Use Cell phone in Japan: How much does it cost? (Guide for travelers)

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You are traveling soon to Japan and you don’t know if you will be able to use your phone in this wonderful country, well today we bring you all the answers on how to use your cell phone while walking through the beautiful landscapes of Japan. Also, we will help you understand each of the alternatives you will have to stay connected to the internet. As well as the costs you will have to use your phone in this Asian country. 

You probably already know some options such as having free WiFi in the hotel where you will be staying. However, if you want much more feasible options for you, and that will certainly keep you connected at all times, keep reading this article and discover what we bring for you.

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Can I use my cell phone in Japan?

Whether or not you will be able to use it is very simple, as most cell phones can be used in the Asian country. However, this will depend a lot on whether your cell phone is unlocked, as locked phones can only work with certain internet networks. So the answer is that if your cell phone is unlocked, you’ll most likely be able to use it. 

However, you should also check other things to know if you will be able to use your phone or not. The first thing we recommend you to do is to verify that the place you are going to has coverage of the operator you will be connected to. For example, the main operators in Japan are AU, Docomo, Softbank, and Rakuten Mobile. 

Finally, you should also check if your phone works with the network bands of the country. To do this you will need to check if your phone meets any of the following technology and network band criteria: 

TechnologyBands
5G bandsn3 (1800), n18 (850), n28a (700), n28b (700), n77 (3700), n78 (3500), n79 (4700), n257 mmWave (28GHz)
4G bandsB1 (2100), B3 (1800), B8 (900), B11 (1500), B18 (800), B19 (800), B21 (1500), B26 (850), B28B (700), B28a (700), B41 (TDD 2500), B42 (TDD 3500)
3G bandsB1 (2100), B8 (900), B9 (1800 Japan), B11 (1500), B19 (800)
2G bandsCDMA BC0 (800), CDMA BC6 (2Ghz)
Table 1: Network frequencies in Japan. Source: kimovil.com

What are the options for using a cell phone in Japan?

Options from eSIMs, SIM cards, international roaming, Pocket Wifi, local operators, and even free WiFi are some of the options you will have to use your cell phone in Japan. So here we will talk about each of these alternatives, their advantages and disadvantages, and of course, the costs you will have with each of them. 

eSIM for traveling abroad

If you need a fast and secure option to purchase, the best option is to get an eSIM card. These are devices that are embedded in the hardware of the mobile phone, especially the latest generation, and are easily activated through QR codes. These are very easy to acquire through online stores, and one of the best that offers eSIMs is Holafly. So here are the details of the eSIMs that Holafly offers for Japan. 

Days of useAmount of mobile dataPrice (USD)
12 days6GB$37 USD
30 days8GB$47 USD
Table 2: Values of Holafly’s eSIM data variants for Japan

In order to learn more about this option, here are the advantages and disadvantages of this eSIM: 

Advantages

If you would like to purchase the Holafly eSIM for Japan, this device will bring you multiple advantages and an incredible user experience, which are: 

  • There are no registrations or subscriptions to purchase this eSIM.
  • You can keep your WhatsApp number without any problem.
  • Mobile data sharing is possible with this data eSIM.
  • High-speed connections in cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.
  • Purchase and receive the QR code instantly, via email.
  • You can use your physical SIM card and eSIM at the same time.

Disadvantages

On the other hand, we will also comment on some negative aspects of this eSIM, for you to take into account: 

  • Most eSIM cards do not offer mobile calls, only data. 
  • eSIMs can only be installed once, so if encounter any problems don’t remove them from your cellphone, instead contact your eSIM provider.
  • Not all cell phones are compatible with eSIMs.

