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Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

Colorado
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Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

We're trying to figure out which electronic devices to take on our summer trip to Japan, and how we'll use them. We'd like access to the internet while we're out and about (google maps and such). Being able to make local calls or send texts would be nice (what do most tourists do?).

1) Hub has a locked smart phone. If we get a data SIM card for that, can he use it for anything (texts or internet)? Or if we have pocket wifi, can he use it just for internet?

2) ipad - If we got a pocket wi-fi, we can use this for internet anywhere, right?

3) We also have an unlocked smart phone that we take on international trips, and usually get a local SIM card. We've only used it for local calls abroad, so not really familiar with apps that might be helpful. Should we take this instead of the unlocked phone? Then data SIM or pocket wifi, or both?

Thanks for your help!

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1. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

1) No

2) Yes

3) It's up to you. If you're going to use local SIM card, you need to set up APN correctly by yourself.

Hong Kong, China
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2. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

Locked smart phone means your home SIM is tied to your device so no. Pocket WiFi depends on the unit. Some aren't configured to be used in Japan.

iPad-yes, as long as you have the SIM version. You can also turning on the tethering/hotspot feature so your other devices (phones) can access the internet. You then won't have to take out the iPad physically for simple tasks, VoIP texting or VoIP calls.

If you take the unlocked smart phone, then it's just as Marcybb said above--be sure you research in advance how to change the APN settings. For Apple devices, it's a bit more work vs Android.

Note that pocket WiFi or prepaid SIM's give you only data access. You won't be able to call or text internationally in most cases. Download VoIP apps such as Whatsapp. You can then use data for messages and calls. For video calls, it's best that you go back to the hotel room for free WiFi due to heavy data consumption.

Colorado
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3. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

The unlocked phone is android. If we get pocket wifi, can we just use it for internet? Then no SIM card? Is there any reason to get a SIM card if we have pocket wifi and an unlocked smart phone? In that case, if we need to contact our accommodations, what would be the best way?

What are some good apps to load?

BTW, I have a flip phone and only use the smart phone when we travel, so please excuse any questions that seem really dumb. :)

Colorado
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4. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

I'll try asking again.

If we take an unlocked smart phone (bought in Iceland), and get pocket wifi, will we be able to use that phone for internet access (and no phone service) in Japan without changing settings other than the wifi? I'm totally confused about this.

With pocket wifi, can we use a US bought locked smart phone just for interet? Meaning, we wouldn't get a SIM card and would just use the internet on the phone.

I don't think it really matters if we can make any phone calls (local or to the US) from the phones. We're mostly concerned with using our phones for internet access like google maps, etc.

Another question. I've read some threads here that recommend getting your pocket wifi in your home country. Is it better to do that, or rent one in Japan? I have no idea how to get that in the US so if that's what is recommended, any scoop you can give me would be appreciated.

Edited: 26 February 2018, 04:27
Colorado
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5. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

Other info: there are 3 of us traveling together who may be using internet at the same time, 20 day trip around Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Takayama and Hakone (if that matters). Ease of use and convenience take priority over cost as long as the best option isn't just stupid expensive compared to the other options. Thanks for your help!

Toronto
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6. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

Pocket Wifi: change your phone to connect to the WiFi, like when you visit a restaurant/cafe that requires password to connect to their WiFi.

iPad: get an "Apple SIM" from Apple Store. Cheap data in Japan and many other countries. Nothing to configure. Maybe even "nothing to install". https://www.apple.com/ipad/apple-sim/

Edited: 26 February 2018, 13:46
Hong Kong, China
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7. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

If you use your Andriod phone, you need to make sure that phone is compatible with Japanese frequencies. We cannot do that for you since we can't see your phone. Assuming your phone works, you can then insert a SIM, turn on the tethering feature, and use it as a hot spot for multiple devices in all likelihood. However, it's unlikely that a phone's battery has the legs to act as a hot spot for the entire day. You will need to carry a powerbank with you.

In your case, the simple solution seems to be renting a pocket WiFi. Do note that some older pocket WiFi units also don't last all day. You either have to power manage throughout the day (turn it off when you aren't using it), or again, bring a powerbank with you.

Type "pocket wifi" into the Japan forum search box above. Sort the results by date. Read through several threads to see what users have been using.

Colorado
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8. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

thanks!

I did search on pocket wifi and read several pages of responses. Lots of the responses are: Type "pocket wifi" into the Japan forum search box above. :)

Edited: 26 February 2018, 23:50
Illinois
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9. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

The answers remain the same.

Edited: 27 February 2018, 00:28
Toronto
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10. Re: Questions about phones, SIM card, pocket wifi, etc

>> I've read some threads here that recommend getting your pocket wifi in your home country. Is it better to do that,..

If "home country" is Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan,.. etc., then yes.

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