Japanese smartphone manufacturers are to release new ranges in the coming months that are designed to win back market share from Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

Both KDDI Corp. and NTT DoCoMo Inc. have announced plans for new handsets equipped with a range of new functions.

The smartphone market is growing rapidly in Japan, with the number sold in 2010 leaping to 8.55 million units. Of that total, iPhones accounted for close to 40 percent.

To try to whittle down the US firm's lead, Japanese developers are using innovation and ingenious designs.

KDDI is releasing six new models of smartphone this summer, as well as six new conventional cell phones that are specific to this summer.

The new models all feature the Android 2.3 operating system and common functions, such as the "mobile phone wallet," infrared light communication and e-mails. All the models also support Win High Speed, the expanded system that permits downlink speeds of up to 9.2 Mbps and a maximum uplink rate of 5.5 Mbps.

The Aquos Phone IS12SH is equipped with eight-megapixel twin cameras that can shoot 3D movies and 3D LED, while the IS11SH has a function to play 3D videso and has a sliding board with a numeric keyboard to make it easier to use for users who are not familiar with touch panels.

The Regza Phone IS11T has a full keyboard and mobile Regza engine 4.0 to support high-quality visual services, while the G'z One IS11CA is a smartphone designed for active people as it is shock-resistant and designed to prevent damage from dust and water.

NTT DoCoMo is bringing out no fewer than 24 new mobile devices, including nine smartphones, the largest and most diverse collection of smartphones it has ever released at one time, the company said.

"The smartphone lineup offers user-friendly features for tethering, mobile-wallet and infrared-based data exchange, plus downlink speeds of up to a theoretical maximum of 14 Mbps from early June," the company said.

Users of the P-07C are able to personalize the stand-by screen, while the Infobar A01 model has tile-shaped buttons and improved color in its screen.

With the introduction of the new mobile phones, fully 57 percent of all smartphones sold in Japan use the Android OS, with iPhone representing 38 percent, down from 72 percent in 2009.