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SoftBank to cut smartphone charges in Japan


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Now, we can only hope they will abolish locking phones to one carrier.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

A voice-only smartphone service will be priced at 2,700 yen per month

Who would buy a smartphone if all they wanted was voice?

These days, data is everything. People want to send e-mail (including big files) and play games. Cheap data would go a lot further than a discount on antiquated voice minutes.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Can't you ditch the 'talk' plan and use SKYPE app?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Never use my phone - text and skype. So what's Softbank going to do to sweeten the deal for me? I also don't use anywhere near 7GB a month. The companies here have far too much power and rip off everyone.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Aren't you guys using LI NE?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I've got several iDevices and I've yet to buy a plan. Instead, to avoid the price fixing smithinjapan mentions, I buy wifi-only iPads and iPod touches, then do everything via an LTE pocket wifi. It's less than 4,000 a month for unlimited data and for up to 10 devices, and it's as fast or faster than the typical smartphone data packages. As for voice calls, you can do all that using apps now for a fraction of the cost most services charge to call other carriers or to call from abroad.

Actually, you can get pocket wifis now for less than 3,000 a month, but I already signed on to a 2 year contract -- another form of gouging and anti-competition strategy that locks you into a price range. But it's still better than paying those ridiculous smartphone plans.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

About time. Share the wealth amongst your loyal customers too!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Who would buy a smartphone if all they wanted was voice?

Millions of Japanese sadly, especially old ones....

Softbank need to cut prices in half before I'll go back to them, and supply unlocked phones with no bloatware.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So far this does nothing for me. I'm happy with my white plan. I use almost all of my 7 GB and the only reason I don't use more is because of the 1 GB every 3 days limit. I can't use my video subscriptions at all on the phone even though you can get the app. Softbank explained to me that is when I should use wifi. If I have wifi I'm not using my phone, I'll use my macbook.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Paul Arenson.

You LTE pocket WIFI device (think of a very small device in your pocket or bag) has a LTE sim. Then this device acts as a WIFI hotspot, providing its LTE connection through WIFI. Your iPad or whatever other devices connect in WIFI to this device and can then use its LTE connection.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

UGH! Softbank copied Docomo in INCREASING prices :(

Dont be fooled. There is only a very small subset of users that will find the new plans cheaper; that being a family of 4 with 3 of the four users barely using data (one heavy user), and if all of them are heavy phone callers. For EVERYONE else it is more expensive, for LESS data.

I really thought Docomo had gone crazy when they announced their new plans, increasing prices while reducing data limits. There are plenty of blogs/articles around showing that for the average user, prices will increase with these plans. If you want any voice (i.e. for incoming/emergency), you are forced to pay 2700yen for the unlimited calls option (which does not include international, of course).

Someone mentioned switching to Data only to avoid the 2700yen fee. But if you are doing that, you might as well go with one of the multitude of MVNO data sim providers, for far less, and still using the Docomo network.

That only leaves E-mobile now if you want an affordable data/voice plan

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Editor, i suggest you change the title of this article, there is no way that this can be classed as 'cutting' smartphone prices

For example, the current basic softbank charges are White plan: 1008 S!Basic Pack: 324 Packet shihodai (7gb): 5616 Total: 6948 yen

With the new charges it will be (according to the softbank website): Free talk plan: 2700 (+ TAX!) S!Basic Pack: 300 (+ TAX!) Data pack (5gb): 5000 (+ TAX!) Total: 8000 yen (+ TAX!) = 8640 yen/month

Even if you drop down to the 2gb data plan (which can be hit very quickly, even with wifi at home and at work), the monthly fees would come to 7020 yen inc tax

The only benefit being unlimited calling. But the only time you would need this, is if you are making lots of calls to oldschool Japanese people who dont have LINE or smartphones. And i am guessing that almost all foreigners in Japan would not be doing this.

I dont know how this isnt classed as price fixing - two of the big 3 phone companies releasing EXACTLY the same increase in prices for exactly the same reduction in services

2 ( +2 / -0 )

DoCoMo unlimited voice call plan also cost 2700. Softbank Unlimited voice calls will also cost 2700.

Isn't it some kind of price fixing?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I thought those packages were unlimited? Or is this story about 4g?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have noticed many people hardly ever use their smartphone for voice calls. Most people now seem to communicate by text messaging.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cartel busting? Encore! Encore!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We've always had unlimited calling and messaging plus plenty of GBs data. It's good that prices are going down. Most people use their smartphones for information and entertainment, not calling or messaging.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If he could unlock the iPhone after having paid it in full, that would be much appreciated too! (Owner of a Softbank iPhone for more than 3 years - with full plan paid - who have move abroad and can use it only as an iPod. SHAME!)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No before time! I get 1,000 mins + unlimited text for 3,000 yen in the UK for 3,000 yen! Japan is way behind on this stuff!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've got a 2 years old smartphone of someone's that got new with his contract. I went to Softbank and they unlocked it for me for 3000yen. Then get the cheapest 980yen white plan. I can get phone calls from everyone and I can call and text free (1am-9pm) to softbank users. I also have a WIMAX (around 3200yen/month) in the house for internet and take it with me when I go out so I always have unlimited data package with me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Who would buy a smartphone if all they wanted was voice?

