If you are traveling to Japan and have a SIM free iPhone or smartphone and want mobile internet you have to read this article.
Before going to Japan I was researching for ways to connect my sim free iPhone to the mobile 3G networks there at a reasonable price. a couple of years ago this was almost impossible for a temporary traveler or tourist nowadays it is very easy with a new NTT Docomo company called B-mobile. B-mobile is an NTT Docomo branch company that focuses on mobile internet products, mainly using portable wifi routers and SIM FREE smartphones. They have a variety of plans ranging from data amount to time duration.
b-mobile mobile Internet data plans for visitors to Japan
The service is free of contract and can be obtained without being a resident in Japan.
There are to ways to obtain this service one if you can read Japanese is offered from the Japanese site and the other one from the English site.
The Japanese site offers much more products than its English counterpart however you would need a Japanese mobile phone in order to get the service running. From the Japanese site you can order the SIM card and have it shipped to any address within Japan or get it at Narita for pickup when you arrive (make sure you order with enough time for the card to arrive to the airport before your arrival to Narita). If you have an address in Japan you can get it shipped there and then activate it with a friends mobile free of cost.
The English site on the other hand offers its 2 main products the 1 month and 14 day pass SIM card which come already activated and ready to use. The card you pay it online or on the airport which you can pick up there on your arrival. Beware to order the card a couple of days in advance to your arrival to Tokyo if you decide to buy it online previous to your trip.
The b-mobile data plan review
I got the 1GB 定額 30 day plan for ¥3,480, (on the English site this is the b-mobile Visitor 1GB prepaid) since my trip was for a month this plan was perfect for me. I had the card shipped to a friend’s address and then got it the same day I arrived.
Have in mind that this card is only data, so it only includes mobile internet, no phone calls nor SMS.
B-mobile networks run on NTT Docomo 3G/4G/LTE cellular so it has wide and fast coverage in Japan. Downlink 14MBps / Uplink 5.7MBps.
I used his phone to activate the card, which was a quick dial to b-mobile followed by a voice guided activation procedure, very simple. I was using an SIM Free unlocked iPhone 4S bought in Spain and had no compatibility
issues with the card. I was able to connect to the 3G network without any problems, I could use Skype, Line Voice Calls, Instagram uploads and Youtube streaming with no problem. the 1GB 定額 plan also allows you to use 4G/LTE networks, unfortunately the iPhone 4S is not compatible with these so I could only use 3G, which sucked since there I could see the huge difference in speed between both. 4G/LTE is screaming fast, everything pops-up up instantly and voice is smooth and clear. Anyways I was pretty satisfied with the service, in 1 month of constant use I got to consume 80% of the whole plan, about 800MB, not bad. In my experience I haven’t spent more than 1GB of mobile data in a month yet, and I am an intensive user constantly using mobile internet and uploading pics to Instagram.
Japan has been slowly opening its mobile protectionism, in previous years having the possibility of using your foreign phone with he Japanese carrier data plans was inconceivable. However NTT has been slowly introducing into the market more open systems compatible with SIM free phones without all the requirements they had before. This year they have introduced the iPhone in their line of products and hopefully soon will offer the possibility of unlocking your phone.