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Japan's old flip-phones soldier on while smartphones shrink

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Thank you, people of Japan... intelligent behaviour !

3 ( +11 / -8 )

And what percentage of these shipments were of old CEOs ordering them for their workforce? I'd say 90% or more...

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

I contribute the rise in "feature" phone sales due to the older demographics who probably find smartphones too complicated, or too much for their needs. However, its been said that the production of feature phones will decrease significantly within the next few years.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Smarthphone contracts are expensive as hell. About 8000yen a month if lucky. What does a flip phone cost? 3000 yen?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I still rock the flip phone and I usually pay about 1500-2000 yen per month. Once in a while it dips into 3000 when it's a socially heavy month like in the summers. I just don't see why I would want to pay almost 100,000 yen a year when I barely pay 20,000 yen a year doing the same thing.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

@Michael - the 8000 yen / month is mostly for data allowance for.most users... many have cut off their home internet subscription as smartphone plan data allowances increase ( I'll be doing the same shortly) so that compensates somewhat. Most people use their smartphone for internet access, as a camera, video, music and game player etc.( so no need to buy any of those anymore) lots of people don't pay any call charges at all as they use the Skype or.LINE for free calls....if you use the smartphone as you,d your old flip phone then the money doesn't add up, definitely... But most use it for different reasons.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

There are plenty of cheap smartphone plans out there if you don't mind changing service providers. I pay ¥2900 a month for my iPhone plan with Docomo. I'm able to surf the net, send a few texts, watch YouTube videos while I'm on the train. But most of my calls are made through Line, which is free. They were giving away 16GB phones for ¥1, but I opted for a 64GB one.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Y! Mobile is offering smartphone contracts for ¥2500. Not the shiny new ones you would be proud to show around, but smart enough.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

One point missed: flip phones do pretty much everything smart phones do (varies by model). I can pay for the train, food at the kiosk, etc. using my flip phone. Listen to music, etc. And they are compact.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Missingcyclone - yes, indeed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Y! Mobile is offering smartphone contracts for ¥2500.

You only get 1Gb of data for that, which doesn't go very far if you are watching YouTube on the go, etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have a smart phone family contract for 3 phones about 10,000 yen which I think is reasonable. But the downside to smart phones: 1. people become stupid (wife won't stop mind numbing candy game, son's vision going downhill from peering at 7point font all day), 2. sound quality on calls is bad compared to flip phones, 3. ring quality is poor and I miss 1/2 of my calls cause I just don't hear the ring in any crowded area, 4. etc.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Older people largely stick to flip-phones, probably most 50+ year olds. Virtually no one under 30 would ahve a flip pone today except for maybe school chidren or something. Smartphones also last longer so not as many renewals.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Smartphones also last longer so not as many renewals.

Huh? Try dropping a smartphone and a flipphone. Many of the people I see on trains have a shattered smartphone screen. Smarthphones are more fragile.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

" flip phones do pretty much everything smartphone do " fair enough, they do have some of the functionality, but the size and quality of the screen ( which is the major factor for internet usage) is simply incomparable... But hey, as long as the user us happy with whatever they use then it's all good. All about having a choice.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some very very cheap packages out there for smart phones.

My new(?) model was 3 years old, so it was ¥0. I had a new i-pad thrown in for nix, and the monthly cost is minimal.

I never wanted a smart phone but had to change, and now I'd never go back to a small screen flip keitai.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There is also a "made in Japan" variant to this problem. Use a flip phone AND a smart phone! Japan has plenty of data-only sim plans - most subcontract off NTT. You stick the data-sim in an android machine or old iphone and you get 2Gb/month for appx $30 (Y3000). Along with pay-as-you-go on a flip phone for $20-30month, you get all the benefits of old faithful, plus lIne, skype, etc. Of course, I only visit for a month each year, so I couldn't get a data plan with a phone number anyway - unless I paid for a sky-high tourist plan sim. Shout out to Asahi Net for a good rate on the data plan

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Huh? Try dropping a smartphone and a flipphone. Many of the people I see on trains have a shattered smartphone screen. Smarthphones are more fragile.

I'm obviously not talking about people physically breaking their phones, the portion of people who actually do that is so minute I'm surprised you even thought of that. Even with physical breaks, Japanese insurance covers that which don't count as new sales. Furthermore, if it's broken towards the end of a contract people will renew regardless, counting as a renewal.

