Infobar C01 by Naoto Fukasawa

The Infobar C01 is designed by Naoto Fukasawa and offered through the iida brand on Japan’s KDDI au. The 3.2-inch LCD sports a 854×480 pixel format for a resolution of 306 ppi. The front screen is a completely overhauled Android skin that makes use of a tile-like metaphor, but easier on the eyes than Windows Phone 7. The C01 is similar to the A01 in display resolution (298 v. 306), but with a smaller display (3.7 v. 3.2) and less pixels (960×540 v. 854×480). The biggest difference between the two is the full numeric keypad on the narrower C01.

In a world of touch keyboards or physical QWERTY keyboards, the numeric keypad on a candybar style Android smartphone seems out of place at first, despite it’s cool factor. It might be just an evolution from the three button design (Menu, Home, Back) of the A01. But then I remembered.

I was in Korea for an extended period of time in 2010 and got the full experience of how mobile phones are used on a daily basis by the most connected population on earth. Most everyone, from children to grandparents, text as the default mode of mobile communication. In the U.S. we text to send short messages, but in Korea texts grow to multiple pages, rapidly banged out on numeric keypads.

It took a little while, but texting in Korean is nothing like texting in English using a numeric keypad; it might seem unbelievable, but it is much easier compared to even a full QWERTY keyboard.

The speed at which the younger generations text is mind blowing. And most are able to text without looking precisely because there is tactile feedback. At the moment this is not possible on an on-screen numeric keypad or keyboard. My assumption is Japan is like Korea where texting on physical numeric keypads is the norm.

Packing a radically reskinned Android UI, playful colors, and an unusually long chassis thanks to the numeric keypad, the Infobar C01 was designed for the Japanese who fancy playful, is on the go, and depends heavily on texting for mobile communications. I like the leather case, too.