Monday, May 16, 2011

Unlockable and tetherable: Docomo summer 2011 lineup

Docomo announced their Summer lineup today, with 24 models in total, eight of which are Androids. These are the phones that will be eligible for unlocking.

There are some interesting bits and pieces here:
  • All Android handsets have 2.3 Gingerbread. 
  • All Androids (except P-07C and Optimus) support Highspeed 14 Mbps downlink. 
  • All Androids except Xperia acro SO-02C support tethering but for over ¥10,000 per month.
  • Docomo android home app "Palette UI" unfortunately(?) included on Medias, Aquos 13C, P-07C, Galaxy S II. (Can be shutoff on P-07C and Galaxy.)
  • There are two Xi LTE wireless routers.
It's good to see that there are no stragglers with Froyo or Eclair installed on the Androids. The inclusion of a proprietary Docomo UI sets of warning alarms - please don't "differentiate" your products.

The phones will be rolling out from 5/20 with the Aquos SH-12C, Optimus in mid June, Galaxy (dual core!) in late June, Medias and Xperia between June and July, and the rest from July/August.

In a nutshell, tethering still makes no sense as implemented by Docomo. First off, if you are tethering from a tablet that you purchased from Docomo, or an unlocked smartphone that you brought to Docomo but only activated as a data device, you get the normal flat rate. These devices use a "FOMA Data Plan" and connect through the data-only APNs.

However, to activate tethering on a smartphone, you won't be able to do it on the standard packet houdai plan APN. It sounds like you will use the sp-mode APN, or perhaps switch to the mopera.net APN, any connection to automatically adds ¥4,200 to your monthly bill.  Either way, the cost for "connecting a computer or other external device" (パソコンなどの外部機器を接続した通信) is ¥4,200. This fee is non-negotiable and non-removable, trust me.

While I think it is fair for customers to pay for the services they use, charging such a high price to tether a device based solely on whether or not it is voice capable is just plain dumb. As such, my recommendation for tethering is using a Docomo-branded smartphone that has been rooted to allow activation of tethering through the mpr2.bizho.net APN. While this could change without warning, there is no indication that Docomo is currently looking for people who are tethering in this way.

Many watching Docomo lately are scratching their heads in bemusement at how Docomo is handling tethering. I was commenting to a friend last week how it reminds me of some kids I met 10 years ago in the Australian bush. These kids always chased kangaroos. I asked why. They said it's just what they do. I asked what they'd do if they ever actually caught one. They looked at me with blank stares, which is the look I'm getting from Docomo with respect to SIM unlocking. Now that they got it, they have no idea what to actually do with it. I'm sure they'll figure out it, though... Sometime.

The below graph is from here (J). There is another graph that has screen resolutions and other dimensions here.


 ダウンロード: download
プリイン: preinstalled (I don't know how something can be both preinstalled and a download.)
アプリダウンロード必要: application download required
1: Default home screen
2: Optional home screen
3: NFC on non-SH models requires an application planned for release around summer 2011.
4: Requires subscription to SP mode. Extremely high packet charges can result. An unlimited packet plan such as "packet houdai flat" etc. is strongly recommended. When subscribed to unlimited packet plans, packet fees will be for "connected to computer or other external device." When tethering is active, even if no external devices is connected, data will be for "connected to computer or other external device." Disable tethering when not in use. When using a FOMA data plan, the upper limit will be applied. Other SP mode service may not be available when tethering is active. Client side browsing, games, etc. may not function properly. Default wireless hot spot setting are unsecured. Blah blah. blah. and here it is in Japanese:
ご利用にはspモードのご契約が必要です。 通信料が高額になる場合がありますので、「パケ・ホーダイ フラット」などのパケット定額サービスへのご加入を強くお勧めします。「パケ・ホーダイ フラット」などのパケット定額サービス にご加入の場合、パケット通信料は、「パソコンなどの外部機器を接続した通信」となります。 なお、テザリングを有効にした場合、外部機器が接続されていない状態でも、すべてのパケット通信が「パソコンなどの外部機器を接続した通信」となります。外部機器での通信が終了 次第、必ずテザリングを無効にしてください。 FOMA定額データプランでご利用の場合は、月額利用料金上限額でご利用になれます。 テザリングを有効にした状態では、インターネット接続・メールサービス以外のspモードの機能をご利用になれません。 インターネットに接続した場合、ご利用の環境によっては外部機器においてアプリケーション(ブラウジング・ゲームなど)が正常に 動作しない場合があります。 初期設定では、外部機器とスマートフォン・タブレット間でパスワードなどのセキュリティは設定されていません。任意のパスワード などの設定をお勧めします。
Features on Domestic handsets.
Handset RFID payments
(keitai osaifu)
One Seg TV Infrared addresbook transfers Water resistance
Galaxy S II SC-02C
X
O
X
X
MEDIAS WP N-06C
O
O
O
O
Xperia acro SO-02C
O
O
O
X
AQUOS PHONE SH-12C
O
O
O
X
AQUOS PHONE f SH-13C
O
X
O
O
F-12C
O
X
O
O
P-07C
X
O
O
X

