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Thread: Japan and Phones

  1. #41

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    Oh wow that's very expensive from what I can see. It sucks that its not much cheaper if I bring my own phone. I'd rather not use an iPhone, and I just bought myself an HTC One M8 which I'd be happy using for the next 2+ years anyway. I'll check the band numbers, hope for the best, buy myself out of the contract, hope that I can unlock it, go to Japan, hope that someone sells me a sim, and again, hope for the best.

  2. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Viral View Post
    Oh wow that's very expensive from what I can see. It sucks that its not much cheaper if I bring my own phone. I'd rather not use an iPhone, and I just bought myself an HTC One M8 which I'd be happy using for the next 2+ years anyway. I'll check the band numbers, hope for the best, buy myself out of the contract, hope that I can unlock it, go to Japan, hope that someone sells me a sim, and again, hope for the best.
    Do you consider 80/mo for full smart phone service expensive? I'm pretty happy with that, hopefully I'll be able to make that number work when I go get a contract... I considered unlocking, but wow is it a pain in the ass in the first place. From what people there have told me, no one at a phone place will sell you just a simcard without a phone/prepaid or contract and if you do happen to find one, they don't fit anyway so you have to cut it (for iPhone at least..)

  3. #43

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    I also find that very expensive. I am on 200 MB data right now, send like 100 texts a month and make almost no calls. I had a pre paid phone before and paid about $100 over 8 months for the phone and voice/text. I'm just not a heavy user.

    I'm thinking I'll get a crappy phone and just put the sim card in my unlocked galaxy s4. Hope that works.
    Last edited by singinglupines; April 10th, 2015 at 04:41.

  4. #44
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    This is going to sound like a silly question, but in my case, I have a Galaxy Note 4 instead of an iPhone, and I've mostly seen the iPhone being discussed so I just want to clarify. Things like sim cards are relatively easy to switch in and out on this model - would it still be easier just to get a new phone? (I already kind of assumed I would just have to get a new phone anyway, so the price break-down was super helpful!)

  5. #45

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    I don't think $80/month is that bad, especially for an unlimited data plan. If you're not a heavy data user in America you may find that your usage will go up in Japan. Google Maps is almost essential for finding your way around Japan, and you're going to have a lot of downtime during your free periods at school where you'll want to surf Reddit or something. I think American plans with ~5gb/month are something similar, like $60/month.


    Frayedflower - Unfortunately I know nothing about Android phones. I would only imagine that the higher end models have plans like the iPhone, but I would also imagine that there's more variation in pricing given the variation in phones running Android OS. Also, I remember reading online somewhere that Japanese carriers can detect when you're using an out-of-country unlocked phone with one of their SIM cards, and they'll charge you an arm and a leg extra for it. I can't find a trustworthy source that shows definitively that's the case, though. Your best bet (as is everyone who goes to Japan) is to ask the other JETs in your prefecture what they have. They'll be able to tell you what carrier has the best reception in your area and give you recommendations on what to get.

  6. #46

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    Yes, it's expensive. From the links, those 'unlimited' data plans are 5gb or so (i.e not unlimited).

    On my HTC One M8 with unlimited calls & texts and 6gb data for £28/ month ($41.20 USD).

  7. #47
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Viral. Stop hoping and thinking like this is Europe. Japan is a cellular backwater. My mate did EXACTLY what you are saying, ended up having a shit first few months, then eventually just bought himself a phone over here. He regrets every minute of it because you kind of need your phone here to work, and this whole "well I'll just hope to find a Japanese retailer that isn't backwater" is just being culturally naive.
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  8. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Viral View Post
    Yes, it's expensive. From the links, those 'unlimited' data plans are 5gb or so (i.e not unlimited).

    On my HTC One M8 with unlimited calls & texts and 6gb data for £28/ month ($41.20 USD).
    Lol I guess I'm used to expensive rates in the US? With the salary we get on JET though, I'm not too worried about it (I guess that's an esid thing but everyone I've talked to about phones whose there has no complaints with their plans). Especially since I will readily admit I'm SUPER dependent on my iphone :P

  9. #49

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    Well subsidy vs discount aside, you'll probably be doing VERY little talking on the phone. Facetime, Hangouts, and Line etc are data usage. Which means you could get a phone and data only SIM and be OK. In fact, several JETs in my region do exactly that. And most carriers are pretty flexible about data - on Softbank you can log in and change your data charge plan every month if you want - for example if your internet connection gets knocked out by storm and you're on your phone alone for a week or so...

    And you don't have to gamble on the contract discounts either - just get a used phone from a recycle (second-hand) shop in Akiba etc and get a data-only SIM on the cheap. Most of the data-only SIM vendors are reselling one of the big three's network, so compatibility isn't usually a problem.

  10. #50

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    ^ True. The landscape for the way people use their cellphones in Japan has changed within the past few years and continues to change. I imagine most people just use LINE VoIP instead of actually calling. LINE wasn't really a thing even 3 years ago, so there was a need for limited calling then. Best thing is really to talk to other JETs in your area and see what they do.

  11. #51
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    Why aren't you people ever receiving phonecalls?
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  12. #52
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    I was unaware my phone was subsidized. My sempais were not communicating very well with the au people, who themselves pride themselves on lackluster communication skills. I was told the break down of the phone would be ~¥2500 per month, and the data plan ~5000. So my bill is generally in the ~8000 area. All of that is fairly comparable with American rates I think, although you can pay a lot more for data, and I paid a lot less for shittier service(virgin mobile still won't stop sending emails begging me to come back). ¥8000 seems a little steep for a plan, but since it works out the same, who cares?

