Published on May 13th,2010 at 3:34 PM
By >Daimaou - G.G-B

[Review] Fujitsu F-04B, a brilliant hardware running on an “Under-whelming” OS

Fujitsu F-04B, a brilliant hardware running on an “Under-whelming” OS

Introduced first as a prototype at CEATEC 2008, then later announced in November 2009 to be finally launched in Japan early April 2010, the Fujitsu F-04B is the best Japanese phone so far… However, this claim comes with a big fat asterisk that we will try to cover later on this review.

For years Japan has built its reputation on making the best looking and the most Amazing phones ever, however, those times are well behind us as it seems that the Japanese Handset manufacturers are rather more interested in producing huge numbers of handsets rather on working on a few ones in order to make them truly fantastic.

Sure Japanese mobile phones still do possess some sort of “aura” across the World, but these phones still do struggle to have success overseas, and companies such as Samsung, LG, HTC and now also including Apple have started to teach to the Japanese makers on every single level, from the cheap dumb phone producers to the fully-fledged Smartphone producers, that, yes, Japan is no longer the coolest kid around. And the Fujitsu F-04B is for us the best example of Japanese Manufacturers’ defeat in this Area.

A Unique Style and a Unique Hardware
Unlike many other phones, the Fujitsu F-04B, brings a unique approach to the business that was not yet tried before. Simply put the overall concept and idea behind the F-04 is breathtaking.
The F-04B is the result of pure engineering beauty and full of neat ideas that will put to shame the all mighty iPhone.

Not only the F-04B is a descent looking phone, but it also includes many impressive features ranging from a Bluetooth removable keypad, which can also be used as a handset while giving you the possibility to use its main body for other tasks, to the additional video projector module, and its accelerometer that gives you endless gaming options.

As far as we are concerned, the Fujitsu F-04B is the best piece of hardware ever made that feels just right in the hand and that is potentially capable of blasting everything away… Think about it for a second… You shoot a lot of pictures with your F-04B, and want to share them with your friends or want your parents to enjoy them when you visit them. At that point, the F-04B, instead of just allowing you to show your pictures on its screen in the conventional way, lets you display them on the wall just as you would do with a real video projector… This does not only apply for Photos, but also for the Movies that are stored on your F-04B and for the very basic TV programs that can be accessed via its 1Seg TV Tuner.

Wanna have fun? Why not using the very same setting and play games with friends thanks to its Bluetooth keyboard turned for the occasion into a Bluetooth remote… Want even more? Well, guess what the very same remote can be used as a Wii-mote letting you enjoy “Wii Sport” like games with friends.

A Unique Hardware, an Horrible Software.
Being technically a little wonder, the F-04B brings an amazing user experience but only on the paper, as the reality is, my dear friends, quite the opposite. Let’s put it simple, Japanese companies are excelled in almost everything except in building good OS and good UI when it comes to tmobile phones. Yep, here it is I said and for the past 8 years I have been living in Japan I have never had the chance to enjoy or play with a nicely done UI on a Phone.

Built without any relevance or harmony between different pages or applications installed on the phone, the overall experience is sluggish and at its best messy. Passing from one application to another, your experience rates from low to acceptable, and you struggle to find any consistency in the OS of this mobile phone.
And if you are not lost in the pages-long, cumbersome and different menu, you will also have to fight against the evident lack of power and optimization slowing you down. Even worse, both the Mobile browser and the so-called “PC Web Browser” are just plain slow taking “ages” to load a simple website.

The Video below is intentionally accelerated up to 200% in order to make it as short as possible, however, even a 200% you will see how slow the F-04B UI is…

Download video

I feel deeply sad both for Fujitsu and the F-04B, as I wrote earlier, the overall concept of this phone is fantastic and the team of engineers/staff behind the concept should be praised for their efforts, however, the people who came with the F-04B UI and optimization should really start to look at what others including Apple, Palm, Google and even Microsoft are offering on the market in order to learn how to build up a descent OS.

