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Japan Travel with iPad 3G?

Discussion in 'iPad Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by scottness, May 3, 2010.

  1. macrumors 65816


    I'll be traveling to Japan later this month and wondering if I'll be able to set up 3G usage over there. I typically use international data roaming on my iPhone and get 3G just fine over there (except it's a little pricy), but would much rather use the iPad now that I have it.

    Or could I just go to DoCoMo or SoftBank and get a sim card for some kind of prepaid plan?

    Anyone done this yet? Thanks for any advice!
  2. macrumors regular

    Docomo is supposed to be coming out with a microsim, not sure when. Softbank as far as I know does not have a microsim. I am stationed in Japan. I have the wifi version and just use my htc touch pro as a wifi hotspot. Your best bet would probably to talk with docomo
  3. macrumors 65816


    Sounds like you're in the service... If so, thank you!

    Thanks for that info. I'll try calling docomo then. This would be super helpful. I can always just have the iPhone, but it's kinda hard to go back to the small screen once you've had the bigger for a while, eh?

    Do you know if they rent mobile wifi hotspots? This would probably be the easiest solution, though I'd rather not carry around the extra stuff. I know you can rent phones, but don't know if they have anything like that available for rental.

    Thanks again!
  4. macrumors 68020


    NTT docomo just came out with the data-only prepaid SIM packages (I believe it's 3000 yen for unlimited data per month). It only comes in a mini-SIM package (the SIM cards all phones these days use). You can trim it and enter the APN settings in Settings and it should work.

    SoftBank prepaid is basically only for phone and SMS usage- internet is a no-go. You could go rental but it's 105 yen per month and extremely expensive data fees. Not to mention you'll need to pay 3000 yen after the rental period for cutting up their SIM card (which you have to return).

    I guess NTT docomo is the only option here ;)
  5. macrumors 65816


    Hmmm... Is that my only option? Trimming down a rental sim card that I'll have to pay for later? That kinda sucks.
  6. macrumors 6502a


    That is a very good question. my son is stationed in Yokosuka Japan at the Naval Base and I will be visiting him in Sept. I was thinking about getting an Ipad before I went there. I was just wondering if I could use my son's wifi connection in his house free of charge.
  7. macrumors regular

    Wifi isnt country specific. You can use any wifi as long as you can connect to it. So your son's wifi is fair game and so is any other wifi networks that are open or you get the password to if encrypted
  8. macrumors 6502

    Mmm sweet, i'll be there for a couple weeks this fall. I'll have to get the sim card for that time.
  9. macrumors member

    Just got back from Japan and used iPhone with a 3G roaming data plan with O2 (UK). 3G coverage is extensive and reliable. My 50Mb package over 2 weeks was sufficient if used frugally. I found there to be few places to find Wifi with the exception of some stations on the Tokyo subway system, which did not even require login.
    I think that McDonalds and Starbucks offer (free?) wifi, both reassuringly common in big cities in Japan, but I did not darken their doors.
    A short term visitor to Japan is unable to buy a Sim or phone for use in Japan, your only option is to rent either, as mentioned by previous posts. I opted for roaming with my home carrier as I would make few local calls and the rental data charges were phenomenal.
    I made good use of my Apple airport express as most hotels had wired Internet in rooms.
    If you do find a 3G plan to use abroad remember that the iPad will rip through your data Mbs and may prove to be very expensive
  10. macrumors 68020


    I think you misunderstood.

    When you purchase the data-only package from docomo you get the SIM card and it's yours. Trim it all you want- you don't need to return it.

    The SoftBank option was thrown out there to show that yes, there are other option(s), but they're not really options, if you know what I mean.

    Go to a larger Yodobashi or Bic Camera store (the Best Buy equivalent for Japan) as usually only the larger ones have English speaking staff. Or go to a major NTT docomo store (ring em up when you get to Japan to check where those stores are- they have an English-speaking option).
  11. macrumors 65816


    Thanks, very helpful. I've been to a few Bic Cameras over there and usually got the help I needed. Still not excited about cutting up a sim card, though.

    Just occurred to me to ask: If I remove and replace the sim card, do I need to reconnect to iTunes to activate? This would defeat my purpose of just bringing the iPad, I think.
  12. macrumors 65816


    Just found this on AT&T international data: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ytech_gadg/20100504/tc_ytech_gadg/ytech_gadg_tc1922

    I'm not surprised, though it sucks. Looks like I'll be attempting to trim down a local sim card from docomo.

