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Thread: Japan and Phones

  1. #1

    Default Japan and Phones

    So... I'm in the UK and have a smartphone on contract. The contract won't end for another year and a half or so which is annoying, but not much I can do on that front. However, I still want to use it as my phone in Japan instead of shelling out on another smartphone. I don't want to be paying roaming charges etc etc but am not knowledgeable at on the phone front so any help would be... helpful. What is the best idea in Japan? Get a prepaid sim or a contract? What networks are good? Do I need to unlock my phone here (and is that even possible if its on contract)? Assume I have no idea what I'm talking about. I don't.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Over here in the US, you can get out of a phone contract if you meet certain requirements--like moving to another country, so you might want to look into that.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Thanks moonbeam, will definitely speak to them and see what they say.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Quote Originally Posted by Viral View Post
    So... I'm in the UK and have a smartphone on contract. The contract won't end for another year and a half or so which is annoying, but not much I can do on that front. However, I still want to use it as my phone in Japan instead of shelling out on another smartphone. I don't want to be paying roaming charges etc etc but am not knowledgeable at on the phone front so any help would be... helpful. What is the best idea in Japan? Get a prepaid sim or a contract? What networks are good? Do I need to unlock my phone here (and is that even possible if its on contract)? Assume I have no idea what I'm talking about. I don't.

    There are a couple of threads with excellent info about this, but it boils down to two things: Does your phone have the necessary radios to work on any of Japan's carriers? Look up your phone's specs and see if you have any of the bands listed here for Japan's carriers. Note that that doesn't guarantee coverage, as in a lot of places, there is only one band of 3G/LTE service available, and if it isn't the one your phone has, you're SOL. And second, what carrier you choose/is available. Docomo AFAIK doesn't like activating/providing SIMs for long term residents with overseas models of phones, even ones sold in Japan (like the Nexus line.) Softbank is a bit of a walled garden. Although if you don't need voice service, there are plenty of data only SIM plans, and you can make calls over apps like LINE etc, which most Japanese already have.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Cancel your contract through any means necessary and get a new phone, full stop. I know a few people here with phones from their respective countries, and it's hard as hell to contact them for anything. Do not bother with any of the long and complicated processes of switching out sims, arguing with the Japanese carriers and giving up after hours of fruitless labor. You'll make enough money to pay for your new phone with no trouble.

  6. #6
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Quote Originally Posted by greyjoy View Post
    Cancel your contract through any means necessary and get a new phone, full stop. I know a few people here with phones from their respective countries, and it's hard as hell to contact them for anything. Do not bother with any of the long and complicated processes of switching out sims, arguing with the Japanese carriers and giving up after hours of fruitless labor. You'll make enough money to pay for your new phone with no trouble.
    word

    Seriously; listen to greyjoy here, folks.
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    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    I have a friend from the UK who brought her UK phone with her, bought a data plan for a wireless box, and has to charge it, leave it near her phone, and wake it up every once in a while just to send texts. She can't call, or anything. She saves maybe 2,000 yen a month for pure unadulterated hassle.

    Cancel your contract, get a phone in Japan.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Yeah, cancel the contract and get a new phone in Japan. If you choose to have the cost of the phone built into your plan, there aren't a lot of upfront costs for a new smart phone when you start JET.

    Something that helped me though is that I held onto my old, unlocked phone once I broke contract in the US, and I use it when I go back to the states to visit. I get a temporary sim card for the duration of my stay.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Wow. I just used an unlocked phone and bought a sim card while in Europe. Did not know this was so complicated in Japan.

    edit: did some googling. How necessary is it to have a phone that can make calls? Is a data only sim card good enough? I already have line/skype/whatsapp.
    Last edited by singinglupines; April 7th, 2015 at 01:20.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by singinglupines View Post
    Did not know this was so complicated in Japan.
    You'll be saying this a lot....
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    You'll be saying this a lot....
    I'm beginning to notice this...