    I reiterate though, just buy the phone when you get here. There is absolutely no good reason not to do so, and that's coming from one of the most miserly jerks here. I spend money on almost nothing, but don't think twice about my phone bill.
    Also don't make the mistake of thinking that you won't use it much. Aside from the maps issue Xander brought up, the culture here is extremely phone centric and when you see everyone from blind obaasans to the jhs table tennis team crammed together on a train peering at their phones, you don't want to be the asshole trying to read a book or staring back at the people pretending they're not staring at you.

    A few tips though: calls made from the phone will almost always cost money, if a negligible amount. There's no anytime minutes here unless you pay extra, and you shouldn't because there are plenty of apps for that. Also, the native messenger app costs loads for international texts. This might be specific to my experience (iPhone on AU) but I imagine it's probably the same for all.

    Also, buy a portable charger. Off amazon, or online anyway. You can get one that holds a few charges online for about ¥4000, which is only a little more than you'll find the single charge ones everywhere in the stores. My phone battery used to last all day with energy to spare, but now less than a year in, it can run out in 8 hours if I'm using it constantly. It still holds a charge well enough, but it's noticeably worse.

  13. #53

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    So you can literally just not get a plan for making calls? What about contacting your supervisor and stuff, wouldn't you need a call plan for that for that? Or are you saying there are other apps to make calls directly to Japanese numbers through data? I'm a little confused on that.

    Also, are the iPhone chargers the same as in America? Like the plug that goes into the iPhone? Thinking about getting a portable charger to use when I bring my current iPhone over as an iPod, so I wonder if I can just continue to use it on my new phone.

  14. #54

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    I think they're onto the data-only LINE people. It's a bit of a haze, but I definitely remember sitting in the cellphone shop with my sempai trying to negotiate the same data-only deal they were on, but AU said they were cutting that plan. My bill is still only ~¥8,500, though. It doesn't change how any of us use our phones - there are just these unused minutes floating around. I only get phonecalls when there's bad weather in the morning and my JTE calls frantically at 7am because he thinks I might be dead. (What good calling will do, I have no idea.)

  15. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by weepinbell View Post
    So you can literally just not get a plan for making calls? What about contacting your supervisor and stuff, wouldn't you need a call plan for that for that? Or are you saying there are other apps to make calls directly to Japanese numbers through data? I'm a little confused on that.
    This is the 21st Century. If I need to contact someone, it's almost always faster and easier to send them an email - although it depends who you're contacting. Luckily, my supervisors all contact me either by land-line at the school or email. The only phone calls I use my cell phone for are international contacts I can't use other methods with.

    And you can call to/from regular phones from LINE with their paid service. It seems to work fine for my friends who use it. Although I'm still stuck in a regular contract, so I don't have any experience using it.

    Softbank changed their plans a few months ago, and probably every carrier will do that now and again.

    Apple chargers are the same. If you have a problem, get a shitty generic USB charger and a USB/lightning cable.

  16. #56
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    what a carefree and whimsical life you must lead.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by frayedflower View Post
    This is going to sound like a silly question, but in my case, I have a Galaxy Note 4 instead of an iPhone, and I've mostly seen the iPhone being discussed so I just want to clarify. Things like sim cards are relatively easy to switch in and out on this model - would it still be easier just to get a new phone? (I already kind of assumed I would just have to get a new phone anyway, so the price break-down was super helpful!)
    I bought a Note 4 on release date, not too long before I was upgraded. I still have it sitting on my table, gathering dust. I tried to negotiate with Softbank and they wouldn't even try. Besides that, the Note 4's bootloader is locked - and the AT&T version can NOT be rooted. As far as I know only your carrier can unlock it to be used on other carriers, and good luck with that.

  18. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    Viral. Stop hoping and thinking like this is Europe. Japan is a cellular backwater. My mate did EXACTLY what you are saying, ended up having a shit first few months, then eventually just bought himself a phone over here. He regrets every minute of it because you kind of need your phone here to work, and this whole "well I'll just hope to find a Japanese retailer that isn't backwater" is just being culturally naive.
    Umm. I'm not. I will go there, attempt to somehow get my HTC working, and if it doesn't, THEN I'll sort something else out. I'm not going to just jump into £60/month without testing out a cheaper alternative. If it helps, I'm not going with JET, and I will be in Tokyo so it's a lot easier for me in that sense.

  19. #59
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    hate to break it to you but i drop 120gbp a month on my phone. if you can get away with 60 then take it
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  20. #60

    Default Re: Japan and Phones

    Quote Originally Posted by weepinbell View Post
    So you can literally just not get a plan for making calls? What about contacting your supervisor and stuff, wouldn't you need a call plan for that for that? Or are you saying there are other apps to make calls directly to Japanese numbers through data? I'm a little confused on that.
    You can always make calls from your phone - the plans are to keep the cost per minute down. So instead of being like 30 cents/minute you'd pay $10/month extra to make that 5 cents/minute, or something like that. You will end up making calls. Maybe it won't be to your friends, but instead to things like your schools, JTEs, supervisors, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, businesses, taxi services, etc.

    I think it comes down to how much of a headache do you want to give yourself in researching phones to try to get the very best deal you want. You could do a ton of research when you're there and spend a few weeks phoneless until you figure out the exact plan you want...or you can just get the normal general package that works for most people. I did the basic plan - 2 year contract, get a phone when I sign up, get the basic voice option (this also gives you voice mail - yes, you have to pay extra for that, at least I did), and boom you're done. A lot of JETs will get their phone on their second day in their prefecture, since it could take a few weeks (to a few months) to get your internet installed, and most of us want to be connected to the internet and to each other ASAP.

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