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Konichiwa, NEC

NEC shows up at the GSMA World Congress in Barcelona with their cool Japan-only cell phones.

Kent German/CNET Networks

With its international focus, the GSMA World Congress offers great opportunities to see what smaller handset manufacturers are up to. We get enough Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Nokia news, so it's nice to see a different perspective. Our U.S. readers might remember NEC's brief entry into the American cell phone market. In 2003 and 2004, the Japanese company put out two phones for the old AT&T Wireless, the 525 HDM and the 515 HDM, before departing the States for good. Their brief stay was disappointing, since we liked the two models we saw (the 525 HDM won CNET's Editors' Choice award), and since then we've only gotten our hands on unlocked handsets like the NEC L1, N908 and 535 HDM.

The FOMA N705 is thin indeed. Kent German/CNET Networks

In Barcelona I spied some very cool models in the company's booth. One my favorites was the NEC FOMA N705i for NTT DoCoMo. This supremely thin (0.38 inch) handset has an understated but striking style with clean lines and little clutter. A number of designs are available, but I looked at this snappy red model with the tiny LED dots that serve as the external display. Features include a bright 3-inch display, HSDPA support, and a camera with video and geotagging. It's also one of the first Limo Foundation handsets.

The nifty N905i Kent German/CNET Networks

And speaking of NTT DoCoMo, over in its booth was the N905i. It's another multimedia monster with a cool swiveling display and fantastic video performance.