45 comments:

  1.  Galaxy SII looks nice but I will not pay 10,000円  for data that is crazy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am thinking exactly the same thing...going to get Galaxy S2 for sure...my poor HT-03a needs help...before finding out the details on how they'd line up the charges for tethering i really thought they'd go for it and offer it cheap - an extra 1990/mo...something around there makes sense...
    whatever though, we should just be able to root it than use "wireless tether" right? as long as we stick to the bizhodai apn and stay away from SP mode....?!?! 
    don't they know this?

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  3. I was under the impression that if it can tether you pay 10,000 yen. I don't tether much but when I need it I want it.

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  4. Regarding tethering, If you don't sign up to use it, you won't pay 10,000 yen per month for data. You'll pay the normal 5000 yen and change. It also requires sp-mode subscription, so if you don't sign up for sp-mode, it won't even be an option. It will be interesting to see what APN they will use for tethering.
    We'll have to wait and see if this works for on the hardware that Docomo will ship, but root access has been attained on the galaxy s2, but gingerbreak doesn't work on the shipping handsets - it only worked on dev handsets.http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=13319294&postcount=1So, it appears that wireless tether for root user can be used with the bizhoudai APN for tethering after rooting, just like the ht-03a. Or flashing custom firmware. The problem I have with samsung is they haven't released a utility for mac or linux, only for windows and without it you can hack around on the phone.

    Of course, if they look, they will know you are tethering but all the evidence suggests they are not looking. My guess is that you would have to consume a large amount of total bandwidth in a month, or a large amount in a brief period of time (approaching the 3 million packet limit over 3 days that Docomo implements) to attract attention. TTL, header inspections and all that jazz costs Docomo money. They will balance the money the spend on looking for tethering with the money the think they'll lose from unauthorized tethering.

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  5. Interesting. I bet with root and a custom ROM tethering would work just fine. I would never use it as my primary internet but I am sure they couldn't tell the difference if I was tethering my Xoom from it since it is all Android traffic. 

    I just want to have the option in case I need to work through another power outage.  

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  6. And really that is all we should expect if we are tethering for free. Like ht-03a tokyo, who'll have to change his user name at some point, says: if the fee was reasonable more people would do it.

    For an additional ¥4,200 per month, I would cancel my internet and go full on tethering at home. I'd use the bejeezus out of it.

    ReplyDelete
  7.  Apologies if this shows up twice in your RSS feeds. Who knew that pressing "save as draft" on a previously published post didn't save your current progress but actually removed the post from the blog, requiring it to be republished. At least comments appear intact.

    Anyhoo, added a table to show which of the domestic handsets have which galapagos features.

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  8. Docomo is definitely "feeling their way around" with this tethering business...like some young australians in the bush, indeed.
    I dropped by one of the big docomo shops (near a tower!) today and innocently inquired about the tethering option asking how much it would cost - he showed me the breakdown on how the charges work per packet once you go into the 「パソコンなどの外部機器を接続した通信」zone...I pretended to freak out when shown the cost saying:
    1. "I was psyched to see that tethering was going to be an option after watching the docomo presentation live in real time yesterday...told my wife all about it that docomo was ready to stick it to softbank who's been holding out on offering tethering for the iPhone (?) and that I bet they'd do it for a reasonable price - ah, maybe 1500ish/mo...."
    2. EVO on Wimax over at AU goes for under 6,000/mo
    3. If you have a chance, please tell someone to rethink the pricing so that people will actually buy into it!

    It's worth noting that the staff person did say that this is the price structure they are working with now...and that it could change. 
    Does he know something? Probably not. But it is true that the price structure was set up with a whole different set of hardware/circumstances...we'll just have to see...

    Either way, rooting the Galaxy SII sounds fun. Can't wait to get my hands on one. Until then, my user name will have to do...

