DoCoMo's new phones feature touch panel, smell

Clamshell model equipped with touch and display screens; "aroma" model gives off scents intended to relax the user. Photos: DoCoMo's thin, colorful phones

Japan's top wireless operator, NTT DoCoMo, unveiled on Tuesday a mobile phone featuring a touch-sensitive screen, like the popular Nintendo DS portable game console, and another model that gives off a relaxing scent.

DoCoMo's D800iDS, made by Mitsubishi Electric, opens up like a clamshell and is equipped with screens on both upper and lower halves, rather than the typical design of one display and a number keypad.

Users input characters by writing on the touch screen with their fingers or a stylus. They can also call up an on-screen keypad to dial a number or type a message, or touch the buttons shown on the display to browse the menu screens.

Nintendo's DS similarly opens like a book and lets users control play with a stylus.

The touch-screen is also one of the key features of Apple's iPhone, an eagerly anticipated mobile device combined with the iPod digital music player that was unveiled this month by the U.S. electronics maker.

DoCoMo said its new handset, which is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in February, would let users send handwritten messages and drawings as e-mail attachments and also offer a wider scope for games and other entertainment software.

The Japanese operator unveiled nine other mobile phones on Tuesday, including a model made by Sony Ericsson that features a 3-inch Bravia flat-panel screen, borrowing the brand of Sony's flagship TVs.

The operator said the "DS" in the name of the new touch-panel handset stands for "direct and smooth," the concept on which the design was based, and has no link with Nintendo's products.

Aroma phones
Sony Ericsson also made a new "aroma" handset for DoCoMo, the SO703i, which comes with scented sheets designed to relax the users while making calls. The phone offers nine aroma choices for the consumer, each coupled with a different panel design.

KDDI, Japan's No. 2 phone operator, also introduced 10 new handsets on Tuesday in a bid to grab more customers from DoCoMo in the months leading up to March, the end of the fiscal and academic year in the country.

KDDI's lineup includes a digital TV phone featuring Sharp's flat panel and "Media Skin," a model designed by artist Tokujin Yoshioka that was selected to be a part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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