So after 2 years with SoftBank, I switched to au, and so far, I am extremely pleased. Here is what I noticed so far.
1. Network Connectivity. Bottom line, for me at least the KDDI network has been a dream. In places where I had 'No Signal' under Softbank, I am now getting at least 3 bars of KDDI. As I mentioned in another post, I routinely went through (and worked in) 10 SoftBank dead spots on my 2 hour daily commute from Chiba to Tokyo. Now, with my KDDI iPhone, I have ZERO dead spots. Not a single dead spot. In fact, with a week of use, I have yet to EVER see the 'No Signal' mark on my iPhone screen.
2. Network Speed. As good as KDDI has been for signal, the data speed has also been outstanding. At first, I was not sure if the difference was my 4s, or the network itself. But after running speed tests, it became clear that KDDI was (for me at least) consistently giving me more speed in the same offices/places where I used my SoftBank iPhone. I have pitted my Softbank iPad (first gen) against my KDDI 4s while sitting in a Starbucks in Tokyo station. Running the same test, I had 200kbps on my iPad under Softbank, but my 4s was running at 1.2Mpbs. Your mileage may vary, but I would feel confident that almost everyone will have consistently better speeds with KDDI (at least for now).
3. KDDI offers the same 980 yen/month calling package that includes free calls to other KDDI users BUT unlike Softbank, they offer OTHER calling plans with free minutes every month. This means that if you routinely make a lot of calls, you can actually end up saving quite a bit of money each month. So, if you have KDDI family calling plan (free calls to family members), you might opt to choose the 1000 yen of free call credits to any carrier plan instead of the unlimited KDDI-only free call plan.
Cons- It isn't all wine and roses. There are some problems with KDDI, and some sacrifices you have to make.
1. No FaceTime app. It just DOESN'T EXIST on the KDDI iPhone 4s. Even if you are on wi-fi, you can't use it! KDDI says that it will be available 'soon', whenever that is.
2. No MMS messages. So you cannot send photos or videos by sms. Again, coming 'soon'
3. No iMessage. You are not permitted to enter email addresses in the Message app! Just numbers!
Also coming 'soon'.
4. No Visual Voicemail. It just is not offered, at any price. Not today- maybe later.
5. No simultaneous data and voice calls. So you can't send an email to someone you are talking to on the phone. You also can't browse the web while on a call. Unfortunately, unlike the first 4 problems, this issue will NEVER be remedied- it is a fact of life for KDDIs network.
6. Threat of throttling. KDDI states the following on their billing pages...
IF you exceed 3 million packets in a single day, you MAY be subject to having your data speeds immediately throttled down until the next day.
IF you have exceeded 3 million packets IN SUM for the LAST 3 DAYS, you MAY be subject to having your speeds throttled down UNTIL the sum of the last 3 days use is less than 3 million packets.
Strict, huh? That being said, I have already downloaded over 10 million packets, and I am still getting 1.3-1.4 Mbps download speeds, so if they are throttling my speed, I say go ahead!
So that is just off the top of my head- there are probably more things. If you have anything you want me to check on the au network, just let me know.
Ricardo- You are correct that the KDDI au iPhone Email account is not a push account, so this means that you need to set that account to fetch (and the smallest fetch interval is 15 minutes.).
It is, however, an imap account, so that is nice, but unlike my old i.softbank account, it appears that the spammers are fairly adept at figuring out KDDI email addresses.
As for the fees for sending non-au SMS messages, even with SoftBank, you have to pay 3 yen per message to non-Softbank phones, so there is no difference there. The Softbank difference is that IF the recipient has an iPod/iPhone/iPad, then it gets sent for free via iMessage automagically. KDDI is still behind the 8-ball on that feature.
>As for the fees for sending non-au SMS messages, even with SoftBank, you have to pay 3 yen per message to non-Softbank phones, so there is no difference there.
I thought that with the white plan, all SMS is free, to any phone?
...ah, just checked. you're right. softbank still charges for SMS to other companies... thanks!
Regarding the au iPhone 4S, here is a bit of Wi-Fi spot information.
- Softbank has their ソフトバンクWiFiスポット where you can use your iPhone wirelessly for free, and au has something similar in the works.
- Sometime within 2011, free use of "au Wi-Fi SPOT" is planned (for customers using the IS Flat plan).
Until then, they are running a trial public LAN campaign (公衆無線LANご利用お試しキャンペーン) that is free until the end of March 2012.
You can use Wi-Fi spots that are part of the 株式会社Wire&Wireless(Wi2) coverage. Currently, "Wi2premium" is the only network available (there are a total of 5 including Wi2premium).
To setup the free trial Wi-Fi plan, download this PDF (Japanese) for instructions. Warning - it's a fairly complicated process, and the site I got this info from recommends just waiting until the official au Wi-Fi SPOT plan is available.
Disclaimer: I do not have the au iPhone 4S yet (still on a SBM 3GS), so I cannot verify any of the above.
Hi Dan- I completely forgot to mention the free public wi-fi access info.
In a nutshell, it is very easy to set up. All KDDI users have to to is go to a place with Wi2 signal, and then go to Settings>Network>WiFi and choose either Wi2 or Wi2Premium. Safari will automatically open, and then you simply press a large button labeled "au iPhone Users Click Here". Agree to the terms, and boom- its finished. Now, whenever you get near a Wi2 network, you will join.
That is the good news. The bad news is that the number of Wi2 spots pales to the number of Mobilepoint, Softbank0001 and FON hotspots. Bottom line, I end up using KDDI 3G for data about 99% of the time.
The ironic point is that at times, Softbank's data network was so slow that I NEEDED to use a public wifi spot if I wanted to browse with speed. Since KDDI gives me consistent high speed, I find that the only time I need a public wifi spot is when I am downloading large apps.
I had my iPhone 3G on Softbank and stayed with them for Iphone 4S. I live in Shikoku and had not problems.
Also there is no Facetime icon on the iPhone. You access facetime calls from the contact list. THere is a factime option there. I am surprised that AU has not activated Wifi only systems and IMessage.