Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Softbank SIMs for unlocked phones from July

Post updated at the end to reflect the implications in data cost difference between a SBM-branded iPhone and an unlocked iPhone.

Once again, @Juggly was right - not only will Softbank Mobile offer ala carte SIM cards for unlocked phones from July, any Apple iOS device that was not purchased from SBM will indeed be currently excluded. As such, no microSIMs will be offered. SBM indicates that this may not be a permanent situation, so service for iPhones could be announced at a later date.

This is excellent news (though for now, effectively nothing has changed).

Most importantly, SBM is offering data service for the reasonable price of ¥5985, unlike Docomo who is charging over ¥10,000. Rarely, if ever do you see one carrier offering the same service at half the price of another. Hopefully this and the compelling products from Japan Communications, Inc. (b-mobile) will have a positive effect on Docomo's data product offerings.

Details of service:
  • ¥5985 per month for data
  • ¥2,835 new contract fee (apparently not necessary for current subscribers)
  • One of the following required for new contract:
    1. Japanese driver's license
    2. Japanese passport
    3. National health insurance card + address verification by a utility service bill
    4. National health insurance card + credit card
    5. National health insurance card + student picture ID
    6. Foreign registration + passport
    7. Disability certificate
  • Normally priced voice plan
  • No guarantees that everything will work and no support if it doesn't
  • Handset must support 2100 MHz
  • Heavy users subject to reduced data speed (no direct mention of tethering)
  • Depending on network conditions VoIP, streaming and "heavy usage" may be throttled.
  • Handset must be certified for use in Japan and display the "lightning 〒 mark" and relevant certification numbers either:
    • as a sticker placed by the manufacturer, or
    • on the screen, or
    • as a physical stamp
This last requirement is why nothing has effectively changed. There are a number of readers of this blog who are using their Androids from overseas with softbank. How many of those handsets are certified for use in Japan?

The better question is, how many of those handsets actually indicate they are compliant? (The Nexus One is an example of a compliant phone with no certification mark.), I'd wager that none are stamped as certified. This means that you are still going to have to jump through the hoops (outlined here) to get your phone working with the flat rate data plan.

Don't blame SBM for this, it is simply the law. If Docomo were to allow unlocked phones to access the packet houdai APN for only ¥5985, you can be sure that if your phone is not officially marked as certified, that you won't be getting that price.

Finally, the officially cited reason for the lack of iPhone and iPad support is an APN issue that would result in iOS devices not being billed at the flat rate.
The flat rate APN cannot be set on overseas iPhones and iPads, resulting in very expensive per-packet charges that may exceed several hundred-thousand yen (¥100,000+).
This is interesting, to say the least, because Android users are even using the black SIM cards from SBM iPhones and successfully connecting to the iPhone-only "smile" APN. So this makes me doubt that this is simply an APN problem, especially since an unlocked iPhone 4 from Hong Kong costs roughly half the price of a locked one from SBM.

Update: See this comment for an indication that APN settings can't be changed on a locked iPhone, which brings more perspective to this. My thinking now is that, since there is a difference in data price for an SBM iPhone using the smile APN, the issue could be in charging non-SBM-branded iPhones the slightly higher rate (¥4410 versus ¥5985), not necessarily about protecting sales. The difference in data cost is ¥37,800 over 24 months, which I bet compares favorably with the profit turned on the sale of an iPhone, given SBM's heavy subsidizing.

(Thanks for Ouroboros for the link to the official info)


  1. It's just a pity that softbanks data network is a complete Joke ..  Today speedtest ping 2736ms !! .028Mbps down 0.28 up

    Hopefully it may shock DoCoMo into some action but I wouldn't bet on it

  2. SBSdroid,
    you are mentioning that you doubt that not allowing iOS devices to be used with that service is most probably not because of a so called APN issue. I tend to agree with you. They either want to force customers to buy an expensive and ever-locked iPhone from them or cannot filter out tethering connections from unlocked iPhones. As Joedarkside already mentioned, their network is anyway abysmally slow that tethering would be most probably not be fun at all.

  3. SBSDroid, do you know is there a list of phones that are certified and have the stamp anywhere? I can't seem to find one.

