Home
Back

Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

Mobile phone service 2020/2/24 10:19
Hello. I recently received my COE and will be entering a language school in Tokyo for a year (*will probably renew my student visa and enter a Senmon Gakko after language school) and will be leaving in mid or late March. I plan on unlocking my smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S8) before I leave my country. I'm really hoping I don't have to get a new phone to sign up for a contract. However, I have a few questions.

1. In your experience, which cell phone service provider works the best? How do Softbank, Docomo, and AU compare to one another? I've also heard good things about Line Mobile and some MVNOs. I hear that Sakura Mobile and Mobal are pretty terrible for the most part, but they're mainly for long-term visitors and not people who will be living in Japan. Which do you recommend?

2. Do I need to get a credit card? I hear that you have to use one to pay for the service but I also hear that you can pay cash, so I don't know what's true. Do debit cards suffice? Most Japanese providers also supposedly don't accept foreign cards.

Thank you in advance.
by A Guest (guest)  

Re: Mobile phone service 2020/2/25 00:05
I arrived in Japan a couple of years ago and went through the same process. It's actually quite easy if you have an unlocked phone. You just need to make sure it supports the LTE or 3G bands.

NTT Docomo network is probably your best bet. I went with OCN who are owned by NTT I believe but do the MVNO thing through their Mobile One plan.

I have pretty basic requirements so got the cheapest all-round plan, 1600 yen per month for voice + 110MB data per day. No long-term contract required. They accepted my foreign AMEX credit card (I applied in BIC Camera). No sure about debit card but I guess if it's VISA or MASTER then it should be fine. Service has been perfect these past two years, no complaints.

I have a Xiaomi MI 5 (dual-sim). OCN 4G works well without problems on the NTT network but sometimes my other sim (from Singapore) loses the 3G connection as it connects to Softbank.

Hope that helps.

P.S. I was going to recommend ASAHI NET as all their services are in English but it seems they have stopped accepting the SIM card applications for now.
by SZQ rate this post as useful

Re: Mobile phone service 2020/2/25 08:26
How do Softbank, Docomo, and AU compare to one another?
There are the three dominant suppliers and charge a lot have poor customer service in my experience, and will happily lie directly to your face about what they can and cannot do. Their coverage is good, as you would expect given they are in the business of providing a phone service.

I simply got a voice sim for my S3 on a second tier carrier, usually pay less than 1000 yen/month billed to my overseas credit card. Rakuten took them over and my bank is changing my card, so I'll have some issues later this year switching things around.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Mobile phone service 2020/2/25 08:43
Are you sure you need to unlock your S8? I brought my phone over as well and it was already unlocked the day I got it. Just check with your current carrier if it's unlocked or not. Usually android phones are unlocked.
by Motti15 rate this post as useful

Re: Mobile phone service 2020/2/25 10:58
If you are in the city you can use any service, and you can shop around for a cheap one. But if you plan to be in the countryside a lot then one of the big 3 is highly recommended.
I use NTT docomo and Y! for my 2 phones, and when I was in the countryside only docomo had service.
However, the big 3 are more expensive.
by Hi (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Mobile phone service 2020/2/25 12:28
Usually android phones are unlocked
No, that is certainly not the case. Buy an android phone in Japan from one of the three main carriers and they will try everything they can to keep them locked. Lots of countries sell locked phones.
The Ministry that regulates them (the mobile carriers) had to implement regulations to force them to offer the service for free, but sales people say it is impossible, can't be done, you need a contract, will charge a fee (Y3,000) and all sorts of other tricks/lies. It ended up much easier for me to buy a new phone when I returned to my home country this month so I could get the model I wanted (because Samsung refuses to sell the 10e in Japan) and have an unlocked model without all the hassle of the Japanese telcos.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Mobile phone service 2020/2/25 12:28
Usually android phones are unlocked
No, that is certainly not the case. Buy an android phone in Japan from one of the three main carriers and they will try everything they can to keep them locked. Lots of countries sell locked phones.
The Ministry that regulates them (the mobile carriers) had to implement regulations to force them to offer the service for free, but sales people say it is impossible, can't be done, you need a contract, will charge a fee (Y3,000) and all sorts of other tricks/lies. It ended up much easier for me to buy a new phone when I returned to my home country this month so I could get the model I wanted (because Samsung refuses to sell the 10e in Japan) and have an unlocked model without all the hassle of the Japanese telcos.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

reply to this thread