iPhone4 in Japan?

Discussion in 'iPhone Launch Meetups' started by natejohnstone@g, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. natejohnstone@g macrumors regular


    Jan 6, 2007
    I've been researching this for a while, but keep getting conflicting answers so I thought I'd post a thread.

    Situation: I want an iPhone4, and am moving to Japan next week.

    Option 1) I am eligible for an AT&T upgrade, so I could pre-order an iPhone4 this week. Everything would work in Japan except the actual cell phone and GPS (even if I hack it), and when I'm back home in the US on leave the phone would work.

    Option 2) I could get an iPhone4 via SoftBank when I get to Japan. This way It would work as a cell phone while in Japan, but not when I"m home on leave (even if hacked). Also ... I'm not sure everything else will work on the phone! Some people have said that the GPS doesn't work in Japan, others that the WiFi doesn't work in Japan, etc. etc. I need to be able to use Skype on my iPhone4.

    Does anyone know for sure what (if anything) is "turned off" on the iPhone4 in Japan?

    Thanks gang.
  2. snowcrasher macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2009
    First of all, Welcome to Japan!
    (I assume this is your first time here)

    To answer your questions:

    Option 1) Your AT&T number WILL work in Japan, provided you are willing to pay the international roaming charges to AT&T. There is no need to hack anything. GPS will also work. Just remember the simple principle that any service which requires access to the 3G network (NOT WiFi - that's free) for data will lead to additional *roaming* data charges for you. The unlimited data plans are only valid when you are in the home network. In another country, you have to pay additional charges. Check with AT&T about their rates.

    Option 2) Again, if you get a SoftBank number, you will be charged (exorbitant) international roaming fees by SoftBank when you use the phone in the US (either for voice or data over 3G). I have been advised by the SoftBank agent who took my pre-order, that I should not use the phone for data in another country unless I want to pay a "lot of money". :) Everything will work in Japan (except for apps which have international restrictions, like Pandora for instance). Skype over 3G (& WiFi, where available) WILL work.
    All iPhones are sold with 2-yr contracts in Japan (data plans differ), there are no unlocked versions available officially, and SoftBank will NOT sell the SIM separately for an unlocked iPhone bought elsewhere. You CAN (rather, "will have to") charge the monthly payments to your US (or nop-Japan) credit card, *IF* you don't have one issued in Japan or you don't have a Japanese bank account. Of course, a Japan issued card will help you eliminate any FX conversion charges. If you are getting the unlimited data option from SoftBank on a 2-yr contract, you will get FREE access to all of SoftBank's WiFi sites within Japan for 2 years (vs. a separate 480 yen fee per month for others).

    That should answer all your questions. Let me know once you are here.

    Some additional info: You will need a Japan-issued credit card to access the Japan app store. If you don't have one, you will have to rely on apps available in the US store (charged to your US card). If you have both - you can access both!

  3. RealSkyDiver macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2010
    never ever EVER use ATT service overseas. You will never pay them back with those roaming charges and if you move to Japan there's no point in that anyway.
  4. tiillok macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2010
    iphone 4 doesn't work

    I was just in Japan 2 weeks ago. I have an ATT iphone 4 from the US, the phone doesn't work at all in Japan. I can't call, I can't surf, I can't text, GPS doesn't work. I have tried turning on Wifi and data roaming, I had no signal, no bars.
  5. tablo13 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2010
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Weird, WiFi has nothing to do with the country. Are there any wifi around you?
  6. lshirase macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2008
    there's something wrong with your phone / sim....
  7. eemsTV macrumors member


    Apr 9, 2011
    so basically i can't use my Verizon iPhone 4 in Japan for calls, text, anything other than wifi huh?
  8. TheMacBookPro macrumors 68020


    May 9, 2008
    You can use it on WiFi for internet. GPS will work if you have an app that has the maps downloaded locally.
  9. TrulyYuki macrumors 6502


    Mar 4, 2010
    When i visit japan, i do use my phone. I get charged for texting and phone calls but i turn off my data and only use wifi. in japan wifi isn't everywhere. 4g is so much faster than 3g wifi seems useless.
    My brother lives in japan. He has the iphone and he is with softbank. He's happy with it. sadly iphone is still 3g but he doesn't have any issues with his phone. When he comes to visit here he uses the wifi but turns everything else off or just tries not to use it. I have a line on my plan for him so when he comes and visits he uses one of my old iphones for the 3 to 4 weeks he's here.
    I might be saying more than I need to, but if you're MOVING, just get the iphone in Japan.
  10. macingman macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2011
    This thread is from June 2010, I'm sure the OP sorted there issue a LONGGGGGGG time ago.
  11. TrulyYuki macrumors 6502


    Mar 4, 2010
    dude... I WISH i noticed that. WOW. well there's my advise for the next guy or girl...

    i'm feeling super stupid at this point
  12. macingman macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2011
    Don't worry about it. It's not your fault. It's the person that resurrected a 8 month old thread on the 28th of April's fault.
  13. lyth macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2011
    When going to sofbank for a phone, You will need some things.

    1) Japanese Bank Account
    2) Geijin Card (Foriegners card)
    3) SOMETIMES a permanant resident of Japan to accompany you.

