So, I decided that, nice though the tablet/keitai phone setup was, having a working smartphone is much more handy when moving around. As much as it excels at documents and surfing, I don't terribly like using my old Nexus 7 tablet as a mp3 player. Also, its not as convenient a dictionary as a dinky smartphone you can quickly whip out whenever you spot an offending word*.
For my last trip to Tokyo, I resurrected my old HTC Tattoo by I rooting it, and swapping in my Softbank SIM card (Rooting it was a complete pain, as all the rooting instructions I could find (supposedly specifically for the HTC tattoo) didn't work**). The advantage was that I gained the ability to run programs like LINE and aedict3. However, the Tattoo simply doesn't have the required oomph to operate newer versions of Android, or the apps that run on it. Both the aforementioned apps ran terribly slowly.
So, I spent a couple of days mulling it over before deciding on a Samsung Galaxy Fame S6810 *3*. My primary concerns on purchasing were: Price, a version of Android where I could use the aforementioned apps, and a decent-ish camera. Despite numerous reviews complaining about the sluggishness of the Fame, I anticipated that compared to the 2009 smartphone technology that I was used to, that the Fame would feel nippy enough for me.
Having dabbled with the Fame for a day, I think my anticipations were on the mark. The device feels very powerful in comparison to the Tattoo, and my bread-and-butter apps (currently aedict3, ankidroid, and LINE) run very smoothly, almost as smooth as on my Nexus 7. The budget price only really became much of an issue for me when switching between applications, but the lag-times there are only on the same order as the Tattoo, despite using more intensive applications.
The disparity between the cameras is considerable, as one would hope. This makes optical character recognition very viable on the Fame, which is something that didn't really cross my mind before (I've not been using it up 'till now because the Tattoo sports a terrible camera, and the old Nexus 7 doesn't have the forward facing camera). Google Translate appears particularly competent here, and while I don't go much on some of the machine translations, you can select the source text and paste it into aedict3, or ankidroid, so it remains very useful. Google Translate's handwriting input also seems fairly friendly to slap-dash kanji stroke orders, and again can be copied. I somehow overlooked this feature previously, but may be using it a lot in future.
So in summary, the Fame excels as a handy pocket dictionary, while seeming able to cope with my other modest demands. Certainly a phone I would recommend to anyone after a cheap device that gets the job done.
*ie any word that I don't happen to know..
** that said, anyone with a working knowledge of the linux command line can solve the conundrum with a little thinking. Unfortunately I didn't document the efforts, but I doubt anyone still uses the Tattoo now.
*3* For the record, I purchased from Eternal Communications Ltd. via Amazon.co.uk. Unlike most of the suppliers in England their prices and delivery rates were both reasonable.