Saturday, November 23, 2013

Unlocked iPhone 5S and 5C on sale in Japanese Apple store

UPDATE: per a comment, the possibility has been raised that, even though this phone is unsubsidized and unconnected to any carrier, the settings may still cause problems with tethering on MVNOs. The XML preference file defining an APN has an option to set whether it allows tethering, and it could be possible that there is no way (without hacking the phone) to allow tethering with an MVNO.

If so, sorry iPhone lovers, but this is a total defect in iOS.


Well, that's a surprise.

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C store pages are here.

You can take this to any Japanese mobile carrier and theoretically use it, but KDDI doesn't sell just SIM cards for unlocked phones, Softbank won't sell LTE SIM cards, and emobile doesn't have nano SIMs (so you'll need to chop down the SIM card). NTT Docomo will sell you a SIM card for this no problem, but you won't be able to get a docomo email address because sp mode can't be used with phones not sold from docomo.

I'd suggest to get the b-mobile "Free Data" SIM, which went on sale just today. Nice timing.

I turned out to be wrong that the docomo iPhone was locked out of MVNOs, but it cannot be used to tether with an MVNO (because the utility for creating the Carrier Profile won't allow an APN to be set for tethering). So, this unlocked one is the best way to get full iPhone functionality with an MVNO. The FAQ says that unlocked iPhone can do tethering.

Shipping times are showing one to two weeks for all colors and sizes, and the price ranges from ¥71,800 to ¥91,800.

As far as models go... I don't know which one is best. I guess it depends on where you tend to travel. Just don't get the CDMA versions.

70 comments:

  1. Softbank does offer SIM cards for unlocked phones - you just can't get LTE with them.

    http://www.softbank.jp/mobile/support/usim/portout_procedure/

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  2. Thank you Apple! Many of us here in Japan despise the mobile carriers and the games they play but love Apple or the Google Nexus experience. I plan to combine an iPhone 5s with a bmobile sim and Japan (03) phone number from www.hushed.com

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  3. The question is whether it is worth buying an unlocked iPhone 5s for at least 71,800 Yen and then trying to find an MVNO that offers a plan for LTE and voice. I used an unlocked iPhone 4 on Docomo, but decided bite the bullet and sign up for a 2-year contract with SoftBank as they offered 35,000 Yen (JCB vouchers) for switching from Docomo to SB. Moreover, no base & tethering fee for 2 years and of course free Public Wifi. It just works out of the box, but the phone is lifetime-locked.
    Docomo blew it by not unlocking the iPhone, but Android phones only. Moreover, they don't offer the 3GB plan (Pakehodai light) for the iPhone and don't allow tethering for unlocked phones. Docomo sux

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  4. Don't allow tethering for unlocked phones? You mean, they don't allow unlocked phones to tether on their network? (they do) Or they don't allow their phones to tether on other networks?

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  5. I agree that I misstated that they don't allow unlocked phones to tether on their networks. Unlocked Android phones can tether.
    I should have said that they do not allow unlocked phones with MVNO SIM cards to tether on their network. Why is that important (for iPhone users)? Because using a MVNO is the only reliable solution to connect to Docomo's network with an unlocked iPhone.

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  6. I guess this is why Docomo aren't offering unlocking. It's good news in many ways. Like everyone else here I absolutely loathe the carriers inflated charges and lifetime locking policies.

    I really wish I could set the tethering APN. One person here actually commented that he was using spmode successfully, but I'm not brave or rich enough to risk using spmode for a day and see how my bill turns out. Some sites like simlibre.net are reporting spmode works, but don't warn about the per packet charges.

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  7. I figured that's what you meant, but thought it best to clarify. The do allow unlocked phones to tether with MVNO SIM card. they just don't let their phones to do it. For probably a number of reasons, the most likely being to leave a way to charge for tethering if the market ever allows it, is by changing the APN. It also helps for the way they they handle identification when doing to mydocomo from your phone. I guess It also keeps congestion down on the main network for phones.


    Does it suck that it happens and you can't prevent it without having root or a custom ROM? yes.

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  8. I just got an LTE Nexus 7 today through a Docomo MVNO. Out of curiosity, I popped in the SIM card from my KDDI phone (HTC J One) and it worked great. I had a pretty strong signal (stronger than what I have with the network I'm supposed to use) and the speed was very fast.

