Here is a comparison of the total cost (over a two year contract) of the iPhone 5S on the three Japanese carriers. If you believe it, the 2-year cost of a docomo iPhone is in all cases either less expensive, or the same cost, as rivals KDDI and Softbank Mobile (SBM).
This is not quite the case.
As I mentioned previously, docomo is more heavily subsidizing the hardware cost and offering the same subsidy to both existing and new customers. However, docomo's MNP (Mobile Number Portability) discount is only for one year unless:
- you are either a student (3 years) or
- you are a returning docomo customer (2 years)
The highest and lowest
Considering the full possible range of prices, docomo wins. The absolute lowest 2-year cost of a docomo iPhone 5S is ¥113,400 for a 16 GB model with MNP and student discount. The highest cost is ¥177,480 for an existing customer (or one who doesn't port over a phone number from another carrier) for the 64 GB model.
For KDDI and SBM, the range is ¥138,600 to ¥198,800, which is ¥21,320 to ¥25,200 to more expensive than docomo.
From where does this difference originate? In the case of the most expensive, Docomo is offering the standard Xi voice plan price of ¥780, ¥200 less than the other's voice plan, which adds up to ¥4,800 over 2 years. The remaining ¥15,000 reflects Docomo offering the same hardware subsidy to existing customers. The difference in the least expensive price originates from the data discount offered to students.
Docomo costs less if:
- you are a student (absolutely the best deal)
- you a returning docomo customer
- you have no existing mobile contract in Japan
- you are an existing AU or SBM customer
- you are not a former customer and porting over a number