DoCoMo's Separate Phone: some assembly required

By Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless, cell phone, NTT DoCoMo

NTT DoCoMo's Separate Phone prototype dramatically rethinks what a cellular phone can be like, but the handset isn't for the absent minded.

The Separate Phone comes in two parts, one with a touch-sensitive display and another with a keypad, that are linked using Bluetooth. The parts can be attached magnetically, allowing the phone to take the shape of a standard clamshell handset. They can also be connected with the screen in landscape mode, or used separately, depending on a user's whim.

The Separate Phone aims to eliminate the phone juggling that happens when users are talking to friends and need to access data stored on the handset. With the Separate Phone, a user can talk on the keypad half of the phone, while using the display to look up phone numbers or access e-mail.

While that capability may come in handy for some users, others could struggle with having to keep track of the two phone parts, especially those already prone to losing their cell phone.

A working prototype of the Separate Phone was on display at the Ceatec exhibition in Chiba, Japan. The phone was a hit among Ceatec attendees, with visitors lining up for the chance to play with one of several prototypes on display.

Unlike many of the concept phones shown at Ceatec this year, the Separate Phone actually works. But the handset is still under development and DoCoMo has not revealed when the phone will be available commercially.

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