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  9. So, eMobile should work with a cut SIM? They are selling cutters in Akiba somewhat cheaply or they can be had on amazon.co.jp for ¥680 (search for NanoSIM カッター)...

    I'm not sure why we haven't seen a comprehensive SBS post about the Nexus 5 eMobile deal yet... :) eMobile is offering a pretty impressive plan with the Nexus 5. With a 2 year contract (the phone is always unlocked) you can get 5GB of data and free calling to Softbank customers for only ¥2515/month. The questions I can't seem to answer are:

    - Can this plan be purchased without buying a phone (e.g. for those buying the unlocked iPhone mentioned in this post)?

    - If not, could one just buy the unlocked Nexus, sell it, and use the SIM in another phone (e.g. the unlocked iPhone)?

    - What are the exact 3G and LTE bands being made available? I understand from the eMobile web site that both eMobile and Softbank's LTE networks are being made available but I couldn't get much further than that...

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  10. Don't use an iPhone with EMOBILE if you need to place/receive calls.

    A voice call while the phone is attached to Band 3 LTE (MNC=00) will cause a handover to Band 9 UMTS. The iPhone isn't compatible, so the handover will fail; you won't be able to make calls, and inbound callers will get a busy signal.

    This is why the Nexus 5 is offered on EMOBILE 4G-S (ie: SoftBank) - the Nexus also has no Band 9 support. On Band 3 LTE (MNC=20), the handover will be to Band 1 or Band 8 UMTS, so no problem. If your device is attached to Band 1 LTE, it's all SoftBank anyway. Things only get fun on Band 3 because of the RAN sharing agreement.

    I'd like to see what happens with a Nexus 5 SIM in other devices. You need to set the appropriate APN, but you can extract the password from the Nexus 5. SoftBank devices, including iPhones, might be GID-locked. I don't think SoftBank has per-APN IMEI blacklists DoCoMo-style, just the standard EIR for stolen phones.

    Also, for those stating that an unlocked iPhone might work with tethering for DoCoMo SIMs, I'm not sure. iOS will still use the DoCoMo carrier file, since the SIM is still from DoCoMo (MCC=440, MNC=10), unless there are GID1/GID2 restrictions in the carrier file. If the DoCoMo carrier file requires GID1/GID2 matches, or similar, then maybe MVNO SIMs will get the 'unknown' carrier profile where you can define everything yourself. Again, nice if someone can test it.

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  11. Is there a technical distinction in the firmware of an unlocked model sold for that region from the Apple store and a model that is unlocked by law but sold by a carrier (e.g., Hong Kong)?

    Now that unlocked iPhones are available in the Apple JP Store...
    (http://www.japanmobiletech.com/2013/11/unlocked-iphone-5s-and-5c-on-sale-in.html)


    Apple says in the FAQ that the model direct from their store supports tethering and specifically mentions the big 3 Japanese MNOs. The question is whether a totally unlocked iPhone, direct from Apple, is fully user configurable with respect to APN settings, and whether the user can designate an APN as allowing tethering. If so, then it should work with MVNOs. If not, well fuck, I'd blame Apple for unreasonably locking the damn thing down (and wouldn't buy one).


    The configuration utility, which is all that the MVNOs have available to create their carrier profiles, doesn't allow them to activate tethering for their APNs. I have no idea why. If slipping in a 44010 SIM to an unlocked iPhone bought direct from the Apple Store causes APN settings to disappear, that's total BS.

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  12. Surprise. Softbank still won't unlock phones. I asked yesterday--reason I'm switching to docomo (at least there may be a chance there if they continue to unlock Android)

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  13. Ooooh. Any chance they might start doing this with iPads too?

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  14. There is no firmware distinction. All iPhones have the baseband disabled out of the box; it requires an baseband ticket which is created by Apple for your device and sent during the activation process. If your device is sold as unlocked, you get a 'wildcard ticket' that allows anything. If your device is to be locked to certain network(s), you get a ticket with only those networks. If your device is listed as stolen, you won't get a ticket at all.

    Locking and carrier files are not the same. An unlocked device will still get carrier restrictions (no tethering, etc) if the SIM matches a carrier file. This is the problem for MVNOs; Apple mentions that the MNOs will work, but that’s because they are all iPhone carriers now, so they all have their own carrier files.

    http://ax.phobos.apple.com.edgesuite.net/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/com.apple.jingle.appserver.client.MZITunesClientCheck/version shows all the available carrier files, you can download them to view offline.