    When I first heard Juggly report this I thought I might get a galaxy s2 sim free and use it on softbank so I can keep white plan (it saves me quite a lot I think) but I don't know if its certified... I suppose I could buy one from docomo, unlock it and use it on softbank? rather a convoluted plan though...

  4. I tried to compile one last year in preparation for this but can't seem to find the post right away. No matter, it was horribly short and included only the iPhone. There may be more, but I didn't get a response from people I know have models, like the HTC Desire, that are available both in Japan and overseas. The Dell Streak didn't have it.

    By all means the galaxy s II is certified and will display the mark if you buy it from Docomo. If you don't, well that is a big question mark. Many phones show different certifications, like EU, FCC, etc., but there is no guarantee that 1) even if certified, it will have the mark and 2) that an overseas version (due to hardware differences) is actually analogous to the model sold in Japan.

    Sorry, can't be more helpful.

  5. I think this is all due to a fundamental misunderstanding on Softbank's part.  iOS has a nice feature for changing your APN info.  It's right in the menu.  The problem is that this menu item is usually hidden and is only turned on (via a plist file, actually) for unlocked phones.  So, if you buy an iPhone in Singapore or Canada, there is a menu item to enter your APN info.  If you buy a locked one from Softbank or AT&T, it's not there.

    What has happened is people have taken locked phones which don't have the menu item, unlocked them with ultrasn0w, then popped a Softbank SIM in.  The iPhone detects the softbank SIM, loads up the APN that is already in the plist file on the phone, and happily gets data.  The problem is the customer doesn't have a subscription to that APN and gets charged a zillion yen.

    You can then assume the APN they are going to offer isn't the same one they use on the iPhone and therefore they need to make sure you have an iPhone that allows the user to enter the APN info manually.

  6. Does Softbank or DoCoMo force you to register your IMEI?  If not, it should be rather easy to just borrow a friend's phone with the "T" mark to get the SIM  and then just pop it into any phone you like.

    Also -- my iPhone 4 from Softbank as the "T" mark on it.  3 of my friends have Softbank iPhones with no T mark and just FCC.  Weird.

  7. I don't think you can just buy a mobile without a contact from DoCoMo and if buy via Yahoo auctions you may find the phone blocked as it maybe contact scam

    The best place i have seen for a unlocked samsung is clove.co.uk  with shipping it's about 420UKP which is 55,000 JPY

  8. Matthew, in a draft of this post, I asked if there was a significant difference in how APNs were set on iOS and Android. I didn't need to ask because you just answered the question. Not using iOS I didn't realize that APN setting is disabled on locked handsets that haven't been jailbroken.

    And this puts it into perspective. 5985 yen is more than most SBM customers pay for data, right? So, I guess don't want other iPhones connecting to their iPhone APN.

  9. Docomo yes, SBM no.

    Yeah, that was a bit of a topic for discussion a while back. It doesn't matter in Japan because the iPhone displays on the screen the credentials. Androids don't. If when the google bot crawls this page and reports back to HQ ;-) hopefully it will include the suggestion that the next firmware update to the the nexus one includes such a function.

    Of course there are ways around, which is basically what people are doing now...

  10. What would you pay at Docomo?
    Androot & the following app might work as well and you would have a registered Docomo phone.

  11. I don't think that is technically the case re contract. I didn't have a contract for my ht-03a, but I did have the two year support, and I did have a contract for the family plan. 

    OK maybe it is technically the case. You probably have to start a contract and then immediately cancel. This is what Emobile said I would have to do if I wanted to buy the IDEOS from them instead of from Bmobile. Emobile said there would be no fees. I imagine there will be a ~ 2000 yen start of service fee with Docomo, but there shouldn't be any cancellatioin fee if you are buying outright with no subsidy (月々サポート).

  12. ht03a→atrix tokyoJune 21, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    B-mobile has a partial list here: 

  13. ht03a→atrix tokyoJune 21, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    juggly is always right...

  14. Some Androids do display their credentials electronically.

    settings... about... legal... certifications.

  15. Eido, I didn't realize that some display that information. All the handsets in my vicinity, including the IDEOS shipped by b-mobile don't display it in legal, so I assumed all didn't. Thanks for the clarification. Hopefully in the future, more will include that feature.