    Take it from me. I used to live there.

    edit: Sorry, didn't see how old this way. But it is valuable knowledge to anyone seeking to travel abroad to Japan.
  14. Paradoxpm macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2011
    Sorry for the thread hijacking, but didn't feel like opening a new one.
    I will be moving to Japan soon. Any idea on how to use an unlocked GSM iPhone with Softbank?
    Last time, they told me that they wouldn't sell just the card. I could get a prepaid, but I would be out of their iPhone data plan.
    Any ideas?
  15. macpro1 macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2011
    I kinda wanted to know the same thing. I am going to study abroad in Japan this fall and I wanted to purchase a unlocked iphone 4. I wanted to see if it was possible to use a unlocked iphone 4 in Japan with a Japanese sim card before I purchase an iphone 4.
  16. twentytwo22 macrumors regular

    Jul 13, 2010
    More trouble than it is worth and not possible for most people --- just get an iPhone in Japan.
  17. AppleFanatic10 macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2010
    Encino, CA
    The iPhones in Japan are VERY expensive.. I wanted to get one when I was there but since I was a minor at the time... I didn't have a job and my mom wasn't going to let me get a contract on my own. But back to your question, a couple people I know who were going to get the iPhone said that an unlocked iPhone wouldn't work in Japan for some reason... Don't really know why though, since Softbank uses sim cards. If you see a unlocked iPhone in Japan somewhere, that's working correctly with Softbank... Please tell me lol.
  18. Paradoxpm macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2011
    The reason is that SoftBank doesn't sell plain sim cards for use with the iPhone.
  19. valberry macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2011
    the bay...for now!
    iphone woes!

    i just read through all these replies! i noticed it was over a year old but it's all been super helpful for me to read through! :D i am moving to japan in a couple of months and ive been really conflicted about what to do about my iphone/lack of iphone when i get there. i have one final question though:

    :confused: i will have both my american bank account/credit cards and i will be setting up japanese bank account while im there: will i be able to transfer all the stuff from my current att iphone to my new japanese softbank iphone? if i keep a u.s.a address, will that help me to continue use of potentially country restricted programs? :confused: i assume as long as i backup my stuff in itunes i can transfer it to my new phone? :confused:

    also, do i absolutely need an alien registration card before i can get a phone? id prefer to get as much set up as possible before i get there... so any info on that would be great!:apple:

    thank you everyone!!! :D:D:D
  20. snowcrasher macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2009
    by "stuff" on your att phone, if you are referring to Contacts and the other apps on the iPhone, then the answer is yes you can.
    for some country restricted programs, which involve streaming media like pandora - it doesnt matter if you have an usa address. they check the IP address to find out your location and allow or block access depending on where you are. some, like hulu for instance, have separate us and japan accounts (with separate monthly subscriptions). you can use the jp account when you are in japan and the us one in the us. but you cannot use the us one in jp or vice versa.
    to get any phone (or bank account) in japan, you must have the ARC. no way to get around that one. since it takes approx 2 weeks to get the actual card from the time of your application, they issue a temporary "certificate of matters in the alien registration records" at the time of applying for the ARC. you can use this certificate to get a phone or open bank accounts while you wait for the ARC. keep in mind that if you use this temporary certificate, the service provider will keep the original document with them. so if you are planning to use it to open a bank account and get a phone, then get 2 (or more) copies when you are applying for the ARC. (each extra copy costs around 200 or 300 yen, if i remember correctly. the first copy is free).
  21. skyy915 macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2011
    Anything you downloaded on your iPhone in the US, you can actually redownload again using the Apple ID pertaining to those apps and music. So you can still purchase apps from the American iTunes/App Store with that account. Sadly, some apps like Pandora and Neflix don't work at all in Japan because of international music/video laws. Even Pandora and Netflix won't work on your computer in Japan unless you use some VPN client.

    Pertaining to creating a bank account and getting an iPhone in Japan, you will definitely need to get a Foreigners Card before being able to create any contract. Actually, many places require both Alien Registration Cards and your Passport to create any type of account or contract. For an iPhone contract with Softbank (one of Japan's cell phone providers with iPhone), foreigners are required both passport and Alien Registration Card, and also a Japanese credit card or bank account card. But there are many cases where they let you slide with a foreign credit card. AU by KDDI (another cell phone provider) only require an Alien Registration Card, but won't accept just a foreign passport. They want to make sure you're living here for most of your two year contract. I personally recommend paying your monthly bills by credit card that you can create at a bank.

    Another option is if you have an unlocked GSM phone from the US you can take that iPhone to Docomo (another provider) and create a contract there, but they also probably require a credit card, alien card, and passport.

    In a nutshell, it's quite impossible to get all of this done before coming here to Japan because you need to create that alien card.

    Hope it helps.
  22. beret9987 macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    I personally recommend you use au or Docomo over Softbank. Softbank's network has let me down time and time again, it gets WAY too overloaded in the urban areas and sometimes I don't have coverage even when I'm on a train. I would just buy an unlocked iPhone 4S from the US, and then you can use Docomo. au is CDMA, so that phone would only be good for Japan.
  23. natejohnstone@g thread starter macrumors regular


    Jan 6, 2007
    Softbank sucks. It doesn't work in my own home other than one room, and I loose signal all the time when I'm somewhere else. Just not enough towers I think. I'm up in Misawa so maybe that's an issue as well.
  24. yourmother macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2009
    Ive lived in Tokyo, Kanagawa and in Miyagi with Softbank. No problems, but yes Softbank is the Att of Japan. Try to search the web at a fireworks festival or some event, sloow. The network cant handle it.

    I have AU on the iPhone now and wish I never switched. Thats another story.
  25. rockden macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2012
    i think japan owner for technology many big company are working in japan and manufacturing many mobile and insert great apps but i phone in japan i dont whois result see up i really japan country and i apprciated in technology field japence people work many hard

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