    In that file, you can see how iOS selects the carrier bundle - MNC+MCC match, ICCID match, or GID1 match. Different carriers have different preferences. For DoCoMo it’s a simple MNC+MCC match, as it is for SoftBank and KDDI:

    44010

    BundleName
    Docomo_jp



    44020

    BundleName
    Softbank_jp


    44050

    BundleName
    KDDI_LTE_jp


    Here is an example showing MVNO support:

    45404

    BundleName
    Hutchison_hk
    MVNOs


    BundleName
    KDDI_jp
    ICCID
    898130
    IntegratedCircuitCardIdentity
    898130




    This is an interesting quirk that happens because certain old KDDI RUIM cards had an MCC-MNC of 45404, i.e., 3 HK. That was done to enable GSM roaming by slipping the card into a GSM phone back in the old days. Real CDMA terminals don’t care about those values, but it’s interesting to see it still used today.

    Anyway, back to DoCoMo:

    http://appldnld.apple.com/iOS7/CarrierBundles/031-0675.20131022.546hi/Docomo_jp_iPhone.ipcc

    Looking at the Docomo_jp.bundle we can see a match against 44010 and tethering is enabled for the sp-mode APN (type-mask 49; 48 = tethering, 1 = data). I believe only that APN is available when you have a 44010 SIM, i.e., you still need an iPCU custom profile if you want your own APN. However, that APN can only be used for generic data, not tethering.

    Conclusions:

    1) Carrier restrictions still apply
    2) No explicit support for DoCoMo MNVOs (because they don’t give money to Apple)
    3) DoCoMo carrier file should apply to MVNOs
    4) DoCoMo carrier file has APN lock
    5) Can’t enable tethering on an MVNO because APN type can’t be set

    MVNO users are actually more screwed now that DoCoMo has become an official Apple carrier. Before, there was no DoCoMo bundle, so DoCoMo SIMs got the generic carrier bundle, which I believe allows tethering (but not LTE).



    Also, I'm not sure whether an unlocked iPhone from Apple Japan would work with KDDI for CDMA (3G). Did they say it would?

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  15. I looked through the carrier bundle and came to the same conclusion as you. (It's interesting that DCM allows tethering on spmode APN for iPhones when they don't for Androids.)

    e 5S and 5C

    No one here does any iOS development at all, and only one contributor even has an iDevice. I misinterpreted the information to indicate that only the spmode APN would work. At all. Meaning no MVNOs, period. (This is before I realized that custom profiles were possible.)

    I have since confirmed directly with MVNOs that they cannot enable tethering on their APNs. I had assumed that an unsubsidized phone would be free of carrier-imposed restrictions. If iOS firmware is the same across all devices, then then your conclusions are most likely correct correct.



    This begs two questions:
    1) why does Apple prevent the iPhone from attaching to LTE networks if the SIM doesn't match any carrier bundle? What purpose does this serve?


    2) why does Apple prevent users from modifying APNs in the first place?


    This sort of thing really does not sit well with me. At all.

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  16. You wrote "Just don't get the CDMA versions" but it is my understanding that the A1453 model has a radio for both GSM and CDMA - am I misunderstanding something? I called Apple Japan and they said the unlocked model is A1453. In my case, I am currently using iPhone 4S on Docomo XI (no LTE obviously) but was thinking about getting an unlocked A1453 as that is the model that is supported in Japan according to Apple - http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/

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  17. I've been bitching about Apple's horrible policies in this area ever since the iPhone hit European shores. I, too, was used to unlocked phones letting the user do what the user wants. Meanwhile Apple apologists still claim Apple are the "only ones standing up to the carriers". B.S.



    Apple's official stance on 1) and 2) are "to ensure compatibility" and "to avoid user confusion". Personally I think it's just because that's how the carriers in the dysfunctional U.S. market have always done it, and US carriers are the only ones who had Apple's ear in the early days of the iPhone when this policy was laid out.

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  18. Does anyone know how phone portability works with au/KDDI? If you have a 4S on au now, what would happen if you bought one of these, cut the SIM, and put it in the 5s? Would it work? Would LTE work? I've read conflicting information about CDMA, RUIMs, RUIM locking, etc, so it'd be interesting to see if anyone has tried it.

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  19. If you have a 4S, you have a 3G micro-RUIM, so LTE is not going to work.
    You won't even get the LTE switch unless your MNC-MCC is 440-50 (profile issue).