  16. what if i just take in my existing softwank phone and tell them i want to buy an a-la-carte sim card for it? (the old phone says "Vodafone" on it, handily enough). is there any reason for them to see my good phone? (a nokia, which already works with my softwank sim)

  17. @SBSdroid I just noticed the edit you made to your post.  Sorry to make things more confusing, but it *IS* possible to change the APN on a locked iPhone.  You can go to a site like unlockit.co.nz and they will email you a cert file thingy that changes the APN to whatever you like.  It isn't perfect (doesn't support the tether or visual voicemail settings APN settings, for example) but does support regular data.  I meant to imply that SOFTBANK probably doesn't want to deal with all that BS (one simple mistake from a user and they are back to the wrong APN and charged a zillion yen again) and therefore are holding off on iPhone until they come up with something simple. 

  18. That's fine. If it has to be done by a third party like that it effectively can't be done, just like I can't side load apps onto an iPhone. Of course I can if I jailbreak it...

  19. I'd like to add something here on entering APN information on unlocked iPhones, as it is a little more complicated.

    I have an iPhone 3GS that I bought from Apple unlocked (here in Australia). Without a SIM card installed, the "Cellular Data Settings" menu item (which is where to change the APN, etc.) is visible. HOWEVER, when I insert a SIM card from any of the carriers that have service agreements with Apple (see entire list here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1937), the iPhone recognises the carrier and applies the appropriate carrier settings for that network (which are all stored on the phone).

    Now, the problem will be, when the iPhone detects the network as Softbank, it will apply the Softbank settings, which (as for most official iPhone carriers) will disable the "Cellular Data Settings" menu and set the APN to the standard iPhone APN. So, you have to jailbreak the device, apply a hack to the CommCenter allowing unsigned carrier bundles to be used, and then apply your modified unsigned carrier bundle, with the correct APN and allowing "Cellular Data Settings" to be visible.

    I have to do this just to get my iPhone working on my own carrier here in Australia. The issue arrises here because I use a reseller of an official carrier (Exetel, reselling the Optus network). The Exetel SIM identifies to the iPhone as Optus, and thus the Optus carrier bundle settings are applied. But Exetel use their own APN, not the Optus one, so I am forced to jailbreak my (unlocked) phone in order to use it completely legitimately with a carrier of my choice.

    This automatic locking down of settings (read: crippling) on legitimately unlocked iPhones is a huge oversight by Apple. But, since it is not something that manifests itself on US networks (all very separate networks, no reselling or need for multiple APNs for different types of customers), they are not going to address the issue anytime soon, due to the US-centric design strategy that Apple employ.

  20. That link should be:

  21. Thank you for the detailed explanation. I would not have known this.

  22. Can you get voice-only SIM a-la-carte service? Haven't fine-tooth combed it but I think so.

  23. hi, thanks for your information
    how about the compatibility of softbank a la carte sim card on unlocked Blackberry smartphone?
    one of my friend asked me about this, she will stay for several months in Japan but reluctant to replace her blackberry smartphone
    thank you

  24. The BB must be both unlocked and have W-CDMA 2100 MHz to work. If so, then it will work.

  25. great! in legal way or in "hackish" way?

  26. Unlocking a cell phone is not illegal in any way. If it is unlocked, no problem. If not, you have to ask your carrier for an unlock code and input that when prompted to after putting in a new SIM. If your carrier won't give you an unlock code, then there are many places that will generate an unlock code from the phones IMEI number. This doesn't work if the carrier has added additional locking mechanisms to the phone. Docomo does this.

  27. Thanks for the post info. I went to Softbank today, they told me I have to purchase the phone with a 2 years contract. They don't sell micro sim only... I bought my unlocked iphone 4 in Singapore. I was told to go to Akihabara to see if there are any stores selling the Micro sim card plan without the phone...pls advise.

  28. Does anyone have experience doing this with a US phone? I have an unlocked T-Mobile Mytouch 4G that has HSPA+. I am wondering if I can use the Softbank SIM card for foreign phones with this phone without any problems in terms of the certification issue and store staff being knowledgeable enough to sell me this.

  29. Very good questions. I don't know the answer to either ;-)

    Lack of knowledge on the part of the shop staff could be a good thing in that they won't know how/think to check if the phone is certified.

