Wednesday, August 25, 2010

B-Mobile iPhone 4 micro SIM will be fast but only for certain apps

B-Mobile announced the b-micro TalkingSIM Platinum Service and the b-microSIM for the iPhone 4.

B-Mobile seems to be moving towards offering two types of data plans: 1) a symmetric 300 kbps plan with restrictions on streaming for around ¥3000 per month, and 2) a platinum plan offering higher speed, as well as streaming, for about ¥6000 per month. The platinum plan also supports tethering a PC via USB or bluetooth, but at only 300 kbps.

However, there is an issue to overcome: tethering.

The b-micro TalkingSIM platinum allows higher speed access, though not necessarily unrestricted access to Docomo's 7.2 Mbps network, only for certain apps, which are referred to as the "iPhone 4 exclusive network." (The iPad is not listed as supported.) As far as I can tell, any other traffic would be restricted to 300 kbps. This will allow the use of data-hungry apps like youtube and skype, while negating the risk of excessive packet use via a tethered PC.

Of course I would like to see the U300 data-only SIM and the TalkingSIM offered in two flavors, regular and platinum, with no restrictions on platforms (as long as it is certified for use in Japan), and in two sizes, regular and micro, but I don't see how B-Mobile can accomplish this without getting burned in packet costs paid to Docomo.

Here are the whitelisted apps.
  • Mobile Safari
  • App Store
  • Apple Mail app
  • iTunes (Podcast) 
  • radiko
  • YouTube (Mobile version)
  • Ustream live Broardcast
  • Google Maps app
  • evernote
  • Dropbox
  • Skype
    Here is the breakdown on price. Though not announced yet, TOS will most likely be similar to the talkingSIM, meaning proof of residency and a credit card will probably be required.
    • ¥3150 one-time new contract registration fee
    • ¥6,260 base fee (includes unlimited data)
    • ¥1,050 voice fee (25 free included minutes)
    • Additional minutes @ ¥21/half minute (same typical rate of the big three carriers)
    • No information on SMS price

    Pricing for the b-microSIM is the same as their full-sized data SIM, and so is the speed, 300 kbps. I also assume the TOS will be similar, which, if they are, means no credit card and proof of residency required. iPad is not supported Well, perhaps it is and the website simply does not reflect it. After all, we've had a number of reports of chopped down U300's working in iPads.
    • 1 year for 29,800 yen
    • 6 months for 14,900 yen
    • 1 month for 2980 yen.


    1. iPad may not be supported because iPads are software locked by Apple to allow only Softbank SIMs in Japan while still allowing any SIMs when overseas. It's different from being SIM locked.

    2. But b-mobile is targeting unlocked handsets from overseas, since they can't exactly promote jailbreaking/baseband unlocking. So, I assumed they'd also support overseas iPads...

    3. this is insanity, Why pay more for a gray market iphone 4 WITH NO WARRANTY SUPPORT in Japan and have it crippled to 300kbs. How can anyone seriously consider this as an option. Get another smart phone! or, dare i say just bite your pride and go with softbanks plan, really it aint that bad!

    4. You've got a point about the price. Though there are people who are willing to spend extra to have an unlocked handset, which is who this will appeal to.

      but I am not so sure that it will be gray market. I've had US purchased mac notebooks serviced in Japan and vice versa. I've also heard of a guy getting a Japanese bought iPad with a dead pixel replaced while on vacation in the US, so I think there may be warranty support for it in Japan.

      You've also got a point about the speed, since it won't be able to have full speed for all apps, but email, browsing, skype, youtube, and iTunes at apparently full speed would cover a the needs of most people.

    5. I am using the softbank plan for a couple of weeks and I can tell you that speed is good but coverage is really poor. So many places where I used to be able to connected with the b-mobile sim are now in a dark zone (zero bars) on the SB network.
      Unlocked iphone4 on Docomo network is something I'm willing to pay extra money for

    6. just a quick question since i couldn't find any information on this particular topic...

      would it be possible to get blackberry services on b-mobile? or is it even possible to use an unlocked blackberry on b-mobile with their talk and data sim card? couldn't find any information about this anywhere...

    7. Nope, Blackberry needs BES/BIS service and only NTT supplies this service in Japan.

    8. I don't have time to look into it properly, but I found this site with a guy mentioning using a BB with b-mobile (not the microSIM of course).のb-mobile-sim運用/

    9. I'm guessing the whitelisted apps above (including Skype) are just for the talking SIM, and not for the b-microSIM?

      I've been researching the b-microSIM as I want to use it in my iPhone 4 while holidaying in Japan for 2 weeks, and have read that P2P (= streaming?) is disabled - which I think means that Skype won't work? Would appreciate your help, as the plan was to use Skype with this SIM to get around the inability to call/SMS. Thanks

    10. Yes, according the b-mobile FAQ, the b-microSIM is limited to 300 kbps. P2P does not = streaming. P2P is file sharing and is prohibited on all b-mobile products. Streaming is allowed for certain apps, skype included with the talking microSIM only.