    I believe all iPhone 5s models in Japan are A1453.
    See: http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/

    There is no TD-LTE in Japan that the iPhone can support, so the AsiaPac A1530 is not useful. SoftBank/WCP's AXGP, which is compatible with TD-LTE, is Band 41.

    Considering each carrier's FDD-LTE bands:

    DoCoMo: 1, 3 (soon), 19, 21, 28 (2015)
    SoftBank: 1, 3 (EMOBILE RAN sharing), 8 (2014/TBD), 11 (TBD)
    KDDI: 1, 11, 18, 28 (2015)

    A1453 is the only iPhone 5s that works with Band 18, the "800 MHz" that KDDI advertises.

    Since A1453 also supports 1, 3, 8 and 19, there's no reason to keep stock of the others. With A1453, each carrier gets at least two bands supported, with three for DoCoMo.

    Also, Apple may choose to software-disable CDMA support to avoid paying royalties to Qualcomm for it. Even if you have an A1453 it doesn't guarantee you can use it with KDDI, unless Apple Japan have said so.

    There are three A1533 models, for example: one with GSM/UMTS+LTE (AT&T, T-Mobile), one with CDMA+LTE (Verizon), one with GSM/UMTS+CDMA (China). Same model number means the same board components, but Apple doesn't have to pay royalties for technologies that the phone won't use.


    If Apple sell a locked Verizon phone, the customer doesn't need GSM/UMTS.


    If Apple sell a phone in China, there is no LTE (yet), so the iPhone doesn't support it - either to avoid paying the license fee or because of Chinese regulations, such as why iPhones in China had no Wi-Fi support a while ago - couldn't sell it without WAPI support, just like Russia's rule requiring phones that support GPS to also support GLONASS).

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  20. RE 1, complete agree. "APN lock" (IIRC) was the term thrown around by some carriers around the time the MIC was deciding SIM lock guidelines.

    RE 2, do unofficial MNOs tend to have a lot of iPhone users? I'd guess not but could be totally wrong. (My insight is skewed by what I see around me here.) I'd think that only the network owners really care about tethering, because an MVNO should have already accounted for tethering in their retail pricing (or they won't be in business long).

    Japan appears to be Apple's largest market, and if only the consumers had a little more insight into how their options are artificially limited with respect to non-traditional providers, it could go a long way towards really opening things up here. Not just for iOS users but for all users, regardless of device, platform, hardware, so on, and so forth. That's exactly what I've been writing about for several years now.


    But I don't think that's gonna happen. I know, I should write a post whining about J consumers in English, where none of them will read it... Or... I could write it in Japanese.

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  21. Maybe I'm mistaken but it looks to me like a cheaper option (for those with access to a US credit card, address, etc.) would be to buy a phone from Virgin Mobile. Apple's US website shows the US Virgin-compatable unit as the same one that operates on KDDI, Softbank and Docomo in Japan (http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/) and according to the Virgin website (https://community.virginmobile.com.au/t5/Phones-knowledge-base/How-do-I-unlock-my-Apple-iPhone/ta-p/80) all it takes is a full-restore of a phone bought from them to use another carrier's SIM. Or am I missing something?

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  22. While you are right that limiting the customers' abilities to modify certain settings (in an unsubsidized phone) is unacceptable, the below statement has an undertone of iOS bashing.

    "If so, sorry iPhone lovers, but this is a total defect in iOS."

    In fact, Japanese carriers are screwing customers with the help of Apple as they are providing the tools to do so. While I despise this practice, I would add the Japanese authorities as third culprit as they are allowing it.
    On top of it, most Japanese consumers don't even perceive it as being unfair. They have been treated worse before the the time of 'Number Portability'. Therefore, I have a little hope that Japanese consumers will stand up and protest against the practice of the major carriers in Japan.

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  23. You're right. It does. But that's basically how I feel about it.


    I started writing a post in Japanese about these three players you mention (DCM, MIC, Apple). The title is tentatively: 3年前のNTTドコモ:「SIMロック解除なし」には絶対にしません」


    I doubt anyone will read it, but I'll reach more Japanese eyeballs than would if I just sat back and whinged in English.


    Back to Apple, maybe I'm missing something, but I much prefer the way I see Google going about it with their (albeit largely failed) Nexus strategy of offering phones ala carte with the baseband fully open (no backdoor APN locks). I guess Google has an incentive to get ad-serving devices is as many hands as possible, but even if they do have evil ulterior motives, my interest in where I want to see the market go is being forwarded by Google. (That could change at some point.)