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  9. The shop staff really do know nothing. If anything else, that should be required reading. (Hmm.. will add to general information post)

    I ended up having extended conversations with the same people over multiple days when trying to get the N1 working in place of the ht-03a after April 1. In response to my suggestion that they try and get HQ to pass information along on procedures for dealing with unlocked phones like the one I wanted to use, I was told that Docomo corporate's attitude is that the staff shop should be grateful  for being provided with a job (In Japanese - being able to eat - 飯を喰う) and are in no position to suggest anything at all. They do what they are told and don't ask questions.And I can total believe that Docomo, who is about as arrogant as JAL (if that is possible), would have that attitude.My guess is that nothing would change at all in pricing until next April - can't see them making such a large change mid fiscal year, though you are correct that their pricing plans are out of touch with the current reality. The tiered data plan for smatphones scales based on how i-mode devices consume data, so one day of usage will max it. Unless you are regularly not going to use your phone for an entire billing cycle, there is no reason at all to have the tiered plan.At least they seems to realize this, since they added the flat plan in February (which was mid fiscal year but not such a drastic change since it only reduced the fee by ¥500).

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  10. Can I ask what the difference is between SP mode and mopera u? Why does docomo offer us the choice? I'm on softbank at the mo, but the galaxy s 2 is making me think of switching. do all the carriers in Japan have to have such complicated subscription plans?

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  11. Honestly, I never really figured out what the benefit of mopera u was. It gave you a mopera email address and cost a few hundred yen per month. I didn't subscribe as I didn't see the point.

    sp mode lets you smartphone do feature phone things like have a docomo.ne.jp address. Unlike softbank, you don't just automatically get a carrier email address with docomo. Honestly, now that I used to not having one, I don't miss it.

    I think the carriers purposely make their plans complicated. Billing is specifically designed to make you think you are getting a good deal because it *would* have cost a lot more before discounts were applied. Also, they won't directly show you exactly how many minutes you used. You have to calculate that.

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  12. Anybody could give me a rundown on the Galaxy S2? I am considering it way down the road (waaaay down the road the way my finances are looking), but I wonder if anybody has done research on a couple points:

    Does the Docomo version use their "bunker buster" 800 mhz band? It seems rather quick for Docomo to release the S2 out considering the delay involved in the S1, but perhaps they and Samsung have things sorted out for quicker releases. If they just released a rebranded EU version though, there's virtually no reason to buy the Japanese version because the software will likely be locked down and the handset will probably be more expensive (see: Softbank and the Dell Streak).

    A cursory glance through XDA seems to suggest Samsung has released the full source to their firmware, does that mean Cyanogen and other heavily modified builds are in the pipelines, or is the bootloader heavily locked down? Any guesses on whether this will be any different for the Japanese model?

    ReplyDelete
  13.  I was all set, and very excited, to switch from my shitty Softbank service to DoCoMo for the Galaxy S II.  With the announcement of their custom Palette UI though, I am VERY VERY worried about buying a Docomo Branded Galaxy S II now.  The Palette UI looks like they gave someone 1 week to turn it out, and looks shitty as hell.  Why would they use this over the beautiful touchwiz UI?? 

    Anyway, my question is would it be possible to get rid of palette completely, and switch to touchwiz or default UI??? If anyone can answer this I would be GREATLY obliged!!

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  14. According to the table above, the Palette UI is optional on the galaxy.

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  15.  Not sure the answer to any of those questions. Too early to tell. Me thinks it will have 800 MHz.

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  16. There's no feature to be "preinstalled and downloaded". I believe that magic spell "ダウンローダプリイン" means that a downloader program (i.e. not the feature itself) is preinstalled on the platform. Doesn't make any advantage, though.

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  17. Semantically, that is a potential explanation. Though logically, preinstalling a downloaded sounds dumb. I've never heard of a phone coming with a downloaded that installs apps. What a waste of space, assuming the downloader would be installed in /system and the app would come down in /data. So the /installer would forever live in /system.

    Of course if the installer is small, then I guess it wouldn't be a big deal, especially if there will be a large number of people that won't install the app. And also if the app itself is rather large, best to give people the option to install it.

    But isn't this what the docomo market or the android market is for? Downloading and installing apps?

    ReplyDelete
  18. The only 'advantage' of mopera u that I see is that one can sign up for the public WLAN service (MZone) which is 840 Yen/month. Public WLAN helps me to have Internet access (mainly at train/subway stations) as I am using an iPhone4 on the Docomo network and switched off cellular data for cost reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Another alternative to MZone is Wireless Gate offered by Yodobashi. They have option to use either
    BB Mobilepoint APs + Livedoor APs (380 yen)
    OR
    Hotspot APs + Livedoor APs (480 yen)
    OR
    All of the above (780 yen)

    Hotspot has access points at all Metro/Toei subways and quite a few public places.

