I picked up a new cell phone last week. The AU Casio A3012CA.
The basic reason is because A.U. has a special for students. 1/2 off their service. That's $16 a month instead of $32. The phone only cost $80 and my current bill at DoCoMo is around $50 a month so it will only take 3 months to be cheaper.
The phone does have some nifty gadgety features though. One, like my old J-Phone phone it's got a camera.
But, unlike my J−Phone phone it has to option to take 640x480 pictures. Here's an example
Both of those pictures are un−retouched. For the small pictures there are also options to put borders/captions etc around the pictures kind of like Purikura.
It's also got GPS so you can ask for a map, it will ask you for permission to send your location to the server and then it will give you a map of where you are and you can navigate around.
Pretty much all the various companies' cell phones and be used as a modem for a PDA or Notebook with the correct cable although usually only at 9.6k. These new A.U phones support 144k though which they can also use for browsing the web on the phone making it a little faster. They charge more for fast data though so you can set in the phone if you want to use the original service or the new fast service.
A.U. also supports phone to phone voice e−mail. The advantage over regular voice mail is that with regular voice mail you might interrupt your friend. With voice e−mail that won't happen. I suspect it's not used that much but you never know. Of course your friend has to have a phone that supports it too.
The newest A.U. phones also support Java for various games/apps like the both J−Phone and DoCoMo. I don't think either AU or DoCoMo support 3D yet like J−Phone. Crazier yet, you can buy a gamepad for A.U phones.
Over my last two phones this one has a much much clearer, brighter display and it's 26000 colors instead of 4096. I wonder how they come up with 26000 colors?
So far I've only found a few minor things I liked better from my DoCoMo N503i phone. The N503i has a *desktop* as in you can put icons on it. I had an icon that I could select with 2 clicks that would start an e−mail to myself at home so I could easily send reminders home. So far I haven't found any kind of shortcut system in my new phone or at least not one that will start with a pre−addressed e−mail. The other is the browser in the N503i seemed to be more forgiving meaning it would display more pages without just crapping out and saying "undisplayable". It's also true that DoCoMo/iMode having like 65% of the market has more support. For example I can't read the Japanese gaming news site, gamespot, on this phone specifically because gamespot checks for the browser and only supports iMode phones.