    Apple is doing the opposite.


    Am I wrong? (If so, as always, I'll reconsider my opinion and my statements.)

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  24. Well, the choice of the mobile OS/platform is nowadays a question of taste. I switched from Android (1.6) to iOS quite some time ago and still prefer iOS although Android developed quite nicely over the years.
    I appreciate your idealism and efforts to reach out to Japanese consumers. I hope that some of them will wake up. I am also telling my Japanese colleagues that the 3 big carriers are rip-off artists by explaining them how it works overseas, but nobody is really getting upset about the current system.
    I don't trust any of these large corporations (incl. Google & Apple) and try to not give to much data, especially after the NSA activities have been exposed. FB is not getting any data from me.

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  25. Nice, finally unlocked phones in Japan!


    I posted the links previously but here again configuration profiles for both Softbank & Docomo (Mopera & spMode).


    http://blu-soft.com/iphoneconf/softbankjpspir.mobileconfig (Softbank LTE config - this is most likely not necessary)
    http://blu-soft.com/iphoneconf/softbanksmile.mobileconfig (Softbank 3G config - old black SIM card)

    http://blu-soft.com/iphoneconf/nttmopera.mobileconfig (Sign up for Xi and mopera - no need for spMode - install this profile and both LTE and tethering will work fine)

    http://blu-soft.com/iphoneconf/nttspmode.mobileconfig



    All of them confirmed working. If you need any more e.g. for bmobile etc. just post the details and I can create more.



    You can go ahead and try spMode - if you don't have it on your plan and/or your first 7 numbers of the IMEI don't match it just won't work... no charge.

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  26. Ooops, just noticed that's the Virgin site for Australia. Sorry.

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  27. Does this mean that if I take a docomo-unlocked, docomo phone* and get a b-mobile "Free Data" SIM, I will not be able to tether from those phones?

    * I'm currently using both an SC-05D (Note 1) and an F-02E (Arrows X). Thinking about using the aforementioned b-mobile SIM in these phones, from May 2014, and perhaps getting a WiMax pocket WiFi if 3GB monthly is not enough for me.

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  28. Yes. At least, it is true for SC-03E based on my experience using it.
    Tethering would automatically set the APN to a preset Docomo one which cannot be changed. So even if it is SIM Unlocked, if you tether on any other service provider, it will still try to use the preset Docomo APN and ultimately fail to connect to internet.


    The only way around was custom ROM, or rooting the phone and changing the configuration files to overwrite the preset APN.

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  29. Interesting. I've got a bmobile sim with voice a 3g data (no lte unfortunately, using it on a nexus 4), I wonder if I cut it will it work fine... I've seen cutting tools in amazon.

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  30. ホリースターDecember 3, 2013 at 6:22 AM

    Hi, I find this site really useful. I lived in japan for one year and had a plan with softbank for an iphone 5. Now the iphone is locked, and I'd like to purchase a smartphone that can work with both japan and european carriers. Nexus 5 seems a good choice but I'd like to buy the HTC One. I know that in Japan there is a special version of the HTC One.

    Will, the european one, work in Japan if it has the following specs? For bmobile I found they use 800mhz lte. Am I right ?
    Network:
    HSPA/WCDMA:
    Europe/Asia: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
    GSM/GPRS/EDGE:
    850/900/1800/1900 MHz
    LTE: (optional)
    EU: 800/1800/2600 MHz
    US (AT&T): 700/850/AWS/1900 MHz
    US (TMO): 700/AWS MHz
    US (Sprint): 1900 MHz
    Asia: 1800/2600 Mhz

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  31. So after reading this I decided to switch from my Softbank 3G plan to this one (with the 3GB "unlimited speed" option) on my Nexus 5.

    Well this has to be the worst move I did this year. Data is simply unusable. I almost never get above 1Mb/s when using LTE, and even web sites take ages to load, much longer than it did on Softbank 3G. I know that in Tokyo the Docomo network is supposed to be crowded but this is just insanely broken. There is absolutely no point in paying ¥1,560 for 3GB high-speed data since the rate barely changes!



    I have checked on my bmobile account page that the 3GB allocation is indeed being used, so this is not a misconfiguration issue. The same phone with a Softbank LTE SIM card performs at 15Mb/sec.