I'm talking about software incompatibilities and general code breaks. Flip phones are notoriously bad at integrating modern smartphone software so inevitably become unusable within a year or two. For the older generation though and cheaper models however, I would assume flip phones have very long life.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

dcog9065: For the older generation though and cheaper models however, I would assume flip phones have very long life.

Yes ... since the portable phone era began, I've had three phones: one candy-bar phone followed by two flip phones. The last one has a web browser but I never use it, or add any apps. Skipped out on the pager era, although I was eligible just did not want the ball-and-chain.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I personally think one reason why those garakei flip phones are still around is the fact they have Osaifu-Keitai NFC mobile payments built in, very necessary for Mobile Suica and Rakuten Edy mobile payment systems. But I think 2015 may be the last stand for garakei phones, since I expect by the end of 2015 most smartphones--including the Apple iPhone 6 and 6+ (or its 2015 production version) to have full Osaifu-Keitai mobile payment functionality.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Have to agree with MissingCylonModel

I got my Y-phone last year for free (campaign).

I pay Yen 2.950 a month, which is roughly the same I paid when I used my NTT Docomo "galakei".

And 1 GB is more than enough for me (using less than 500MB a month).

In case I should need more, I can upgrade at any time for little money.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bad news for Apple, no more growth

Smartphones make sense if ya make use of apps for info or data (music, movies, documents, etc.)

Incidentally, an old flip phone survived thru a washing machine

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Flip phones = Great Battery life, light, durable. Smartphone = A pocket computer, which lets you do many things, if you need to. Most of the people use smartphone to listen to music, play game, SNS (FB/Line etc). All of these, to an acceptable state, can be done in the flip phones.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

kind of miss my old flip phone from when i studied abroad back in the day. there's something totally asmr about opening and closing it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sharp 942SH. Still going strong still out specs iPhone in some areas. Is NOT a tracking device.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Galapagos? Most Japanese I know call them "pakapaka" nowadays :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Y! Mobile is offering smartphone contracts for ¥2500.

Not if you are changing from Softbank. Softbank owns Y Mobile. This 2,500 yen offer is only for people who switch from AU or Docomo.

It is time to dump the big phone providers and move to an MVNO, which are much cheaper.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The article does not say what percentage of mobile users have smartphones, compared to flip-phones.

This slight drop in renewals will be partially due to people going back to a flip-phone as they just don't 'get' smartphones (ie, they are not 'online' people interested in world news, social networking, internet shopping, GPS, translation etc.), and it will also be due to the fact that the smartphone has reached an initial plateau of maturity and quality, meaning that people don't need to upgrade their iPhone5, or their Galaxy S3, because the newer versions are not really a huge leap in functionality and there is nothing wrong with their current version.

This lack of desire to upgrade, which is where most of the renewal business comes from, is also due to the nature of the design; the operating system is not locked to the hardware, with smartphones - you can put Android 4.1 on a variety of phones of varying age, just as you can put iOS on iPhones all the way back to the 4S. Which is great!

I have to say, this predictable vibe that people on here seem to have, stating that they still use an old flip phone, and that they are better than these new fangled smartphones is extremely tiresome and backwards thinking.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan phone contracts are so expensive, I pay €12 for unlimited mobile calls, texts and 1GB internet, per month

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah, but you don't get the 'joy' of living in Japan though, do you Ken.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yeah, but you don't get the 'joy' of living in Japan though, do you Ken.

18 months of €150 per month bills was enough 'joy' thanks:)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

TheIntersat: I have to say, this predictable vibe that people on here seem to have, stating that they still use an old flip phone, and that they are better than these new fangled smartphones is extremely tiresome and backwards thinking.

Hahaha, sorry to harsh your groove, dude ...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

dcog9065FEB. 17, 2015 - 10:51AM JST Older people largely stick to flip-phones, probably most 50+ year olds.

I think this is a good part of it. Tried to get the in-laws (both 70+) to start using an iPhone so we could finally dispense with the land line and use Line for trans-Pacific calls. Nothing doing - "Too complicated."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There might well be another explanation for this, People (company employees etc.) are getting more reluctant to use their personal smart phones for business purposes. It is sometime difficult to determine what part of your bill is reimbursable and there are also concerns about security of personal information on the smart phone. As a contract employee, my contractor provides me ( as well as their permanent employees) with a company provided phone that is basic mobile phone and SMS capable. For this they usually get the cheapest hardware they can get that serves the purpose.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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