- TECH SPECS
- First impressions. Design
- Instead of a conclusion
Friends, it happened!
I hunted him for about 12 years. That is exactly how much time, including almost two weeks spent on unlocking, it took to get a completely new and at the same time a complete copy of the limited edition Japanese clamshell N705i Amadana from NEC. Why did it come to my review just now, you ask? The main problem with this model was precisely in its decoupling from the network of the operator NTT Docomo, for which the phone was produced on an exclusive basis.
If in 2008, when the new product just went on sale in Japan, it was not difficult to buy it, then it was not possible to make it fully or at least partially working (calls and SMS) in Russia at that time. Fortunately, a few years ago, when our programmers learned how to break the code of similar Japanese toys, this task became feasible. It was a matter of honor for me to find and bring an intact specimen. A total of 5000 such phones were made, and each received its own unique number. And today a fully working device came to my review. I say quite sincerely, when for all these many years you take it in your hands for the first time, I personally am overwhelmed by long-forgotten feelings at this moment, akin to when a small child who has been dreaming about a cherished toy for a whole year finally gets it for his birthday.
It is unlikely that my worries about this will be shared by most of the users of modern phones, which lack a hardware keyboard, and sometimes even any buttons. For obvious reasons, many of the smartphone owners simply did not have experience with push-button phones. I will not argue that young people are somehow worried about the fact that they did not experience any special sensations from the use of such “analog” devices in their time. Therefore, now I speak exclusively for myself and, perhaps, the few fans of the Japanese “old school” in the 40+ category.
Speaking about Japanese phones and not only, it is worth mentioning the special love of the Japanese for all kinds of collaborations. In January 2008, NEC unveiled a limited edition collection of 705 series phones designed by the local design bureau Amadana. Surprisingly, even the corporate site of this model has survived, albeit in part, (link). Some links already result in 404 errors, but the meaning and general styling are preserved. Amadana specializes in the design, styling and sale of electronics that stand out from the crowd. Like many phones at the time, the NEC N705i Amadana was not sold outside of Japan. This inaccessibility made the gadget even more desirable among fans of overseas technology and especially collectors of Japanese electronics. Now the situation has somewhat shifted from its place, and some local phone manufacturers, realizing the dead end of the type of sales closed from the outside world, came to the markets of the USA, Europe and Asia. Nevertheless, the majority of local producers stubbornly continue to resist with a horn, delighting with exclusive, alas, exclusively loved ones.
No matter how much someone wants to believe in the former superiority of Japanese technologies over others, one must clearly understand that for all their sometimes contrived exclusivity, the Japanese fanatically adhere to their own traditions. And it was this deliberate craving for the past, even if accumulated over the years, values that subsequently played a cruel joke with many local companies. At a time when the whole world was actively entering the era of touchscreen smartphones and tablets, the Japanese stubbornly continued to puff on the old steam locomotive, releasing morally and technically outdated push-button phones. Now, after a lapse of time, this situation looks more obvious than ever. Having missed the moment, Japan, no matter how blasphemous it may sound, fell to the bottom of a technological pit, from which it is trying to get out to this day. But this is a topic for a completely different review.
Sharp AQUOS R compact and NEC N705i Amadana
Now I would like to ask everyone who reads this review for a favor. Before you make caustic comments about a twelve-year-old push-button telephone that no one wants, remind yourself what this is about. The NEC N705i Amadana is not about technology. This is a kind of tribute to the old fashion. Put the emphasis on the word “past”. It is hardly worth looking for a reason for ridicule of those who are still nostalgic for the old days. Yes, to some extent, this technique is a technological fetish that can only interest retirees or techno-perverts like me. It will not work to fully use such a phone in modern realities, but it is not necessary. The NEC N705i Amadana is nothing more than a beautiful story.
The phone had at that time the functionality standard for most Japanese clamshells. The owner of the N705i could make not only audio, but also video calls. For this, in addition to an external 2 MP camera, an internal 0,3 MP camera was also provided. Then it was really a real revolution, considering that all phones in this form factor were equipped with a single camera. The person did not have to turn the phone outward to be seen on the “other end of the line”. Also, the clamshell has access to mobile Internet through i-Mode technology, which did not interest MTS subscribers at the time. You can surf the network using the preinstalled FullBrowser. The i-Mode technology also allows you to download and install the corresponding applications on your phone, however, due to the settings “hardwired” on the Japanese operator’s network and the difference in technologies, it will not work to use the Internet, mobile video communication, and applications in Russia. You won’t be able to watch One-Seg TV either, a separate antenna for which is built into almost every Japanese phone. Its digital signal is available exclusively in Japan. The phone also supports the Felica Osaifu-Keitai contactless payment function. This is an analogue of the well-known NFC. In Japan, a contactless form of payment has been working for a long time, long before the active introduction of NFC in the world.
