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Cell Phones

Cell phones, or keitai denwa (携帯電話) are often heavily discounted, or even free, when you sign up as a new customer. The phones themselves are then paid off over your contract period (generally 12 or 24 months). Upgrading mid-contract can therefore be very expensive.

See the First Month Checklist for what you need to bring when registering for service.

Keitai Companies

  • Softbank is the cheapest and most popular carrier (as of this writing), a fact reflected in its service. Coverage is sometimes lost in rural areas and metal desk drawers. One of the main advantages of SoftBank is it its iPhone support, which, as of 2012, is exclusive to SoftBank.
    • Softbank also has very cost-effective talk plans known as White Plans. If you plan to use a cell phone as your main communication device, especially if you plan to call people frequently, consider this option.
  • Docomo is easily the popular among rural JETs. However, the plans and phones are the most expensive of the three – at times, quite noticeably so. On the other hand, Docomo offers flawless coverage – sometimes even as far as Busan, South Korea.
  • AU, the third most popular option, is somewhere in-between Softbank and Docomo in terms of price and coverage. It has slightly lower rates than Docomo, and exceptional coverage withinJapan.

Cell Phone Tips

  • Reduce junk mail and spam by placing at least one numerical digit in your email address.
  • Be wary of calls from unknown numbers, especially if they have a Tokyoarea code (03). If you answer or call back, you may be hit with an outlandish fee on your next bill.

Other useful Tips:

  • Calls from one land-line to another do not require that you dial the area code if you are calling from within the same code.
  • 092 is the area code for FukuokaCity.
  • Phone numbers that start with 080 or 090 belong to keitai and must be dialed in full.
  • Toll-free numbers start with 0120.