Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nexus 5 is not compatible with 3G contracts

UPDATE: a bug report has been filed. This affects all 3G contracts, regardless of whether the SIM is LTE-capable or not. This Google Plus post has good discussion in the comments.

Reports in the comment section here and elsewhere widely indicate that, for reasons not exactly clear, the b-mobile 3G SIMs are not working with the Nexus 5. According to a local android developer, the phone does not even see the "NTT DOCOMO" network under available networks. While JCI has not yet tested the Nexus 5, they also have been getting a number of reports of 3G SIMs not working.

It his highly likely that ALL docomo MVNOs will be similarly affected.

This SIM will not work with the Nexus 5
SIM cards that are currently incompatible are the BLUE and white FOMA ones:
If you are a user of a voice SIM, you can have your plan converted over to an LTE plan, but there are several disadvantages. First off, docomo's pricing for voice with an LTE plan is different than with a 3G plan. There is no option for an included number of minutes (free talking allowance), which is reflected in the lack of this option with docomo Xi voice plans. Second, docomo charges each MVNO a fee for both the issuance of a new SIM card and activation of a new account:
  • ¥2,100 for a new account when switching from 3G to LTE
  • ¥3,150 for a new SIM card.
According to their official twitter, new LTE products that may will have a different pricing structure for the voice plan will soon be available, but I don't have specifics. Also, it's unclear if the administrative fee of ¥2,100 would be generated again by the changing to a different LTE plan. I would think not, since as far as the docomo side of the equation is concerned, there is no new account activation – that should only occur when changing from a 3G to an LTE SIM.


  1. It does see "DOCOMO JP" network (but cannot register to it). Confirmed personally.

  2. Another disadvantage, your service will be totally out for a matter of days during the SIM reissue process.

  3. Yeah I heard that it sees that. We were trying to figure out what that network is. We were maybe thinking it was a band 1 LTE roaming network, maybe for overseas iPhones. But if you FOMA SIM sees it, then I guess that LTE theory was wrong.

  4. I believe I might already have an LTE SIM, and my account is just not configured for LTE service. Its a model DN04 red SIM prefix DN040.

  5. I just noticed, I believe I might already have an LTE SIM, and my account is just not configured for LTE service. Its a model DN04 red SIM prefix DN040.

  6. In that case, then the LTE roaming network theory remains valid.

  7. Any idea if this issue is limited only to MVNOs? Or a FOMA SIM directly from even Docomo does not work with Nexus5?

  8. No idea, but it will be prohibitively expensive to use a docomo FOMA SIM with a FOMA data plan because you will be charged an additional tethering fee.

  9. I am on a Docomo plan and exchanged my olds SIM card with a new MicroSIM one today and I cannot connect at all. With an adapter I can use this MicroSim in my Galaxy Nexus and it works without problems. There seems to be an issue with the Nexus hardware or software. Very disappointing.

  10. have you checked this post?

    You have to have an Xi plan with Mopera U configured as your ISP on your Docomo account and then use the Mopera U ( APN.

  11. It's not about mopera or APNs / ISPs at all.
    I was able to use my old sim card with an old Nexus One(!) for phone calls. With my plan converted to mopera I could use data too on it. Now, with the Nexus 5 I cannot connect to a network at all. I can choose Docomo JP, but I am not allowed to connect to the network, no phone calls, nothing. To be frank it seems that someone screwed up adding the appropriate bands to the software / radio image. If you have LTE it apparently connects, but it SHOULD work without LTE, just 3G, just like the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus One do. The Nexus 5 hardware does support the right WCDMA / 3G bands!

  12. It sounds like your SIM is damaged. I had the same issue when I damaged mine. My friend also had the same issue when he cut down his SIM.

  13. I didn't cut anything. I went to the docomo-shop today to get a new Micro-SIM (MiniUIM). And I just tested it with an adapter in my old Galaxy Nexus and it works fine there.