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Cut it out with the ellipses...
    車庫 B1F

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by singinglupines View Post
    Wow. I just used an unlocked phone and bought a sim card while in Europe. Did not know this was so complicated in Japan.

    edit: did some googling. How necessary is it to have a phone that can make calls? Is a data only sim card good enough? I already have line/skype/whatsapp.
    You can totally go to a recycle shop and pick up a shitty used phone and get a data only sim for around 2500 a month. I've made maybe 6 phone calls in the last 6 months or so, and that is probably high for most JETs. But Japanese carriers aren't likely to unlock their phones (used or new) unless you're leaving the country (and not coming back.) Especially Docomo. AFAIK Softbank doesn't unlock their phones at all. Don't really know about AU's policy.

    But you'll probably end up paying full price for an 'unlocked' or international version of the phone off of Rakuten/Amazon, go to get a sim only plan and discover that suddenly nobody wants to sell you one. Japanese carriers are pretty shitty like that. On rare occasion, they'll look up what radio bands your phone has, discover that it only has 1 or 2 and tell you muri, muri. Or that they don't sell a compatible sim card for that phone (full vs micro vs nano) which is just an excuse to tell you no.

    The most 'foolproof' plan is to get a phone from a carrier, pay the 'full cost' up front, and sell it to a recycle shop when you leave. Take that money and put it towards a new phone where you go after that. This seems to work pretty well for iPhones - a lot of Japanese friends who really like the iPhone will wipe and sell their old device whenever a newer model comes out (after getting the new model of course.)

  14. #14

    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Quote Originally Posted by webstaa View Post
    You can totally go to a recycle shop and pick up a shitty used phone and get a data only sim for around 2500 a month. I've made maybe 6 phone calls in the last 6 months or so, and that is probably high for most JETs. But Japanese carriers aren't likely to unlock their phones (used or new) unless you're leaving the country (and not coming back.) Especially Docomo. AFAIK Softbank doesn't unlock their phones at all. Don't really know about AU's policy.

    But you'll probably end up paying full price for an 'unlocked' or international version of the phone off of Rakuten/Amazon, go to get a sim only plan and discover that suddenly nobody wants to sell you one. Japanese carriers are pretty shitty like that. On rare occasion, they'll look up what radio bands your phone has, discover that it only has 1 or 2 and tell you muri, muri. Or that they don't sell a compatible sim card for that phone (full vs micro vs nano) which is just an excuse to tell you no.

    The most 'foolproof' plan is to get a phone from a carrier, pay the 'full cost' up front, and sell it to a recycle shop when you leave. Take that money and put it towards a new phone where you go after that. This seems to work pretty well for iPhones - a lot of Japanese friends who really like the iPhone will wipe and sell their old device whenever a newer model comes out (after getting the new model of course.)
    Thanks! Super helpful. I wanted to take my unlocked galaxy s4 that I think is compatible (checked band stuff today), but if I can't get a sim card, the other options are good to know!
    Last edited by singinglupines; April 7th, 2015 at 08:44.

  15. #15
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    you can just use shitty pre paid data sims but its not really a good substitute for a normal phone. If you dont have a home phone line you are going to need to give out contact details to people and I doubt the yamato transport delivery driver or the pizza delivery boy is going to want to become line friends with you.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  16. #16
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Your BoE will likely require you to have a contact number of some form anyways. They will never use it, but they will likely require it.

    Honestly, just get a cheap ass smartphone when you get over here, bite the bullet on the monthly cost and live a life of hassle freeness.

    Also, any phone announced after july this year (announced is important btw) on a japanese carrier will be able to be unlocked under the new rules (in theory).
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    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    Your BoE will likely require you to have a contact number of some form anyways. They will never use it, but they will likely require it.
    To be fair I get calls from my supe from time to time. Guess it all depends, though.

  18. #18
    Member fairiehearts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    This all sounds very very confusing.

    I have a fairly new unlocked phone (OnePlus One) that I want to use in Japan... but by the looks of it, It may only work in the major metropolitan areas.

  19. #19
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Just don't bother. Get a new phone here.
    Quote Originally Posted by 00Bear00 View Post
    When I read your post I suddenly feel like I am so far away from being crazy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

  20. #20
    Looking for some chaw acpc2203's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    I'm thinking of getting by with a dumb phone and just using wifi on my old smart phone. Is this feasible in most places? I know everyone uses line to communicate these days, but having a smart phone heavily contributes to me dicking around and being unproductive.

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