International SIM Card

Another alternative that you can take into account during your trip to use your cell phone is a SIM card. You are probably a bit surprised, but nowadays many stores offer SIM cards for different countries, and of course among these stores is Holafly. Here are the details of their SIM card plans for Japan: 

Days of useAmount of mobile dataPrice (USD)
8 daysUnlimited data$38 USD
15 daysUnlimited data$48 USD
20 daysUnlimited data$76 USD
30 daysUnlimited data$81 USD
Table 3: Values of the data variants of Holafly’s Japan SIM card

For the SIM card we will also discuss its advantages and disadvantages so that you have a more complete information about it: 

SIM card advantages

Here are some of the advantages you can count on if you decide to use a Holafly SIM card for your trip to Japan:

  • You can share data with other devices.
  • Using a SIM card for Japan is way cheaper than other services.
  • You’ll have 24-hour support and technical help via the Holafly webshop chat.
  • You keep your WhatsApp number without any problems.
  • Easy installation by inserting it into your cellphone when you arrive in Japan.

SIM card negative points

Likewise, these are the disadvantages you could have with a SIM card: 

  • You cannot make calls or send SMS.
  • You can only use mobile data with this device.

Pocket WiFi for Japan

Pockets WiFi are small devices that are designed to give people access to the internet in almost every single country around the world. These devices are mostly rented by travelers who like to travel with a lot of people or devices. It is very easy to rent and the deliveries tend to be fast. 

Yet, the main issue comes with its price, renting one Pocket WiFi for a week in Japan can cost between 50$ to 100$, which is a pretty high price. Also, people will have to pay some penalties for the device in case they lose it or something happens to it.

Free WiFi in Japan

Japan is a first-world country, so people will have the chance to easily find free WiFi in almost every place that they go. In case you think that this is a good alternative for you to use, then you can search and download Avast Wi-Fi Finder, WinMan, and WiFi Map, some of the apps that are designed to help users to find WiFi in a matter of seconds without people worrying about it. 

However, you should keep in mind that staying connected to free wifis is not the safest way to have an internet connection. 

Can I use my phone service in Japan?

Many carriers in different countries around the world offer their users the option to activate international roaming when traveling to another country. So you will probably be able to use your cell phone service in Japan. However, you should keep in mind that international roaming services tend to be the most expensive alternative

If you want to know if you will be able to activate this option with your local operator while traveling to Japan, we recommend you contact them. However, we will tell you a little bit about international roaming from famous carriers such as AT&T and O2. 

Using my cell phone in Japan with AT&T 

This American company offers its clients two plans for roaming in Japan. One of these plans is only focused on giving people access to phone calls and unlimited text messages. It costs 15$ per line, but it might not be the best alternative in case you want to have an internet connection.

There is, however, a better choice. The International Pass provides text messages, phone calls, and mobile data, and the pricing is reasonable for what it provides. People can use this service while roaming Japan for only 10$ per day. AT&T also offers its users to have a use per day option, in which will have to pay 2.05 USD per MB. 

Using my cell phone in Japan with O2

With O2, an operator con UK, you’ll get to see what a somehow cheap roaming service is. People who are customers of this company will only have to pay around 6 USD per day for the roaming Japan service. It is not a lot, and it will give users access to their local data allowance, which can be extended, and unlimited text messages and phone calls too.

Local mobile operators in Japan

When you arrive in Japan you may also be able to purchase services from local carriers if you prefer. In Japan, you will find in the airport’s physical stores operators such as NTT Docomo and Softbank. This option will allow you to compare and analyze the prices and advantages of different operators from Japan. But the reality is that it will take a lot of your time.

How much does it cost to use my cell phone in Japan?

Although we have already talked a little about the different alternatives that you will have in Japan to use your cell phone and stay connected to the internet. We will now show you a summary of the costs of the different alternatives, so you can compare prices and make the best decision for you. 

Service Internet tariff in Japan
eSIM card Japan8GB for 30 days for 47 USD
SIM card JapanUnlimited data for 30 days at 81 USD.
AT&T roaming in Japan$2.05/MB
O2 Roaming in Japan6 USD per day
Pocket WiFi for Japan$50 to $100 USD for 7 days
Public WiFi in JapanFree
Table 4. Rates of the different options to connect to the internet in Japan

To conclude this article, we would like to comment that before making a decision, take into account both the advantages and disadvantages that each alternative gives you, their costs, and of course their ease of acquisition and use.

That is why, after performing our own analysis, we would say that as a first option we would recommend using one of Holafly’s eSIMs and SIM cards when traveling to Japan. Both for its benefits, costs, and good product quality.  

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