      So, unfortunately, you have no means of using skype with the b-mobile products available to nonresidents.

    11. Yes, Alan is right: I bought a 3G iPad for my GF for Christmas from SB with the option pay all upfront and get the SB 3G data plan for Japan.
      We then flew to Italy, Naples, for the holidays where we used an Italian Apple approved carrier's "iPad" specific sim (contract) and it worked fine. Once back in Tokyo we put back the original SB sim and all went well.

      While in Naples, I also had the opportunity to play a bit with a Japanese friend's, Japan purchased, iPad working perfectly using his Italian GF's sim. This sim was a prepaid card from an Italian "non Apple partner" carrier. The sim was resized to fit into the iPad and was used in conjunction with one of those spoofing adapters which you can easily find on internet: it all work perfectly.

      And, last but not least, I had the opportunity to modify not only the APN but also the IMEI of my Nokia N8 to correspond to the IMEI of any phone I wished. I had with me a SB purchased Desire HD... but I was swamped by moral concerns and didn't go ahead... I wish I had done it... In case you need tech support you can always reverse back to the original IMEI and enjoy the full Nokia original warranty. The same is possible with ANY phone.

      This means that you can purchase ANY phone outside Japan which uses the correct frequencies for the Japanese carrier of your preference, modify its IMEI (or SB, for that matter) to spoof the Japanese carrier's IMEI (you don't even need a phone to copy it from, there are full IMEI lists on the net, that you can chose from), then insert the right APN and, voilà, you get the handset you like with the contract you like... and noone will be able to tell. Once you need tech assistance you revert back to the original IMEI and have the handset producer repair it under warranty.

      Unfortunately to modify the IMEI you need specific knowledge that I don't posses. I tried to look throught xda and other forums but... not too much luck. In Naples it costs 50€ to have it done and it takes a few hours only.

      I hope this helps, ciao,


    12. Thanks for the information on the Japanese iPad.

      It is good that you didn't try and spoof the IMEI number of your handset because it is illegal in many countries. This is why you won't find it discussed on XDA. People come on asking all the time, but the people with the knowledge rightly refuse to help.

      Obviously it is of interest to us to use a non docomo-branded phone with the biz houdai flat rate data plan, but worldwide, the overwhelming reason for trying to change an IMEI number is because the phone is stolen. Softbank doesn't have any restrictions by IMEI, so IMEI spoofing is not necessary to use a non-softbank branded phone on softbank. Check my "general info" thread at the top for direction.

      As much as I would love to have the freedom to use whatever handset I want with a reasonably priced data plan on Docomo, I can't allow any more (or any more detailed) discussion of IMEI spoofing. I hope you understand.

      Of course, discussion of unlock codes for removing SIM restrictions, hacking of bootloaders, removing NAND protection and the like is fine, since it is not illegal.


    13. @SBSdroid,

      Yes, of course, I understand and I apologise for breaching your blog's ethics and posting directives and I thus explicitly assume all responsibilities for pubblicizing the above information, which your blog does not condone nor share.

      I do not encourage anyone who reads this blog to try what I suggested as this information was posted only as a reference to what happens in other countries where laws clearly rule that once you "own" a particular device/apparathus you may modify it at will, as long as it is not used for illegal activities or as an accessory to illegal activities.

      SBSdroid, I hope this clarifies and waives any responsibility for your blog... Smiles!


    14. It's no problem, really. If it was, I'd just have just edited your comment, but what you said is fine - people know it can be done if they look around. But if you went more in depth... Cheers.

    15. Hi to everyone again...

      iPad2 3G and old model iPad1 3G / Softbank just FYI: The old iPad1 3G AT&T works fine, with no surprise fees, with both the Softbank iPhone4 and Softbank old iPad1 3G SIM cards.

      The new iPad2 3G AT&T works fine with both the Softbank iPhone4 and Softbank old iPad1 3G SIM cards.

      If you're interested I detail what I did to test this ... but, basically the bottom line is that they are all non locked and all interchangeable.

      I have been using an old iPad1 3G (originally AT&T 3WiFi 64GB) with a SIM card from a broken Apple Japan / Softbank iPad1 3G model which had been originally bought here in Japan with a Softbank 3G iPad data plan contract which was linked to another Softbank iPhone4 telephone number contract. Everything worked fine and I had no surprises on my iPad1 3G data plan phone bill at the end of the month. Cool... but expected.

      Curious to see what would happen, I then switched SIM cards and inserted the Softbank / Japanese Apple iPhone4 SIM card into the AT&T 3G iPad1 3G and, again, no surprise fees at the end of the month on my iPhone 4 phone bill, even after hours of 3G streaming on Softbank's (smile APN) network. I sort of expected this to be a safe thing to do and it turned out to be possible. With no surprises.

