After a long period of absence I am a recent returnee to Japan.  Although I kept my 3GS unlocked and jailbroken for almost 2 years, back in April my iPhone started randomly rebooting and finally bricked when I was upgrading to 4.2.1 (I believe).  I ended up having to OOW replace it for $199.  Of course it came loaded with an unlockable baseband and new bootloader. 


So, despite my conscientious efforts to leave my options open, I arrived in Japan with a locked 3GS. Knowing there was an iPhone 5/4S on the horizon, despite the temptation to get a Galaxy S-II I bided my time for the last couple of months waiting for Apples release.  Well it's been almost 4 months I've been here, and despite Apple's promising them in November there's still no factory unlocked iPhone 4S readily available.  I feel screwed by my current carrier lock, and I'm sick of them and the concept.  I dutifully completed my contract, and more than paid off the phone, it should be mine to do with as I please, and Softbank is no better with unlocking than my former carrier.  


Given my now intense dislike for carrier-locks, and the fact my length of stay in Japan is undetermined (although totally up to me, and I have 32 months left on my visa), I planned on buying an unlocked 4S and getting a sim through DoCoMo.  Since the wait was so long, the other day I was perusing Yahoo! Auctions for some 3GS repair parts (cracked the glass last week after 2 years of iPhone ownership), and ended up just pulling the trigger on a 4.xx firware iP4 with cracked glass.  So I should have a Softbank iPhone 4 showing up at my door sometime tonight, which I had planned on using the Gevey sim to unlock.  


After I bought it I started doing more serious research and realized that even bringing my own equipment to the party, it looks like I'm locked into a 2-year contract with whatever carrier I chose. I don't have any really technical Japanese friends, and it seems like things are constantly changing so info even a few months old doesn't necessarily reflect my options.  


Looks like I can get a micro-sim from DoCoMo, but it comes with a 2 year contract, and is a decent amount more expensive than Softbank.  There's some other catch I can't remember, like it's more expensive to use an unlocked iPhone than a DoCoMo smartphone plan, or they restrict access based on IMEI? 

Obviously, there's Softbank, but again 2 year contract, it's cheaper but the service is crappy (may not even be service in my part of the inaka according to some). If I get an unlocked 4S down the road there may be some issues getting pakehoudai on it? 

There's B-Mobile, which is run on DoCoMo, but the plan that seems worthwhile comes out to basically ¥5000/month for only 25 mins of voice, and 1.2gb of full speed data. Plus 1 year contract.  I have a friend with a 4S on AU and it sounds like she pays just a little bit more for a lot more phone and unlimited data.


Any opinions on  getting a contract with phone from DoCoMo or Softbank and just reselling the phone?  I see on Yahoo Auctions there are IMEI restrictions, how do I buy and resell without selling an  X or ^ phone?


Sorry it's long, thanks for any advice or new leads!


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In a situation like yours, maybe going for the Softbank plan might be suitable and then just pay the 9,800 yen penalty if you quit before two years.




Remember, though — it's not just a 9,800 early termination fee he'd be paying, but also the remaining cost of the subsidized phone itself. A phone that, as of now, can't be unlocked.


I so wish that Apple would sell (and Softbank and/or au/KDDI would support) unlocked iPhones in Japan. I'd gladly pay the full unsubsidized price for one.

I was going by the assumption that he bought an unlocked phone to start with. Those aren't subsidized, right?




I could be wrong, but I don't believe Softbank will give you a two-year contract if you bring an unlocked iPhone to them. I've been under the impression that you have to get a Softbank-issued iPhone if you want the contract.


Hi, just do this:

Buy a factory unlocked iPhone 4S on eBay (64GB for 1,000USD including shipping to Japan). Be careful: US unlocked phones are NOT features unlocked: they are only carrier unlocked. Make sure you get a FULLY FACTORY unlocked phone with tethering, 3G VoIP etc enabled: carrier unlock and feature unlock are 2 different things. You will need both.

Get a broken/old/used/whatever original Softbank phone from a friend or from Yahoo auctions (100 yen). Make sure that it was originally sold by Softbank.

Go to a Softbank shop and show them the old phone. They will check that the EMEI is an original Softbank IMEI.

Ask for a new number/contract for this IMEI/phone. Make sure that you ask and get the unlimited data plan and that you debit your charges on a Japanese credit card or bank account. NOT use your home bank/CC. You will have to sign up for the 2 years plan (with the 9,800 yen penalty) but don't worry, go ahead...

Sign the contract and walk out. Go to another nearby Softbank shop and tell them that you lost your sim card and you need another one. They will ask to verify your ID and ask you for your phone number. They will then issue you a new sim card free of charge. Make sure to ask for the black micro sim card for the iPhone and not the grey one for smartphones.

They will give it to you without asking you to show them the phone (they just checked your IMEI/ID match).

Go home and google: "Softbank iPhone APN settings" and retrieve the settings and instructions on how to change your new iPhone's APN. It's SUPER EASY, don't worry! My girfriend did it. And she's blonde (super hot, but blonde!) Change the APN settings and, voilà, you're ready to go... TAH DAH! You will get data, SMS, MMS/e-mail, internet, Skype over 3G, tethering... the whole show. In fact you will be able to enjoy many more features than with an original SB iPhone. And no extra charges for the data.

... when you leave the country remember to invite me to your sayonara party and simply close your japanese bank account and don't bother to cancel/pay anything else to Sb. Fly away and they won't chase you: don't listen to who tells you that you won't be able to get another work visa etc... It's complete B_S_! If you ever DO want to come back again (why?), then the only "draw back" (or maybe advantage) will be that you won't be able to sign up with Softbank again.

This website does not concur or condone modifying SB's APN settings.

