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NEC N411i i-mode phone

i-mode arrives

Review I remember getting my first WAP phone. The hype surrounding the technology was massive and I was expecting an amazing experience. Unfortunately I was sorely disappointed, and WAP proved to be slow, poorly implemented and often expensive. One of the things that annoyed me most about WAP, was that I was well aware that the Japanese were enjoying the benefits of i-mode, writes Riyad Emeran.

NEC N411i i-mode phoneJapanese network operator NTT DoCoMo had launched i-mode in 1999. It was a simple packet-based data service that allowed users to perform all kinds of tasks and access all kinds of services via their mobile phones. Not only was i-mode content rich, it was also much faster and far more intuitive than WAP. With this in mind I gave up on WAP and waited for i-mode to appear in the UK - I waited and waited and waited.

Now, six years on, we Brits are finally getting a taste of what our friends in Japan have been raving about. Yes, a UK network operator, O2, has finally stepped up to the plate and launched an i-mode service.

Launching i-mode was always going to be a tricky proposition in the UK - WAP was hardly welcomed with open arms. But O2 seems to have done everything right with this launch: handsets were available from day one, there was loads of content on offer, and the pricing structure has been made clear and simple.

NEC N411i i-mode phoneNEC is one of the handset launch partners for i-mode along with Samsung, although NEC managed to get two phones to market for launch. The N411i is the high-end handset in the NEC line up, despite the fact that the cheaper and less well-featured N343i will probably outsell it, due to its iPod looks.

i-mode is great - it works brilliantly, has plenty of useful content already and is totally affordable. One of the best things that O2 has done with i-mode is put a fixed pricing structure into place - whether you're a pre-pay customer or on a contract, you'll be paying exactly the same amount for your i-mode services.

There are two costs to take into account: the data cost and the subscription cost. As is the case with all mobile Internet services, you need to pay for the amount of data you use - of course you can purchase packages that suit your usage model, so if you think you'll be using a lot of data you can pay a monthly fee that reduces the cost per megabyte significantly. But there are also subscription costs and this is where things can start to add up.

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