Unfortunately, this model is not protected from water and dust, which is unusual for Japanese phones. So the owners of the N705i had to be as careful as possible in the rain or in the bathroom. There is also no Wi-Fi with Bluetooth. So you should completely forget about any wireless technologies. But the device supports work in GSM and 3G networks, which allows it to work with our operators without any problems. SIM card format is standard (large).
Thus, all the working functionality of the NEC N705i, taking into account the specifics of our cellular networks, comes down to voice calls, SMS, camera, music player and calculator. The phone received a color 3 ″ main and 1,6 ″ external STN displays, support for microSD memory cards up to 2 GB for photos, videos and music. A removable 770 mAh battery is responsible for power. On average, from one charge, my phone could hold out from morning to evening. Yes, for the first couple of days I actively studied the menu, tested a photo and video camera, a music player. All this drained the battery much faster. But as soon as my maximum was reduced solely to phone calls, the battery life increased to 2 days.
Like all Japanese mobile phones of the time, the NEC N705i Amadana was assembled only in Japan.
NEC N705i Amadana Specification:
- Standards support: 3G, GSM
- Main display: 3 ″, QVGA, 427 × 240 pix, TFT LCD, 262 thousand colors
- External display: 1,6 ″, STN LCD
- Main camera: 2 MP, CMOS, QVGA video recording
- Front camera: 0,3 MP, CMOS
- Support for memory cards: microSD up to 2 GB
- Infrared port
- Music player: WMA (MP3 sync via Windows Media Player via USB cable)
- Battery: 770 mAh
- Dimensions: 104x49x14.5 mm
- Weight: 105 g
Unlike the standard version of the NEC N705i, the limited edition comes in a richly designed box with a bunch of additional accessories. In general, as you know, the Japanese are very stingy with various kinds of bonuses. It is believed, for example, that it does not make much sense to complete the phone with a charger. According to Japanese marketers, when buying a new phone, you can easily take advantage of the charging from the previous device, so it is impractical to produce multiple cables. Such an approach could be considered justified if we link it with concern for the environment, while, which is important, you and I must be Japanese, as you know, living in a strictly limited area.
That is why such an extensive range of accessories from the NEC N705i Amadana set can be safely considered the most non-standard case. So, the tiered box contains:
- phone itself
- removable battery
- stereo headset
- audio adapter
- a pair of additional ear pads
- table stand
- Software CD (Japanese)
- detailed instructions (in Japanese)
- any waste paper
I was surprised to find a standard blue box for a regular version of NEC N705i in a large “festive” box. The packaging developers decided not to invent separate niches for the audio adapter, battery, disk and pieces of paper located in it, following the path of least resistance, simply creating an “eclectic nesting doll”.
People who have been familiar with the topic of Japanese phones for a long time probably know that a tabletop stand was present in the box of almost every Japanese phone. The cradle is great as a wireless charger for both push-button phones and smartphones. However, with the latter, this topic did not last as long as with clamshells. Such is the cruel and merciless Japanese optimization.
First impressions. Design
From the very first touch, the NEC N705i Amadana is able to literally hypnotize your mind. This is a thing that you want to adapt to. Lacking any special functionality, the phone makes you rethink your mobile needs. Personally, I felt this magic on myself from the very first minute of owning this insidious toy. The brain frantically begins to invent reasons why you would like to keep it for yourself. Ideally, you want to either completely leave your smartphone, or at least get a second SIM card.
However, even with the first WhatsApp messages on your smartphone, your consciousness begins to clear, and you realize that the N705i is not capable of becoming the main and only one for you. And then you have a real breakdown: smart to the left, beautiful to the right. It seems like you don’t need it, but you want to possess this miniature grace just like that, for beautiful eyes. With a smartphone, I definitely never had such sensations. Yes, I understand that such reflections may indicate an unhealthy state of mind, but the phone really has some kind of magic. With an effort, I turn off all my Wishlist and begin to reason soberly.
When folded, the NEC N705i literally sinks into the palm of your hand. After a smartphone, the sensations are quite unusual. With dimensions of 104x49x14.5 mm, the phone weighs only 105 grams. Almost all the time that I have been using it, I have not lost the feeling that this is not a phone, but some kind of model: fragile, graceful and incredibly detailed. Some parts, for example, the memory card compartment cover or buttons, are so tiny that it was simply scary to touch them once again. It seemed that something was about to break. At the same time, the whole picture looked quite monolithic. All parts fit perfectly to each other, there is no feeling that the phone is assembled on a knee. No creaks, no backlash and no fall off.
