IPhone in Japan

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hirlaw
Posts: 239
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:20 am

IPhone in Japan

Post by hirlaw » Mon May 04, 2015 4:01 pm

My wife and I will be traveling to Japan. Does anyone know if an IPhone 5 or 6 works over there? I know that there will be significant roaming and data charges. I am just trying to find out if the IPhone will work at all on the cell network in Japan (Not talking about wi-fi).

Thanks!!

tigermilk
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Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:32 am

Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by tigermilk » Mon May 04, 2015 4:22 pm

It should work, you didn't mention carrier. T-Mobile on their simple choice plan is great. Unlimited text and data at no charge and the call rates aren't bad. If you think you'll call a bunch, you can also get a rental on arrival at the airport (I assume you would arrive at Narita, Osaka, or Nagoya). I've done rentals many times there.

hirlaw
Posts: 239
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:20 am

Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by hirlaw » Mon May 04, 2015 4:46 pm

Thanks for the reply. I am with AT&T. I will probably use it occasionally for checking emails, Google maps when walking around, etc.

mhalley
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by mhalley » Mon May 04, 2015 5:01 pm

Just listened to Clark Howard podcast today, someone called in about phones in Japan. US Iphones (or any us phones) will NOT work over there. Japan has a completely unique cellular system. You will need to buy a phone once you get to Japan, you can NOT just put a Japanese Sim card in a US phone.
Sorry.
Mike

mustangmax09
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Joined: Mon May 04, 2015 5:12 pm

Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by mustangmax09 » Mon May 04, 2015 5:18 pm

US iPhone definitely works in Japan. I have an AT&T iPhone 6 with international data plan and work from Japan 5 out of 6 weeks using my US phone.

One important thing to note is that every 7-11 in Japan has free wifi. If you are in a big city you will always be within a few blocks of a convenience store with free Wifi so you shouldnt have to worry much about data roaming charges.

rcatalano
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Joined: Mon May 04, 2015 5:19 pm

Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by rcatalano » Mon May 04, 2015 5:21 pm

mhalley wrote:Just listened to Clark Howard podcast today, someone called in about phones in Japan. US Iphones (or any us phones) will NOT work over there. Japan has a completely unique cellular system. You will need to buy a phone once you get to Japan, you can NOT just put a Japanese Sim card in a US phone.
Sorry.
Mike
This is completely false. Clark should stick to finance.

rcatalano
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Joined: Mon May 04, 2015 5:19 pm

Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by rcatalano » Mon May 04, 2015 5:34 pm

hirlaw wrote:My wife and I will be traveling to Japan. Does anyone know if an IPhone 5 or 6 works over there? I know that there will be significant roaming and data charges. I am just trying to find out if the IPhone will work at all on the cell network in Japan (Not talking about wi-fi).

Thanks!!
They work fine. Your phone will roam on whatever network it can. This will be very expensive, unless you're on T-mobile. Then it will be very free and very slow.

If your phone is unlocked or a Verizon/Sprint model, I highly suggest getting a Japanese SIM for data: http://www.biccamera.com/bicbic/jsp/w/c ... 5904001709

That's ~$25 for the SIM kit, plus ~$9/month for 3GB of data.

If you have multiple devices, consider getting a mobile hotspot. They typically cost around $5/day.

cessna210
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by cessna210 » Mon May 04, 2015 6:02 pm

We were in Japan and Korea last year with numerous devices in the family including iPhones, Android, laptops, and a tablet or two.

We rented a Pocket Wifi device and a backup battery from Global Advanced Communications: http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/. You need to reserve the device in advance and either pick it up at the airport or have it delivered to your hotel.

While enroute on the plane, I removed everyone's SIMM cards to make sure that no one accidentally started roaming with the associated international charges. Do some searches to read about the horror stories from other travelers. You could also place the phone in airport mode, then turn on Wifi to achieve the same results if you want to take a chance.

I also unlocked one of my iPhones with the thought of picking up a local SIMM card, but the locals didn't want to rent one to me. Can't remember the specifics why.

takeshi
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by takeshi » Mon May 04, 2015 8:37 pm

mhalley wrote:Just listened to Clark Howard podcast today, someone called in about phones in Japan. US Iphones (or any us phones) will NOT work over there.
Definitely consider your sources. I'd suggest using this as a resource for such information:
http://maps.mobileworldlive.com/

christophertowle
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by christophertowle » Mon May 04, 2015 9:16 pm

I go to Tokyo about every 2 months for work and here is my experience:

Best idea is to get international data plan via ATT/VZ, etc. Not sure if your provider will let you turn on for June and then off for July (for example).

If you don't want to do this, you can rent a hotspot at the airport for about $10/day. You use this device to connect your phone via wifi and the data is unlimited. I used 5GB last time I was there and paid daily rate.

You can do chat and calls through google hangout, skype, etc (there are several) to call back home.

They even have some that are basic android phones that you have a local number if you need to make a local call.