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  20. And NTT East also offers a plan for about ¥525 with tax I think. Started offering when the hikari portable came out. Maybe is was &yen315...? Either way, cheaper than mopera. I believe it had good coverage, including many coffee shops and all stations in Tokyo.

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  21. Yes, that plan is called as Flets Spot and is excellent in terms of coverage.
    It costs only 210 if you are already using Flets internet at home.
    525 if you take the wi-fi router along with Flets Hikari.

    However, the biggest showstopper with using the AP directly is that it only supports PPPoE. Meaning that many devices like iPad, iPhone, most Android phones etc cannot connect.

    In addition they also ask for Physical MAC address registration for the device to be used.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Considering changing from my 6000 and change docomo plan using 3 year old basic phone to a smart phone (HTC) with softbank - it seems better value on paper, internet/freecalls to softbank 19 hours a day for 2k more than what I am paying now. do you have reasons not to do this? Regards!

    ReplyDelete
  23. So, 6000 yen is for voice and data on the feature phone?

    When you get a new smartphone with the 2-year contract discounts and all that, it really works out to be a negligible cost difference between docomo and softbank for the basic voice plan and unlimited data. Where the costs can diverge is on voice charges.

    Docomo will have better network quality. Hands down. No one can argue with that. Of course this is not softbank's fault because the government didn't allocate them a slice of the 800 MHz band that both Docomo and AU enjoy for better penetration through obstructions.

    To justify a move to softbank would require the following IMHO:
    1) the handset you wanted that was only on softbank
    2) many friends that you often call on softbank

    The white plan would save a lot of money on voice calls compared to Docomo if everyone you called was on softbank.

    But since Docomo has a much better data network, stay with docomo if you
    1) don't make a lot of voice calls or 
    2) call primarily your family because you can all get on a family plan and all calls 24 hours a day will be free within the family.

    HTH.

    oh yeah, and make sure to confirm that the places you regularly go have good reception on SBM before switching ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks for the reply, the information is very helpful.  The 6000 to docomo is the basic of basic - voice and emails maybe!   I want to change to a smart phone without incuring another 4000yen a month in internet fees already having contracts in work and at the apartment - softbank on paper looked like a way to do that.  However, from talking to people it seems that SB make their cash on the extra calls.  Going back to your point, in relation to the cost divergence for on voice charges is that in favour of docomo ie Softbank is more expensive?
     
    ARIGATOGOZAIMASU!

    ReplyDelete
  25. SBSDroid could you show us a link for this family plan on docomo? Because all I can find is the Family discount plan which provides 30% off calls, and its one of the main reasons for me hesitating switching to docomo.

    Also this isn't really the place but can I ask what you have to pay if you end a contract on docomo early (assuming you pay the phone fees up front), its likely i'll be here for 2 years or more but maybe only 1 so wondering if I should just get a one year contract but if the penalties for the 2 year arn't extreme maybe I can go for that. Thanks for the advice....;)

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  26. http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/charge/discount/family/benefit/famiwari_max/index.html

    FOMAで「ファミ割MAX50」にご加入の方なら、家族への国内通話が24時間無料になります。
    Domestic calls are free to family members 24 hours a day with the Family wari MAX50 plan.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hey so I went down to my local DoCoMo shop today, and they had the Galaxy S II in house to be played around on!  And for sure the default UI is normal S II UI, not their palette UI.  It was fun to be able to play with the SII right next to my iPhone 4, and was really surprised how much lighter the SII felt in my hand!  I went ahead and made my reservation, so it looks like I will be switching to DoCoMo and Android for sure next week!

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  28. It looks like the monthly phone support from Docomo will be canceled once you have the phone unlock by them. For example, the Galaxy S2 is supported with 777 Yen per month, this amount is deducted from the monthly installments. Once I ask Docomo to unlock my phone they will stop deducting these 777 Yen. At least that's what I was told in a mobile phone shop today. That really sucks. I thought I can use a local SIM next time I am on vacation overseas but then I'd loose up to 18000 Yen.  :-(

    ReplyDelete
  29. This is counter to what I've been reading. It sounds like they though you would then cancel your contract.

