you find it annoying, go to:
MENU > Map/Overseas > Map & GPS setting/history > Request permit/deny > [Enter terminal code] > Always deny
to get rid of it.
-Your default terminal code is 0000. It can range up to 8 digit numbers (99999999). When buying a second-hand keitai, make sure you ask the seller for the code.
-Bluetooth is only usable for headsets for docomo keitais. With SoftBank keitais you can use Bluetooth for file transfer as well.
-Airplane mode/Flight mode/Offline mode is called SELF mode in keitais. You can find it in Other setting in the Setting menu.
Here is how to set your keitais from its default language from Japanese to English:
MENU > 本?設定 > 文字表示/入力 > Select language > English
MENU > 設定 > 一般設定 > Bilingual > English
7. Notable members (in no particular order, maybe except for the first one)
martindesu: Moderator of the Japanese phone forum
IonNuke: Keitai nerd, programs HyperSIMs. Has boxes of phones, accessories, charger and the alike
zerox678: Can help you get various keitais stuff. PM him.
Other forum regulars:
And I’m qwerty1235
(sorry if I missed anyone)
There it is. The guide to keitais. I probably have forgotten something so I might have to update the thread in the future. For those wondering, yes I did write this up entirely myself. Took three days. Hope this clears any dilemmas about keitais.