  30. While many providers are using 'carrier settings files' to set APNs or restrict access to certain settings (e.g. Softbank restricting access to Cellular Data Settings), this could be also a solution for Docomo to prevent users with an unlocked iPhone from using tethering. FYI, T-Mobile Germany charges extra for tethering and is preventing users from setting the tethering APN unless they have signed up for this option. When using a T-Mobile SIM with my unlocked iPhone, I could not set the Tethering APN. Back on Docomo, I can set the Tethering APN, but they are anyway filtering IMEIs. If Docomo created a carrier setting file in the fashion of T-Mobile Germany, they could allow users of unlocked iPhones to use one of their flat rate APNs (such as mpr2.bizho.net) and prevent users from tethering, so that these users would not be able generate more data traffic than Docomo smartphone users. Docomo either doesn't know about this possibility or simply doesn't care. Probably the latter...

  31. mopera.net is also a flat rate APN, flat at ¥10,000! the 0120.mopera.ne.jp APN is pay as you go.

    Anyway, I'm not following you on how the carrier setting file could be used. The problem is that any APN can be a tethering APN. All I have to do is connect to it and then tether my notebook, then it becomes a tethering APN ;-P

    I used to tether all the time on the cheap mpr2 APN, though only with a Docomo branded phone.

  32. You are right. mopera.net is an expensive flat rate APN.
    FYI, unlocked iPhones allow tethering through the Personal Hotspot feature, but one has to enter the details of the APN that will be used for Internet tethering.
    Under 'Settings / Cellular Data Network' one has to enter the APN settings for a) Cellular Data, b) MMS and c) Internet Tethering. A carrier setting file could prevent users from entering the Internet Tethering APN details (that's what T-Mobile Germany is doing). Hence, Internet tethering could not be used as the APN is not defined and the 'Personal Hotspot' feature does not show up in the settings menu. Softbank is even more restrictive and using a carrier setting file to prevent users from changing any of the APN settings and therefore prevent users from tethering.

    You could tether using the mpr2 APN as you have a rooted Android Docomo phone, right. This means that your phone's IMEI is registered in DoCoMo's system. Big advantage... I also assume that you do not have to enter tethering APN details, but simply use an app that does the tethering. Not possible with an iPhone that is not jailbroken.

    On a side note, other providers such as AT&T are using carrier setting file to set different APNs for cellular data traffic and Internet tethering traffic which makes it very easy for them to see whether users are tethering.

  33. First off, I know nothing about iOS. I assumed it did tethering like Android, but I guess not.

    Yes, of course, I was using a Docomo-branded phone. Tethering on Android is independent of APN. If not rooted, you can share your mobile data connection via wifi or USB without any thought about the APN.

    If rooted, you have more options. It doesn't even require a cellular data connection; it simply shares your data connection by whatever means. I can do it with 1) wifi, 2) USB, 3) bluetooth PAN, and 4) bluetooth DUN.

    For example, If I have a wifi connection, I can tether my notebook with bluetooth PAN. The cellular data network never enters the equation.

  34. Android 2.3.6 update for Nexus S breaks tethering.
    I assume that you have already heard that the Android 2.3.6 is breaking tethering. However, there seems to be workaround available. See below link.

  35. I read all the comments regarding iPhone and SBM etc... and... I simply got more and more confused!
    I bought an unlocked iPad2 on the internet from Singapore (half pirce than an SBM iPad2). It works perfectly in Japan with an iPhone and with an iPad1 sim cards. No zillion yen bills even downloading movies.
    I am about to buy an unlocked iPhone 4S on the same web store... why do you guys think that it should not work fine, just like my iPad2?
    Thanks in advance for any help/reccommendation.

  36. Hi! Does softbank sell simcards for just email and voice and no data for unlocked phones? I'm currently using a b-mobile data only sim card on my unlocked nokia e61. i'm wondering if the softbank sim is cheaper with just email capabilities, because that's the only thing I actually need with my phone. Thanks! :)

  37. email isn't like SMS and charged different. Email consumes packets from the data plan, so there isn't an option for just email.

  38. Thanks for writing this article. I was wondering if the APN settings posted on the softbank site would be applicable to a nokia n8?
    Is there foreigners using Nokia n8s in Japan?

