Buying Used iPhone in Japan

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by those.dark, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. those.dark macrumors newbie


    Aug 1, 2017
    Tokyo : Japan
    I'm looking to buy a used iPhone here in Japan - either on Yahoo Auction, Craigslist, Mercari, etc. But with people easily throwing around terms like SIM-free, unlocked, and the like, I'm wondering if anyone residing here can give me a clear-cut explanation as to which of these terms I should be verifying prior to purchasing.

    Since I have no desire or intention to obtain service thru the big three - AU, Docomo or Softbank - I know to avoid anyone selling their phone which is locked to their carrier. I want to use one of the budget voice/data sim companies available in Japan.

    Would SIM-free and unlocked basically be the same end result? I can use the phone with any SIM card/service I wish? Is there any particular way I can verify that the device is SIM-free and/or unlocked?

    Thanks all.
  2. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    I've bought and sold a few iPhones through such means in Japan when I lived there (just left in April) and you just have to carefully read the description. A lot of Japanese people will advertise their phones as SIM free or unlocked but put the 可 character at the end of the title, meaning that it is possible for the phone to be unlocked, usually with a SIM adapter. The explanation about the adapter usually won't come until later in description, so if you are browsing quickly and make an impulse buy you could end up with a locked phone.

    As long as you are fine reading Japanese on the auction sites it's no problem, simply read everything carefully. If you need some help I'm sure a Japanese friend could provide this.

    There are actually a lot of US phones going around the auction sites, many of which are unlocked and don't have the shutter sound unlike Japanese phones, which is nice. I bought a US 5s last year on Yahoo Auctions to use as a running phone and it worked fine on any SIM.

    A more expensive option, but guaranteed to give you an unlocked phone, is to buy one directly from Apple.

    Also the carriers now have to provide unlocking for phones after 2015 legislation was passed. So if you do end up with a carrier locked iPhone 6s or newer you can actually get it unlocked from the carrier for a nominal fee. Some carriers require you have a contract on the phone for the first few months, but this applies I believe when the phone was originally purchased and activated.

    Lastly, one thing I've found in fixing and selling old Apple hardware in Japan is that used Apple stuff tends to command a higher price than in the US, especially in used stores and on auction sites, so don't be surprised if you see this.

    Good luck!

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