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Franklint
March 17th, 2014, 12:30
Hey team,

I'm just finalising my Interac documentation (degree photocopy, etc.), and have previously avoided buying a smartphone due to lack of funds. Now that I'm about to secure work until August (nice change from studying), I've worked out that I could afford to upgrade my flip phone (everyone is nagging me to get on Snapchat and Tinder). I was under the impression that foreign handsets didn't work in Japan, but a bit of research shows that they usually do, as long as they're unlocked.

The question is, would I be better off buying a phone here (contractless) and then getting a Japanese SIM, or waiting until August/September and buying a Japanese unit, with a view to eventually bring it back to Australia? Factors to consider are relative price (of the handset, and also of data/roaming costs), and also compatibility (would I have fewer compatibility problems going from Australia to Japan or the other way?).

I did a search and couldn't find much on my situation, so hopefully you phone wizards can help me!

Four-and-a-half months to go! Exciting!!!

Cheers,
Franklint

Azrael
March 17th, 2014, 12:36
get a free phone on contract here and if you leave after a year just pay the 1man fee to break the contact

Jiggit
March 17th, 2014, 12:38
Friend of mine couldn't get his brand new iphone 5 on a contract in Japan and had to get another one. Might be easier with android phones.

coop52
March 17th, 2014, 12:53
Get one here. It'll be easier to just get a phone rather than try to convince the company to do a sim-only contract, especially if you don't have any kind of Japanese skills.

Antonath
March 17th, 2014, 13:06
Wherever you buy, it will be difficult transferring it to the other place. Buying before you come means going off-script with the phone companies when you arrive, which will lead to teeth-sucking and confusion. Buying here means getting them to unlock the phone when you're done, which is also going off-script but to a lesser extent.

If you're going android, keep in mind that some networks (Docomo being one) have their own app for mail, which you may or may not be able to download on a "foreign" smartphone.

zombiekelly
March 17th, 2014, 16:53
Last I heard au wouldn't unlock phones. Did they change their mind?

Jiggit
March 17th, 2014, 17:16
Buying before you come means going off-script with the phone companies when you arrive, which will lead to teeth-sucking and confusion.

Word. I was refused a contract (after over 2 hours of answering questions and filling out forms) because my visa only had a year and a half left on it and I might go home before then. Nothing could change their mind.

Franklint
March 17th, 2014, 20:58
Thanks guys, sounds like it's much easier to get a phone on contract instead of SIM-only. I'll probably lose it before I return to Australia anyway, so sounds like a plan. I'm sure my flip phone can last another four months.


Last I heard au wouldn't unlock phones. Did they change their mind?
Most companies will do it for a fee (around $50), which is good news.

Cheers,
Franklint

Gizmotech
March 18th, 2014, 07:32
Uhh, Japanese companies still won't unlock phones, and no, other companies cannot unlock em for you.

Sooo.... if you get an iphone on contract up here, you will not be taking it home when you are done.

webstaa
March 19th, 2014, 08:32
Uhh, Japanese companies still won't unlock phones, and no, other companies cannot unlock em for you.

Sooo.... if you get an iphone on contract up here, you will not be taking it home when you are done.

Docomo can and will unlock smartphones. Costs ¥3000 - they bust out a fancy yellow SIM and reboot your phone, enter a passcode and boom - done.

The bigger issue is that a phone you buy in Japan will not be able to use data connections in the US, unless you get a Nexus 5 (international version). iPhones included. Phones from the US can connect to a few Japanese networks, but you will not be able to us 3G/4GLTE. AFAIK Australians are SOL. Buy a phone in Japan - it'll probably be cheaper than Australia.

littleanemonefish
March 19th, 2014, 21:39
I'm pretty sure iPhones can connect to most if not any network in japan. I'm still debating, but it's seems from the difficulty of unlocking japanese phones once you're done with them, that I'm should probably just bring my unlocked US iPhone 5s and work on getting a sim-only contract despite the difficulty of this. It will be nice being able to use it if I go to other countries too.