You catch yourself thinking that for a long time using a smartphone, your eyes and palms have forgotten how different a mobile device can look and feel tactilely. If the average modern smartphone is a set of a display, a pair of buttons, a USB connector and a back wall, then the Japanese clamshell of the late 00s, at least externally, resembles at least the International Space Station: a bunch of small parts, buttons, plugs, multi-colored lights and bulbs, non-standard decor elements and design lines. In other words, aesthetically, it has everything that is so lacking in faceless modern smartphones.
The NEC N705i Amadana is made entirely of plastic, including the outer and main display covers. The combination of prevailing dark brown plastic with wood-look inlays on the façade clearly reflects the style in which most of Amadana’s devices are made. The “wood” insert has a distinct texture.
The large and informative external 1,6 ″ STN (Super Twisted Nematic) display is capable of operating in two modes. The former produces a reasonably clear all-over backlit image where alphanumeric data is displayed in blue on a dark blue substrate. All information is easy to read, thanks to the resolution of 128x96p.
At an angle, the color reproduction breaks down, but the display still remains readable enough.
In the sun, the STN display fades, but you can easily find out the exact time and date.
After the backlight goes out, the image remains quite recognizable, but not as good as before. In this mode, the external display of the NEC N705i resembles the display of a conventional solar calculator.
In sunny weather, it is better to look at such a screen at a right angle.
Unfortunately, the external display does not show detailed information about an incoming SMS or call. That is, you won’t see the contact’s name or caller’s number. To understand who will bother you, you have to open the clamshell. Instead, the developer has provided a set of pictograms indicating the corresponding events.
Above the external display, there are three light indicators: connected charging, messages and calls. If there are missed events, the last two will regularly blink blue and green.
The angular shape of the NEC N705i Amadana at the top is interrupted by a cylindrical loop that connects the two halves of the case. Unlike its cheap counterparts, the Japanese hinge has no backlash, so the phone is monolithic in the hand, without any distortions in the gaps.
On the left side of the screen part there is a speaker, the volume level of which is sufficient to hear, for example, an incoming call on a busy street. The effect will be complemented by a fairly distinct vibration signal. The phone also has a hands-free mode.
On the left side of the keyboard part of the case there are volume buttons and a compartment for a memory card. A long press on the “Up” button turns on / off the silent mode. A long press on the bottom button launches the music player.
An infrared port is located on the upper end of the screen part. Traditionally, for all Japanese phones, only contacts can be transmitted through it. At the bottom of the keyboard part there is a microphone and a contact group for connecting to a desktop stand.
In a strict and minimalistic cradle on any desktop, the NEC N705i Amadana looks even more elegant.
On the right side, behind a plug, there is a Japanese connector, which is non-standard for the rest of the world, for connecting a USB cable and an audio adapter.
I have always been amazed at the Japanese approach to implementing headphone-to-phone connectivity. Why was there such a garden when the world has long been using a standard 3,5 mm minijack. In this case, the audio adapter included in the kit has a connector for such a plug.
I will immediately express my opinion on the operation of the music player. To record MP3 files familiar to many people on the phone, the phone must be synchronized with the computer using Windows Media Player. Files are copied exclusively to the memory card, being decoded in real time into WMA format. The data transfer process takes place without time delay and with the original bitrate being preserved.
If we talk about the sound quality of the headphones, then they are here, in my opinion, exclusively for a stylish tick. If the high and middle frequencies are still somehow identified, then the bass remained somewhere outside the box. So it is unlikely that you will be able to get an unforgettable experience of listening to your favorite tracks to the fullest.
It’s time to open up the inner world of the NEC N705i Amadana. The phone opens with one hand, easily and without any clicks. At the same time, the upper part can be fixed in absolutely any position. Unfortunately, NEC has never made clamshells with an auto-open button like Fujitsu, Panasonic or Sharp. The function would come in handy for all lovers of this form factor. Pressed – the flip opened. We close it on our own.
The open phone lies comfortably in the hand, without any overbalances relative to the center of gravity. The weight of the N705i is not so big that the difference between the upper and lower halves is noticeable. The owners of all clamshell phones should always be aware of the danger of breaking the phone. Just one wrong move, and the body will easily break in half. Of course, you will have to make some effort, but sometimes offensive accidents happen.
The screen and keyboard parts play with each other in color contrast. The bezel around the screen is black, while the keyboard underlay is light silver. Not only is the difference in color pleasing to the eye, but it also has practical implications. The keyboard and the surface around it is the place that a person touches repeatedly throughout the day, leaving greasy fingerprints, dirt and dust. Metallic perfectly absorbs all these imperfections, hiding them from the eyes of the owner. For an additional tactile effect, the backing has a nice ring texture.
NEC N705i has a 3 ″ TFT screen with a resolution of 427 × 240 pixels. Naturally, there are no touchpads here. After many years of using a smartphone, I did not even pay attention to the fact that the maximum number of colors issued by the matrix is 262 thousand. The picture was perceived by me quite juicy and colorful. Considering the dimensions of the phone itself, you get a corresponding aesthetic pleasure from the physical dimensions of the main display.