    Just giving it a few more days before getting a MNP number again and moving back to Softbank or Emobile. Don't fall for this scam if you plan to use data beyond sending light emails.

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  32. I asked about this deal in passing from EM. They confirmed the price is higher is you want to switch over from Softbank but also said that the phone price will drop to 24.800 if you change over from Docomo/AU. Anybody else heard about this as I cannot find anything in writing anywhere?


    Now I just need to figure out a way to keep my Softbank number and get the 2.515/month price for my data...



    Furthermore, I consider that Disqus must be destroyed.

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  33. Quick question about this plan! I am a student here in Japan for the next year, so I have permanent residence. But I noticed it requires a credit card to sign up. Will my American credit card work for this? Or does it have to be a Japanese credit card? Thanks for your time and help!! I really appreciate all the info on this blog!

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  34. Is the connection strong enough for VoIP calls?

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  35. Most of the time, no.

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  36. Well I got mine in tonight and big surprise, Docomo XI sim will not connect at all. No way to edit the APN, which is expected, but fuck! My SIM works in a docomo iPhone no problem and the docomo sim works in my iphone 5 without issue, no LTE though, but I am left with a heap of useless junk. I suppose because the spmode.ne.jp APN is not enabled on my SIM?

    ReplyDelete
  37. ホリースターDecember 9, 2013 at 5:19 AM

    At first I signed with a foreigner bank account but I had to gave them the japanese postal account as soon as I did it. I suggest you to make one, can be useful if you plan on doing a part time job.

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  38. According to a reliable source in Docomo: "Docomo modified NW setting in order to accept both sp-mode access and hotspot
    access from iPhone5s (model type A1453) which Apple and Docomo sell in Japan." (referring to the unlocked models now on sale). This should mean that everything should work as expected (including tethering) if you have a Docomo SIM. I was using an unlocked (from the US) iPhone5s last week in Japan with a Docomo SIM, but this requires a special APN setting file in order to get "mopera.net" set.

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  39. Sp-mode can be used with these phones, but you have to sign up for sp-mode in your docomo account.

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  40. Right, you need to add sp-mode to your Docomo account, 315 yen per month.

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  41. I had no luck with that.

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  42. I would take this up with Docomo, here is what a senior person there told me: "DCM modified NW setting in order to accept both sp-mode access and hotspot access from iPhone5s (model type :A1453) which Apple&DCM sell in Japan."

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  43. Nathan, I hope you got your phone up and working. I'm using a profile and it's got me up and running but no tethering.


    Anyone confirm what will happen on the A1533. I'm still on iOS7.1 no tethering and the carrier settings update is driving me crazy. I don't have the courage to update anything on it.

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  44. Hi, could anyone tell me if this sim card could work with a 3g phone like the Galaxy Pocket s5300, please?

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  45. I just bought a Panasonic T31 from India and according to its homepage, it says it supports:
    - GSM bands: Quadband (850/900/1800/1900)
    - UMTS bands: Dualband (850/1900/2100)
    (http://www.mobile.panasonic.co.in/productT31.html)


    My understanding is that this SIM would work for me under UMTS band 1 (2100) and I can get 3G data. Can anyone confirm its correct? I can't afford to pay 8,000 term fee + 3,000 SIM fee just to test it out. Very much appreciated if someone can help me since I'm not so familiar with this stuff.

    Also, is it possible to add the 3GB of high-speed data later? Or am I stuck with whatever I sign up for initially?

    Anyway, appreciate any help from the community! Thanks so much.

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  46. Have you found out the answer to this question yet? I have the same one... thanks.

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  47. Do you know if its possible to remove the 3GB option?

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  48. I haven't found anything...

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  49. 3GB "unlimited speed" (muhaha) is an option, so you can do without it. Data will be even slower but you will save 1560Y/month.

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  50. I see. thanks. I was considering starting with the slow data, then bumping it up if it turned out to be too slow for my general tasks.

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  51. You can only do data on A1533 if you get a special patch from docomo which forces the APN to mopera.net. Unlike earlier iPhone models, docomo will not give you access to the "Cellular Network" setting on the 5s and 5c. The patch "fixes" that, but it forces the APN to always be mopera.net so you will want to delete it when/if you switch SIMs. Tethering will not work on A1533. I can however confirm that tethering (and data) works out of the box with model A1453 *if* you have sp-mode on your docomo account (¥315 per month). This even works while roaming internationally, not that you'd want to do that very much :-)

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  52. This is very useful. I'm now on OCN LTE Unltd data plan with 30mb cap. Have been thinking of switching to bMobile voice+data but scared off now by Alexandre's report. Would be nice if others shared their experiences. FYI my OCN can only support short YouTube videos, but good enough for Skype, LINE calls and Internet radio streaming. Wanted the voice number on bMobile, but now concerned.

