The Docomo Kyocera KY-01L Card Keitai came out in late 2018 and it is an E INK Android phone, about the size of a credit card. You can’t really purchase this outright, instead you have to get a two year plan on a fully featured phone and they threw this in as an incentive. After a few years this is no longer available to purchase, and lots these Keitais are available via third party markets.
The Docomo Kyocera KY-01L Card Keitai features a 2.4 inch E INK Carta touchscreen display with a resolution of 600 x 480 and 333 PPI. It has a frontlit display, so you can read in the dark. Underneath the hood is an Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 (MSM8909W) Quad-core 1.1GHz processor, 8GB of internal storage and 1GB of RAM. It is powered by a 380mAh battery and although it is running Android 8.1, you cannot sideload in your own apps, but can download pictures from the internet via WIFI or 3G/4G connection. Supported bands via the Nano SIM are 3G UMTS HSDPA UMTS 800, 850, 1900, 2100 MHz and 4G is FDD-LTE 800, 2100(Band 1, 19). You can plugin a pair of wireless earbuds via Bluetooth 4.1 and has a MicroUSB port to transfer data and charge it. It is also certified iPX2, for light spills. It measures just 91mm x 55mm x 5.3mm (3.6″ x 2.2″ x 0.2″) and weighs about 47 grams (1.7 ounces)..
The retail box has a black color scheme. On the front of the packaging is an outline of the phone, to scale. It also mentions the model name and Docomo. The side of the box has the serial number and IMEI. Inside of the box is a wall charger, USB cable and warranty information, but it’s in Japanese. Although the phone itself can be changed to English.
The whole phone is also black. The screen is flush with the bezel. On the front of the device are soft keys for back and home. On the right hand side are the volume up and down buttons, on the top is a power button and sleep button. On the left side is the Nano Sim port and there is a loop for accessories. There is a mic on the bottom and a speaker, also a Micro USB port.
This is a very minimalist phone. There are a series of icons on the home screen, such an internet browser, settings menu, contact list, messaging client, clock, notepad and calendar. The entire phone has a system wide dark mode, so all of the text is white, while the background is black.
The Keitai is running Android 8.1, but does not have the ability to download apps, it is just a heavily skinned OS with very limited functionality.
Since this is a basic phone, let’s look at the features, one by one. The phone icon opens up a touchscreen dialer, you can type in numbers and there is little beeps that emit from the speaker. You can view incoming and outgoing calls, as well as access your voicemail. At the top is your profile and 3 dots, which can add a new contact, delete call history and edit call settings.
Contacts is where you are likely going to spend the most time. You can add them, delete or edit. There is a call button on each contact, for easy access. Messages are just basic text messages, you can view all your latest ones, or view the contact list, click on a contact and it will open a menu to send them a text message. Sending text messages is a little difficult, since this 2.4 inch screen is not big enough for a full QWERTY keyboard. Instead they are using a T-9 input, so the number 2 as ABC, 3 has DEF. You simply click on the number and a menu appears, swiping down, left, up, or right will give you the desired character.
The web browser is very strong. It will either load up the mobile version or desktop version of a website. This phone does not have multitouch, so you cannot pinch and zoom to make things smaller or bigger, instead you have to rely on the zoom in or zoom out function.
The settings menu can view your network, edit display and sounds, find out the device info, data & time and find out about this phone. Under display and sound you can turn vibrations for incoming calls on or off, establish a wallpaper or change the ringtones. There are 6 ringtones and they are all crappy, you cannot change them.
The Kyocera KY-01L Card Keitai is perfect for a small child, to make calls for emergencies or to setup a pickup time from school.
One of the big benefits is that you can go around 3 weeks of constant usage before you have to recharge it, but if you are talking on phone for hours a day, battery life will be mixed.
Should you buy this phone for a few hundred bucks if you see it available? This is not going to be your daily driver, it is too limiting. The only way I would recommend it is if you are going through a digital detox, but still need to be connected to the world.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.