If indoors or at night the screen pleases with all its color possibilities, then under the direct rays of the sun the happiness from contemplating it becomes clearly less. The colors fade, the texts fade, the positive effect dulls. You have to go into the settings and add brightness, but it doesn’t get dramatically better from this.
The interface of all Japanese clamshells offers a choice of two localization languages: Japanese and English. Due to the fact that manufacturers do not officially export these phones outside the country, there is no need to translate the interface into other languages. Nevertheless, those who know English at least in the slightest degree can easily figure out the simple menu and will be able to customize the phone for themselves in a matter of minutes. According to the reviews of many users of such gadgets, it takes from half an hour to a day to fully familiarize yourself with the whole set of working functions and the depth of the phone menu, depending on the level of knowledge of the English language.
I will give some examples.
The phone allows you to write in Russian by choosing the desired character from the appropriate table. At first, this method may seem unusual, but then you get used to it. Fortunately, you have to use sms every day less and less. All incoming SMS, by the way, come in Russian, but with small indents between the characters.
Let’s go back to the exterior. Above the screen there is a speaker, an internal 0,3 MP camera and a pair of silicone “legs” so that the screen part is not imprinted into the keyboard when the phone is closed.
The keyboard is represented by two groups of buttons, colored beige and dark brown. The upper block is a four-way joystick with four additional functional menu buttons in the corners. The lower block of three vertical rows is a numeric keypad with call / cancel buttons and a “Back” button.
Each individual button is backlit in orange. The keyboard backlight is turned off in the menu.
Once again, I will separately dwell on the tactile sensations from the hardware keyboard, which all modern smartphones lack. When dialing a number, each individual button is evenly buried in the body by less than a millimeter, emitting a light, slightly muffled “click”, from which incredibly positive vibrations are transmitted to the hands through the fingertips. Inexpressible feelings.
The designers of NEC N705i Amadana decided to approach the appearance of the phone’s sirloin in an unusual way. The straightness of the back wall line was broken by an elegant curve around the main chamber block. In addition to the unusual design solution, the formed corner is also of quite practical importance. Thanks to him, the lens will never come into contact with the surface on which the phone rests. Besides, taking such an “angular” phone from a table or any other similar surface will always be more convenient than a completely flat one.
The battery cover bears the serial number and the Amadana brand logo.
You can only talk about the NEC N705i with a smile on your lips. Of course, analyzing what you saw, one way or another, you try to compare the results of her work with what is now offered by modern analogues. Yes, the difference is “heaven and earth”, but it is important to understand that a lot has changed in mobile photography and video over 12 years. I am sure that in 12 years we will remember the current quality of cameras in the same way with a grin. Nevertheless, at that time, Japanese engineers offered the maximum of possibilities that allowed themselves to be packaged in such a compact body.
The phone has two cameras, which was incredible for a clamshell of that time: 2 MP main (for photos and videos) and 0,3 MP internal (for video calls and selfies). The maximum photo resolution from the main camera is 1600x1200p, video – 320x240p. The video quality is rather poor (15 fps, 12 kbps audio), but at least it can be used to capture some important moment here and now. Due to the critically low frame rate, the picture is slow in most cases, and the low resolution generates solid pixels. This is a real pain for the eyes. The situation is easier with the photo. The shots are juicy, bright, but they lack detail. In some photos, a whitish veil sometimes slips. In order to ignore this, it is better to reduce the physical size of the viewed photos. This way, the brain will at least not focus on the negative.
The maximum photo resolution from the internal camera is 640x480p.
Another feature of the NEC N705i camera is manual switching between normal shooting and macro modes. A special miniature toggle switch is located next to the lens. A similar solution is often found in Japanese clamshells of that era.
NEC N705i Amadana Camera Working Interface
Instead of a conclusion
Unfortunately, every year there are fewer and fewer interesting clamshells. I’m not talking about the new type of flexible touchscreen counterparts like the Motorola Razr and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. These are still experimental freaks with a bunch of physical bugs for a lot. For me, the NEC N705i Amadana remains one of the few standards of the classic push-button dialer. Even modern Japanese clamshell phones based on Android OS psychologically pale against the background of their “great-grandfathers”. To my great regret, reviews like this will appear less and less frequently.
As for the phone itself, let it remain as it is, with its pluses and minuses, on the resource pages. In my list, I have already ticked the box “Dream”. To use such a phone personally seemed to me a real blasphemy. Its place is in a box, on the shelf of grandmother’s sideboard, next to wine glasses and gzhel.
How do you feel about ordinary push-button dialers? How many are left for them?
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