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Physical SIM or eSIM for travel? 2022/9/13 05:38
Like most people, I haven't been to Japan since 2019, so I'm trying to research what the current options for getting mobile connectivity are. In the past I would just buy a SIM card at one of the shops after arriving at the airport. However, the brand/company I would usable buy from (bMobile) now also offers eSIM cards that can be installed prior to landing in Japan(?). So theoretically my phone would start working as soon as the plane lands, instead of needing to connect to the airport's free WIFI (which I'm sure is still super slow...) just to register/activate a physical SIM card (that I would have to have ordered in advance, or wait until I get through customs so I can buy one from one of the shops in the terminal).

TLDR; Anyone have experience using an eSIM while traveling in Japan?
by xtsquintx  

Re: Physical SIM or eSIM for travel? 2022/9/26 21:06
I have not used an eSIM yet, but will let you know next month when we travel into Japan.

This is the one I am planning on using... https://www.airalo.com/japan-esim/moshi-moshi-30days-3gb

S
by USC4Ever rate this post as useful

Re: Physical SIM or eSIM for travel? 2022/9/27 19:47
Can you do this on European phones? I heard there are Network compatibility problems since the towers use a different technology
by Margu rate this post as useful

Re: Physical SIM or eSIM for travel? 2022/9/28 20:54
Regarding phone compatibility, most major brands should have no problems connecting globally and that includes Apple iPhones and Samsung and the like. The manufacturers have been making "global" compatible phones for several years now.

Europe's GSM standards are built into just about every phone.

In fact, Apple no longer builds specific phones for specific networks (GSM, CDMA, etc.) it only builds 2 types of phones now with the iPhone 14...the US model with eSIM only and the other-than-US model with eSIM and physical SIM slot, every iPhone 14 going forward can use all the different network types as it is now built in to the chips. iPhones since the iPhone 12 I think are 4G / 5G compatible across all carriers globally.

That does not mean that every cell phone can use every single signal band of every single carrier but since 4G and 5G are usually broadcast across multiple bands for each carrier, you should not have much of an issue.

If in doubt, double check your phone specs against what your home carrier says is compatible

S
by USC4Ever rate this post as useful

Re: Physical SIM or eSIM for travel? 2022/10/4 17:37
We used a portable Wifi. First time (I don't know this was an option on our first trip), the pocket wifi was part of the Airbnb we rented.

On the other journeys we rented from here: https://www.japan-rail-pass.com/internet-access/pocket-wifi

You get it on your airport arrival and throw it in a post box before leaving. No data limit 👌
by NiwatoriSan rate this post as useful

Re: Physical SIM or eSIM for travel? 2022/10/4 17:45
We are traveling in Nov. On previous trips we have always had a pocket Wifi. This time we are adding an eSIM to our phones for added flexibility and when we don't want to carry the Pocket WiFi with us. So many options out there. We are narrowing it down to the Airalo (Moshi Moshi) option. They seem like a well established company, and the price is not bad. We can install the eSIM before we leave and have data as soon as we land. And it looks like you can buy more data through their phone app. For larger data needs we'll still get a pocket WiFi. Japan Wireless looks to be a good option. We've used Ninja WiFi on past trips but they have gotten expensive and no free spare battery.
by Craig (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Physical SIM or eSIM for travel? 2022/10/5 12:17
A little perspective of SIM vs pocket Wifi.

I always use pocket Wifi to Japan. It's chargeable and small. It helps to save up battery as I will off the network and only connect to Wifi. One challenge when I'm travelling solo: I need to bring the device and power bank in my already-small-hiking pack.

When travelling in group, it is cheaper as the data is shared. This will work with a note that the group have to always stay together or have a good agreement of meeting point in case of lost.

I travelled with a companion, my friend carried the wifi. When one of us went to toilet, sometimes the wifi signal was lost we couldn't message the other e.g. when toilet has queue (ladies toilet problem, LOL) or if nature demand some urgency. The person waiting couldn't go elsewhere e.g. to see other shop. When sightseeing, one may get distanced for a while and it might be a panic moment when we lost sight of one another with no connection.

Depending on the router, some router will go on sleep mode, not sure why, I assume it's because we didn't actively use the connection. It creates dependency to ask the person carrying the wifi to turn it on. It's minor, but since I tried e-SIM on another trip (non-Japan), it feels liberating.
by Moccy rate this post as useful

Re: Physical SIM or eSIM for travel? 2022/10/5 15:13
@ moocy,

With eSIMs as low as $14/30 days, (3GB) is makes sense to load one on my and my wife's phone. She is the Japanese native so if we ever got separated or wanted to go separate ways I can still communicate with her. Calling over WiFi, calling/texting over LINE, we can be in touch. Google Maps (a life saver) no problem. We don't have to be within WiFi range of each other or carry the Pocket WiFi device and power bank. If you are out all day the battery on the pocket WiFi will die. We have the pocket Wifi for times when we want to carry it, or to run the laptops without having to use the hotel WiFi. The eSIM and WiFi are complimentary for me, not 'one or the other.' As far as costs is concerned, it is a minor cost of travel when compared to airfare and hotel. So I agree it is nice to do both. And with eSIM you can load the service on the phone before we leave and have it when we land. Actually, you need a good network connection to load the eSIM.

Check this out for all your options. https://esimdb.com/japan note that these companies are based all over the world. And 'requests' from your phone may have to go through the home country's server before your device in Japan hits the local cell network. That 'ping' may be up to a half second. They use various Japanese cell companies and in congested areas your eSIM might be on a lower priority for data to local phones so that could slow down data speeds. I've never used one yet so I guess I'll learn what this means when I get there. But so easy to try a different eSIM if you want.
by Craig (guest) rate this post as useful

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