    Believe me, this is a real issue. Why should a number of other of my devices work with the SIM and connect to 3G, but not the Nexus 5 (It even says Japanese edition on the box) I just received?

  14. Just to confirm, does the 3G/4G teigaku card yield LTE in the Nexus 5? Also, are we talking here about the International variant or the North American variant?

    I have found a tweet from bmobile_jci that seem to indicate 4G AND ONLY 4G will work:

  15. As far as we can tell, the LTE (red and white) SIMs work fine and fall back normally to 3G when no LTE is available. Also, I don't think that tweet says that only LTE works, but it can be hard to keep the context with only 140 characters.

    "3GのSIMはNexus7(2013)でも動作しないので、そのパターンかも知れません。LTEなら動作するという感じですね。SIM cards don't work on the Nexus 7 (2013 model), that seems to be the pattern. If it's an LTE [SIM cards], it seems to work. (on the Nexus 5).

  16. "JP DOCOMO" is not the network to connect to, by the way. The problem with the MVNO SIMs is that they don't see the "NTT DOCOMO" network. The do see the JP DOCOMO network.

    For whatever reason, you seem to be having a similar problem as the MVNO 3G SIMs, even though you have a red and white (or pink and white) Xi SIM.

  17. But don't you agree that this points to a problem with the Nexus 5 itself rather than Docomo or the MVNOs? If my Nexus One and Galaxy Nexus both are able to see NTT DOCOMO using that SIM, so should the Nexus 5.

  18. If you can, find another n5 owner and swap SIMs. It DOES work with other phones, so you could have gotten defective hardware, perhaps.

  19. As far as I know the issue is described by anyone even on the Japanese sites. 3G-only plans don't work, MVNO or DOCOMO itself. Why you are saying only MVNOs are affected is surprising to me. The fact that MVNO and even official DOCOMO 3g only plans cannot connect anymore with the Nexus 5 (but many could with other phones) clearly points to an issue with the radio.img or similar. This is speculation but I guess Google never bothered to test with 3G only plans. I just now checked the info menu. Go dial *#*#4636#*#*... if you tap "select band" the only choice is "USA Band" (DON"T tap that choice though, it might fuck things up!!!). This is highly unusual. Both my Nexus One and my Galaxy Nexus had Euro and Japan bands in there, too.

    Anyway, please all assume that 3G-only plans by DOCOMO itself also don't work (not just MVNOs) until someone else comes forward and says 'I have a SIM only plan but CAN see NTT DOCOMO and can connect)

  20. I'll give you guys another reason why the 3g network is broken:

    Go to the selection of network type: you have 3 options: LTE, 3G, 2G

    If you select LTE and get out of the settings and back and check again it's yup, set to LTE
    If you select 2G and get out of the settings and back and check again it's yup, set to 2G
    BUT: if you select 3G and get out of the settings and back and check again it's WTF, set to nothing? No selection?

    There's something utterly fishy about the 3G settings on the Nexus 5's current firmware

  21. As an update:

    This guy tried it with a 3G only FOMA card from docomo and couldn't get it to work , just like me. 3G only operation doesn't work, and that is weird. I am pretty sure it is not Docomo's or the MVNOs' fault here when suddenly a device cannot connect to their network (although it should be able to). Sure nobody will care, after all many people have Xi already and people getting it on eMobile will get LTE too... but I don't want to pay more just for LTE. And who says this version isn't broken when I visit another country that doesn't have LTE and want to use a local SIM card there? I will try to contact Google, but I haven't had much luck in the past.

  22. Well, everyone who has tried to help you has done so based on the assumption you have a Xi contract with docomo. If you don’t, then none of our advice applies to you, and you’ll have the same issues described in this post because of course the problem of 3G SIMs is not limited to MVNOs. We don’t address docomo 3G SIM users because it is dumb to use a 3G docomo SIM with a non-docomo phone because they’ll overcharge you on data fees.

