Thursday, October 8, 2009

Softbank Sucks: DoCoMo "Android" HT-03A a viable alternative to the iPhone


  1. "The minimum time remaining on visa requirement for Softbank is not true. Well, at least I can claim that it doesn't apply to all foreigners. Come on, the maximum length of working visa we can get is 36 months."

    The minimum time remaining on visa requirement is indeed true and does indeed apply to all foreigners if and only if you show your passport and ARC as ID. If you do not show these things, then as you discovered, the visa requirement is a non-issue, which makes it a completely stupid rule in the first place.

    "I decided to go to the Softbank shop where I know the manager from previous acct. setup, and I was all set to get an iPhone, and then it failed - she assumed it was because of the visa issue."

    This is the reason I started this blog. It is absolutely ridiculous that store managers have to assume reasons rather being able to explicitly state what the problem is.

    I actually doubt it was because of your visa status because many people report getting an iphone with less time on their visa because, like JK, they didn't use the ARC and passport. In fact, I don't see how softbank would have any way of knowing what your visa status is unless you disclose that information.

  2. Just a few quick questions, as I am looking to get an HT-03a.

    1. Was it actually significantly cheaper at Yodobashi Camera? I'm assuming they're alright with you buying the phone at the store and bringing it in to a docomo store?

    2. Even with ひとりでも割50, the monthly price was 7280 yen/month? I'm trying to dissect that price. 5985 being the biz-hodai plan for unlimited data usage, but what is the other part? What are you paying per month? What should I expect to pay per month if I get it subsidized at 12,000 yen and ひとりでも割50 with a 24 month contract? (I'm doing this on a year and a half student visa so I'm assuming they're okay with that)

    Any help on this would be appreciated, thank you.

  3. Yes, it was significantly cheaper at yodobashi. Each of the cell companies operate booths at the big electronic stores. So you do everything there, buy it and get a service plan. You don't need to take the phone to an actual docomo shop. If you have a point card, you can also use your point card at a big electronics store. The Sony Ericsson Xperia is coming out in a few weeks. This phone is significantly more powerful than the ht-03a, which is using dated hardware. The hardware in the ht-03a was already dated when the phone came out. You will get a much better experience with a phone that uses newer hardware.

    Now, I think I saw at a docomo shop that they are basically giving the phones away for free. So, it may no matter any more where you buy it. It will certainly be cheaper than the xperia, but pricing for the xperia has not been released yet, so we don't know just how much cheaper it will be.

    It is hard to say exactly what your monthly price would be because there are so many options to sign up for that add a few hundred yen here and then but give you a discount on calls to registered number, for example. Or a few hundred yen for an insurance plan.

    With the hitoridemo wari 50, the base fee is 934 yen, which gives you 1000 yen worth of talk time
    I am being billed 5700 yen for the biz hodai plan
    Then I typically have around 300 - 400 yen for consumption tax

    This makes my bill about 7000 yen per month before an extra talk charges, which typically add another 500 to 1000 yen.

  4. That is good to hear that the ht-03a is going for cheap/free. I rarely talk using the phone, mostly texting, so 7000 yen/month sounds alright. I'm a student so my budget is modest. I had read some reports (from the wall street journal) saying the x10 would be priced at about $880 off-contract. Even with a contract subsidy, it may still come out to be more than 40,000 yen.

    This will be my first smartphone so I am not too discriminating based on spec or hardware as long as I can do the typical stuff like access the internet/apps. Although after reading about the x10 through some of the links on your blog, I must say that it has caught my interest.

    I may have to spend some time mulling the pros/cons of an x10 versus an ht-03a. Here's hoping the x10 is cheaper at Yodobashi as well.

  5. Well, I happened to be in Akihabara yesterday, so I popped into yodobashi. As I remembered, the ht-03a now has a big fat 0 yen sign on it, but it still costs. The unsubsidized price is about 30,000 yen. The subsidized price is exactly 10,584 yen, which can be paid in 12 or 24 installments for 882 yen/month or 441 yen/month, respectively. Or, of course up front for the full price. The zero yen is just advertising that you can pay the whole amount in installments.

    If you cancel service after 18 months, you'll be responsible for paying back 6 months subsidy, which works out to 8820 yen. I think the early termination fee on the hitoridemowari 50 plan is about 9000 yen. So, it sounds like you'd come out ahead by signing up for both the wari 50 and the subsidy, since the wari 50 will save you around 950 yen per month, so after only 10 months, you've saved money by signing up. Same goes for the subsidy, since you'll get the phone for about 2 man (10,584+8820, actually) as opposed to 3 man.

    What has changed is that to get this price before, you had to sign up for a new phone number. Now if you have an existing docomo phone, you can get this price on the ht-03a as well.

    When I signed up, I only needed 91 days on a visa, which ruled out tourist visas. I wouldn't go out of my way to mention that I would only be here for 18 more months. If that is all that is left on your visa, then you are fine. If they ask you, just say you will have to renew your visa at some point. Better to be safe with that. DO CONFIRM all the cancellation fees but do it "hypothetically". e.g., "if, for example, I cancel after 1 year, how much will I have to pay?" After they explain that to you, ask politely to confirm the info by doing the math on cancellation after 18 month. (They should bring out a table that shows the amounts owed for the phone subsidy broken down by the number of months that you were paying service fees.)

    If it works out to a total of 2 man for the phone plus about a man for canceling the wari 50 plan and you are indeed using the service for a year and a half, then it sounds like a good deal.

    Good luck.