iPhone in Japan?
July 21, 2011 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I'll be studying abroad in Japan for a year, and I'd like to use my (unlocked) iPhone as my cell phone while I'm there. This presents two problems. What do I do with my current plan and phone number, and what plan do I get once I'm in Japan?

The current situation: I'm currently on a family plan with AT&T and have the standard iPhone data package. Obviously I don't want to keep paying for service when I'm out of the country, so can I put my account on hold? If I have to cancel it (I'm not on any sort of contract anymore), how can I keep my number?

Once I'm in Japan, can I use the iPhone on a prepaid plan, or do I have to get a monthly plan? From what I've heard, monthly plans require a two-year contract, which is a year too long. Can I just cancel it when I leave?

Bonus question: How exactly does emailing between cell phones work in Japan? How does this work on the iPhone—with the Mail app? What about SMS?
posted by reductiondesign to Technology (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would suggest simply calling Rogers to get answers on the "putting on hold" questions. As for prepaid, I am also going on student exchange next year in Japan (seriously, where are you going? maybe we'll meet without knowing it :P ) and I looked into this.
This is only only prepaid plan I found. Others were either about to be abolished or had already been. But I've seen some 1 year or even 6 months contracts around, I just think it changes the price (I think they generally tend to extend the phone's price over the contract's period so basically shorter contract = higher fees). I used wikipedia to find main cell phone providers and just looked their plans up from there. :)

For the mail question, you might come to the same conclusion I did, which is that I think you have to have a Jphone for that. You should be able to use the iPhone's sms feature though to send messages... Also, Apple will be merging their sms and email app on the next iOS (along with a thing that's kind of like BBM) if I'm not mistaken, which means you don't have to worry about how to send it, it'll do it for you (if you get the upgrade).
posted by kitsuloukos at 3:58 PM on July 21, 2011

posted by Infernarl at 5:20 PM on July 21, 2011

An option for you is to try to switch to a prepaid SIM in the US. When I went to Japan, I chose to switch to a prepaid plan and paid $100 for however many minutes that would be valid for a year. That allowed me to keep my number and use the phone on any trips back to the US I had.

Mail might be tricky. Generally it is possible to send emails to a cell email account from a regular email program and vice versa, although emoji and such may be tricky. SMS really doesn't exist in Japan, it is just メール all the way.

Getting a phone plan/sim may be easier or harder depending on what sort of visa you have, so you'll probably have to shop around. Softbank refused to offer me a plan, but if you have a working phone already it may be more possible, since they're not subsidizing the phone. Docomo and AU were the groups that would be willing to offer me a phone where I was, but YMMV.
posted by that girl at 2:10 AM on July 22, 2011

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