    Anyone know if I have to reconnect to iTunes? If so, I wonder if they'll let me do it I their store with one of their Macs. I know Bic Camera has Macs and I don't want to go all the way to the Ginza Apple Store.
  13. macrumors member

    Seems like a lot of work to get 3G in Japan. Do you really need it? I Googled "free wifi" in Tokyo and found a huge list pretty quickly:


    I've stayed in hotels in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima (technically I was in Higashihiroshima) and Fukuoka and they all had free wifi. I bet you could duck into the lobby of a hotel when you need wifi and just use it. Nobody will bother you.
  14. macrumors regular

    My own experience as a foreigner traveling to Japan back in 2008: good luck :eek: .

    Free WIFI was sparse, most WIFI hotspots (McDonalds, subway stations, malls, cafés, etc) having deals with Japanese broadband providers so you actually need broadband there to have access to the wifi hotspots.

    3G data cards/usb sticks? Nope, had to have a local address, and subscribe to a 12-month contract at the least.

    Phones and simcards? No sim cards sold without phones, and again mostly everything too expensive for a casual 2-week visitor.

    It might have changed now, especially if Docomo just introduced those pay as you go 3g data plans I'Ve seen in this thread.. but the question is, are they going to sell it to a foreigner who doesn't have a Japanese residential address?

    Hopefully the situation has improved, but just remember that Japan is very xenophobic and isolationist, so you might not be lucky. Perhaps free WIFI is more widespread now than when I went, which would be great! Especially since I plan on going there again, and Canadian international data pricing is atrocious...
  15. macrumors 68040


    In May 2008 I bought a Softbank prepaid SIM card when I was on holiday there for 4 weeks.

    I'm currently deciding how and when I should get an iPad :)
  16. macrumors member

    Still not lots of unlocked wifi around here. Mcdonalds however is the place to go to get service. Starbucks is iffy. However, if you really "need" to mail someone or use the net, there are tons of Internet cafe's in Japan (so long as you are not in a small mountain town) so you aren't really isolated from using the Internet and communicating. You just might not have the convinience of doing what you want with your idevice at any time you choose to do it.
  17. macrumors 68040


    Is there an English version of Softbank's iPad site? I can't find it :eek:

    I'm moving to Tokyo in January and quite fancy an iPad for the commute. Will wifi be OK or should I pony up for the 3G?
  18. macrumors member


    There is an English link at the top.

    Edit: sorry this link won't help. Thought it would.
  19. macrumors 65816


    This is completely off-topic (apologies to the OP), but I just have to ask sactownbwoy if he's originally from Sacramento. I have relatives there, and just spent the past couple of months hanging out with family and friends in East Sac. Love that town!

    Also, a brief clarification — Softbank does have a micro-SIM (for the iPhone 4 and the iPad), they just don't make them available without a contract.
  20. macrumors 68040


    Decided to get a 32GB SIM free iPad in the UK and get a SIM in Japan from these people:


    Much cheaper than Softbank and better net access to boot :)

    Furthermore, having never used on before, but used the iPhone, how easy is it to mail whilst on the move? I want to be able to mail whilst on the train for example.

    This leg position will be hard to attain:


    Sharing of experiences will be appreciated.
  21. macrumors 6502

    If anyone comes up with a solution for Japan I'm all ears. Travelling to Hong Kong and Tokyo in a month and would really like to have a gameplan for getting data on my iPad beforehand. I did a one day "international" trip to Toronto a month ago and burned through a 20MB international plan from AT&T in less than 10 hours so getting an AT&T int'l plan is simply a non-starter.
  22. Moderator emeritus


    FYI, Softbank 3G service is 4,410 yen per month. However, if you get a 2 year contract, they knock off around 1,500 yen per month which drops the monthly 3G fee to 2,910 yen.

    Checked the bmobile site.

    Unless I am missing something -- which could definitely be true -- their b-microSIM is listed as coming soon. Also, they don't mention the iPad only the iPhone 4. Don't know if that matters.

    Please let us know what you end up doing.
  23. macrumors member

    bmobile is a joke they limit you to 300Kbps

    Softbank gives you full speed, and yes with 26! months contract it is 2,910 yen per month. Oh and If you buy iPad in UK you won't get the discount.
  24. Moderator emeritus


    Good catch. I forgot about this. My friend has them and likes them. But his needs are minimal. For most, 300kbps is very limiting.

    Not sure how long it will take, but from a reliable source, supposedly in the future Softbank will offer a micro-SIM for use in Japan. The plans should be the same. My guess is before January. Not holding my breath.

    In the meantime, for those living in Japan or going to be living in Japan, I would purchase an iPad 3G from Softbank and get their 2 year data plan. Then when you travel to places like the US, for example, you can use an AT&T micro-SIM while there.
  25. macrumors 6502

    any update on this topic? - i.e. is it possible yet for a visitor to Japan to buy a micro SIM card and prepaid data plan from Softbank or DoCoMo etc for a 3G iPad purchased outside of Japan?

    I might be off to Japan in a few weeks for a short trip, I'm curious if I will be able to activate a prepaid data plan while there...

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