So unless Fujitsu and other Japanese manufactures start building their own descent OS or else license others, we will continue to see the consumers in Japan shifting more and more to the Non-Japanese manufacturers.

Via Fujitsu
Category Review Phones
[Review] Fujitsu F-04B, a brilliant hardware running on an “Under-whelming” OS[Review] Fujitsu F-04B, a brilliant hardware running on an “Under-whelming” OS[Review] Fujitsu F-04B, a brilliant hardware running on an “Under-whelming” OS[Review] Fujitsu F-04B, a brilliant hardware running on an “Under-whelming” OS[Review] Fujitsu F-04B, a brilliant hardware running on an “Under-whelming” OS[Review] Fujitsu F-04B, a brilliant hardware running on an “Under-whelming” OS
[Review] Fujitsu F-04B, a brilliant hardware running on an “Under-whelming” OS
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  • Chris

    It’s really sad to see the Japanese makes go this way. Like you say there isn’t any shortage of open source OSs. Android most famously, but Symbian^3 and Maego too.

    You can see firms skinning Android, so its not like Fujistu couldn’t have a nice dash board and Symbian has very good support for non-latin languages.

    So sad, 5 years you would expect the future from Japanese phones, now you seem to only have the past :(

  • matt

    This hardware is beyond exciting. I have yet to see a detachable keyboard on a phone. I am also pained by the poor OS on this phone. The Korean PMP market has for years offered much more exciting hardware than their counterparts in the US but have been unpalatable to the Western market due to a confusing and underwhelming OS. For those devices that have the horsepower to provide a smooth Android experience the door to the Western market has been opened, please step through it.

  • fh

    Mobile OSes developed by Apple, Google, and Microsoft aren’t perfect, either. The biggest problem in general is fragmentation (iPhone OS4 not supported on iPhone 3G; various Android phones running different versions with no unified update, WM7 completely ditching its entire previous app ecosystem).

    Then there’s the separation between the “international market” that Apple, Google and Microsoft develop for, and Japan’s domestic market. Take for instance emoji MMS: ubiquitous on all Japanese handsets, and more importantly a cornerstone of Japanese handset usage. But trying to get that same core functionality set up on the iPhone or on Android is a real chore, because neither of those OSes are designed to be compatible with Japan’s unique emoji-MMS-via-email infrastructure. (SoftBank gets around this by setting up servers to handle specifically the iPhone, and even then it’s still buggy; Android relies on 3rd-party emoji apps to properly format and send messages, but works on DoCoMo only; the same problems exist for WM.)

    One nice thing about Japanese phones that have these “vanilla” utilitarian OSes is that there’s almost no learning curve. I can pick up almost any phone, press the center button and 0, and grab my contact info (for quick exchange via infrared). Ignoring the lack of an infrared port, I would have to download a separate QR code app on either my iPhone or Milestone and jump through extra menus to accomplish the same task; more if I want to deal with bluetooth pairing.

    So really, Japanese handset makers and Apple/Google/Microsoft are playing completely different games. As much as we, the tech savvy, would like to see these handsets paired with better OSes, we aren’t their (DoCoMo, SoftBank, KDDI) main customers. It might make us happy to see Android on a device like the F-04B, but most middle-of-the-road users don’t care (and would probably only care if licensing Android increased the cost of their handsets).

    Of course there are plenty of people in Japan who are very interested in a more modern phone OS (relative iPhone and Android popularity shows this), but as long as iPhone/Android/WM devices don’t have the necessary hardware to take advantage of Japan’s keitai infrastructure (1seg, osaifu, seki-gaisen, etc), I feel most users will still be drawn to Japan’s domestic featurephones regardless of OS.

    (Plus, and more importantly, the business of importing phones like the iPhone or HTC devices requires heavy subsidization or high point-of-sale costs, another “bag of hurt” that makes potential Japanese buyers think twice.)

  • AppleJuice

    is the font size adjustable by the user?

    from the pictures, it appears the fonts
    are somewhat small…. not very good for
    elderly users like myself…. :(



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