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From small smartphone "Rakuten mini" review, Palm Phone comparison to "Rakuten Link" and eSIM!

Rakuten Mobile has released the original smartphone "Rakuten mini" in line with the second recruitment of the free supporter program. The free supporter program is a program that Rakuten, which has become the same MNO as docomo, au and Softbank since fall 2019, recruits free monitors before the full service in spring 2020. You can use domestic and overseas calls and domestic and overseas data communications free of charge.

The author has fallen out of the primary recruitment [5,000] in the fall of 2019, but is revived by the secondary recruitment [up to 20,000]. Thanks to winning at this timing, I felt like I was able to buy the small smartphone “Rakuten mini” released at the same time and get some residual fortune.

  • Rakuten mini

    "Rakuten mini", a compact smartphone that fits comfortably in your breast pocket. Currently, for free supporter program users, only Rakuten mobile retail stores [6 stores] are available: Ebisu, Shibuya Koen-dori, Ikebukuro East Exit, Nagoya Sakae, Shinsaibashi, Kobe Sannomiya. The price is 21,800 yen including tax, but 18,000 yen will be returned at Rakuten Super Point

Rakuten mini features a compact size, as the name suggests. Approximately 106.2 height × 53.4 width × 8.6 mm thickness and weighs about 79 g, it is small and light in recent smartphones with large screens. According to Rakuten Mobile, it is the world's smallest and lightest smartphone equipped with mobile Felica [Osaifu-Keitai]. It is large enough to fit in the palm of your hand, so even if you put it on your neck strap and hang it from your neck, you'll forget it.

  • Rakuten mini

    The display size is about 3.6 inches HD [1,280 x 720 dots], and has a front camera of about 5 million pixels that supports face authentication. OS is Android 9

  • Rakuten mini

    The volume key and power key are on the right side of the screen, and the USB type-C connector and speaker are located on the bottom. There is no SIM card slot to use eSIM. There is also a strap hole in the lower left corner facing the display

  • Rakuten mini

    On the back, in addition to a 16 million pixel camera, Felica's mark and Rakuten logo

  • Rakuten mini

    Included items are AC adapter and USB type-C cable. You can purchase a special vinyl cover that also supports the strap hole at the Rakuten shop [880 yen]

Compare with a small smartphone “ Palm Phone ''

Speaking of palm-sized smartphones, it was released SIM free in the spring of 2019 “Palm Phone, But the Rakuten mini is slightly larger. Both employ a home-launcher that looks exactly like scrolling the icons vertically.

Rakuten mini's CPU is Snapdragon 439, and Qualcomm says that CPU performance is 25% higher and GPU performance is 20% better than Snapdragon 435 used in Palm Phone. When you compare them, the perceived speed, such as the response to scrolling and touching and the startup time of the app, is clearly different.

  • Rakuten mini Palm Phone

    The 3.6-inch "Rakuten mini" [left] and the 3.3-inch "Palm Phone" [right]. Display size and CPU are different, but memory is the same as storage 32GB, RAM 3GB

The battery is 800mAh for Palm Phone and the Rakuten mini is 1,250mAh. The actual battery life is longer for the Rakuten mini. In addition, the number of corresponding LTE bands is large, Wi-Fi covers 5 GHz, and above all the price is 45,630 yen for Palm Phone, the price of Rakuten mini is 21,800 yen, less than half the price.

In a small smartphone confrontation, it can be said that Rakuten mini is a victory. However, the Palm Phone has IP68 dust and water proof performance, but the Rakuten mini's waterproof and dust proof performance is IPX2 and IP5X and drip-proof level. Also, as will be described in detail later, it should be noted that the Rakuten mini adopts eSIM, so the SIM card cannot be removed.

  • Rakuten mini Palm Phone

    Because the display of the Palm Phone [right] has rounded corners, the screen of the Rakuten mini [left] looks extra large. It would be better if Rakuten mini also had a special leather case and strap like Palm Phone …

Osaifu-Keitai is convenient after all

The Rakuten mini is a small smartphone that can be operated without stress and has a good battery life. The rear camera of about 16 million pixels and the front camera of about 5 million pixels are not multifunctional, but they are simple to use and have a filter function and a beautiful skin mode. It's small and light, and it's easy to shake, and the autofocus and shutter speed are slower than the high-end smartphones of each company.

  • Rakuten mini

    Macros can be taken close to 4-5cm. The color is natural and good impression
    [Editorial note: All examples are reduced to 1,200 x 900 dots.]

  • Rakuten mini

    Even subjects with movements such as fountains are clearly visible in detail

  • Rakuten mini

    There is no mode for food, but the feeling of cooking is quite good

  • Rakuten mini

    The night view is truly rough, but the rough texture is suppressed

  • Rakuten mini

    There are also modes that can beautify your skin for portraits and selfies

Like a camera, it is the size and weight that can be worn with a neck strap, so it can be used easily and lightly, which is the real pleasure of a small smartphone. For example, when jogging, running in the pants pocket does not cause the pants to slip down due to the weight of the smartphone [true story …]. What's even nicer in such situations is that Osaifu-Keitai can be used at this size. Although QR code payment has become popular recently, it is still convenient to be able to pass the ticket gate with this one.

  • Rakuten mini

    Osaifu-Keitai can be used in this size. Of course you can also use Google Pay

  • Rakuten mini
  • Rakuten mini
  • For character input, "iWnn IME" [right], which has keys larger than the standard Android "Gboard" [left] and is easy to enter even on small screens, is equipped as standard

  • Rakuten mini

    There is also a function such as displaying a tethering icon on the home screen so that you can switch tethering on / off on the home screen, providing usability to reach itchy places

In addition, as a unique feature of the Rakuten mobile and free supporter program, a beta version of the "Rakuten Link" application that summarizes phone, message and SMS functions is also available. Since it is not pre-installed, you need to add the app yourself.

You can call from the Rakuten Link application because it is a so-called IP phone, so there is no call charge in Japan or overseas. Usage is almost the same as the standard call function. I tried a friend's mobile phone or a landline phone at home, but although I noticed some delay, the sound quality was not bad. If you do not pay much attention to noise and delay, you will not notice an IP phone.

  • Rakuten mini

    In the "Rakuten Link" application, instead of having a different number like other IP phone services, use the Rakuten Mobile contract phone number as it is

As mentioned above, Rakuten mini uses eSIM, so you cannot replace the SIM card. However, it seems that you can additionally register another provider that provides eSIM service.

I tried to register IIJmio's eSIM plan using QR code as a trial, and I could register and access it as usual. There is no point in using the paid extra service during the free supporter program, but it may be a good idea to remember if you are considering a transfer in the future. By the way, if you switch to a model other than the Rakuten mini with the free supporter program, a fee of 3,000 yen is required to issue nanoSIM.

  • Rakuten mini

    From "Add a mobile carrier", you can add a service by reading the QR code provided by the eSIM service provider

  • Rakuten mini
  • Rakuten mini
  • When I checked the signal strength near my home using the "NetMonitor Pro" app, it was firmly connected to Rakuten Mobile. The speed also has waves, but over 20 Mbps is out

Lastly, I am worried about how much the Rakuten Mobile network can be used in the first place. The author checks the signal strength everywhere in various places. If the area is already areaed and the outlook is reasonably good, including your home, you are connected without any problems.

As for speed, there are still few users, so it's perfect for the moment. However, roaming of au is still switched in some places, such as in the shadows of buildings or in underground shopping malls, and there are times when it is not possible to connect deep inside the building. What will happen around here? After winning the free supporter program, I would like to closely watch the service in spring 2020.


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