These days, data is everything

I agree. I recently changed to one of the the new and cheaper data-only plans from Docomo. It did feel really strange at first not being able to make or receive regular calls, but I've gotten used to it since I haven't had a genuine need to call anyone in years. Its a bit Ironic to say this, but if I'm outside and I really need to call someone I guess I can just use a payphone for 50yen or whaterver it costs rather than the 3000 per month I used to pay for voice. Also, its good that I can still keep my old phone number even if I can't actually make calls.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

for KDDI data is uncapped but after the first 7GB the download rates become much slower. there are plenty of VOIP such as Skype that allows you to call very cheap to other countries landlines and even mobiles. my current favourite is 1cent/min for landlines to Japan and 6c/min for mobiles

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I might actually let my prepaid flip phone go then....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Glad to see companies at the very least are taking the initiative to end the price fixing we all suffer from here.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"Disillusioned: Now, we can only hope they will abolish locking phones to one carrier."

IMO: Also It would be nice if you could buy sim cards from Softbank to use in any phone, and be able to top up on line or at a seven-11 store, family mart etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

back in the 90's you'd pay for incoming outgoing, incoming texts, outgoing texts just for having a mobile phone.. I am sure there were other charges for other stuff. the internet wasn't even available hehe

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Zichi and Nike...how do you use an LTE pocket wifi with wifi only Ipad? I know you can use wimax, but I understand that to get LTE (such as offered by Asahinet for 900 yen a month), you need to be able to use a sim card...which a few Ipad models have. In otherwords, smart phones use 3g and 4g, and so do ipads with the sim card.

so a bit confused as to how the LTE device gets its signals into a wifi only ipad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

but I already signed on to a 2 year contract -- another form of gouging and anti-competition strategy that locks you into a price range.

Exactly!!! This, the price fixing, and locked phones should be stopped. Recently more MVNOs are appearing, hopefully a free market will be established.... not holding my breath though. I also rarely if ever use voice, skype or similar is enough most of the time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


You are right, I forgot the phone was Docomo which they unlock every phone with that amount.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Better they spend their money upgrading their abysmal Japan network, rather than cute robots for cleaning up old folks's mess...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is actually increasing the price.white pan is 900 yen/month and I only call my wife.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Gobshite, I dont think you understand. I got a free phone (as in, phone was 'purchased' up front, outright for 0 Yen, no ongoing repayments). I signed up for a 2 year contract, yes, but every month i get back 2500yen 'incentive' (which is supposed to cover the ongoing repayments, but since there are none, that just comes off my bill). Three months after i joined i also got 15,000yen cash mailed to me, as part of the norikae deal. After i got that cash, i could have just cancelled my contract, paid the 10,000yen break fee, and still be 5000yen plus a brand new phone better off. Its Docomo too, so it can be unlocked and used overseas if i want.

However, no other phone company (including MVNOs) can give me a voice plan with data for less than i currently have with Docomo (3500yen/month).

So to all the fools paying 7-8000yen a month, this 1500yen increase per month is probably not a big deal, but for someone like me who is used to paying far less, it is a big difference.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


for KDDI data is uncapped but after the first 7GB the download rates become much slower.

Uhmm... throttling speeds after a certain amount of data consumption is capping data... That's the whole idea! I hate Softbank with a passion, and even more so after they acquired E-Mobile and killed their 4,000 yen unlimited (real "unlimited") data plan.

How about giving customers more options than a 2 year contract with a carrier-locked phone. But, this is Japan and we all know that the carriers will continue to ride this gravy train until the end of time.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I've got a 2 years old smartphone of someone's that got new with his contract. I went to Softbank and they unlocked it for me for 3000yen.

Softbank will only unlock 4 phones - 301F, 201HW, 009Z and 008Z. Anything else, no chance.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Its on a contract but the phone was free ....cancel any time for only 10k break fee

haha, thanks for the laugh. The kind of customer Japan inc loves...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Most people who complain about phone prices in Japan have not shopped around to see how to get the best deal. They just go with whatever plan the English speaking sales rep in Softbank Omotesando store gives them on their iPhone and thats it. Its possible to get real bargains if you can look past the Apple brand. Hint 1: Norikae discounts Hint 2: Independant phone shops I pay 3500 a month for one of the latest Docomo smartphones, with data. Its on a contract but the phone was free so i can cancel any time for only 10k break fee (not to mention i got 15k cash after i joined). There is still time before these new price plans are brought in, so i urge everyone to shop around and consider jumping ship (and locking in one of the cheaper current plans) before the more expensive plans are forced on everyone.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

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