Questions about iPhone in Japan
I am currently a WebOS user and have been waiting for the next iPhone come out this fall to make the switch. However, my wife is being transferred this summer by the Navy to Japan for 2 years. I would still like to get the iPhone 5 (or whatever it will be), but have quite a few questions:
1) Do foreign carriers work the same way as VZW, ATT, etc? 2 year contracts, data/voice plans, etc?
2) I assume I can get an iPhone with English text there, but will it have all the same capabiliities as the iPhone here? For instance...Google Maps? Will it show me maps in English or Japanese?
3) Will I be working with a much more limited app catalog? I assume there are some apps that just won't work like watchespn app. Will I have access to ANY of the same apps as here, or will it be all Japanese apps? Probably a stupid question, but I thought that app catalogs vary from country to country.
Any other info anyone can throw my direction will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
- 04-19-2012, 07:35 PM #3
If you want to buy your iPhone in the US before you leave, you'll need to purchase it unlocked direct from Apple. Although there are CDMA carriers in Japan, neither Sprint nor Verizon can/will unlock.
You will maintain your US iTunes account, although you can get a second account in iTunes Japan. As an English speaker, you'll probably want to just stick with your US account.
- 04-21-2012, 03:53 AM #5
I am an iPhone 4S owner living in Japan. I saw this post linked to from iMore.com and created an account just to answer this question.
Being a foreigner living in Japan is a little rough for the first month while you apply and wait for your 外国人登録証明書 (Gaikoku-Jin Touroku Shoumeisho). Once you've received it you'll be able to get a cell phone. Things might change a little since they are switching to a new system for tracking foreigners starting July 9th. I'm actually waiting for the new application to arrive in the mail.
The contracts work somewhat the same in Japan as they do in the US. They are two years and you can choose from various voice and data plans. Softbank and AU KDDI are the two official carriers here and both offer パケ放題 (pake houdai) which is unlimited plans. AU KDDI is catching up to Softbank in terms of supported features. Before the iPhone 4S launched in October last year, Softbank was the sole service provider. Up until last week AU KDDI didn't support facetime, visual voice mail, mms and iMessage. They've recently added support for all of the above mentioned features and I believe they are now offering the exact same set of features.
In Japan AU KDDI is known for being the best for getting service anywhere while Softbank is the known as the worst for coverage of the three main carriers (Au KDDI, NTT Docomo, Softbank) but between the two that support the iPhone Softbank has faster 3G speeds.
AU KDDI is who I chose so I don't know if Softbank offers this or not. You pay 0 yen when you sign your contract. They split the cost of the phone into 24 months and they add it to your monthly bill. It felt really weird walking about of the store with a fully functional iPhone and not paying anything for it. You can opt to buy Applecare for your phone and they will divide the cost of it into 24 months and tack it onto your monthly bill. I opted out. One other note about Japan in general, Connivence stores live up to their namesake. You can buy concert, bus, and train tickets, as well as pay your bills. I pay my phone bill at the 7Eleven just down the street from where I live.
iOS itself supports many different localizations and languages so you can set your Japanese phone to be English. Google maps checks your localization settings. If it's set to English, it will display all the streets in Both Japanese and Romaji which is how you spell Japanese words with the roman alphabet.
You will not need to set up a Japanese iTunes account. I'm using my American account. I even restored my 4s from an iCloud back up. That being said, there are some services in America that don't exist in Japan such as Yelp. There's an equivalent called Hot Pepper Gourmet, but you'll need to be able to read Japanese because they don't have an English Localization. Also Siri works in English in Japan, but it does not yet support location services. So if you say I'm hungry it won't show you a map with nearby restaurants.
One thing to note about the Japanese iPhone or any Japanese phone with a camera attached to it. It is required by law to disallow the user from turning off the camera shutter noise. This is to prevent perverts from taking up skirt pictures. Even if you put the ringer switch on the shutter noise will go off.
Lastly, I highly suggest you get your iPhone in Japan rather than buying an unlocked one in the US and brining it to Japan. Before moving to Japan I thought I'd be smart so I bought an unlocked iPhone 4 and took it to Softbank to buy a SIM card. They were all happy to help but after looking up the IMEI number and discovering that it was an American bought phone they turned it down. Their policy is to only accept Japanese iPhones. I was shocked at first but then found out that it was because the American iPhone allows you to turn the camera shutter noise off. I was able to use my Unlocked iPhone on NTT Docomo's network and I'm sure it's because it's not an officially supported phone and they don't know about the camera noise. On the downside, since I didn't buy one of their phones I wasn't able to receive the same discount toward the voice and data plans so my monthly contract was really expensive. So when AU KDDI, offered 10,000 Yen cashback for switching it was a no brainer.
