All of the Japanese carriers have followed Docomo's lead and introduced new plans with unlimited calling and shared data. A comment on a previous post pointed out that this adds more complexity to the typical Japanese carrier strategy of throwing cash and discounts at people to induce them to switch because of increased minimum monthly costs. To be honest, this year's iPhone release was really boring. I was hoping to see some whacky promotions, but they just never happened, perhaps because the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications asked the carriers show a bit of restraint.
“But excessive cash-back promotions and extreme sales competition that create a sense of unfairness for other long-term users aren’t desirable.”
Cost of old and new plans
Comparison of old and new data plans
|Old data plan||New data plan|
Basic voice plan
¥5,000 (5 GB)
The above prices are without tax. I haven't bothered to separate by carrier because they all charge the exact same price. The only difference is in Docomo's old voice plan (shown in parenthesis), but that's only a minor point because it doesn't exist anymore.
The difference in price between the old and new plans is ¥1,566, which equates to about 40 minutes of outgoing calls (at ¥20/30 seconds). Note that the old plan as shown doesn't include any free outgoing calls, even to users of the same network. For someone who makes zero outgoing calls, that's an increase in price of ¥37,584 over a 24-month contract. However this is only the case if you are getting your shiny new iPhone from Docomo.
Docomo forced "upgrade" to new data planNot only had docomo discontinued the old data plan as of September 1st of this year, existing customers MUST upgrade to the new data plans to be eligible for a monthly handset subsidy (月々サポート). There is no mention of the voice plan, but (as you may have guessed), getting the new data plan also requires getting the new voice plan. Yay.
The monthly subsidies are what allow you to walk out of a store with a new phone for somewhere between nothing and ¥20,000. The actual cost of the phone is often upwards of ¥100,000, split over your monthly bill for 12 to 24 months. Then the subsidy (typically an equal amount) is subtracted. Remove that subsidy and you will be charged ¥99,792 for a Docomo iPhone 6 Plus.
Softbank and KDDI still offer old plans – for nowYou may have been told differently by random Softbank shop staff, but it IS still possible to get a brand new subsidized (and shiny) iPhone with the old, less expensive data plans. (See here for example.)
Unlike docomo where the only reasonable choice is a new data plan, both AU and Softbank offer the old plans, even for new new users who port over a phone number.The Softbank white plan is available for new contracts until November 30, 2014. The AU LTE Plan was previously shown to be available until the end of February next year, but there is currently no restriction displayed.
When porting in a new new number (MNP) to either KDDI or Softbank, the old plan base fee (¥934) is waived for two years. These two carriers will also buy back your old docomo iPhone 5S or 5C for about ¥30,000 or so.
Trade in a Docomo iPhone 5S
I'll consider a 1 year old 16GB Docomo iPhone 5S that was bought by an existing customer (no MNP discount). In that case, you probably owe about ¥40,000 on the phone, which is the amount you will be billed for if you cancel you contract and port out your number. Add to that about ¥10,000 for early termination, and the cost to leave Docomo becomes ¥50,000.
KDDI will buy that phone for up to ¥31,000, and the waived base fee (old plan) totals about ¥22,000 over 24 months, offsetting the cost of leaving Docomo assuming you don't then jump to Softbank when the new (and probably shiny) iPhone 6S Plus XL is released next year.
If you stay with Docomo, while they will buy back your iPhone 5S, they won't give you a discount for being a loyal customer, and they will force you to upgrade to the unlimited calling plan, a roughly ¥2,000 monthly increase over the current least expensive voice plan (an additional ¥37,584 over a 24-month contract).