• Kyodo News

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Softbank Corp. said Thursday it will begin selling 15 new mobile phone models in 64 colors by the end of the year as it battles for market share against rivals in a saturated market.

Softbank’s new lineup, which includes the country’s slimmest handset, at 12.3 mm and a phone with 5 million-pixel digital camera, will hit the market starting early next month.

Starting Sunday, the Softbank group, which includes Yahoo Japan Corp., will offer new services, including one that allows users with the new handsets to access Yahoo! Keitai, a mobile phone Web portal, at the touch of a button. The phones will let people surf the Net almost as easily as with a personal computer, the company said, adding that it will offer most content free of charge, unlike its competitors.

Softbank’s mobile phones will have access to the most content in the world, Softbank President Masayoshi Son claimed at a Tokyo news conference.

“I now feel as if I’m about to enter the ring for a match,” Son said, saying the Internet and telecom conglomerate has done all it can to outshine KDDI Corp. and industry leader NTT DoCoMo Inc.

To better compete with its bigger domestic rivals and prepare for the start of mobile number portability on Oct. 24, Softbank, which earlier this year acquired Vodafone K.K., from its British parent, said it now has the largest lineup of mobile phones in Japan.

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