  39. Just an update for the new 4S model:
    Also this model (factory unlocked from Singapore) behaves exactly as Geoff described in for his 3GS except that:
    The unlockit.co.nz cert file here does work, with the 4S, and does allow you to set the correct "smile" APN for SB's iPhone flat data plan (with all the mail & messaging options) but you still cannot tether.
    After using the unlockit.co.nz cert file I inserted a Sim card from a Mobile Operator/Carrier which does not lock in origin the APN and does allow for tethering (in my case the Russian Beeline or MTS).
    I then manually modified the APN from the Cellular Data menu which remains available with the Russian carrier's sim card, including all the Proxy Server, port number, etc...
    I re-inserted the SB Sim card and not only the APN remained unchanged but, both the correct data plan and tethering options were available and working.

    I have so far tested the iPhone with both a SB iPhone specific (black *) and Android (grey - but cut by hand) sim cards and I paid only the fixed Data Plan fee, even though my GF used data every day with both sim cards.

    A note about the black iPhone specific card: to obtain this one you either already have a SB iPhone contract or you can go to a SB shop and ask for a replacement sim card. Do not mention your phone model or type. Since the staff cannot visualize the model/type on their "replacement menu screen", they will ask you for which model you need the sim card. Simply say "iPhone" and they will give you the correct black micro sim card!

    I hope it helps.


  40. The hTC Desire HD, purchased in Feb 2011 at SB shop for use in Japan does have the label/stamp but only half of the label is visible (without opening the phone). It is under the battery.

  41. The J carrier versions will of course have it. Of question is if overseas carrier revisions of the same "model" will. The Nexus One was fully compliant. The relevant documents are publicly available on the MIC home page, but Google didn't have the cert in time to stamp it before going to market. As such, according to the letter of the 電波法, using the N1 is not allowed in Japan (unless of course I add a stamp with the certification information.

  42. You should link your comment to the iPhone people, who'll be less likely to be looking on this site for iPhone-specific hacks.

  43. Recently (Dec 2011) SBM started asking for the device's IMEI and they now register it with any new contract and/or with existing contract if you modify it.

  44. Yes, you can. I bought such "a la carte sim card" to be used with my old J-Phone (pre-Vodafone era) and then used it with another handset alltogether.

  45. @ Chang,
    Yes, I am using also an N8.
    Everything works fine except the MMS.
    You can send/receive SMS and connect to the internet without any problems if you subscribe to the flat data plan and modify the APN.
    The problem with the N8 is not the SB APN but the fact that the N8 APN Control Menu does not work on the N8. It is a well documented bug: you cannot open that menu with any carrier/Sim card inside the phone.
    Nokia refuses to recognize it as a bug but it is widely documented on the internet.
    Some have reported this problem as solved recently with the new Belle upgrade.

  46. Buy an old Vodafone device on Yahoo auctions. it won't cost you more than a few hundred yen and it will make SB staff accept your application for a new contract!

  47. Hi
    Great article and thanks.
    I went to Softbank here and had issues where they wouldn't accept this option - including when showed the website - as the Nexus 4.0 phone didn't have the Japanese certification.
    So we bought the base model phone (which they gave free on a 2 year contract). We told the rep that we wanted to put the SIM straight into our Nexus phone. He accepted we were going to do this, told us that he would subscribe us to a Y4400 plan (the unlimited packet 3G plan) and then if we put the SIM in our smartphone the charge would peak at Y5985 instead - which we have now done.

    I guess my question is, there is much reference to the open.softbank APN. Why can't you just use the plus.softbank APN details that they have published on the website link that you gave above. Translating the page using Chrome I read it to say you can be subscribed to any of the unlimited plans, then they will peak the charge at Y5985.

    Should I use the open.softbank or the plus.softbank APN? Will it make a different to the capped charge being Y5985?


  48. Thank you Tommaso!!
    How did you get the apn settings setup if the "sim card" comes up (I do get that problem too)
    Which carrier are you using with your n8?

    Thank you so much

  49. @Richard,
    I use SB.

    Yes, in short you have exactly my same problem: I still cannot send/receive MMS no matter what APN I use!

    Nokia pretends that there is no malfunction in the N8 menu but the whole Nokia community screams otherwise.

    Recently this guy found a solution but it didn't work for me:

    In my case NCT cannot read my IMEI and won't let me access the online device setup. So I am back to square 1.

    Try the NCT, if it works, please post here what you did differently from nahuelrv to make it work.

