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I'll be traveling from the US to Japan soon for vacation, and I'm wondering if I should be bringing my iPhone 6 Plus (Verizon, LTE).

Will my phone be compatible with the network there, and will the SIM format be compatible as well? Could I find prepaid SIM cards I can put in my iPhone?

I'll be needing voice, data, and texting capabilities (I'm not a heavy user).

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    Bring your phone unlocked and buy a local SIM. – Karlson Apr 14 '15 at 15:52
  • There is no GSM per se in Japan, but there is UMTS (and LTE). – choster Apr 14 '15 at 19:52
  • Is it possible to change the SIM on my iPhone @Flimzy? Although it may be best just to buy a cheap unlocked phone prior to the trip. – zanussi Apr 15 '15 at 13:53
  • Well, to answer my own comment, I thought the iPhone 6 was SIM-free, but that's not coming until later. Looks like you can swap SIMs on the iPhone. – zanussi Apr 15 '15 at 14:14
  • Which iPhone is it? – Michael Hampton Apr 15 '15 at 18:39
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LTE is (almost) everywhere in Japan, I'm writing this from a mountain resort town while tethered to my iPad.

You can get prepaid sim cards at most of the electronics shops, look for "IIJ" on the package. 3000 yen data only is lots for any vacation unless you spend too much time on youtube or video calls. It is possible your home service will work, but you really don't want to pay the roaming charges.

if you want a callable number it's a bit more difficult, but between email, messaging and audio/video call applications ( Skype, facetime etc) an actual phone number is less important than it once was. My mobile rings maybe once a month these days, and that's only because wifey doesn't want to buy a smartphone.

  • Great comments from everyone, seems the consensus is an unlocked phone and a SIM for data only. Voice would be nice so I can check in with my elderly mother, but there are workarounds for that. Thanks. – zanussi Apr 16 '15 at 14:13
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Not all US phones will work in Japan, but (as the Japan Guide suggests) most modern 3G and 4G phones do. Specifically, the phone needs to support 3G UMTS 2100 MHz, 3G CDMA2000 800 MHz, or LTE band 1. According to this blog post the iPhone 6 will have no problem working in Japan if it is unlocked.

As for getting a sim card; the last two times I visited I pre-purchased data-only sim cards from eConnectJapan and found them to work well. They offer all of the standard sim sizes; nano, micro, and standard. I picked mine up at the Narita post office upon landing, but you can also have them delivered to your hotel/residence. The only downside is that the network (it may be a nation-wide policy) has a fair usage policy according to which they severely restrict your speeds if you use more than 360 MB in 3 days.

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If you really need voice and text with a Japanese number, you don't have many options, as most "tourist SIMs" are data only. The only data+voice plans available to tourists (that I know of) are from Softbank and b-mobile. Your phone must be unlocked. Yes, it will be compatible with Japanese networks.

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