iPad 3G and Pocket WiFi alternatives in Japan

So the pricing for the iPad in Japan are out. It seems even devices sold at the Apple Stores will be SIM-locked to Softbank, breaking many hopes of seeing DoCoMo come into the picture and shaking things up a little.

This has definitely not changed my thoughts on the device, it would very much piss me off to pay twice for 2 iPhone and iPad data plans.

This morning, my buddy @kuriburi who is more enthusiastic than I am, called me from the line at the Softbank shop to discuss the situation. Interestingly enough, people were fleeing in droves after receiving the pamphlet describing the full pricing… We entertained the thought that it might be more interesting to buy a WiFi version and get a Pocket WiFi device from data plan specialist eMobile.

@kuriburi left the Softbank line and we started gathering data from the web:

And after crunching numbers here are the results, first for the iPad 64GB version:

And for the iPad 32GB version:

It still seems the Softbank’s default option with integrated 3G is very aggressively priced compared to the competition. But if you can limit yourself to less than 300MB of 3G data per month, you can save up to ¥9.000 on the 32GB iPad over the 2 years contract period. Not much for sure, but some people might be interested…

Note: we have not taken into account the eMobile Super Light data plan because a 3MB/month data plan will not let you do anything but access email (and then without pictures) which does not count as a full usage of the device.

Note 2: here’s a link to the spreadsheet, if you see anything wrong with the data please notify me in the comments.

7 thoughts on “iPad 3G and Pocket WiFi alternatives in Japan”

  1. I notice that for the softbank dataplan you put of the 5000 yen a month cost, does that include rental of the pocket wifi device? I have been trying to find out if the cost of the device is included in the data plan fee.

  2. I have looked into Softbank’s Pocket WiFi webpage quite extensively and have found no mention of paying for the actual device anywhere
    of course, I could be wrong…

  3. Thanks for the info and tables which I found very useful. I’ve done some more investigation and have a few more details that people might be interested in.

    I am assured that you can freely swap between plans for the emobile device. That means you can get it for ¥1 on the unlimited data plan (¥4980 per month discounted to ¥3980 for the first 13 months) and then quickly switch down to a cheaper limited plan, saving most of the ¥5980 purchase price. This also means if you go away or otherwise don’t use it for a time you can pay as little as ¥1400 per month (which is also the penalty for early cancellation of the contract). However there is also an initial ~¥2800 set-up fee you’ve not mentioned.

    Conversely, the forthcoming ¥1510/100MB softbank plan seems a good deal. It includes free wifi at softbank spots (mobilepoint) so might well be enough for many users. But there is also a monthly ¥315 internet usage fee for softbank, on top of any data contract.

    Of course the emobile device works for many computers, and can be shared. For me (and my wife), that’s a big advantage.

  4. Hello,
    Very interesting calculation. I have a slightly different question. I got an Iphone and an Ipad2 Wifi only. For the iphone I have a plan that cost me around ¥6500 each month. I am thinking of getting a pocket wifi, for the actual ¥3980 a month, and getting the lowest plan from Softbank for the iPhone (I think around ¥1000/month). In the end, I am wondering if I could keep my phone+wifi bill under ¥6500 per month, carrying my Pocket wifi at all time (and turning it on and off when using it to cope with the 4 hours battery limit…)
    Anyone has that experience?
    Yvan.

  5. @yvan.

    It would work, I’ve tried months ago, but it is unuseful if you navigate or check emails often. Time is money, man. After one week I left my pocket wifi at home. With iPad could be different.

  6. Thanks for a clear (and much needed) comparison!
    Do you know if either Softbank or Emobile will do a package without including the iPad? (I already have a 32GB iPad1)

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