    Good luck!


  50. @ Luke,
    From my experience stay away from the "open.softbank" APN. Use either "mailwebservice.softbank" or "andglobal.softbank" if you use Android and "smile" if you use iPhone. If you google them, you will find all the settings' details. But I am not an expert nor as savvy as SBSdroid...

  51. The APN to use will depend upon the SIM and what has SB registered your account against in the back-end (which typically results in you getting a particular kind of SIM from SB)

  52. In addition to MMS: I read that MMS is only available to Softbank and the server will filter out the non softbank phones. So I don't know if MMS is possible to non softbank phones.

  53. Thanks Mkd,
    You are, of course, right. And, pls, correct me if I'm wrong - I think that:
    - The black mini sim for the iPhone uses the "smlies" APN
    - The Silver/Grey sim for Android (smartphones) uses the "andglobal" APN
    - The other sim for non Android (Japanese feature Phones) uses the "mailwebservice" APN
    - The final sim card for normal Japanese handsets uses the "open.softbank" APN
    Mkd, if you have better details, pls do post them as they will help others. No need to post the passwords here as these are easily found by googling.

  54. Hi Everyone
    Further to my early post here is what has happened so far for me.
    We got the 002P which has the SIM that they gave us - we told them we were just going to put it into our Nexus phone which they had a look at whilst we were there.

    When we got back home we registered for the online to watch the bill. I used the open.softbank from their site as said above.
    So far our online billion is capped at the 5985 (less the 1 day for start of new month) and it is recording the full amount of data, and then discounting the data off. It is also discounting the sms and MMS to zero as well (Although I don't have the MMS settings in the Nexus, the couple of times I have received one I just put the SIM back in the 002P and have found that it is spam).
    Still waiting to see what happens with the bill when it comes if it keeps that discount that it is applying on the online fee confirmation - I hope that it does!

  55. @ Richard,

    First the last question: You are correct. But once you know the correct "filter"/ password you can then access that carrier's MMS network. This "filter" is called Access Point Name, or APN.

    Maybe Mkd can help you by posting the correct "filter" APN for your device/sim card combination.

    The other Q.:
    1&2) Yes, all phones detect an official/default carrier APN which is automatically saved in the right settings which lets you send/receive SMS & voice without problems. In fact you can even access the internet but you incur in huge data bills. Don't try it. With the std APN MMS do not work.

    3) I cannot upgrade my N8 to either Anna or Belle. I have been trying for 4 months w/out success. The Nokia PC suite can never complete the back up and I cannot bypass that stage. Nokia have been extremely unhelpful, and that's why I switched to Android.

    I never exceed 20/25,000 yen/month for all 3 contracts
    My phone bills vary depending on:
    Voice calls to other carriers
    SMS to other carriers
    Days (not Kbs) of internet ROAMING outside Japan

    I have 3 contracts:
    a. Double White + Unlimited Packet Discount Flat (*)1
    b. White + Unlimited Packet Discount (*)1
    c. iPad 3G contract (use this one only with iPad2)

    Devices: N8, DesireHD, iPhone S4 and Samsung Note + iPad2 (which I use only w/ contract c.)

    All devices were purchased factory unlocked either in Italy, Russia or Singapore.

    I also had to purchase an original SB iPad1 and an original Vodafone SB phone in order to obtain the 3 contracts/sim cards from SB as they check the IMEI on registration. I then the iPad1 the same day.

    All devices can change the APN (the N8 has some limitations due to a Nokia software bug)

    All devices can tether (except the iPad2)

    All devices (including the iPad2) work with ANY sim card providing I use a microsim to normal sim adapter.

    All devices work anywhere in the world.

    All devices can access internet in Japan

    All devices can access internet abroad with a flat charge of 3,000yen/day of use.

    - basically I can use ANY sim on ANY device in ANY country and do ANY thing I like and I pay under 25,000yen/month + 3,000/day internet roaming

    From contract a. I tether my Laptop every day + download movies in background
    From contract b. I tested tethering (works) with all devices but I never use it bcs I'm not sure tethering is allowed!
    As far as I can gather he only differences between these 3 data plans is that the first one can tether legitimately
    - Smartphone Unlimited Packet Discount Flat
    - Smartphone Unlimited Packet Discount
    - iPhone Unlimited Packet Discount

    5) Yes, SB if you plan on staying at least a full year and any work visa.
    I hate SB, bcs of its closed mindset & poor signal, but it has 3 great advantages:
    - They believe anything you tell them and therefore they are the easiest to work around with.
    - The flat 3,000 yen/day flat roaming data plan
    - The ZERO cost for SMS and VOICE between all SB contracts except voice between 9pm and 7am. I think other carriers offer something similar but my friends are all on SB, so...

