details from b-mobile (which also describes their 3G voice-only SIM for feature phones) This will become my new recommended data plan for unlocked smartphones (not tablets) if you don't want to (or can't) hack your phone to fix the infamous signal bars and cell standby android bug. (yes, I call it a bug).
A modest price decrease on the low-speed data planThe current low-cost LTE voice and data "smartphone" SIM from b-mobile runs about ¥2,000 per month for unlimited 150 kbps data. As with all Docomo LTE SIMs, there is no included call allowance. From November 23rd, the new plan will lower this to about ¥1,600 (1,560+tax). while increasing data speed to 200 kbps.
With the upcoming consumption tax increase, currently planned for several stages, b-mobile is no longer displaying prices with tax included. Be sure to confirm if prices include tax or not. Until now, almost all mobile-related prices were quoted with tax included.
This is about a ¥400 yen discount each month for an extra coffee at スタバ or a couple of mint crunkies (if they still exist). The change in data speed is insignificant – All of the low speed plans under about 400 kbps are really hard to use for anything other mail and chat. This SIM does support turbo charge options of 100 and 500 MB, good over 90 days, for ¥300 and ¥1,200.
The real savingsThe price of the add-on, high-speed data plan has been roughly cut in half, from just under ¥3,000 to just over ¥1,500. Not only that, the new plan adds an additional gig of data for a total of 3GB per month. Previously, adding the larger data quota to the smartphone SIM would cost over ¥4,000/month. Now you can get a voice-capable SIM card with 3 GB of monthly, high-speed data, for only ¥3,120+tax.
Avoid the cell standby bugAnyone who's been paying attention to the MVNO scene in Japan is well aware of Android's poor handling of Docomo data-only SIMs. A phone with one of these SIMs doesn't display signal bars, and the cell standby process kills the battery in a matter of hours. The fix requires rooting your phone and voiding the warranty.
People who didn't want to or couldn't do that had no choice but to buy a voice SIM.
Now, with the new price on the smartphone voice SIM with 3GB of data being at ¥3,120+tax, you can basically think of this as a data SIM with voice for free. The original prepaid 1 GB Flat Rate SIM, which is still available, cost ¥3,100/month (after the first month). For nearly the same monthly cost, you now get three times the data and won't have to void your warranty to make your phone work properly.
You could actually use this as a regular phone SIM, and make cellular calls, but the rate is not cheap and there is not in-network calling with MVNOs. None of the MVNOs have any room to get creative with voice plans due to Docomo's wholesale pricing. There are no packages offered, not even for Docomo subscribers. ¥40/minute is what you pay for voice with a Xi (LTE) plan and a docomo SIM. The FOMA (3G) plans are packaged such that MVNOs can include a free calling allowance, which is ironic as hell since VoLTE does not yet exist, so all voice calls, even with an LTE SIM, get routed over 3G.
It would be much less expensive to use VoIP or some sort of chat option for placing calls.
- Post paid (credit card)
- Limited to residents of Japan
- ¥3,000+tax upfront
- ¥1,560+tax base cost for 200 kbps unlimited data
- ¥1,560+tax additional (¥3,120 total) for 3GB of high-speed data
- Turbo charge (100 and 500 MB for ¥300 and ¥1,200)
- Calls: ¥20/30 seconds
- Normal, micro, and nano SIMs available