Have a great time, if you are there for a week or so and plan to take trains around the country, I would also recommend a JR rail pass that gives you all trains for one pre-pay price that you have to buy BEFORE you get to Japan. It is much better than paying for Shinkansen each time.

mhalley
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by mhalley » Mon May 04, 2015 9:45 pm

Sorry for the incorrect info, just passing along what clark said.
Mike

mhalley
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by mhalley » Mon May 04, 2015 9:51 pm

To correct my misinformation, here is a correct answer. Apparantly clark is sev yrs out of date.
While most newer mobile phone models can be used in Japan, many older phones may not work due to different technologies. Most importantly, there is no GSM network in Japan, so GSM-only phones do not work. The following are needed for a handset to work in Japan:

For Voice - The handset must be compatible with a Japanese mobile phone network (typically 3G UMTS 2100 MHz, 3G CDMA2000 800 MHz, or LTE band 1). Most modern 3G and 4G phones are compatible with one or more of these networks. Compatible handsets may be used via international roaming (check with your home provider for details) or a rental or prepaid SIM card from a Japanese carrier (unlocked handsets only). Alternatively, phones with wireless network (Wi-Fi) connectivity can use internet based telephone services (voip), such as Skype, when connected to a Wi-Fi network.
For Data - Phones that work in Japan for voice (see above) can also receive and send data (such as emails and web content) via international roaming or a rental/prepaid SIM card, but note that the cost for data transfer can easily skyrocket without an appropriate data plan. Alternatively, phones with wireless network (Wi-Fi) connectivity can take advantage of the numerous paid and free Wi-Fi hotspots found around the country.
Mike




Mike

rickberg
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by rickberg » Tue May 05, 2015 8:55 am

I just returned from Japan and you have 2 options:

1) If you have a unlocked phone - you can purchase a SIM and purchase a data only plan. I believe there is some Japanese regulation that limits foreigners from getting a Japanese phone number.

2) Rent a portable WiFi - this will allow any of your devices to connect to this WiFi

I chose the portable WiFi option as this allows you to connect multiple devices and was the cheaper option. The company will ship the device to you at the airport or hotel and you mail it back in a pre-paid envelop when you are done with the device.

mmmodem
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by mmmodem » Tue May 05, 2015 9:17 am

mhalley wrote:Most importantly, there is no GSM network in Japan, so GSM-only phones do not work.
You might want to do more fact checking, just a suggestion.

My family went over to Japan last year with 4 GSM only phones on T-Mobile. The iPhone 4s, 5, & 5s worked as advertised in Japan. The 4s is nearly 4 years old. Data was free, mostly 2G speeds and occasionally 3G. Voice worked fine although expensive. The Samsung GSM phone did not work at all. I'm not going I go into details why as I am not an expert on the subject. Suffice it to say iPhones are world phones and works everywhere there is GSM.

My brother lives in Japan, purchased an iPhone 6 here and uses a Japanese sim there. Works fine except for spotty LTE connections.

hirlaw
Posts: 239
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:20 am

Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by hirlaw » Tue May 05, 2015 11:31 am

Thank you all for your responses!

I have also read about renting a "pocket wi-fi hotspot" while there. Has anyone used those are can you recommend a specific company?

Thanks!!

rickberg
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:36 pm

Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by rickberg » Tue May 05, 2015 12:39 pm

This was the company that I went with. Smooth transaction, worked perfectly.

http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html

virgingorda
Posts: 258
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Location: New England

Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by virgingorda » Fri May 27, 2016 5:53 am

rickberg wrote:This was the company that I went with. Smooth transaction, worked perfectly.

http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html
Thank you for this advice. Just returned having rented the Pocket Walker wifi device. It was great - very stable connection throughout our travels! The battery charge lasts a long time. It is about the size of a smartphone (smaller but fatter and heavier).

One observation: My husband with AT&T iPhone 6 was able to send texts. My Virgin Mobile (Sprint network at home) Samsung Galaxy S5 could not send texts. I used Facebook Messenger for that purpose. (My husband sent only one text ordering the kids to mow the lawn.)

Capsu78
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by Capsu78 » Fri May 27, 2016 7:46 am

To answer an above question for future reference, I simply buy a 30 day "international plan" from AT&T for $30. I use it mostly for text and keep it off roaming unless I need something. AT&T sends you a text when you have used up 80% of your data which I foolishly did too early into a 2 week trip but I was more careful for the balance of the trip and made it 8 more days on my last 20%. The plan auto shuts off at the 30 day mark.

terran
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by terran » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:04 am

cessna210 wrote: We rented a Pocket Wifi device and a backup battery from Global Advanced Communications: http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/. You need to reserve the device in advance and either pick it up at the airport or have it delivered to your hotel.
rickberg wrote:This was the company that I went with. Smooth transaction, worked perfectly.

http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html
virgingorda wrote: Thank you for this advice. Just returned having rented the Pocket Walker wifi device. It was great - very stable connection throughout our travels! The battery charge lasts a long time. It is about the size of a smartphone (smaller but fatter and heavier).
For those of you who got the Global Advanced Comm wifi device, which device did you get, how much of Japan did you travel to, and how was the coverage? It looks like they they have a Standard and a Premium model now with the difference being the coverage area, but I can't seem to find a description of the coverage area that should be expected with each. We'll be traveling to Tokyo, Nikko, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima (plus a few places in between).

navyasw02
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by navyasw02 » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:06 pm

Old thread, but valid question.

Unless you have a whole family sharing one wifi, forget the pocket wifi. Go into the city from the airport and look for a Yodobashi Camera or Bic Camera. They both sell "Japan Travel Sim" branded SIM cards in varying amounts. Bic usually has them cheapest, my last trip I got 2 GB valid for 3 months for about $30-40 depending on the exchange rate. Also you can download the free app that automatically connects to their branded hotspots to save data.

malabargold
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Re: IPhone in Japan

Post by malabargold » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:19 pm

Messaging and photo sharing with the LINE app
is free and flawless

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