    I am told that the signal will improve dramatically very soon as SB has just won a new 800GHz waveband. I hope it's true, but... I'll believe it when I see it.

    As far as throughput is concerned these are my average values more or less all day:
    140ms PING
    4Mb down
    2Mb up
    Saturdays and Sundays I get half those values.

    I will post separately for the N8 APN settings.

  56. Sorry, forgot to say that:
    contract a. is for 3G smartphones
    contract b. is for iPhone
    contract c. is for iPad

  57. Sorry, second thing which i forgot to mention:
    I need 3 contracts bcs I need 2 numbers (my GF & myself) plus a 3G iPad2

  58. I think that I made a mistake:
    the "open" APN is ok for internet but not for MMS on Android smartphones.

  59. Sorry my mistake there, I mean from the start I used the plus.softbank setting that is on the linked website for just SIM purchases.

    When I look at the google translate of the "fee check prior to confirmation" page it has:

    Total amount 5,740 yen
    White Plan call charges 560 yen
     24 White Family discount -520 Yen
    Unlimited Packet fixed charge 5,700 yen
    S communication fee! Yen Mail (MMS) @ 0.08 35 yen
    @ 0.08 yen web communication charges $ 0.00
    INT @ access plus communication charges 0.08 yen 434,624 yen
    Unlimited Packet Discount minute target communication -434,659 Yen
    E-mail communication fee (SMS) $ 0.00

  60. Well, I dont have exact details, but my understanding is as follows,

    iPhones - Black - Smile
    Android phones - Whitish/Silverish with some green band - Andglobal
    Normal keitai phones (including X06HT) - Whitish/Silverish - Open
    Pre-paid - Whitish/Silverish with prepaid written - mailwebservice
    ??? - ??? - Plus (Is this for the a la carte SIMs?)

    Even if APN is correct, I believe that MMS is blocked by SB, if the user agent does not match one of their phones.
    I have used SB MMS on HT-03a with CyanogenMod & Handcent, after setting the user agent to that of 802SE and using mailwebservice with a prepaid card.

  61. Ascanio -- Really? Did they do it to you?

  62. @ Matthew,


    At Softbank Roppongi (Almonds crossing) they asked for the IMEI of my phone before registering a new account & number to my name. I had an old (Vodafone) phone which they copied the IMEI from.

    I asked what would happen if I lost this phone or this SIM card and they said, basically, nothing would happen: they would just replace the SIM card with a new one, no IMEI required.

    A few minutes later, I "lost" my old and asked for a new SIM card at SB Shibuya. In fact, I asked for a different SIM card, a black micro SIM card for the iPhone. No questions asked, just asked for my ID and they gave me an iPhone black micro SIM card. Inserted it in my Singapore, unlocked iPhone and it has been working perfectly ever since. Email, internet and MMS and all. No glitches. I only had to set the correct APN.


  63. OK this matches my experience. Softbank is checking for the T mark and writing down the IMEI somewhere, but unlike DoCoMo, Softbank doesn't appear to be enforcing the IMEI at all. I just got a new SIM (using an old school official Vodafone Japan phone) and had no issue getting service with the same SIM in a different phone that has an IMEI not registered with Softbank.

  64. All that makes sense. The only question is, how did you have them sign you up at SB Roppongi for a eg. "Unlimited Packet Discount Flat for SMARTPHONE" plan (fixed Y5,460/month), while showing up with your old (Vodafone) phone? I guess you need to sign up for some smartphone specific data plan for everything to work, no? How are you gonna pull this one off while showing up with some old, crappy phone?


  65. 2 ways to do that:
    1) Website: register yourself on the SB website (phone number and ID) and then modify your plan - there is an explanation on this blog on how to do it.
    2) In person: go to a SB shop. They only need your ID & phone number to modify your billing plan.

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