Softbank sucks!


I like how you say "This website does not concur or condone modifying SB's APN settings" but in the previous paragraph, you recommend closing your bank account and running away from your financial obligations.




To me, there is a difference between subverting the system and stealing.  Working around APN isn't really bad, since you ARE paying for a subscription.  However, when you recommend that foreigners close their bank accounts and run away from their financial obligations, you make it harder for us foreigners who choose to live here, and perpetuate a terrible stereotype that we fight to erase everyday.




+1 I fully agree with you ketahi

Tomomaso has posted his steal-Softbank-service manifesto on several threads in this forum. It's offensive. 


Tommaso, here are a couple of serious questions for you: If you hate Softbank so much, why did you bother jumping through so many hoops to get an unlocked iPhone 4s working on the Softbank network in the first place? And if you hate Japan so much, why are you still here?

I apologize if I have offended you or pissed off anyone else: it was not my intention.

First of all I have to use Softbank, it is not my choice. Second I do not hate Japan, the contrary is true. I find it's culture fascinating and I love the people: I just returned from Tohoku where I spent almost 3 months volunteering, cleaning up s__t from the suers and helping to feed and bathe elderlies, while putting my job (and my income) on hold to do so.

What follows is OT but, since I have been mentioned a few times I will contribute with a bit of food for thoughts:

Yes, I do agree, I should have added that this site does not concur or condone running away from one's financial obligations and yes I do hate Softbank.

But no, I do not agree with you guys on setting boundaries for what’s right or wrong, good or bad. I was suggesting one way not necessarily the best way. I leave it to the individual’s morals to determine if it’s best for him or not.

You say that changing the APN is morally ok while running away is not. Ok, I respect your opinion. But others may have different moral parameters. Under Japanese laws BOTH actions are illicit, as once you sign a contract you are legally bound to respect its clauses. All of them, including the use of predetermined APNs which you condone not respecting.

As for perpetuating stereotypes… well… I may agree, but what about those who call Domino damp and soggy piece of undercooked flour mixture, “pizza”? Or those who buy mozzarella in a supermarket? Are not these financial and cultural rapes of another culture? Yes, they are, but who cares! If you like to pay a piece of crap cheese for the premium price of mozzarella, go right ahead! Does that contribute to hateful stereotype of the uncouth and uneducated American. Yes, it does. And so what? If that's what he likes...! To fight this hateful stereotype then Americans should not drink Coca-Cola at lunch or walk in shorts and flip flops or put ketchup on their spaghetti when in Italy!

Then, if Softbank should be allowed to charge as they please in Japan, why shouldn’t an Italian (or French or NY) taxi driver round off the fare and charge extra? Every Japanese tourists keeps complaining about it and yet have you ever seen a Japanese customer leave a tip in a NY restaurant (or any restaurant for that matter)?

Who is to say which is better or worse? Where are the boundaries of morally acceptable and not? Local laws? Then no running away from your financial obligations but also no APN change. Local customs? Then taxi drivers can fraud tourists and I can fraud Softbank and run away from my financial obligations.

I find Softabank’s fees as absurd as a others find absurd tipping a New York waiter or rounding off a taxi fare.

I would love to agree with you that everyone should respect local traditions, cultures and customs when a “guest” in a foreign country… Heck, I’m Italian! But the truth is that that it is simply impossible to the extent that you wish.

It is impossible because the world is a melting pot of cultures, traditions and customs. It is part of Nature: Homo Sapiens replaced Homo Nehandertal and retarded, locked phone, carrier plans/fees will be replaced by unlocked and more sensible ones. It’s called evolution and whether you like it or not it cannot be stopped in nature, it cannot be stopped in the economy and it cannot be stopped in society/cultures.

Thank God the world’s cultures, races and economies are melting into one and it makes no difference if I like to pay extra to use my iPhone to tether and stream movies or if I like to tip a waiter or not because in the end we will all melt into the most efficient, practical and economic solution. The inefficient, unpractical and uneconomic systems (biological, social or economic) will have to adapt or disappear.

DoCoMo has already stopped locking it’s phones/sims... and US carriers are following… whether you call going to the moon progress or blasphemy, the reality is that evolution is sometimes painful for the system that has to adapt but cannot be stopped.

Now it’s Softbank’s turn to adapt… it’s painful but they will have to, or they will just go bust. And if this corroborates the rude gaijin stereotype then there is also a cultural adaptation that will have to follow very soon...

In short, I recommend mobile phone users in general, foreigners and Japanese alike, in Tokyo and around the world, not to let local customs lobotomize them and not to accept supinely the flow but, rather, to adapt to the situation, improvise and reach the objective within one's own morals and boundaries.

Every culture has its stereotypes and its good and bad sides:

Put 3 Italians in a room and you'll have 4 opinions" Stereotype... maybe. But often true!

I go to an electronic's shop and ask: "Do you have the charger for this phone here?"
"No, sir, I am sorry".
So I walk away. Then I go back to ask directions, to the same clerk: "If you don't have it here, where can I find a charger for this phone?"
"4th floor, on the left, Ketai section"...
Practical sense? Flexibility? Where are you? Another stereotype, yes, but often true.

I could come up with hundreds examples. But the point is that I don't care for stereotypes because in the end it doesn't matter: the idea to bypass Softbank's APN restrictions and then run away was given to me, surprise, surprise, by a Japanese friend!

Trust, me... not all Japanese would agree with you. If they could they would gladly not pay Softbank's ridiculous charges considering their dismal service.

I respect and love Japan and Japanese culture but don’t let it “tatamize” me! Diversity, innovation and improvisation are good and I prefer to be considered rude than to act as a moron and just go with the flow.

If my tones came across rude, then once again, I apologize.



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