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webstaa
March 19th, 2014, 22:11
I'm pretty sure iPhones can connect to most if not any network in japan. I'm still debating, but it's seems from the difficulty of unlocking japanese phones once you're done with them, that I'm should probably just bring my unlocked US iPhone 5s and work on getting a sim-only contract despite the difficulty of this. It will be nice being able to use it if I go to other countries too.


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It depends on what carrier you get your iPhone from. Apple - iPhone 5 - View countries with supported LTE networks. (http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/) Match up on with a Japanese carrier. Note that LTE is only 1/2 of the phone's connection (but the more important half - data. 3G is generally on UMTS and "4G LTE" is on FDD-LTE and TD-LTE)

Double check with Japan Mobile Tech: Japanese mobile frequency bands (http://www.japanmobiletech.com/2012/03/japanese-mobile-frequency-bands.html) and you'll be fine. (Beware, the second link isn't up to date - it doesn't have all of Docomo or AU 4G bands on it).

Ideally you'll want a Model A1453 (iPhone 5s) or Model A1429 (iPhone 5). You could use these in either country, but outside of the major cities in the US you may not be able to connect to 3G/4G if/when/where it is available. If you have a US iPhone Model A1533 (GSM) or Model A1533 (CDMA), you can use Docomo pretty well (there are three usable bands - other carriers only have one).

littleanemonefish
March 19th, 2014, 23:44
I see. Thanks for the info. I'll have to check it out.


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ihatefall
March 27th, 2014, 14:20
You can get companies to provide you with a sim without a phone but it won't be contract free, it will still have a 2 year contract. (Makes no sense? welcome to the world of Japanese contracts.) Docomo will unlock any phone for 3000 yen, accept for the iphone.
If you buy an unlocked phone, lets say an iphone and take it to docomo to get your "sim contract" you will be limited to the slower networks, no LTE.

Personally, take your pick, I hate them all. I am looking into going fully digital. I want to get rid of Docomo, buy an unlocked iphone 6, get the OCN sim card (or something similar 3000 a month for 7GB of data) and get a skype number. In the last 7 months, I have only had to call a person's cell phone once. Everything else is done through Line. (I know OCN is running on Docomo's network, I just can't deal with the Plebs in their shops.)

littleanemonefish
March 28th, 2014, 08:19
I'm still trying to figure it out. I talked to Apple customer service several times and they all told me my iPhone 5s should work perfectly fine in Japan, but I keep hearing it won't work with the LTE in japan. Is there anyone who has brought an unlocked iPhone 5s over there and gotten a sim contract that can actually confirm this for me? Would I be better off selling it here and getting a new one in japan. I wouldn't really want to do that since I cant get it unlocked :/ having an unlocked iPhone would be so much more convenient, but it would suck if my service was slow in japan.


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ihatefall
March 28th, 2014, 09:07
While the phone is capable of connecting to the LTE (depending on the model you have and the provider you have to sign up with), however at least as of the 5S's release the providers will not let you access it on a "sim contract". It makes no sense I know, but that is the way it is. You could always get a the data SIM cards (OCN, WiMAX, etc.) and a Skype number ($40)

If you think you'll be here for two years then if might be cheaper to sell you phone and get one here.

My 64GB 5S was $0 down. I pay 2000 yen a month for it on my bill that totals 7300 yen

So even if I went to apple and bought an unlocked iphone 5s and signed up for service with that phone, I would be blocked from LTE.

I am thinking about going unlocked iphone and data sim+ Skype number when the 6 comes out. I go to the states every few months and I would like to have one phone instead of keeping my ATT contract


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ihatefall
March 28th, 2014, 09:08
I also should point out that most people coming will have to use AU or Docomo because they have the best coverage. So while doing your research keep that in mind. Check the channels you phone uses and Au or docomo uses


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