Help Non-bike Post : SIM-only contract

Aug 27, 2012
581
234
73
London, UK
www.macrophotofly.com
#1
Apologies for the non-bike post. Does anyone know the latest, if you can get either
(i) Smart phone (ie iPhone or similar) on 1 year contract, or
(ii) Buy the iPhone outright and then get a SIM-only contract with voice and data, or
(iii) Buy the iPhone outright and then get a pay as you go SIM with voice and data ?
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
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Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#3
For Softbank, I have used a Softbank SIM from a cheap feature phone, added a Smartphone data plan to it and used it with unlocked Android phones purchased abroad. It took some work to configure the APNs for data access and SMS, but there was no particular problem with Softbank.

When I recently switched to au, I asked if I could use my existing Android with one of their SIMs, but they claimed they did not support that. It sounded like all their plans include a phone of some sort, though I suppose one could switch the SIM into another phone and try to reconfigure it the way I did for Softbank.

No idea what the situation is with docomo.

BTW, whatever happened to the plan announced by the government a few years ago to have all new phones be unlocked and allow older phones to be unlocked at the users' request? It seems to have quietly been dropped.
 
Likes: GSAstuto

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
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tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#4
@Joe , welcome to Galapagos! I kicked myself when going to TW in not getting a cheap wifi mobile point. They are less than 1000y/day unlimited. Why bother with packet? Except in Japan where the service is spotty, unreliable and expensive.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,435
886
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#5
When I traveled to Canada, not having data access except WiFi in the hotel room, the conference rooms and some coffee shops was really irritating, as we were relying on instant messaging a lot.

A friend of mine from the US had a phone with data plan from T-Mobile that has some form of flat rate data coverage for most countries, though not necessarily LTE, could be 3G or GSM depending on the location. It sounded like he's paying less than I do with au in Japan. That would really be sweet. If I could use Line / WhatsApp / Skype anywhere, I would hardly need a phone plan.
 
Aug 27, 2012
581
234
73
London, UK
www.macrophotofly.com
#6
Many thanks for the thoughts so far. I've just found this data-only card that appears to be one answer, I have been looking into buying a ipod touch + wi-fi point (something like this) Or buying a sim-free Android phone from Amazon and then only using it for data with prior mentioned card.

Can anyone see any problems with these ideas?

I could use Line / WhatsApp / Skype anywhere, I would hardly need a phone plan
agreed

can't you just call AU, Softbank or Docomo? Surely they can tell you.
My Japanese isn't good enough yet to negiotiate phone contracts. I will pop down to Softbank in Roppongi this weekend though, as they advertise they speak English
 

kubatyszko

Speeding Up
Jul 29, 2012
79
24
38
Shinagawa, Tokyo
#11
According to softbank, only thieves and criminals use unlocked phones, so forget it.
Japan is a strange country, anything that you thought is normal "in the west" doesn't apply...

No mobile operator will sell you a bare SIM, and even if you could do that, there is no "official" way of getting the APN settings for data etc (although getting them via other means is quite easy).
In theory, if they catch you using unauthorized phone that you did not buy from them you could end up paying the full fee for data (which often goes into ridiculous millions of JPY) - in practice, I don't think this has ever happened on a large scale but I have heard of some people ending up paying large bills due to wrong APN settings (they used different one than expected for "pakehodai").

In 2009 I got a new HTC magic from Google for free (attended their event), it took me a while but I was the first person in Japan to make it work with data and MMS [my blog post here]. To my surprise, Softbank actually blocks phones that were not sold by them (recognized by HTTP user-agent containing the word Softbank). I think this might have changed by now, at that time iPhone was the only "foreign" smartphone, nowadays with such a large number of smartphones I don't think it's feasible for them to flash the firmware to include their string in the useragent.

I've heard of quite a few people doing what joewein did - get a cheapest phone (ideally with similar OS to the one you will use), and switch the sim to yours - this way the changes of them catching you are the lowest.