Sorry for the wall of text. I hope that answers all of your questions. Where in Japan are you moving to?
- 04-21-2012, 04:00 AM #6
- 04-21-2012, 10:30 AM #7
Justin, your original post was marked as spam and held for moderation - probably because it was so long. The second one actually went the same way. I unmoderated the first one, and deleted the dupe.
Welcome to iMore!
- 01-18-2013, 09:45 AM #8iPhone Nanite
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Re: Questions about iPhone in Japan
Your post is one of the only useful posts I have found on the iPhone in Japan matter. I am in a similar situation where I am going to Japan on a Working Holiday Visa for a year. I hope that I can continue and stay longer if I can by getting sponsored.
I'm from the UK and am looking at getting an iPhone5. My original idea was to buy the handset in the UK as I want it to travel with, and I thought that I would simply be able to load it with a prepaid SIM and just pay for calls, messages and data as I go, much in the same way I did in Australia. I checked with Apple as well, and they have said that the European model of the iPhone5 will in fact be able to work with LTE networks in UK and Japan. SO far so good. It looks like I was going to buy the iPhone in UK and take it with me...
However, the thought of the warranty hit me. If I buy the iPhone5 in the UK and take it with me, if anything goes wrong with it while I'm in Japan, I'm a little screwed. i won;t be able to get much help in Japan. So then I started looking at getting the phone in Japan instead....
I was informed again by Apple that you can't buy unlocked iPhones in Japan. So I started googling 'iPhones in Japan' and I quickly learned that it isn't as simple as getting a prepaid plan out in Japan. It seems that the best way of getting the iPhone is to take out a contract where you pay a monthly fee for the iPhone (which is peanuts!!) and then pay for the services on top of that for each month. So now I'm really confused on what to do and have the following questions, Hope you can help answer them:
1. If I'm originally on a WHV and only there for a year, will I be able to get an iPhone5 contract with either Softbank, AU etc or will I be rejected?
2. If I am accepted for a 2 year contract, If I have to leave after a year, can I cancel the agreement?
3. If I take an iPhone5 out with me to Japan, will be able to get a prepaid calling, messages and data plan? with no contract?
4. If I take an iPhone5 out with me to Japan, can I instead get a contract (the same as the iPhone5 plans they all offer) but not pay the extra for the device?
In short, I just need to know whether I should buy my iPhone5 in the UK to use out in Japan, or wait till I get out there and get a iPhone5 contract if I can, or go out to Japan with no iPhone5, maybe get a new Touch instead and wait for a year and see if I get sponsored and then look at getting an iPhone5 contract....
Which would you advise?!
Your help would be greatfully received!
- 01-18-2013, 11:52 AM #9
Re: Questions about iPhone in Japan
Regarding the warranty you don't need to worry about where you bought the phone. If you take it to any apple store world wide they will help you. That said there are only 7 apple stores in Japan 2 of which are in Tokyo. I've been to 6 out of the 7 and they all had English speaking staff. I speak Japanese and it always shocks me when someone walks up to me and speaks to me in English while I'm browsing the store. If you make a genius bar appointment you can request English support.
My information might be a little dated since I didn't upgrade to the iPhone 5 last year so I'm not aware if things have changed. I will try to answer your questions the best I can. It's the weekend here so if I pass by a cellphone shop while out on my errands I may pop in and ask some questions for you.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. If you plan to buy an iPad I would suggest you don't buy it in Japan. Japan is the only country where you can't buy a 3G/LTE iPad without a contract and on top of that it's sim locked.
When and where are you moving? I'll let know you where your closest apple store is.
- 01-19-2013, 10:19 PM #10
- 05-17-2013, 01:37 PM #11iPhone Nanite
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Re: Questions about iPhone in Japan
Thanks so much for all of your information! Yours is the first useful post I've found. I had a question about the iPad. You said not to buy it in Japan... I'd like to have one that is 3g enabled to be able to use over there. We are going over on a 1 year job contract which could end up being up to 5 years. Would I be able to buy the iPad in the states and then use one of the 3g networks in Japan? Thanks!