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  53. Going to buy this SIM and test. Will report usage findings. Would be nice if others could do the same as very difficult to test SIM before purchase. So as many use cases would be good.

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  54. My experience with the voice+data LTE sim (1GB high speed data) is similar as Alexandre's.
    Be prepared for very high latencies and speed varying from few kbps to to the sudden mbps spike over few seconds.


    In my opinion, it has a great cost-performance for usage which is based more on background data. e.g. email, SNS, light browsing.


    Anything foreground that requires a strong data connection will be unreliable. e.g. VOIP, streaming, maps etc.


    For me, VOIP was very important and after 6 months of usage, I finally shifted to Nexus5 on Emobile.

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  55. Thanks. This is very useful. I will try and purchase today. Please note my OCN LTE experience was mainly at 200kbps or maybe lower, as always maxed the 30mb LTE cap. Assumed the bMobile basic plan at 200kbps would manage a Skype call.

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  56. No. All the low speed, "unlimited" SIMs shut down streaming audio and video. They cannot be used for skype.

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  57. SBS how does this compare to the OCN unlimited data sims in your experience? thanks

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  58. ah yes and here we have a Softbank spruiker.

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  59. Did you have any luck switching for the lower price?

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  60. Do you have any reason to suggest that? I'm no fan of Softbank, but I don't know of any reason to doubt what Alexandre is saying. To be clear, I don't know him, but I haven't used bmobile at all so can't comment on whether what he says is accurate or not.
    If you have some experience with these plans please kindly share it, it would be of great help to everyone.

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  61. Yes, Band I (UMTS bands are always referred to by roman numerals, LTE bands numerically) is the "global" (outside north america) band that you'll find at least one carrier on almost anywhere.


    The data plan switch is all done by web page. Has to be done at least one day before your billing date and takes effect at your next billing date.

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  62. David, thanks! Good to know. I'm glad I'll be able to add the 3GB high speed data later when/if necessary.

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  63. Hi, I would like to ask something. My iphone 5S (softbank) was stolen last week during a trip abroad, so the chances of getting it back is quite unlikely. However, i cannot cancel my existing contract with Softbank (and unfortunately, i don't have insurance), but they did suggest either buying a second hand iphone 5s/5c or switching to another carrier would be cheaper. After some searching, I think that buying a secondhand phone would be cheaper (I don't have to pay for 2 contracts).
    So i would like to ask if it is safe to buy a secondhand iphone from the shops around Akihabara ?
    (New / Sim free is a little over my budget at the moment...)
    At Yodobashi Softbank, the person said that it should not be a problem but i don't know...
    Any advice please ?

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  64. Thats unfortunate...


    Why dont you consider doing a MNP to Docomo/AU? Wont that work out cheaper than buying a second hand iPhone 5S? They always some kind of offers running for MNP giving huge discounts and cash-backs on handset price.


    Instead of buying directly from Akihabara, I would suggest buying from Sofmap's website directly (I have always found the website cheaper). Go for a piece which is rated as 4-stars or 5-stars and it will be fine (and totally safe)

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  65. Hi, thank you for your reply. Yes, I've checked the MNP plans, but it's really cheaper to get a secondhand phone.

    Thank you for the information, I'll go and check out their website then ^^

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  66. Would an unlocked iphone 5s A1530 be able to make/take calls and use 3g with this sim?

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  67. Thanks. After reading this, it looks like I will have to stick with Softbank too. Sigh... Sorry you had to be the guinea pig.

    Time to upgrade my iphone though. Would you still recommend the Nexus 5? As much as I love Apple design, I realised I don't use ANY of their apps.

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  68. Yeah, I will just switch back to SB once the 4-months period is over (service is indeed terrible, but I don't want to give them Y8000 more).


    I heatwarmingly recommend the Nexus 5 for any carrier. It is a smooth, hassle-free, promptly updated Android phone. More generally speaking, I'd recommend not getting anything else than a Nexus device if you are going the Android route.

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  69. You can definitely do that.

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