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Why Are Phones From Other Countries So Chic?

I am constantly in awe of technology, specifically cell phones from Asia and Europe. Perhaps I've just grown up thinking of Asia and Europe as fashion epicenters and far more trendy than the US, or maybe I'm just jealous I can't get an 18-Carat Gold Nokia 8800 Sirocco phone, which is available only in Europe, or a LG Candybar Shine, which is only available in Russia. It seems my desire for unattainable cell phones is pretty common.

MSNBC brought up the fact that it's all too easy to feel a little green about non-American cell phones, because they often seem inferior to more glitzy, technologically advanced phones from overseas. One reader even told MSNBC: "The U.S. cellular phone system is ridiculous. …It is an embarrassment to compare your new phone with [those of] your friends from Europe or Asia." Here's more:

So what gives? Why are things in the States so different? Unfortunately it's not an easy question to answer, and if I had the time and the column space I could write a thesis detailing the many reasons. But I have to go for brevity here, so I've simplified it into three main points: competing network, carrier control, and cultural differences. Each of these factors plays a big role in explaining why U.S. users remain a bit behind our overseas friends.

What do you think? Does the technology and appearance of iPhone, BlackBerry (yeah, it's made in Canada, but close enough!) and Helio make up the difference?

Join The Conversation
Magica Magica 10 years
I love my European- bought Nokia N73. I think you can get them in the US too though, but I haven't checked. I always buy my cell phones when I'm in Europe, they're usually a lot cheaper, cuter and more advanced. :)
haydee haydee 10 years
I believe it's because most Europeans and Asians use their phone for other things like music, camera and the likes. We are just slowly catching up to that. Most people in the US still just use their phone for calling. We are really behind when it comes to text messaging, they are just introducing Unlimited plans for texting right now! And they love to accessorize more than we do.
misogi misogi 10 years
I don't get why American cell phones are so nasty, too...there's a big demand for them over here, so why not? I definitely plan on importing cell phones as soon as I can afford to.
reesk reesk 10 years
I spoke to a few phone reps from different companies about this very issue just last week. They said the main reason is that the manufacturers of the "sexy" phones can get them to the market much quicker outside the US - since they don't have to go through FCC regulations and tests. Makes sense. The phones they have in Europe/Asia will be here in 3-5 years due to FCC testing delays (or so I was told).
pinupsweetheart pinupsweetheart 10 years
I would love to have one of those sleek phones from Europe
glam-sugar glam-sugar 10 years
That's a good idea! My new phone is pretty chic but my old one...not really.
Mme-Hart Mme-Hart 10 years
Should we all post a pic of our phones to compare if Euro/Asian ones are truly chic-er?
Mme-Hart Mme-Hart 10 years
Canada should be put on a platinum pedestal for inventing the Blackberry! LOL!!! Go Canucks, Go! (I agree, they don't get enough credit so I was adding some!) I can speak for the French culture in that we demand to have new phones every few months otherwise we can always manage to get out of our contracts with our service providers. Trust me, I've seen it happen a million times. I have a Nokia N70 and I have never seen this phone outside of Europe. I love it, but to me, at 16 months old, it is ANCIENT! LOL! That's just how it is here.... I think a lot also has to do with the company Orange and how they have a stronghold across Europe for seemless coverage. I can also travel around the world and use my phone and it hardly costs anything extra. I have used in on a beach in Venezuela for a 47 minute phone call* as well as in Canada whilst skiing and Prague to search the net. It's funny, because as SOON as my parents (who currently reside in the USA) leave the US, their phones are switched permanently OFF for fear of extra charges and/or no service. That makes no sense to me...if you want to use your phone somewhere, you should be allowed to without penalty. People here trade in phones like you trade in a piece of old chewing gum for a fresh one. Shops are FULL of designer gadgets and gizmos to add bling to your phone, too. I have switched my lanyard about 6 times now...just because (and for cheap, too!) Some people in the USA (it seems to me, I am willing to be proven completely wrong though) use their phones til they are either completely obsolete and/or hardly work anymore or until the end of a contract. It's not like that here...maybe that's why new phones are available on the market all the time! *just to clarify, I wasn't desperate to talk to people on holidays, I was helping my girlfriend who was getting married in 3 weeks calm down and plan stuff--I'm not one of those vacationing people who still carry on with my life back home and talk and text constantly...when I'm away, I seriously reduce my cell usage to emergencies, business stuff and crazy news that can't wait (like, when I found out I was pregnant!!)
inertia inertia 10 years
I was so happy when I went to Japan and could finally get my own super-cute, high-tech phone. A few years later, I went back to the US for a visit and rented a cellphone for the trip. It was hideous! It looked like something from 15 years ago. I was embarrassed to carry the ugly thing. American phones are so un-cute, I wonder if it's done on purpose. Like, do the companies think they have to come up with aggressively blocky and simple designs so customers will think the phone is sturdy?
partysugar partysugar 10 years
Seriously, it's so unfair, Europe has such cool gadgets.
Tech Tech 10 years
I do give Canada credit for the BlackBerry. It's the birthplace of one of my favorite gadgets after all :)
tchan01 tchan01 10 years
Technology plays a bit role. I don't know the techy words/terms, but it definitely does! :-P
tchan01 tchan01 10 years
I agree with bigestivediscuit...I can vouch for the same. I had an inexpensive pay-as-you-go phone when I was in the UK and you'd have to 'top up' (add minutes to your phone) every so often, but I remember loving that lil' sucker! It was compact and really easy to use. It was great and easy to use for text messaging too (unlike my Verizon phone here in the US!), which definitely seems to be more popular in Europe than in the U.S. But, yea...glad I have one at all!
i-heart-monster i-heart-monster 10 years
Hey - Blackberry's made in Canada - give Canada the credit Geek! No close enoughs. I'm not Canadian, but the poor Canadians hardly get credit for anything as it is - at least let them have their Blackberry Glory! I think that the phones in Europe and elsewhere in the world are definitely cuter, but at the same time, I don't really care. My personal phone is an LG Chocolate - kind of a stupid phone. My work mobile is a Blackberry - love it. It's not pretty at all, but its uberfunctional, and that's all that really matters. I can surf the web in the car.
desodaro desodaro 10 years
We Americans really are shafted on cell phones.
ikitty13 ikitty13 10 years
I'm always so jealous when i see the phones my friends have in Europe. Not fair.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 10 years
Seriously, I'm from the US (currently abroad in the UK) and ALL of my friends here - even the CHEAPEST phones - have THE sexiest phones!!! And they pay way less than I do for my contract at home! And I get a clunky, ugly, piece of crap that doesn't do anything!!! I'm not ungrateful - I'm happy I even have a mobile phone since it's expensive, but seriously - why can't we have at least 1/4 of the pretty ones they have here??? *whine*
LuciLu LuciLu 10 years
I would so much rather have a chic looking phone like this one, then one loaded with gadgets I'll never use... but dont get me wrong, i love me some techie gear, but still- I just love the look! :)
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