    From the docomo site:

    SIMロック解除後も、ファミ割MAX50®やひとりでも割50®などの各種割引サービスは、引き続きご利用いただけます。ただし、お客様が、ドコモの回線契約を解約される際などには、従来どおり所定の解約金をお支払いいただくと共に、月々サポートTMの適用が停止となります。
    Even after unlocking, all discount services such as the Family wari max50, hiroridemo wari 50 remain in effect. However, if you cancel your docomo contract, in addition to paying a cancelation fee, monthly support will end.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Forgot the link:
    http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/info/news_release/2011/03/11_00.html

    ReplyDelete
  31. Really?! The staff sounded quite convinced but maybe he was assuming cancelling the contract as well. Thank you. I will confirm with Docomo if I get the Galaxy S2. 

    I have a reservation for it for today but still debating with myself if I should spend the total of 56000 Yen on it.  I am missing Osaifu Keitail, and instead it has OneSeg which I really don't need. But testing it in the store I was very impressed by the speed, responsiveness and screen. Well, still using the HT-03A it's not so difficult to impress me.

    ReplyDelete
  32. My Galaxy S II came preset to spmode.ne.jp and the lady at the shop told me it didn't need changing (I am not tethering).

    The other two predefined APNs that were on it were mpr2.bizho.net and 0120.mopera.net.

    ReplyDelete
  33. My Galaxy S II rooted just fine using CF-Root. Had to take a big leap-of-faith to do it though, since I didn't have a stock docomo kernel to revert to if things went wrong.

    Only thing is that the CF-Root kernel doesn't seem to support the one-seg app.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Why didn't you try Androot?
    AFAIK, Docomo would not recognize in case you would have to bring it in for service etc. as you could unroot it again.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Be careful with the 0120.mopera.ne.jp APN and only use it for setting up the phone or services.
    Check this out: http://softbanksucks.blogspot.com/2011/04/docomo-access-point-names-apn.html

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'm still rocking the HT-03A, and following instructions on this very site, I rooted it and upgraded it to 2.2.

    I'm also considering getting the Samsung Galaxy. My plan is to wait until the Galaxy 2 is out and see if the Galaxy 1 drops in price.

    In the meantime, is it possible to upgrade my HT-03A from 2.2 to 2.3? I'm using the cyanomod kernel thingy. I would have thought there'd be an easy way to do this since my phone is already rooted, but... well, I'm just not clear. Is it possible?

    ReplyDelete
  37. short answer is no, the ht-03a won't run 2.3. Slightly longer answer is that of course some people are working to make it run, but it will never be good enough for you to use daily. If you check out the HTC Magic and G1 development sections on XDA developers, you'll see there are people trying to do it.

    Good idea to look for a price drop on the original galaxy.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I unlocked my Galaxy S2 the day i bought it, and while it took a lot of convincing, repeated denials that it was possible and phone calls, they eventually unlocked it for the 3000 yen and change that sbsdroid mentioned. Though she just fiddled with the phone for a while and announced it was done without testing it, which was mildly worrying.

    It didn't affect any of my billing including monthly support.

    ReplyDelete
  39. When did you get it? I thought it started selling yesterday so I am surprised you already know how unlocking affected the billing. 
    I got my Galaxy S2 yesterday. It's great. But... it's a major annoyance that it doesn't have an LED light. I can't believe it, what was Samsung thinking??? In the office I totally rely on the LED light. There are some apps like NoLED for a turnaround using the display for a permanent notification. Have you tried any of them? Or you don't care about the missing LED?

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thanks for letting me know that I shouldn't bang my head against trying to move my HT-03A to 2.3. It's not the kind of thing I want to get involved in if it's the kind of thing the l33t crowd find challenging.

    My experience in the past is that when the new models come out, sometimes the previous models drop in price, but sometimes they simply discontinue them. Only time will tell.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I got it on the Thursday it came out. Its true that until I get the first bill I won't know for sure if its affected anything or not, but she sorted out all the billing and then we argued about unlocking and then she gave me the papers to sign and I asked her if it had affected my billing at all and she said no, and the papers seemed to reflect that, but as experience has taught us she may not have known what she was talking about.

    Since this is my first smartphone, I'm just reveling in all the things it lets me do (and being mildly annoyed that it won't let me skype, bloody docomo), I suspect lack of LED notification will annoy me more over time. I do find it annoying that gmail doesn't register as swipeable on the lockscreen when you get a new mail, I thought that was one of the features of touchwiz4. Otherwise seems a great phone.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Now if they'll just sell me an unlocked phone without a contract...

    ReplyDelete
  43. That's only 100 yen less than my eMobile G4 service. (Note that I did cancel my home internet).

    ReplyDelete
  44. I agree, 1seg is very optional. Mobile Suica is not.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Site AdministratorApril 8, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    Why can't you use Skype? It works fine for me...

    ReplyDelete