    It is obvious that there are issues with 3G contracts and we are thinking of ways to hack and fix it.

    So, if you would like help tell us the following:

    1. Are you a docomo or an MVNO users?

    2. If you are a docomo user, do you have a 3G foma or a LTE Xi contract?

    3. is your SIM card blue and white?

    4. what is you ISP, sp-mode or mopera?

    5. what APN is set.

  23. And stop posting from multiple nics using the same IP. We've never had to ban someone or institute a more restrictive comment policy... not yet.

  24. I was posting from another device where my browser had some form data pre-saved. No bad intention :(

  25. > We don’t address docomo 3G SIM users because it is dumb to use a 3G docomo SIM with a non-docomo phone because they’ll overcharge you on
    data fees.

    That's odd, I checked my contract as well as the website as well as with a docomo shop clerk. They all said, that the pakehoudai option I currently have applies to both sp-mode as well as mopera. So the only difference for me is that I pay a little more for the mopera ISP.

    1. Docomo

    2. 3G Foma

    3. No, it's red and white.

    4. I currently have both (for testing purpose... was on sp-mode only until last month) and will get rid of sp-mode when everything works

    5. Mopera U

  26. Thanks, that's great to know! I am getting ready to switch US carriers to get the n5. Whee!

    Also apropos the previous story about non-resident data-only SIMs possibly being outlawed, I am thinking of stockpiling some. Good idea/bad idea?


    Per discussion here by several devs and people working in the industry, the problem seems to be regardless of SIM. You can have a red Xi SIM but if you contract is for 3G, regardless of SIM sku, it won't work. So, yes, this is a bug it would seem.

    However, all advice given here previously assumed you had an Xi LTE contract, because no one here wants to pay extra money for a slower 3G connection, so we assumed you were also using Xi. Change your contract to Xi, cancel sp-mode, keep mopera U.

    Extra charges for using a non-docomo device with a FOMA contract are well known. I've paid them:

    A few years ago the total price was dropped by about ¥2,000 but it is still more expensive than using Xi:

    For years I used a Xi SIM in Nexus one and Nexus S, event though these were not LTE phones. The whole reason I did this was to avoid a tethering charge:

    This is necessary because Docomo makes no attempt to detect real tethering or is the SIM card is in a data dongle versus a phone with their FOMA network. They simple 1) filter all connections to the "cheap" APNs ( and spmode) and 2) add an automatic tethering charge to the APN.

  28. That is true. It does not make sense for non-Docomo phone on 3G only Docomo sim. The reason I was checking was to figure out if it is problem only with MVNO, only with Docomo network (including MVNO) or 3G only SIMs in general.

    Since I travel to networks which are 2G/3G only, the phone will be a no-go for me if it cannot connect to 3G only networks.

    Apparently it seems that the issue is prevalent across 3G only networks and not limited to Japan / Docomo.!topic/nexus/GougBNuv4O0

  29. Someone opened a bug report. Starring it would be helpful:

  30. I assume most of the comments are from Japanese Nexus 5s bought from Japanese google play store. But, the Nexus 4 international version is different from the Nexus 5 international version in regards to bands supported. Does anybody know if the 3G BMobile sim is working or not with the American Nexus 5? I have both on order.

  31. Would appreciate an answer as well. I'm bring over a Canadian Nexus 5 to Japan next week and was hoping to use the 1GB b-mobile data only sim for ~3500yen/month.

    The wording gets a bit confusing with liberal use of "contracts", "sims", and "3G" in this article. If the 1GB b-mobile data only sim doesn't work, is there any prepaid non-contract data sim that I can use?

  32. just get an LTE plan, not a 3G plan, and there will be no problem.

  33. So says the B-mobile 1GB Flat Rate microSIM works on 4G. Does this make this an LTE SIM and it will work in the Nexus 5?

  34. So.....what about the new b-mobile フリー data cards to be released on the 23rd?

    Great pricing!
    Will they work in my new Nexus 5?