      Encouraged by these tests, about 10 days ago, I bought a new iPad2 3G WiFi 64GB AT&T on the internet and I had it shipped to Japan. I actually even got a tax break on the purchase and when it got here the mail man did not ask me to pay any Japanese taxes at all, even though it clearly stated on the packaging that it was an Apple iPad2. All the better, I saved money.

      I then visited the Shibuya Softbank Store with both iPads (New AT&T iPad2 3G and old AT&T iPad1 3G with Softbank / Apple Japan iPad1 3G SIM card. I pretended to be a clumsy & uninfomred customer and I clumsily asked an employee (in English) to please switch the SIM cards as I didn't know how to do it: I didn't say anything else. The employee looked at the new iPad2 and baffled said "This is a first for me" and called on the radio a colleague who said something in Japanese (I think yes, go ahead - but I'm not 100% sure, my Japanese is very poor).

      He did not recognize that the old 3G iPad1 was NOT originally a Softbank/Apple Japan version but an AT&T version but, in all honesty, how could he have recognized it. He open the SIM slider and removed the Softbank SIM card.

      He then opened the iPad2 slider and removed the AT&T SIM card and careflully put it in a folded paper with some adhesive tape and handed it back to me. He inserted the Softbank SIM card and switched on the iPa2. I asked to check if it was working and he switched the 3G Network on and proceeded to surf on Yahoo etc. I then asked him how to check my phone bill... and I asked what contract I had.... could I surf the web on my 3G at leisure...? Did I have a flat data plan...?

      The employees showed me how to access the website and accessed my account with my iPad1 3G phone number and password. He then went on to check my monthly bill and my contract options. He showed me that I had a Softbank iPad1 3G flat data plan contract and said: "here, you see... you can use internet flat data plan as much as you like". I said thank you and asked for his name card where I asked to write his name in Roman characters and the date and time of the visit... just in case I did not know how to make it work in future...

      I hope it helps...


    16. Using iPad 2 (not jailbroken) I bought from overseas in Tokyo with the b-microSIM U300 and it works fine! I opted for the cash on delivery option from the site as I do not own a credit card and just paid the delivery guy for my 6-month data, no need to show alien card or passport!

      Don't really have problems with speed so far, I use my iPad for surfing the net and checking my mail primarily, though. I play a few online games, too and no problems, sufficiently fast, I think ! I uploaded a 2 minute video onto facebook and it didn't take long at all!

      I can read Japanese and I'm not sure if it was not updated yet when you posted this blog post but the iPad is supported from the link you posted about the b-microSim. Both iPad 1 and 2.

      Hope this makes sense! (sorry if poor English!)

    17. I am coming to Japan next week for 3 weeks. I am getting the b-mobile u300 data sim (the iPhone 4 size one) and using it in a MiFi (unlocked Huwaei) so that both my iPhone and iPad can get data service. For voice, I am getting my SIL to get a prepaid SB SIM for her old phone, before she upgraded, and will just use that. I may see if it works in my Nokia N95. I will just carry 2 phones. I also have the Simple Talking USA SIM card from which has somewhat reasonable voice rates in Japan (compared to AT&T roaming that is, not necessarily compared to normal Japan voice) and may use that in the Nokia and the SILs old phone for the wife to carry.

      This whole SIM thing in Japan sucks.

    18. Hi Chadbag,

      I have been living here for 11 yrs. I signed up with (J-Phone) Softbank from day 1 and, as soon as the Simcard system was introduced, I started using only European, unlocked, Nokia phones. All the N series.

      > Voice and SMS.
      Today I still use the same, monthly credit card debited contract with Softbank and it has always worked perfectly for voice and sms, since day 1. Both types: normal & smart phone SIMs.

      > MMS and Internet browsing.
      For internet browsing and MMS you need to modify the APN (not possible with N958GB, N97 and N8). Without the correct APN, the MMS service won't work at all, while the internet browsing will, but at prohibitive costs! Be careful.

      > PREPAID Sim.
      I also tried to use all of my Nokias (N72, N78, N95, N958GB, N86, N97 and N8) with my girlfriend's Softbank PREPAID simcard but I never managed to make it work, no matter which APN I used. For some reason the prepaid Softbank Sim card will not let you connect, even to the voice network, with a non Softbank Nokia phone (it worked with the Softbank purchased and branded N78).

      I hope it helps.


    19. Thanks for the feedback. We'll see what happens. We'll probably just use my SIL's old softbank phone with prepaid SIM. She upgraded to an iPhone so has her old phone just lying around. As long as we have voice capability on a Japan number so we can call in to family when out on day trips, etc, we are happy. I don't care if it is the N95 or her old Softbank phone. I don't use the N95 any more (not since Dec 2007 when I got my first iPhone) so I have no attachment to it.

      The b-mobile data SIM is more important as then I can use my iPad and iPhone for data. I don't need a ton of data but for email updates and to be able to log in to some servers I have here in the US in case of emergency, a data service is nice. Last trip, 2 years ago, I had to use data roaming from my iPhone to log into the server. Just a short 5 min ssh session was like $10.